Opening Doors in Cartagena, Colombia


“I feel very adventurous. There are so many doors to be opened, and I’m not afraid to look behind them.” ― Elizabeth Taylor

Two of the best reasons to live in Nicaragua are the low-cost of living and location, location, location. Since we are centrally located to many areas of the world and we don’t spend a lot of money to live comfortably, we can pursue our passions for travel.

We just returned from Cartagena, Colombia. What an amazing cosmopolitan city it is! We booked a cozy apartment in the walled Old City through Airbnb, Martha’s Place. Leaving our little hobbit door in our loft bedroom, we explored the old and the new from one vibrant door to another.

Let's open some doors together to this marvelous city.

Let’s open some doors together to this marvelous city.

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Four Places on Ometepe Island to Study, Love, and Stay Close to Nature


“Study nature, love nature, stay close to nature. It will never fail you.” ~ Frank Lloyd Wright

On Valentine’s Day we took our friends on a tour of Ometepe Island. Our neighbor has a new touring van, and for $50 for the entire day, he took us to our four favorite places.

First Stop: Charco Verde Nature Reserve

Slowing down to observe nature is an art. By examining the shapes of trees, the colors of the flowers, or noticing the ways a landscape can change over time with different effects of light, always provides me with inspiration in the natural world.

I am fascinated with the study of ethology, or the study of non-human animal behavior…especially the Howler monkeys. On the Charco Verde trails we always see Howler monkeys. Depending on the time of day, they are either swinging gleefully among the branches, howling loudly, or napping peacefully in the tree tops. This morning, they were snoozing.

The cormorants gathered to feed at the edge of the green lagoon, while the goats wandered and bleated along the trails. Butterflies, iguanas, and  hurracas ( like big Blue Jays),  fluttered, fled, and flitted throughout the dusty trails.

It was a beautiful morning to be up close to nature. It never fails us.

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Let’s Get Real About Packing and Moving to Nicaragua


“I hear there are people who actually enjoy moving. Sounds like a disease to me – they must be unstable” ~ Jan Neruda, Prague Tales

 

When Ron and I finally decided to move to Nicaragua, our first question was, “How do we get all of our stuff there?” I had a brilliant-to-me idea. I contacted the cruise ships to see if it was possible to book a one-way trip from Miami to San Juan Del Sur. Then, we could unload all of our stuff from the cruise ship, hire a truck or van to take us to San Jorge, and board the ferry to our new-to-us shack we purchased on Ometepe Island. It was the cheapest option I could find, as well as sounding like a lot of fun. For a few days, we would have a floating storage locker in our stateroom on a giant cruise ship.

Cruise ship in San Juan Del Sur, Nicaragua

Cruise ship in San Juan Del Sur, Nicaragua

“Sure, that is possible,” said the first booking agent. She proceeded to tell me how it could be done and I thought…this is so easy. I am brilliant.

I contacted a second agent to ask about luggage limits. She said there were no restrictions. Again, I told myself, this is genius!

But, the third agent must have had a bad day when I asked her if there were restrictions about what I could pack. “Can I bring a trunk with my pots and pans and is there room in the stateroom for our kayak?” I asked.

“Why would you need to bring pots and pans? You can’t be cookin’ any beans in your stateroom,” she snarled. So, I had to tell her that we were moving to Nicaragua and we wanted to bring several trunks with our possessions.

“This isn’t the Grapes of Wrath and it sure isn’t a moving company, so find another way to move!” and she hung up on me. Back to the drawing board!

The way I see it, there are three options for packing and moving your stuff to Nicaragua. So, for my monthly Let’s Get Real series…

                  Let’s Get Real About Packing and Moving to Nicaragua

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Ometepe Island Aglow from Sunrise to Sunset


The Weekly Photo Challenge is Vibrant.

Ometepe Island is luminous year round. From when the sun electrifies Conception volcano…
IMG_9268to the spirited butterflies…
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Ten Films to Watch Before Traveling to Nicaragua


Sorry, I had technical difficulties, but all the movie trailers should show now.

“The whole of life is just like watching a film. Only it’s as though you always get in ten minutes after the big picture has started, and no-one will tell you the plot, so you have to work it out all yourself from the clues.”
― Terry Pratchett, Moving Pictures

 

Living in Nicaragua is like arriving to the movies ten minutes after the big picture has started. We piece the clues together to get the big picture daily. Before traveling anywhere, we always read books and watch films related to that country. It helps to get the “big picture” in areas of historical, socioeconomic, and social contexts.

   Ten Movies About Nicaragua

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Surfing through Life


The Weekly Photo Challenge is Optimistic

“The optimist proclaims that we live in the best of all possible worlds; and the pessimist fears this is true.”
― James Branch Cabell, The Silver Stallion

 

Our son and his fiancé are living in San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua for six months. Not only is it wonderful to have family in Nicaragua, but they are two of the most optimistic people I know. They surf through life with enthusiasm and believe that we live in the best of all possible worlds.

Thanks Kimo, for this fantastic photo of Tina surfing through life.
tina body surfing

Weekly Photo Challenge: Alphabets in Nature


The Weekly Photo Challenge is Alphabet.

Finding alphabet letters in nature or the natural surroundings and incorporating them into a collage with the name of a favorite place I visited has always been a fun project for me.

My son works in Yosemite National Park.
Yosemite picMy nephew’s wedding in the Outerbanks at the Wild Horse.
Wild Horse PosterAnd of course, I can’t forget my favorite place where we live…Ometepe.
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Things You Think are Normal Until You Live in Nicaragua


“Normal is an ideal. But it’s not reality. Reality is brutal, it’s beautiful, it’s every shade between black and white, and it’s magical. Yes, magical. Because every now and then, it turns nothing into something.”
― Tara Kelly, Harmonic Feedback

Before ever placing my gypsytoes on Nicaraguan soil, I expected “normal”. Without the opportunity to live here for a year ( 2004-05) in our experiment with “pretirement”, I would have expected many of the items I have listed below to be available in Nicaragua.

However, our year in “pretirement” in Nicaragua taught us to expect the unexpected. Normal is not reality. And I prefer it that way because it fits my personality. Nicaragua is an oxymoron with bitter-sweet moments, normal deviations, and fictional reality. It provides us a quirky and unconventional lifestyle, where we can turn nothing into something. And I wouldn’t have it any other way!

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Part Two: Service Learning and the La Paloma Library


“Those who bring sunshine to the lives of others cannot keep it from themselves.” ~Sir James M. Berry

Sunshine they indeed brought…in the form of painting our library, the smiles and laughter of the children, and their service to others. In August, a group from Go for Hope completed a service learning project at our La Paloma Library.

I am sorry this post is so old, but I wanted to spread the word about our new donations.
Fuego y Agua Ultra Marathons will be held on Ometepe Island the first week in February. We volunteer to run the aid stations every year and it is so exciting.

IMG_0157This year, the Fuego y Agua is going to give all the proceeds from their annual Beer Run held on Friday, February 5th to our La Paloma Elementary School.
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Old Year Reflections


“Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.”
― Søren Kierkegaard

It is time to embrace the new, but first, I need to release the old. I am not one to make New Year resolutions anymore.  Every year at this time, I have vowed to lose weight…exercise more…eat better…and ___________ (fill in your own resolution). However, nothing…absolutely NADA has stuck with me for very long.

Instead, I make daily resolutions…sort of like my goals I want to accomplish for the day. That way I don’t have to live with unfulfilled expectations and I can do little things each day. At any rate, the temptation to “resolve” is strong at this time of the year! So here is a tip: The resolutions most likely to be kept are the ones rooted in reflection.

Nicaraguans have mastered the skill of reflection and of letting go through their unique Muñecos, or stuffed dolls packed with gun powder. They symbolize blasting away their vices of the past year, and ushering in the new year with a clean slate. I like that concept. However, it takes reflection to make it work.

Last year, I made a Muñeca, or a woman doll.  A Muñeca New Year
This New Year, I think I will spend a quiet day reflecting on the past year because life can only be understood backwards.

I made a list of my top five year-end questions to help me through my reflective process.
IMG_1145Then, I will be ready to usher in the New Year with a BANG!
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