Who are YOU, new friend?

I hate one-sided conversations. I’ve blabbed about my life in Nicaragua and tried to spread the word about how cultural immersion has changed our lives. But, who are YOU, and why are YOU here?

WordPress tells me how many daily hits I have on my blog. They tell me how many people subscribe, where the referrals come from, and which posts are the most popular. They are very good with statistics! Statistics are not my thing. They are cold and hard…no heart in ‘em. I barely passed a statistics course in grad school. In fact, if I recall correctly, I had to retake the course to try to improve my grade.

So, please tell me who you are, where you are from, and why you are here. WordPress is secretive about those kind of things. I do respect your privacy, but at the same time, being the curious (or nosy) person I am, I would like to have more of a two-way conversation.

If I can answer any questions about Nicaragua, let me know. If you would like to see more posts on a certain topic, let me know. I’m totally flexible, probably because I was a teacher and anyone who knows anything about teachers, knows that we go with the flow. Life is unpredictable.

I’m looking forward to hearing from you.

664 thoughts on “Who are YOU, new friend?

  1. Hi!

    I am a nearly 35 Seattlite enjoying city life with my husband of 11+ years and 13 1/2 year old hound dog. I have studied Latin America and Spanish since 6th grade, and studied abroad in Costa Rica when I was 21. We lived in Spain for few years but I was really excited in April 2013 to take my husband to Central America for the first time. We actually had a trip booked to Slovenia (!) but 2 days before we canceled and booked to Nicaragua…and it has haunted me ever since.

    We of course went to Ometepe and loved it! (It is a sister island of Bainbridge Island next door to us). We were one of the first guests at Xalli. Ever since we have been scheming about how to get down their permanently- the husband did surf camp at Playa Gigante in November.

    Right now we are thinking: buy a house in Seattle, or use that money to buy property in Nicaragua…..My dream is to come down to be inn keepers for a while, and then eventually open a beach bar. I even have a pinterest board dedicated to it- a little obsessed.

    Well I love your blog- keep up the great work!

    Megan and David Le

    • Hi Megan and David Le,
      It is great to “meet” you. What a nice introduction. I have never been to Seattle, but my nephew works at the airport as an air traffic controller. I think we will have to come for a visit someday. In 2010, we bought our beach shack from two women who live on Bainbridge Island and they both worked and volunteered on Ometepe Island. The Bainbridge/Ometepe Island Association has strong connections and they do wonderful things for the islanders.
      For some people, like you, Nicaragua pulls at the heart strings. I wish you the best in your plans to move to Nicaragua. I definitely understand your obsession. lol Thanks again for the lovely comments and let me know how your plans are progressing. If it makes you feel less impatient, it took Ron and I five years of planning before we could finally move here permanently. :-)

  2. Hi Debbie,
    My name is Jonna. I have read most of your blog but never responded. We honeymooned in Nicaragua in 2005, and we have come back for our 10th anniversary. I would have written sooner, but we tend to travel by the seat of our pants, and so I didn’t know if we would make it to Ometepe or not. But we decided today that we will be there tomorrow! While in Leon today, we bought a few books that I hope your kids can use.We are staying just a short distance from you, so I hope to give you the books. If not, I will leave them with someone who can get them to you.

    • Hi Jonna,
      That is awesome. Where are you staying? We will be in San Jose del Sur all day tomorrow for the 50K and 100K Fuego y Agua races. I hope we can connect. We should be home on Sunday.I am thrilled that you brought some books for the kiddos. That is so nice of you! Stay in touch. We should be home on Sunday if you are in the Moyogalpa area.

      • Debbie,

        I am not so great with maps and my husband made the travel arrangements, but he told me we are staying at a tobacco farm in Sacremento that he found on AirBnB. Looking at the map, it looks like it Is just a short distance to your house.

        Thanks, Jonna

        Rewired and Retired

  3. Hi Debbie… We just returned from a fabulous trip to Nicaragua and I can’t get it out of my mind! I was very happy to find your blog so I could keep my mind Nica-focused. My husband and I had many ideas about how to pack it up here in the US and live there permanently in retirement, which is just a few years away. Thoughts drifted towards opening a hostel, teaching english and numerous other ideas. For now, we just appreciate the time we had getting to know such a beautiful place filled with such warm and friendly people. I’m looking forward to all your blog posts!

    • Hi Allyson,
      It is so nice to “meet” you. I know exactly what you mean when you say you can’t get Nicaragua out of your mind. That’s exactly the way we felt when we first came to Nica in 2003. It is the land of many opportunities. Did you travel to Ometepe? Next time you are on la isla, you will have to visit us. Thank you for your lovely comments.

      • Hi Debbie… how nice of you to reply! No, we didn’t make it to Ometepe, which was a regret of ours after meeting so many people on our trip who urged us to visit. Next time for sure and we’d love to meet you and see first hand what it’s like to be rewired and retired in Nicaragua. :)

  4. Hi Deborah! I’m a nicaraguan living in France and I came up with your blog from your comment on the Huffington Post article recently written about Nicaragua being the nxt Costa Rica. I liked your blog a lot and even recommended it to an american friend living here in the same city as me. Good luck in everything you do and thanks for doing this amazing blog about my country. Hugs, Stefan.

    • Hola Stefan,

      It is such a surprise to me to see the number of Nicaraguans living around the world. I am definitely a Nicaraguan “groupie”. lol The only thing I didn’t like about that article is the comparison to Costa Rica. I would hate to see Nicaragua become the next Costa Rica. Nicaragua is unique. I’m going to have to write a post about that. I’m so glad you found my blog through the Huffington Post article. Thank you, Stefan, for stopping by my blog and leaving such a sweet comment. I try to write about our passion for cultural immersion and record the stories of the Nicaraguan people, whom we love so much.

  5. Hi…enjoyed your blog…will be coming down from NYC for 2 week vacation to Nicaragua end of January…..would like to see Ometepe Feb. 10-14….thinking Santa Cruz might be a good place to stay? Bill

    • Hi Bill,
      I just had to check the dates for the Fuego y Agua Ultra Marathon on Ometepe Island. If you were planning on coming Feb. 4-8, you would have a difficult time trying to find a place to stay in Santa Cruz on those dates. But, you will be fine. You will enjoy the Santa Cruz area. It’s close to Santo Domingo and Ojo de Agua. Enjoy your time on the island! It’s the perfect time of year to visit.

  6. Hi Debbie,
    My wife and I along with our two kids who are 6 and 9 years old are wanting to move from the US in the next couple years and Nicaragua is on the list for the next place to visit to see if it will work for us. We all went to Costa Rica last year for 30 days and really liked the culture and beach lifestyle that we had. We stayed in a townhouse, cooked at “home” shopped at the farmers markets and tried to live like we would if we lived there full time. We want to make this move for the adventure and the experience our kids would get from it. Costa Rica was too expensive and probably won’t work for us because of this so are thinking that Nicaragua might give us the same lifestyle for less $$$.

    Do you think we could live in San Juan Del Sur for $3,000/month? We want to be within walking distance to the beach for daily surfing, have enough land for a garden, chickens etc… and also be able to get to have some restaurant choices if we feel the need. From my online readings SJDS is the most expensive place in the country but seems to give us what we are looking for. Housing and schooling for the kids might be the most expensive part. What are your thoughts?

    I found your blog by googling “gardening in Nicaragua”

    Thank you for your time!

  7. HI! I’m Sabrina.

    Great blog, it has been a very interesting read.
    I am planning a trip to Nicaragua in February with my boyfriend. He is much more adventurous than I- he has travelled many different places including Africa. I have travelled around the US and my usual vacation spot is Hawaii. So I am super nervous about coming to a third world country where I read about kidnappings, etc… and I am not sure I can enjoy a vacation being totally freaked out for an entire week.

    We are going to be staying at Hotel Colonial Granada for a night and then carrying on to a condo right on a beach. It is supposedly a gated property and there are guards. I feel if we have all of our transportation planned and booked ahead of time, we should be okay. We won’t hail a random cab on the streets or anything. However, how can you be sure to avoid a roadblock? I have read about criminals setting up roadblocks to pretend they are police and then robbing everyone when they stop. Also, what are the chances of a break-and-enter at our condo? It walks right onto the beach so technically, even though the condo/resort is gated, a criminal could still get at us via the ocean/beach. I have heard horror stories from friends and I have read some things online that have really scared me. We don’t know anyone there or anything, so if something happens we will have no one to turn to- that scares me as well.

    My boyfriend is brown but I am a blonde 28-year-old chick…. so I am extra worried as I feel I may be a target.

    So with those thoughts, I am really not convinced I will be safe there, even in the place we are renting. Having lived there for a while, do you ever hear of break-ins and assaults on resorts?
    Or is it mostly in the city? Any advice you could offer would be greatly appreciated.

    Thank you!

    • Hi Sabrina,
      First of all take a deep breath and relax. :-) Nicaragua is a developing country and the majority of the people are warm, friendly, and gracious. I have lived in Nicaragua for 10 years and we have never encountered a roadblock or a home break-in, or even a mugging. Not to say they don’t happen, but Nicaragua is the safest country in Central America. Your chances of a mugging are only increased if you walk in the wrong part of a city late at night…just like anywhere. If you are staying in San Juan Del Sur, just be sure to ask the locals or expats the places you shouldn’t walk at night. In Granada, you won’t have any problems. It is a vibrant cosmopolitan city. Granada has recently increased their tourism police force and I think they are on every corner in the city. Ask the people who work at Hotel Colonial to recommend a taxi for you for the evenings. Always take a taxi in Granada at night. They are cheap, reliable, and trustworthy.
      Honestly, just be aware of your surroundings, don’t wear any flashy jewelry, and take taxis at night. I am sure you will have a wonderful visit in Nicaragua and I hope you are pleasantly surprised with the beautiful and friendly country. Don’t let fear of the unknown ruin your vacation. Just be cautious, yet not overly cautious and you’ll have a great time.
      As far as roadblocks, you will have a reliable driver to pick you up at the airport, so that’s not anything to worry about. We ride the chicken buses and we have to stop for the police to check passports and other things, but we’ve never encountered any problems. Enjoy your trip.

    • My wife and I will miss your passing through Granada as we arrive 1st of March for a Month stay. We walk just about anywhere during the day and have never had a problem. Yes taxi in evening, so inexpensive, isn’t bad idea although I’ve also walked home in evening and never felt uncomfortable (mind you I’m well past 60). Lots of people sitting out in rocking chairs in evening but wee back allies maybe not a good idea.

      I’d be reluctant to let my daughter wander on her own on isolated beaches but that goes for anywhere in the world. There isn’t a lot of police presence.


      • We love to walk through Granada. There is always something interesting to see. We’ve walked back to our friends’ houses at night, but they are always close. If we have to go too far, we try to get a cab. The taxis are cheap and I feel more comfortable at night. I heard they hired many new tourist police in Granada. I’ll be there next week, so I’ll check it out.

  8. Hi Debbie!

    I’m looking for some opinions, from people who have more first-hand takes, regarding an upcoming trip (Dec 27-Jan 2) my pregnant wife and i have planned to Nicaragua.

    Some background about us: At the time of the trip my wife will be 11 weeks pregnant so the last few weeks of the first trimester, with our first child. We are not newbie travelers, my wife was born in Idonesia, lived in singapore for 14 years (expat parents), did various study abroads in Europe, Africa, India (where my wife’s toe was mistaken for crumbs by a rat), etc.

    We’ve been going back-and-forth on how we feel about our upcoming trip. Our main worries are Malaria and troubles that could arise from water-born bacteria, anything we’re missing? We don’t want to put ourselves into a hermetically-sealed-bubble and freak out about everything, but if something happened b/c of this trip it would obviously be devastating.

    Our fertility doctor said that if it were her daughter he would ground her, and he would worry that if something did happen “you’re in Nicaragua”. I can’t tell if this is just American exceptionalism on his part, but he also admitted he is conservative.

    We were invited on this trip by my buddy and his girlfriend, she is a Spanish teacher and has spent a significant amount of time in Nicaragua. She sent us a pretty reassuring letter. Here’s a longer excerpt:

    “There is not a very high incidence of Malaria in Nicaragua, but the highest reports are not in regions where we will be spending time. We will be in Granada and the surrounding vicinity. Additionally, we are traveling during dry season (less rain = fewer mosquitoes), we are not staying in anyone’s home or on a farm (however, I have done both for years and I’ve been fine) and we are not camping or sleeping outside. Our rooms have AC which also helps limit exposure to mosquitoes. The most “outdoorsy” activity would be the hike on the Mombacho Volcano, but that is a tourist-friendly activity so there are paths. Nevertheless, you guys could always pass up on that activity.

    Granada has become exceedingly tourist-driven, so the restaurants are much better equipped to handle the food sanitation needs of foreigners. I can also always ask and double check how the food is being prepared when we go out to eat and request that beverages not be served on ice. However, most places nowadays have ice delivered from plants where it is made with purified water. Bottled water is readily available everywhere. I personally only drink bottled water.

    There is a hospital that is very good in Managua that is used by both Nicaraguans and American ex-pats alike. It is called Metropolitano Vivian Pellas. It is about ½ hour from Granada. There are other small clínicas closer but I would recommend Vivian Pellas. I have friends that have had surgeries and many who have used their obstetrics departments.”

    I guess my question boils down to if this was your daughter or yourself what would you do?

    • Hi Brad,
      Oh, what a great father you are going to be.:-) Your concern for your wife, touched me. Honestly, Brad, if this were my daughter, I’d say come..enjoy..and experience an amazing holiday in Nicaragua. I totally agree with your Spanish teacher friend. Granada is a very cosmopolitan city. The hotels are modern and beautiful, many of them in restored colonial houses.

      You have chosen a perfect time to visit. We are beginning the dry season, so very little, if any, worries about mosquito driven illnesses. The gardens and forests are still green and lush and the temperature is moderate and not oppressively hot at the end of Dec.

      Here are a few cautionary procedures to take when visiting Granada.
      1. Always drink bottled water. It is available everywhere. Be careful of the ice in the drinks. Always ask if the ice cubes are made from purified water.
      2. Don’t take any chances and avoid eating the fruits from a street vendor. I’ve watched the vendors cut up fruits with a knife, then pick their fingernails with the knife, and continue to cut up more fruit.
      3. Use a taxi to go out in the evenings. The taxis are cheap and they will take you where you want to go and return you to your hotel. I am sure your hotel will suggest a taxi driver for short trips in the evenings.

      Really, I can’t think of anything else that should be of a concern. I know you will have a fabulous time. Enjoy Granada and the beautiful people. Let me know how your trip was afterwards. :-)

      • “Oh, what a great father you are going to be.:-)”

        Or completely paranoid and crazy, are those things mutually exclusive? Thanks fo your response, it is very helpful.

  9. Hey Debbie,
    I found your blog while searching for expat blogs about life in Nicaragua. I just got done reading your whole blog from the beginning. It was addicting , once i started i didn t stop until I got to the last post. I love your writing and it sounds like you have made a wonderful life there. I have lots of questions if you wouldn t mind sending me an email I could send them to your email as they come up.
    I am planning a trip to Nicaragua around late Jan or early Feb.
    Hope to hear from you soon and keep up the great work on your blog.

  10. Hi Debbie!
    I’m looking at coming to Nicaragua to work for Natural Doctors International.
    I am excited about every aspect of living on Ometepe. I was told you could help me with some information though-I have 2 cats. One is 13 very healthy, the other is 5, very healthy. Both fixed. Still clawed. My older guy was with me in Peace Corps in Armenia. Any info you can give me on cost, where to get food, litter?, vet expenses and care, travel, etc would be extremely helpful. I do best with brutal honesty when it comes to my fur babies, so let er rip!
    I love your cost analysis and sharing.
    Thank you!
    Debbie R

    • Hi Debbie,

      I am thrilled that you will be working on Ometepe Island. We had 3 rescue cats from Granada. They are about 2 years old. Black Jack, our neutered black cat, had a urinary track infection, then a blockage. He recovered from the first bout with this, but several weeks later, he got another blockage. We had three vets look at him. The first vet on the island had no training, but 35 years of experience. He gave him two injections, then several days later, when we called the U.S. vet, Sara, to look at him, Ron picked him up to show Sara, and his blockage came unblocked. Sara said it was a good thing, and we put him on an IV for 5 days, and injections of pain meds and antibiotics. A week later, he had not recovered. So, Sara said to take him to the Happy Pet Clinic in Rivas and she would meet us there to see Dr. Carlos. Well, we left the morning after the horrific landslides, and Sara was trapped on the island, unable to get Rivas. Dr. Carlos tried a last ditch effort to save Black Jack, but his kidneys were shutting down, so we had to have him euthanized.
      I knew nothing about urinary tract blockages in cats. Apparently black cats in particular are prone to these blockages. Now, we feed our other two cats a mixture of canned and dry cat food.
      As far as vet care on Ometepe, things have improved greatly. We now have Sara, a U.S. trained vet, living on the island. She is opening a clinic in Santa Cruz. We can buy dry and canned cat food at the mini-super in Moyogalpa. I’ve never seen cat litter here, but when out cats were young, we just used sand from the beach for their litter box. Now, they just go outside. The canned cat food is about 35 cords, and the dry Whiskas bags are a little less than 80 cords ( I think). There is a pet store in Moyogalpa where we can buy larger amounts of dog and cat food, instead of the little bags. But, the canned food is cheaper at the mini-super. One of the local grocery stores goes to Pricemart in Managua once a week. They take orders, and if you want cat litter, I’ll bet you can order it and they will bring it back to their store.
      The Happy Pet Clinic in Rivas is wonderful. We bought all the puppy vaccination serums from them and brought them back to Ometepe in a cooler for our rescue puppy. Sara works closely with the Happy Pet Clinic, too. Costs are very low here for good vet care.
      Your fur babies will be fine here. It is such a blessing that Sara is here. I’ll send you her phone number when you arrive.
      Can’t wait to meet you.

      • Debbie!!!!
        Thank you SO much for your response. Of all the things, my kitties were creating the most worry, in regard to their health. It’s nice to know what is available. You are such a great resource, thank you for being so candid and open about your experience(s)! I can’t wait to meet you! :)

  11. I have never been to Nicaragua, but in Costa Rica, while travelling there we met a couple of teachers grom Germany, who went to Nicaragua and stayed near big lake (sorry, don’t remember the name). They liked it so much that they decided to stay in Nicaragua longer. Hopefully, in the future we will be able to visit Nicaragua and El Salvador, where we have friends met in Costa Rica.

    Few words about my self – I would say that the word ‘family’ defines me quite well. Last week I started community of Travelling Families, to gather the families like mine, which believe that it is best to educate kids through family trips to distinct areas of the globe. I believe that trips help kids learn diversity of people, culture and religion which in return build the foundations for good and mature adult life.

    As a first step of building the community, I decided to describe our family trips and hope that other families will want to join some day in sharing their learning through world travels.

    • Hi Tomasz,

      What a wonderful introduction. Thank you, and it is so nice to “meet” you. Your plans for developing a community of Traveling Families is a fantastic idea. If you decide to visit Ometepe, we have several communities that offer host families and cultural tourism programs for tourists. The families would be welcomed with open arms and have an opportunity to live with local families and experience the culture on Ometepe Island. Thanks so much for taking the time to introduce yourself. If I can be of any help, let me know.

      • Thanks a lot for offering your help. I would love to come! If you would like to help now, please share the news about Travelling Families community with all who would be willing to share their experience of Nicaragua. Good luck!

  12. Hi Debbie,

    Our organization has been working on Ometepe Island the past few years with a school for the Deaf. We love the communities and are sending a relief team down in a few weeks to work and bring supplies. I was wondering if it would be ok to share your pics on our Facebook page and fundraising page. Happy to give you credit but wanted to ask first.

    Thank you for all the updates, our partners who run the school there are in the states currently and we are all looking for information and updates. Feel free to email me.

    Thanks again,


  13. Debbie,

    Thank for your the link to GGnet, unfortunately they do not serve Ocotal, but I am pursuing another option and that is to install the Claro 10 mbs service on a house in Ocotal (where they have service) and to send the signal to my house via an antenna. I have one guy looking at this and he said this is possible with guarantees. (let us see).

    One more question on VPN. Do you use the VPN for the Videos only or you do you use it all the time. The reason I ask is because VPN has an overhead (I have use corporate VPN for years and the difference when not using VPN is considerable ).



    • I hope you get your rapid internet. :-) Sometimes it is very challenging trying to find a reliable and fast internet service, isn’t it? I have an Open VPN (from Strong VPN) configured in my router. So, our computers, phones, TV, and tablet all have wi-fi through my VPN. Before we had a router, I had to turn on my VPN, and when I did, my internet speed was much faster. Now, it is on all the time, and my speed with GGnet is fast enough for me to stream videos and watch movies with my Roku box. Buenos suerte with your system. Let me know how everything works out.

  14. Hi I am so glad to reach your blog thru Madhu’so blog. I am from India and retired from service. I now have fun taking classes for budding MBA aspirants.

    I love to understand different cultures and believe in the ‘one world concept ‘.

    Cheers and best wishes always.

  15. Good afternoon! I met you on the plane to Nicaragua last week. I was part of the mission group that sit across from you and your husband. I just wanted to say hello and let you know that I had found your blog. I greatly enjoyed my trip to Nicaragua and cannot wait to return again! Thank you for sharing your blog with me!

    Kira Godwin

  16. Hello Debbie,
    I got your name from Sharon McRae. We met her today in Granada. She spoke very highly of you. My husband, Michael, and I are travelling with our 4 children aged 6,8,11,14. We are from Canada. Michael is a chiropractor. He tore his biceps off, had surgery and is off work. We decided to sell our house and take on this adventure/journey we are on. We are trying to do some volunteer work along the way too – so if you know of any that would be good for a family please let me know. We are enjoying this quality family time, and are checking out places that we might want to retire someday.

    We are spending a month in Granada (until Oct 29) and then will be coming to Ometepe. Sharon said we must meet up with you & Ron. We would love to do that! We will be in Central America for 5 months. Sharon gave me your blog address. It’s great! I am finding so much to read!! We will be coming Oct 29 – Nov 2 to Ometepe. We are staying at La Omaja hotel. We know nothing about Ometepe but would love to pick your brain. Do you have some ideas of what we should see and/or do? Most pressing question is should we rent a car prior to coming to the island? What is the best way for us to get from Granada to Ometepe (and then from Ometepe to either San Jaun del Sur or straight to Costa Rica)? After our 4 days in Ometepe we have no concrete plans. We are planning on going to Costa Rica and down to Panama.

    I would love to hear from you!

    Thank you,
    Melanie Engel

    • Hi Melanie,
      Oh that Sharon! haha! She makes new friends quickly. Your husband tore his biceps off? Ouch! How in the world did that happen? And now you’re in Central America! I’ll bet your kids are having a blast.

      When you come to Ometepe Island, you will be staying on the other side of the island, far from us near Moyogalpa. It’s a beautiful area, and there is so much for the kids to see and do. You definitely have to take them to Ojo de Agua, a crystal clear spring swimming place. Charco Verde has a great hiking trail where you can see lots of Howler monkeys and there is a butterfly sanctuary there.
      It’s very tranquil on Ometepe Island…much different than Granada. There are many eco-friendly hotels and hostels, beautiful swimming beaches, and hiking. I hope you enjoy your time, here.
      I’m really not sure about renting a car. You can have a taxi bring you to the port town of San Jorge from Granada. From there, you can take the ferry for an hour to Ometepe and they should have a minivan pick you up to take you to La Omaja. It will take about an hour to get to La Omaja from the port on Ometepe, depending on whether you land in San Jose or Moyogalpa.
      The buses are easy to get on the Maderas side of the island. Or, you can take a taxi to wherever you want to go. When you leave Ometepe, it is about a 25 min. ride to San Juan del Sur. There are many taxis that will take you there, so that’s not a problem.
      I hope we have a chance to meet. We live on the beach about 2 kilometers south of the port town, Moyogalpa, in the village of La Paloma. Ask Sharon and she can tell you how to get to our house. Do you have a phone? Great to “meet” you. Hope to see you in person, soon.

      • Hello! Sorry for not responding sooner – oddly I got all other answers you have posted on this blog section but not ours! Thank you for the tips!

        Michael tore his left bicep off lifting a canoe – in Sept 2013 he was putting the canoe away for the winter. This happened at our cottage. We had not been to the lake for 7 months & there was still lots of snow. He drove the truck up really fast to reach the cottage door. We got there OK but the truck got stuck (snow was about knee deep at this point). He tried to shovel with no luck then took out the skidoo (snowmobile) to flatten the snow. The skidoo sunk in the snow & when he tried to lift it, the right bicep tore. The left bicep tore completely off & he had surgery right away. The right bicep tore but not completely so they waited a month to do surgery in case it would heal (unfortunately it got worse by the day). The right arm surgery was May 22. He is now off work until at least March 2015.

        We will now be in Ometepe Nov 1 – 5. We are going to take taxis around We brought our phone from home but are not using it due to the cost. We have been using Skype and Viber. Thank again for the tips & hope to meet you in real life.

  17. Hola, I’m starting the resident procedure. Can u recommend a lawyer? My Spanish is weak . I have been quoted $3000 for Nicaraguan lawyer to handle it. Does that sound right? Thank you Richard

    • Hola Richard,
      Sorry I haven’t responded sooner, but I just got back from the states. Many things have changed since we got our residency. We didn’t have to have our documents apostilled, only certified with a notary. Now that Nicaragua is a part of the Hague Convention, they require different procedures for residency. We didn’t hire a lawyer, but used a Canadian woman who partnered with a lawyer to help us get our residency. I met this sweet couple of lawyers from Managua and they speak English and specialize in residency. Contact them for more information. alexandragarcia@betetallaw.com Telephone number: (505) 2277-0034 or (505) 8850 7067 address: Registro Mercantil 75 vrs al este A-92-B Managua. I hope this helps.

  18. I’m spending the winter in Nicaragua, reading everything I can about the country. Looking for my retirement spot. Have been to Mexico , Dominican republic and Cuba. I’m still young enough to explore. The town of Leon is on my list. Any advice? Richard

  19. Hi,
    I am here on Ometepe researching for my thesis for my MA dissertation. I am looking at how local institutions can help communities become more resilient to stresses and climate change. I am based in Balgue and I am here for two more weeks. I was here four years ago for a month and know Balgue (though it has changed a lot) an dI have been here for one week thus far. I would love to hear your thoughts on this and interview you if possible….
    I look forward to hearing from you.

    • Hola Sophie,
      I would really enjoy talking with you about this topic. I am afraid we will miss each other by a few days, though, because we are in the states visiting family. We’ll be back on Ometepe on September 25th. Will you still be there? If not, maybe you could interview me via email? Let me know. Thanks, Sophie.

  20. Hi Debbie!
    My boyfriend, Alan, and I have been searching for a house sitting job in or around Nicaragua for November/ December of this year. We have been trying to avoid those pay per view websites and we were wondering if you had any suggestions as to where we can get into contact with some people who would like a hand looking after their house this winter? Thank you!

    • Hi Phoebe,
      We found our house sitters through the Expats of Nicaragua on Facebook. There is also a FB page of Expats of San Juan del Sur. Ask to join these forums and post that you are looking for a house sitting position. I hope that helps. November and December may be harder months for house sitters in Nicaragua because that’s when most of the expats come back to Nicaragua. But, you never know. :-) Good luck. I’ll ask around on Ometepe Island, too. Do you have references and have you house sat before?

      • Thank you very much! We’re looking forward to trying those suggestions. We both have house sitting experience for properties with and without animals and would be more than happy to provide references or any other information upon request.

  21. Hi! I saw the title of your blog when you posted a comment on another blog and found it interesting. My mother is from Nicaragua and I’ve had the pleasure of visiting the country several times. It’s so beautiful and you are very lucky to be in Ometepe, so pretty! Consider me a new follower :)

  22. Hi. I met Rosalyn and Jonathan on the ferry a few months ago. They own some rental cabanas (nice ones!) across from the wind turbine on the way from Santo Domingo to Balgue. At that time she told me she was going to get into real estate. Just ask a few locals and they will be able to point you to their place. I would suggest you rent for awhile, explore, and find the area in which you most enjoy (I think Balgue is wonderful!). The locals do indeed know what is officially and unofficially for sell. They, like all of us, are more forthcoming with information when they know your intentions and believe you would be a good neighbor and an asset to the community. I’d love to hear how it all turns out for you. Best wishes on your new adventure!

  23. Hello! About 3 years back, I posted here about information for retiring in Ometepe. We’re finally doing it! My question now is are there any reputable real estate agents covering the Ometepe area. I can only find one, Sam Bauar, which was met with not such a high standard in public opinion. I appreciate any info. (We’re looking specifically in the Balgue area)

    • Hola Melanie,

      Wow! Congratulations. You are doing it! Awesome!!! When will you be here? Sam knows the island about as well as anyone. If you are considering the Balgue area, then you might get in touch with Ben, who owns and runs Campestre restaurant in Balgue. When you arrive, ask locals and expats around the Balgue area. We didn’t use a real estate agent when we bought our property. Everyone on our small island knows of property for sale, or potential property for sale. If you find something you are interested in buying, then find a good lawyer, who can do a title search and start the transactions for you. Best wishes. It is a lovely area.

  24. Hi, I am Ivy on this blog because it’s my nickname and Croatian name is a tiny bit harder to pronounce right. That answers where I am from. :) I am here because of photo challenge and I liked your blog. To be honest, I followed because I want to read more from your blog and to remember that thought. :D
    I am ashamed that I can’t pin down from memory where Nicaragua is exactly. I will search it. :)

    • Oh, Ralph, don’t get me started! Actually, I’ve been following it closely for almost 2 years. I’m in the process of writing a post about it. I just haven’t decided what angle to use. I’ve been researching Wang Jing. I think I’m going to focus on him and why this proposed canal will never happen. Stay tuned.

      • I am a computer tech and my ONLY concern about living in Nicaragua is an Internet connection. Like you, the faster the better. Since you went to some trouble getting a internet connection at all, let alone a VPN, you are far more knowledgeable than the average person about the subject for Nicaragua. I am looking at Esteli, obviously a lot bigger than your location. Do you think I will be able to get a decent connection (10 mbps) there?

        I also assemble/upgrade my own computers? What are my options for buying new parts in Nicaragua?

        Thanks a lot,

        Ralph Redjou

        • Ralph,
          I really don’t know of anywhere in Nicaragua where you can receive 10 mbps for the internet. Even the cable internet only has up to 5 mbps. I’ve heard talk of a fiber optic cable for Nicaragua, but I’m not holding my breath. My microwave tower averages about 5 mbps. Esteli is a great place to retire. It’s a little cooler than the lowlands and can offer you an array of services. I really don’t know about buying new parts for computers in Nicaragua. If you do find new parts, they will be much more expensive than if you buy them in the states and have them shipped to you. Electronics generally cost more in Nicaragua. I do know that it’s hard to find a place that services Macs.
          I’m saving your other post about the Nicaragua Canal project for my post that I am writing about the canal. Interesting thoughts.

        • The price of electronics and parts has come way down.  They aren’t hard to find in Managua and it is easier to buy them there than have them sent in.  The last piece of electronics we bought in Managua cost us about $30 more than we would have paid in the states, and, we didn’t have to chance aduana tagging the package and wanting import duties.

  25. Hello Debbie, i found you blog through the Daily Prompt – and I am fascinated! I love Off The Beaten Track Adventures. My husband and I are planning some travel and maybe living overseas in the next few years so your blog is very pertinent right now!

  26. My girlfriend and I are looking to spend the first 2 weeks of february of 2014 on ometepe. Do you know of any rentals avaiable? We are looking to be as close to the airport as possible. And maybe im asking a bit much here, but we are looking for something with running water and a flush toilet and hot water for a shower. Any info would be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks Josh

    • Hi Josh,
      There are lots of nice hotels and hostels within a short distance from the airport. They all have running water and flush toilets, but hot water may be difficult to find. The American Cafe and Hotel in Moyogalpa has hot running water. Honestly, we never miss hot showers. It’s refreshing living in the tropics. :-) February is a wonderful time to visit, too. Thanks for asking. Let me know how I can help you.

    • You won’t need hot water in February. We will take a couple cold showers a day to keep cool. Ometepe isn’t that big so I would find a place that suits your style and not be to concerned about being to close to the airport.

  27. Hi Debbie,
    What an informative blog you have here! It’s very nice of you to answer everyone’s questions so promptly, that must be time consuming! My wife and I were referred to your blog from Housecarers, where we have an account. It looks like you were looking for a house sitter a short time ago. We are currently living in So. California, and are hoping to move our existing tour business down into central or south america. We hope to leave March of 2015 and start in Nicaragua and work our way down through Central America and into South America, looking for where we see the best opportunity for a new adventure tour company, and also all other factors one would consider when relocating- ease of residency, health care, education, safety, political climate, etc. In our top pics are Nicaragua, Panama, Costa Rica(although I’ve heard it’s gotten very expensive), Colombia, Ecuador, and Argentina. There’s a lot to explore!! I’ve done a fair share of research on the whole process, and from what I understand, the foreign investors residency requires a minimum initial investment of $30,000. We are obviously trying to keep our initial investment as low as possible, so I’m not sure if this would work. Do you know anything about the Decree 343 in Panama? Apparently, the minimum requirement to start a corporation is much less, if any, aside from the $5,000 they require to open a bank account? Anyways, since you were considering retiring in Panama, I thought you might have some knowledge of all this stuff. Maybe you can let me know your thoughts as to all of this whenever you have time. Thank you so much and I look forward to chatting with you about our move! And hopefully visiting Ometepe when we are in Nicaragua next year!

    Best Regards,

    • Hi Geraldo,
      Thanks for visiting my blog. I wish I could help you with the foreign investment residency visa. We never looked into it because we were moving on a pensionado residency visa. I have many friends in Panama. Next time I’m chatting with them, I’ll ask. It sounds like you have done your research. All of the countries you mentioned have potential for an adventure tour company. I think that is a fabulous idea. Puesta del Sol Association, in our little community, hosts GeoTour adventurers. A group of students will come for 2-3 days, stay with the host families, and climb our volcanoes. The tour groups have helped to improve the quality of life for the host families. Best of luck in finding your ideal spot in the world. If you come to Ometepe Island, please be sure to stop in and say ‘hola’. Let me know if there is any other way I can help you.

      • Thank you so much for your quick response! It sounds lovely where you live. I checked out Puesta del Sol, and it looks like an awesome program! That is very similar to what we are sort of looking to do. We want to integrate adventure tours with the local community where we settle, and help the local community through community projects, and sustainable tourism. I’d definitely like to explore the area when we are down that way. If you happen to ask any of your friends in Panama about this subject or know anyone else in Nicaragua or Panama who has started similar businesses, I would love to hear any suggestions or information! Thank you so much, and I hope meet you in Nicaragua next year! We will also be house sitting through Housecarers, so definitely give us a shout if you need a sitter next year!

        Thank you so much and I hope to meet someday!


      • GREAT BLOG!!!! Thank you for all the information and pictures!
        My husband and I are also seriously considering retiring to Nicaragua in 3 years on the pensionado residency visa. We could use any advice you have on the process of applying, hiccups you may have found, did you use an English speaking attorney, etc… We want to bring our 4×4, our 2 dogs and not much else.
        We’re actually visiting the country next month for 2 weeks (not the car or dogs on this trip) and we will be traveling around different areas including Ometepe, San Juan Del Sur, and where ever else strikes our fancy when we get there!

        Thanks so much, Val

        • Hi Val,
          Thanks so much for your kind comments. It’s great to “meet” you. Maybe we’ll have a chance to meet if you come to Ometepe next month. As far as the pensionado visa, when we applied, Nicaragua wasn’t a part of the Hague Convention, therefore, we had to get everything certified, instead of apostilled. Now, Nicaragua joined the Hague Convention and everything has changed. I’m afraid I won’t be of much help because the process is different. Our lawyer spoke only Spanish, but that wasn’t a problem because basically all he needed to do was translate our documents into Spanish. I hope you enjoy Nicaragua. Have you been here before?
          Here’s hoping a lot of things strike your fancy in Nicaragua. :-)

  28. Rivas! Rivas! Rivas! After a week in Granada and a great bus ride that stopped anywhere anyone wanted I still laugh about how grinding it sounded to me and how amused/annoyed my travel partner was at me. I sometimes forget how absolutely lucky I am. We spent 6 weeks or so in Nicaragua in early 2010 and it included a fantastic week or so on Ometepe. I love it so much and miss it every single day. Nicaragua is home in my mind. We did get to experience much of the west of the country from border to border. Somehow I ran across your blog and am excited for you for being in the country of my hopeful future, though it sounds like you are not there at the moment. Keep sharing and best wishes to you guys. By the way. I cannot fathom the idea of an airport on the island! When we were there we talked with a guy that wanted to build a port for seaplane travel to the island from Managua and Granada but I had no idea an airport was in the works. They were just getting to laying the cobbles for the road out to Madras at that time. Time flies.

    Russ and Amanda

    • Haha, Russ. No it’s “Riva,Riva,Riva.” For the longest time, I had a hard time understanding what the bus drivers were shouting. Then, I realized they drop the ‘s’ at the end of their words. I got on the bus to go to Los Ramos one day. I kept telling the bus driver I wanted to go to Los Ramos and he just looked at me puzzled. When it dawned on me, I said, “Lo Ramo”. “Oh, now I know,” responded the bus driver. :-) I flew out of Ometepe to Managua and then to the states. On Thursday, I fly back to Ometepe. I’m enjoying our new airport because it is so convenient for me. I can walk home on Thursday wheeling my suitcase through the cow paddies. About the sea plane…it only came to Ometepe one time. I don’t know what ever happened to it. You need to come back and see Ometepe again. Lots of changes. The road still isn’t completed to Merida, but there is progress. Thanks for your comments. You made me laugh.

  29. I found you from WP Weekly Photo Challenge, Between. I clicked on you because of the name of your blog (it’s awesome). We will be retired in a year, but aren’t heading anywhere as interesting as Nicaragua! it is nice to meet you… I’m so glad you are finding richness and wonder in your chosen life. Kudos!

  30. Hi Debbie. Thanks for all the great information. A little about me…I’m 41 and work in the field of human resources. After a lot of soul searching I have realized that this “life” is sucking the life out of me and I’m looking to make a big change. I’m looking for a simpler life, and to learn about new culture, experiences and some humility. I have done a lot of research on Nicaragua and am seriously thinking about making the move. I don’t fit into the twenty somethings backbacking around, partying and living hostel to hostel, but I also don’t fit into the retirement crowd. I would like to set down some roots. The problem is that I will need to continue to work and need an affordable place to live. I’d really like to contribute to the community in some way. I’d love to hear your ideas and thoughts about possibilities to make a living in Nica. Are there any realistic options? Any advice or thoughts you have would be greatly appreciated. You can also reach me by email at stepht@ sasktel.net

    Thanking you in advance,


    • Hi Steph,
      Thanks for a lovely introduction. I understand when you say that “life” is sucking the life out of you. Have you visited Nicaragua? There are many opportunities for entrepreneurs. The problem is that one has to come with enough money to make an initial investment in a business. I know many “young” ( it’s all relative) people, in their 30-40’s who have started surf camps, hostels, spas, restaurants, and bed and breakfast hostels. On Ometepe Island, friends bought a remote piece of land when they were in their 30’s. They gradually built a small casita, and years later, they built a larger house with 2 extra bedrooms that they rent. They have a thriving bed and breakfast,now, which keeps them busy and financially secure. Other friends saw a need for a coffee shop, and they bought an old hotel in Moyogalpa. Four years later, the Corner House Cafe and Hotel is one of the most popular restaurants on the island. There are so many needs to be filled in Nicaragua. NGOs hire supervisors, directors, and specialists for their projects. It really depends on your passion. You are on the right track by asking questions. If you come for a visit, I can introduce you to people who have made life work for them in Nicaragua. One problem facing 40 something people choosing Nicaragua as their home base, is the residency issue. Most people are too young to apply for the pensionado visa because you need to show proof of a lifetime pension. Plus, with the pensionado visa, we are not allowed to work in Nicaragua. However, there are other avenues such as an investment visa, or an NGO visa. I’ll have to post the informative PDF document about all the different types of residency visas. It is getting more difficult to cross the border into Costa Rica to have your passport stamped. They want to see proof that you are trying to getting residency. But, I always say, “Take baby steps.” You have done the research, and are asking all the right questions. It is definitely possible to simplify your life in Nicaragua. Come for a visit. Networking and reading expat blogs is a good start. Feel free to keep asking questions. It’s great to “meet” you, Steph.

      • Thank you so much Debbie! You are such a kind, generous and cool person to answer all these questions. I have never been to Nicaragua, but am planning to come for a visit when the weather gets cold here. I live in Saskatchewan so I have to take advantage of the warm weather here! I would definitely take advantage of your offer to meet some people on a visit if you’re available. In the meantime I would love to keep in touch with you. I have so many questions, but I don’t want to bombard you. Please answer them in your own sweet time. Where would you suggest I stay for an affordable visit? And how far ahead should I book? I’m curious about what’s available there….fruits and veggies, clothing, personal hygiene items, etc. I’ve read that pretty much everything is available, but I’d like to know from someone first hand. I’d also love to hear your thoughts on a woman going alone. Is there someone that would be helpful regarding real estate, or is it best to just look around and make your own deals? I don’t want to be taken advantage of. I’ll stop there for now :) It’s great to meet you too, and I look forward to chatting with you. Would love to hear what your day was like today!

        • Hi Steph,
          Sorry for the delay, but I am in the states celebrating my mother’s birthday. Let me answer your questions.
          1. Where to stay in Nicaragua? Steph, there are so many affordable places to stay. It really depends on the city, town, or island you want to visit. There are many small hostels where you can meet a variety of people. I’ve found that the hostels really aren’t just for backpackers anymore. Most of the hostels have some private rooms with private baths, so you don’t have to stay in a dorm-like sleeping room. We always go on Trip Advisor to find the best places to stay and read all the comments. Wi-fi is a necessity for me, so that’s one thing I always look for. Another place you might explore is airbnb.com. We booked wonderful and inexpensive places through airbnb when we traveled through Ecuador and I was never disappointed.
          2. When to book: Honestly, there are quite a variety of places to stay, so you really don’t need to book in advance unless it is over Easter weekend. The only time we book is returning to Managua from the states, or visiting Corn Islands. We found it’s best to have a good idea where you want to stay, then go check it out to see if it is suitable.
          3. Yes, pretty much everything is available here. Each time we return to the states, we bring back less and less. I can’t find my Neutrogena face cream, good fitted sheets, fluffy beach towels, or cheaper electronic equipment…so I always bring that back from the states. But, everything else is here, although it may take some searching.
          4. Women going alone: I have many single women friends who live and travel alone. If you use common sense and always ask someone where the less than safe places are in a town, you will not have any problems.
          5. Real estate: So much depends on where you are located. Honestly, I don’t trust many gringo real estate people in Nicaragua. You are much better off finding a place through word of mouth, and making friends with a local who can ask the right questions for you.

          My typical day has not been very typical recently. I was home for a week, then I left for the states for my mother’s birthday. I am very travel weary…5 countries and 8 planes in a month. I can’t wait to go home and relax. :-)

        • Thanks so much for all the info! Wow you’ve had a very busy month. Love reading your posts and am slowly trying to go through them all to get a sense of your journey. It’s so fascinating. The photos are incredible. I’ve always got questions but sounds like you’re busy right now so I’ll wait for another day :) Enjoy the rest of your visit!

  31. I just discovered this blog and am so excited to start reading (tonight when I have some downtime). I was in Nicaragua in 2010 with my sister. She and my niece had traveled to San Juan del Sur the year before and were so enchanted that my sister decided that we needed to make a trip and now I want to go back! We spent most of our trip in Granada, Ometepe and SJdS. What a wonderful country! My husband has been to Ecuador and loved it also so I’m hoping our next trip will be to Nicaragua/Costa Rica. Do you have suggestions for Spanish immersion programs that are reasonable? I’d like to travel to other parts of Nicaragua since we were only on the Pacific side for the most part. So glad to find your blog and so looking forward to reading more.

    • Hola Karen,

      It is so nice to “meet” you. Your next trip, you really need to travel to the Caribbean side of Nicaragua. It’s like a different country. We flew to Corn Islands and I have a couple posts about Corn Islands. It is so beautiful. I don’t know of any particular Spanish immersion programs, but I’ll ask around for you. Our way of learning Spanish was just to move to a community of all Spanish speakers…and we were forced to learn Spanish. lol Thanks for telling me a little about you. Hope to see you on Ometepe Island someday soon. By the way, we have a new airport ( near our house). It’s open and transporting people from Managua on Thursday and Sunday. For $50 one way, you can fly to Ometepe and save a long bus trip and ferry ride. :-)

      • Great blog
        My wife and I will be exploring the possibility of moving to Nicaragua as we get into retirement. From Houston

        • Thanks John! I’m glad you enjoy my blog. Let me know if you have any specific questions. We just returned from a month in Ecuador, so you’re probably wondering why my latest posts are all about Ecuador. But, I’ll have more posts coming soon about Nicaragua. There’s always something happening in Nicaland.

  32. Hello there and thank you for a wonderful blog! I am planning a visit in June – and would love to know if you or anyone you know needs someone to house sit their home. I am a single 45 yo female, family doctor by profession. I am interested in helping out in medical field so any suggestions you may have would be great. Also I have a newly diagnosed condition that I need hydrocortisone for life. There is a new medication called Plenadren that is now available in Europe that is long active and better for the body. Do you know how I could find out if this is also available in Nicaraguan pharmacies?

      • Lovely to hear from you Debbie, thank you. I am also curious to hear of your trip to Ecuador. My dates for visit are June 15-21 in Nicaragua. If you also have any suggestions on places to stay that are budget friendly that would be great. I look forward to hearing from you. Safe travels.

  33. Hi Debbie, We are to come to Granada & check it out for a couple of weeks in February/15. We
    are looking for an inexpensive place to winter. We are in our mid 60’s & live in Northern Ontario & are tried of the winters. Can you suggest website or blogs where we can contact other Canadians living in Granada Nicaragua. Any help will be greatly appreciate.
    Many thanks/Wilf

  34. Hi!
    My name is Nancy and I’m in Saugatuck, Michigan. I’ve traveled extensively thru-out the U.S and a little in Mexico. After having gone there with friends, I returned on my own with nothing but a backpack and a booking for one night in a hostel. When I had went with my friends, we were ensconced in a tourist trap so wanted to go back and really explore! Nicaruaga came into my radar after watching HGTV Island Hunters. Did a little googling and found your site!
    I’m a divorced 53 yr old. I think I was a little too much of a vagabond. We split ways so he could stay put and I could remain unstable! :-)

    • Hi Nancy,
      Oh, a vagabond! Lol A woman after my own heart. Thank you so much for your comment. I have never seen HGTV Island Hunters. I would live to see the Ometepe Isand episode. Currently we are traveling around Ecuador for the month of May. My gypsytoes were itching for a vacation. Let me know if you have any questions about Nicaragua.

  35. Hello – I am going to Nicaragua for the first time in December. I will definately come to this island and check out the area. I used to live in Jamaica and loved living there. I am scouting to find another “home”. I just discovered your web-site and blog. Thanks for sharing information. I am 64 years young, wanting to bring with me my profession (37 years in the healing arts – Cranial and Neuromuscular Therapy) and 2 small dogs. I want to be on a semi-retired schedule, knowing I will always be available to help people. I will spend more time on your blog to learn more. I am going to staying in Granada and use that as a “base-camp” to see a few part of the countries. I have only 3 week this trip.

    I hope to move and re-locate sometime next year.

    Thank you for your effort.

    Peggy Daugherty ND CMT

  36. Hi Debbie, I just wanted to say thank you for visiting our blog and reblogging our post on Cafe Sonrisa. We’ve written our own story about how we became expats and long-term travelers in our blog on the About Us page if you’re curious about one more reader but I think our story will echo bits and pieces of the many comments listed above! I look forward to reading both your archives and new stories in the future. Best of luck! Anita

  37. Love the blog, retired, young at heart, (but not dead) Jack of All Trades, hoping to relocate in the sunny Caribbean. 60″s of snow this winter has made ne a Believer in Warmth & Sunshine. I’ve looked at Belize, Panama and now have a new interest in Nicaragua.

      • Hello, my name is Roger, sorry if you receive odd bits of msg, this gadget of mine is playing up at the moment. I have been reading your blog with fascination as I am considering a life changing move. And have thoughts of upping sticks and moving. I am in Wales UK at present, but feel I need to get out more. Should this message reach you then I shall contact you again soon. All best.

        • Hi Roger,
          It’s so nice to “meet” you. Yes, your message came through loud and clear. Feel free to ask any questions. I love to tell people about Nicaragua. It’s a beautiful, fascinating country. Thanks for your comment.

  38. Hey! My name is Kate and I’m from Saskatchewan….I was in Nicaragua last May and now I am doing a project on Agro-forestry practises in Nicaragua and use of ‘patio gardens’ in the campo.
    I’ll definitely be reading your blog from now on. I miss this country!

    • Ooo. I’m wondering what vegetables have been successful in your garden? How much management is needed in terms of irrigation, fertilization and soil/site prep? Are pests (weeds/disease/insects) a major issue?

    • Hi Kate,
      Interesting project. Patio gardens. I really like this idea, but it’s a struggle to help Nicaraguans understand about growing small vegetable plots. When I asked my friends, “Why don’t you grow small vegetable gardens?” Their answers are, “We like to pick (fruit), but we don’t like to plant.” lol I’m answering both of your questions in my comment. We have been very successful with peanuts, sweet potatoes, soy beans, black-eyed peas, chia, turmeric,chile peppers,and eggplant. We have not been successful with tomatoes, lettuce, and corn. The tomatoes get nematodes on their roots, the leaf cutter ants attack some of the vegetables,the rats eat the peanuts, and we don’t have any rain for 6 months of the year. Tropical gardening is a challenge. In the dry season, we have a small patch that we irrigate with a pvc pipe with irrigation holes in it. But, most of the garden, we just ignore until the rainy season begins. We plant our seeds before the rainy season and water them daily because when it rains it pours, so we have to get the plants big enough to withstand the strong rains. We spray the leaves with a Neem oil solution. We have Neem trees growing, and we crush up the leaves, make a strong Neem tea and spray it on the leaves. We don’t use any pesticides or poisons, mainly because we have cats and chickens. The rainy season brings lots of insects. It’s a constant battle with the insects and the rats. We have many young trees, such as avocado, banana, Bread Fruit, Jack tree,and papaya trees. We have to water them daily in the dry season because they are still young. Ron started a grape arbor and we have to water that daily, too. I was surprised that grapes grow well, here. I’ll have to write a post soon about our gardening. Ron is the gardener. I’m the landscaper. I pull weeds, plant flowers, and rake mangoes. Yes, I’m raking mangoes daily now because we have 5 huge trees full of mangoes and we can’t possibly eat them all. :-) Thanks for visiting my blog. Let me know if you have any questions. I also have a friend, Eric, who is Canadian and he works in Esteli with an agricultural NGO. I can put you in touch with him if you would like.

      • Thank you so much for taking time to answer my questions! I greatly appreciate it :). I don’t have any questions at the time…but I am sure more will come up.

        I would love to get in contact with Eric! Could you send me his contact info?
        Thanks again for the help! Your blog is amazing


  39. We love your blog! My husband and I will retire to Nicaragua in about 6 1/2 years. He is currently a deputy, and I am a teacher. Currently, we are building in Nagarote, which is half way between Managua and Leon. We have visited Ometepe two times and love it. It has been so much fun reading your blog, and we have shared it with others that are interested in Nicaragua. We have been to Nicaragua, from Florida, about 7 or 8 times so far. Our next trip is this July. Keep blogging and teaching us all there is to know about Nica! Nicaragua is in our hearts and every time we land, I feel an overwhelming sense that I am home!

    • Hola Angela,

      Thank you for your kind comments. You are a kindred soul because I understand how Nicaragua grabs you and just won’t let go! I have never visited Nagarote. Is it on the coast? How did you choose that area to build? I’m always curious how people decide where to move abroad. I think I’ll have to write a post and include stories of all my new blogging friends’ experiences. Are you planning another trip to Ometepe in July? Come home soon. Those years in the states will pass by quickly. :-)

      • Nagarote is 45 minutes NW of Managua on the road to Leon. We went to Nagarote several years ago on mission, so that kind of became our home away from home. We aren’t aware of any gringos in Nagarote, but you never know. We love exploring the country and looked all over before deciding where to settle, but we are always pulled back to Nagarote. This summer I think we are just doing Leon, Nagarote and SJDS. Ometepe may be the following summer…..it is one of my hubby’s favorites!

  40. Well Debbie, I just got back from Nicaragua yesterday and managed two full days on Ometepe, absolutely loved the island. We really enjoyed Santo Domingo Hotel, the beach and Ojo de Agua. Oh yes and of course the airport runway that cuts right across the road was so funny.

    We even rented an ATV and circumnavigating El Concepcion Volcano, a four hour adventure. During our adventure we came across a very determined man on a mountain bike along the unpaved section of road with a sixty pound backpack absolutely exhausted. After a few different transportation ideas to assist him we managed to strap down his backpack on the front of the ATV to lessen his load. My travel companion then held him hand in hand up and over the very bad lava rock road until the outskirts of Altagracia. An hilarious event for a passengers on the chicken bus that drove by!. I wish we would have had more time as I really wanted to visit you. I will definitely be back.

    My description of the island is; the land of peace, tranquility and the unexpected.


    • Terence, this is awesome. Thanks for sharing your experiences. Your stories are hysterical! It sounds like you are thinking like a Nica. One of my friends was in a car near Masaya at night and noticed a motorcycle with a small light on the side. At first, they thought it was a side car. As it got closer, then passed them in the opposite direction, they saw a motorcycle with man holding onto a flashlight with one hand and holding hands with the moto driver with the other. He was in a wheel chair!!! Only in Nicaragua. I’m so sorry I missed you! I was at Ojo de Agua 2 times last week. Who knows. Maybe you were there! Next time, you have to stop and see me! I’m really close to the airport runway on the beach. :-)

  41. Hi Debbie,

    Thank you for exposing the Beauty of Nicaragua to the WorldWide Web. I am Nicaraguan by birth, for the last 3 years I have resided in North Pole, AK. Spent 33 years in Los Angeles, CA. My boss is interested in buying retirement property in Nicaragua, or Costa Rica. You know which way I’m leaning! I found your Blog interesting and informative. Your passion for Nicaragua is commendable. Thank You!

    • Michael, I am thrilled that you have visited my blog. Thank you so much for your kind comments. The North Pole???? Brrrr. Quite a change from LA. :-) Nicaragua chose us, instead of the other way around. It is an amazing country with wonderful people. If you ever need a break from the cold North Pole…please come back to your birth place. You can swing on our hammock.

      • I just found your blog with a comment on Kris from David Panama about water shortages in the dry season. We are a retired Dutch couple living since 2003 on Saint Lucia in the Caribbean. Same problems with water over here. Most people if they can afford it have plastic 450 gallon tanks on a concrete stilt. Our house is on very steep land almost on the top of a hill. We have a 3000 gallon water tank and on top of the tank a swimming pool of 3000 gallon. The water of the pool can also go down into the tank. We just sold our house and will move to Panama, David area, in July. I worked a.o. 13 years in Spain and 3 years in Nigeria (also called a white mans grave). I worked in Spain for La Curacao and visited all their subsidiaries in Central America, Dominican Republic, Trinidad, Haiti, Colombia and Venezuela. Cordiales saludos y un abrazo. Roberto & Helena y nuestros 4 perros.

        • It is so nice to meet you Roberto y Helena. I live in Nicaragua, but it was a toss up between Panama, the David area, and our little island in Nicaragua, Ometepe Island. We often visit David, so when you move, we’ll have to come visit you. I think you will love the area. :-)

  42. Hi Debbie! I’m retired from a 20 year career in the military and I’m sitting here right now typing this,freezing to death in Nebraska as I watch the snow fall with minus 5 degrees temps! I’ve been researching retiring to several Central & South American nations for many years. No matter where I research, I continue to have a fascination with Isla de Ometepe, much of it due to your website & blog. Definitely very affordable on my monthly military pension. As a laid back, friendly & smiling to all, non-materialistic, off the grid sort of person who is now a Natural Health Counselor on a Primal/Paleo dietary lifestyle I find Ometepe almost a perfect choice for me. I am ready to apply for my Passport and sell almost everything I own, carrying a couple suitcases and my laptop & Kindle Fire down to totally immerse myself into Ometepe and it’s people. I have an idea to give back to the island population with my health skills and natural health knowledge. I have some questions that I will put into a separate comment. I’m sure that more will arise as I get closer to making the relocation to Ometepe. “Doc”

    • Hi Doc,
      Wow! Thanks for the great introduction. It sounds like you are ready to JUMP! Ometepe Island seems to meet your needs. There are pros and cons to island living, but for us…it’s a great life. You just need to come and explore for yourself. We have a homeopathic doctor on the island from the USA. I’ll have to send you more info about her clinic. They make natural medicines, have workshops, and interns that come to the island to work with local patients. It’s a wonderful service they provide for the local people. There are many natural healers here, too. Let me know how I can help answer any questions you have. Hope to see you, soon. :-)

  43. Love your blog, my husband and I are coming to spend a few months in Niaragua and would love to be included on your blog subscriber list. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, experience, and wisdom.


      • Hey Debbie,
        I love your blog! My husband and I are both teachers from the wonderfully humid state of AL. We spent nine weeks in SJDS last summer with our two small children and will be moving in June. We can’t wait for this adventure to begin. I will be teaching part time and we are so excited. I have two students, recent high school graduates coming down this summer and I want to take them to Ometepe. If you don’t mind, I would love to ask you some questions as the time gets closer? As a teacher, I like to have things planned, or as well as can be in Nica ;). Talk to you soon!

        • Hola Alethea,
          Great news! I can remember how excited we were, more like an adrenalin rush, when we moved to Nicaragua (two times, 5 years apart). It never gets old here, that’s for sure. Thanks for your kind comments. Teachers! Awesome! Nicaragua needs more experienced teachers. Let me know how I can help you. I’d love to hear of some of your plans. Thanks for visiting my blog.

  44. Hello Debbie,

    I have to admit that I have lurked on your blog for about a year without introducing myself! My name is John, and I live in Columbia, SC, although I am a transplanted Yankee. I visited Ometepe a few years ago and loved it. So I was really happy to chance upon your blog because it takes me back to the island.

    I really enjoy your posts, your positive outlook, and your politics. Thanks for a wonderful year of entertainment and ¡feliz año nuevo! to you and Ron.



    • Hi John,
      What nice comments. Thank you so much. We were transplanted Yankees ( Big Steeler fans…so you know we’re originally from the Pittsburgh area). It’s not too difficult to be positive living here. It’s a unique island and will always hold a special place in my heart. Have a wonderful año nuevo. Maybe you’ll come back to visit again?

      • Yes, I hope to get back in the next few years! I have traveled all over the world–in Europe, Asia, and Latin America–and Ometepe was one of the few places that I have felt compelled to return after leaving. Such otherworldly beauty and a wonderful, peaceful feel. I have a really bad case of Wanderlust, so I have a few places to go before I return. In the meantime I have your great blog!

  45. Hi, I’m constantly looking for a piece of heaven to invest in for my near future. I love the images I have of Nicaragua. I was wondering are squatters a problem there? I’m thinking of buying a piece of land but should probably be prepared for knowing how to maintain it until I’m ready to move. Would you have any resources/experience about that? Thank you for your great writing!

    • Hi Jen, great question. I really don’t have any experience with squatters, especially on our small island in Nicaragua. I do know of a squatter that is a gringo. He’s squatting on a beautiful piece of land on the prettiest beach in Nicaragua because the beach property is the most contested property in Nicaragua. He’s hoping that if he can squat for several years, he’ll eventually be able to buy the property. Who knows. I do know that most part-time foreigners who buy property in Nicaragua hire a caretaker to live on their property if they are not in the country. In my experience, that is the safest way to go if you buy property, then leave. Thanks for the nice comments.

  46. Hi Debbie….I got linked to this site by Daryl. We spent 4 wonderful days on Ometepe in 2012 and loved the solitude. Nica has become our favorite country in CA after seeing a small part of every country there. We will return for the 4th time ,likely next year as we are booked to the Yucatan for this year. I will follow this blog and hope one day that our paths cross. Wonderful pics that bring fond memories,thanks !!

  47. I am Jen and traveled to Ometepe in early November. Christophe & I met you and Ron at The American Cafe while waiting for our ferry to Rivas. You two graciously shared a cab with us to Managua, but even better, shared your lives on Ometepe. Our eyes were opened by your stories of transitioning and it was truly inspiring. I hope you got to see your House Hunters episode! I am excited to read your blog!

    • Hi Jen and Christophe,
      It’s so great to hear from you again. Yes, we got to see our HHI episode. It turned out even better than we expected. I am so glad that you are reading my blog. I hope to see you back on la isla sometime, soon. Thanks for getting in touch with us.

  48. Hi. We’re building a cabana next to my brother in law. It has a thatch roof and is on the left about 3km after you leave the paved road in Balgue. I look forward to meeting you!

  49. Hi Debbie! I’m moving to Balgue, Ometepe tomorrow! I was so excited to find your blog and know there is at least one other gringa on the island. :) I’ve only been in country since Sunday, but judging by my level of excitement today at hearing actual American voices from the next stall at Vivian Pellas, I’m sure I’ll be seeking out fellow English or German speaking expats, especially since I’m just now learning Spanish. BTW I love your blog and your sense of humor! I hope we can meet soon.

      • Hi. We’re moved in but it’s still a bit rustic. Won’t be hosting afternoon tea anytime soon. :) My number is 8833 7110. I’d love to meet. I’m still a bit stunned I moved 3 miles down a dirt road on an island in Central America so meeting people would be great! I look forward to hearing from you!

  50. Hi Debbie.

    Came across your entry dated may 2012, last year about a seed swap for jack fruit saplings.

    Where can I get them? How much are they? I’m on the coast. I’ve been looking for the jack fruit but haven’t found any. Please help!!


    • Hi Dan,
      We got the Jack Fruit saplings at Bonafide on Ometepe Island. We didn’t pay for them, we just swapped other saplings for them. Here is their website and you can probably contact them directly. http://projectbonafide.com/
      Our Jack fruit tree is over a year old now and it’s getting big. I can’t wait until we get the Jack Fruit…but it will probably be several more years. I hope this helps.

  51. I am starting to look into the possibility of retiring abroad, either in the Philippines or Central America. Google brought me here. :) I’m a ways off from actually retiring (10 years+/-) but I figure it’s not too early to start looking.

  52. Hola Debbie,
    My name is Rachel. I am currently studying in San Jose, Costa Rica and have one more month to enjoy here. That is if I ever end up leaving. I have already enjoyed two short months here and the thought of leaving is so sad. This weekend I will be traveling to Nicaragua with a group of friends and will be staying in Ometepe Saturday night. One of the classes I am taking is cultural photography. We are currently working on a photo essay where we need to tell story through five pictures on the topic of our choosing. I chose to show the story of people and the beautiful art they produce from the land and beaches. I stumbled upon your jewelry or maybe rons, made of the pottery that has washed up on the shores of ometepe. I would love to conversate with you as well as possibly get some photos of you in your natural workplace. I look forward to hearing from you.
    Rachel Hodge

    • Hi Rachel,

      Cultural photography sounds really interesting, as well as your photographic essay of the people through the art they produce.. I am so sorry that I can’t help you, but I am in the states now. Thank you for visiting my blog and I am so glad you enjoy my jewelry and other projects with the pottery shards. I hope you enjoy your stay on Ometepe. It’s a very special place… and I can’t wait to come home.

  53. Thank you for your prompt, indepth reply! You have given my wife and me valuable information. We will probably be visiting Nicargua next year.

  54. Hi Debbie,

    My family (husband, step-son and 3 daughters ages 13, 12 and 9) and I are currently visiting San Juan Del Sur and are planning an exploratory trip to Ometepe island either tomorrow or Monday. We are from the U.S. and looking for a place to live outside the States. So far we like what we have seen in Nicaragua! But like you and your husband, our desire is to live among the locals and immerse ourselves in their culture, while at the same time making a positive difference in people’s lives.

    Berry family

    • Hola Berry family,

      Thanks for visiting my blog. I agree wholeheartedly with your desire to live among the locals and immerse yourselves in the culture. Nicaragua has much to offer and the people are what sold us on Nicaragua in the first place. I am so sorry that we are going to miss you when you arrive on Ometepe. I’d love to have you come visit us, but we will be taking the ferry to the mainland on Monday and then leaving for a month in the states. Darn! Have a wonderful time on Ometepe, and if you need any suggestions for places to stay, let me know.

    • P.S. If there is any possible chance you would be willing to meet with us (we’ll buy the coffee or the diet soda if you are like me and don’t drink coffee), please let me know. We would love to meet you!

      • Oops Debbie,

        I guess our emails crossed paths! Suggestions on where to stay would be most welcome. There is a possibility that a realtor by the name of Sam Bauer (originally from Oregon I believe) might be able to show us around tomorrow, but if he can’t we will wait to come over on Monday, in which case we will miss you. Darn!!

        Enjoy your visit to the states…we wish you all the best.

        • Sam just called us today and said he’s coming to visit us tomorrow. (Sunday). Let me know what kind of place you have in mind and I can give you some suggestions. Charco Verde is a nice place, about 4 miles out of Moyogalpa. Beautiful nature trails around the Charco with lots of monkeys and a nice swimming beach.

  55. My wife and I are three years away from retiring. Both of us work for the State of Louisiana and are interested in doing mission work in Central America. We have considered taking a Food for the Poor mission orientation trip to Haiti, but my thoughts are why not take an exploratory trip to Nicaragua instead where we might end up living!
    My wife read recently about a retired couple who greatly enjoy life in Granada. I have several questions: 1) As I understand the cost of electricity is about 6x what we pay in Louisiana. How does that affect living expenses? Do expats run AC units as a luxury only on the weekend? What’s a typical monthly electric bill for an apartment for two? Any information is greatly appreciated. 2) Also, with the growing number of expats living in Granada can we expect significantly higher rental costs were we to relocate in three years.

    Thanks so much for writing this extremely helpful blog!

    • Hi Stephen,
      Thanks for visiting my blog. We discovered Nicaragua when I delivered school supplies for a Service Learning Project to Granada and it changed our lives. I think an exploratory trip to Nicaragua would be wonderful. Let me try to answer your questions:
      1) Electricity is expensive, but Nicaragua is growing in wind power and other alternative energy sources, so maybe someday the prices will come down. It also depends on where you live in Nicaragua. Granada is hot, Leon is hotter, but if you live near the beach or the lake or the mountains, then it is much cooler. We live on the lake shore, and it is always much cooler than in the little town of Moyogalpa…at least 10 degrees cooler.
      Air conditioners: In Granada, many expats have air conditioners only in the bedrooms. They run them at night only. However, friends of mine who live in Granada in a one bedroom apartment, run their air conditioner all day in the bedroom. During the hottest time of the year ( March and April), they kind of hole up in their bedroom. Their electric bill last month was $325..mainly for the air conditioner. We live on Ometepe Island on the lake. We have lots of giant Mango shade trees surrounding the house, no air conditioning, and ceiling fans and floor fans. Our electric bill runs about $50 a month.
      2) Yes, Granada is growing rapidly. There are over 1,000 expats living in Granada now compared to about 100 on Ometepe Island. I expect that rental prices will go up…supply and demand probably. But, here’s a good example of the cost of living for our friends. They pay $600 rent, $325 electric, and total expenses are about $1,800 a month. The cost of living here balances out because food and other expenses like medical are about 1/4 of the cost in the states. We own our house here and our monthly expenses are way less than $1,000 a month. Of course, we don’t have the entertainment like in Granada, instead we have a big garden and live in the country. We always have to laugh because we can easily spend lots of money when we go to Granada, but it’s such a treat to eat out. :-)
      I hope this helps. Thanks for your kind comments. I always enjoy sharing our lives on Ometepe Island.

  56. Wow! What a neat way to get feedback from all those lurking readers. I was directed to your blog though the Expats in Nicaragua Facebook page when I was seeking a dentist. I have been working in Nicaragua (Managua) since September and I also keep a blog about my extracurricular adventures: lennisblog.blogspot.com
    Thanks for the info!

  57. How does one go about getting residency? You’ve said that it’s costly. How costly? We do not have a pension so could we even obtain residency?



      • Thanks for pointing me in the right direction. What I’m wondering, though, is if an income from the US would work. I have a business that can be operated via telephone and internet from anywhere in the world. Do you know if that would work or do you know of anyone that has obtained residency that way? I don’t have a retirement pension or social security.

        • Kathy, I don’t think an income from the states qualifies for residency in Nicaragua. One way is to form a corporation and invest $30,000 in a Nicaraguan sector such as tourism. Then, you could apply as a foreign investor. The only way you could apply as a Rentista is if you had a private income from stocks, bonds, or private investments, a salary doesn’t count. I have friends who have received Rentista, Pensionado, and Foreign Investment residency. Then, I have friends who don’t qualify for any of these residency programs who are living here as perpetual tourists and they must cross the Costa Rican border every 90 days to renew their visas. Foreigners living in Nicaragua without residency have been crossing the border to renew their visas for many years, but lately the Nicaraguan government is cracking down on perpetual tourists. They indicate that it is hard for them to control the undesirables who are living in Nicaragua. I really can’t blame them because Nicaragua used to be a haven for foreign pedophiles and other illegal immigrants. Oh, one thing I forgot to mention, with the Pensionado visa, one cannot work in Nicaragua.

  58. My husband and I read your comment on a recent article about retiring in Nicaragua. We are relatively young, not yet 40, but we plan on retiring early and are always looking for the cheapest yet pleasant places to do so. Our son is 4 and in a Spanish immersion school here in Dallas, Tx. Looking forward to reading your blog!

  59. HI, My name is Judy, I live in Northern Illinois near Rockford. I came across your blog from another story that was on Yahoo the other day about a couple from Tennessee that moved to Granada, Nicaragua. I don’t know a lot about blogs but I was able to find yours. I have some questions for moving to the area where you are. I am very interested ( It would be just me ) in moving to a tropical country, reasons are I can’t handle the cold winters any longer, I absolutely do not like not being able to go outside I would love to live where it is never cold and hopefully the cost of living would be less. This would be a permanent move. I have no idea where to even start to know what to do to be able to live outside of the states. Questions like, do I still receive my social security out of the country and my pension, what does it cost to rent a decent little place to live, health insurance, I have Medicare Part A and B, I think I did read that Medicare is not excepted there. I also have Blue Cross Blue Shield, can I live there permanently, do I need a passport? Once I get there, do I have to leave after a certain time then come back, so you can see I don’t know anything, Any information that you can provide for me would be so much appreciated. Thank you so very much, Sincerely, Judy

    • Hi Judy,
      Thanks for visiting my blog. Don’t worry about not knowing where to start. We were the same way when we started exploring alternatives and living abroad. Let me answer a few of your questions, and then if you have more, just ask.
      1. Yes, you can still receive your SS and pension. We continue to use our bank in the states and withdraw our money out of an ATM. The exchange rate is very good, and when we exchange our dollars out of the ATM for cordobas, we actually make money.
      2. What does it cost to rent a little place to live? It depends on where you go. Granada has about 1,000 expats and the rents are generally more than on Ometepe Island. Expect to pay anywhere from $200-$800 in Granada. Ometepe Island rents are much cheaper..from $100-$300. We have about 100 expats living on Ometepe Island.
      3. You can continue to use your Blue Cross Blue Shield at Vivian Pellas Hospital in Managua, the capital city.
      4. You will need a passport to enter Nicaragua. Then, you will receive a 90 day tourist visa. Every 90 days you must renew your visa by crossing into Costa Rica and returning to Nicaragua. We applied for and received a resident visa, which allows us to live in Nicaragua for 5 years. Then, we have to renew our residency visas. It is a long, complicated, and expensive process, but I am so glad we don’t have to cross the border every 90 days anymore.
      If you prefer warm and hot weather, you are in the right place. We live lakefront on Lake Cocibolca, so even during the hottest and driest months, we have a nice breeze. The cities are much hotter. Let me know how else I can help you. Come visit. :-)

      • Hi, First of all I want to thank you so much for getting back with me sooooooo fast. Thank you. What is a expat? So if I understand you right, I don’t have to become a permanent resident to live there, and you said it is a expensive process to go through to do that. To live there I would have to go into Costa Rica every 90 days to renew my visa. It sounds like it would be cheaper to live in Ometepe than Granada. Is a visa the same as a passport? and if not how do I go about getting a visa? In Ometepe how do people get around? wondering because I won’t be getting a car and I can’t do lots of walking because I had polio as a child, I am 56 now, and I have weak legs, I can walk on my own just not a long distance. One more question for this time, I am a Christian, I do attend church, are there churches there? I just want to live a simple life, and hopefully not to complicated, enjoying the nature, the warmth, hopefully walking on beach if there is one. I’am sorry I have so many questions for you. I just want to prepare myself and know what to expect so I don’t get myself in some kind of situation by not asking. I do have questions about how to rent,and what to rent, “I’am not rich, I only have my Social Security and a small pension” but I will ask those questions next time. Again, thank you so much, Sincerely, Judy

        • Hi Judy,
          You are so welcome. I try to respond to the comments on my blog as quickly as possible. Let me answer these questions for you and ask you a few, too.
          1. When you fly into Nicaragua, your passport will be stamped with a 90 day tourist visa. That means that you can visit Nicaragua for 90 days and when your visa stamp in your passport is ready to expire, you must go to the Costa Rican Border and get your passport stamped again for another 90 days. But, a word of caution, Nicaragua is starting to keep close tabs on people who live in Nicaragua and cross the border every 90 days, just to have their visa renewed. Foreigners who live in Nicaragua on a permanent basis, really should start the residency process as soon as possible, because I am not sure how much longer the Nicaraguan government will be letting the foreigners who live here without residency cross the border again and again.
          2. An expat is an expatriate, a foreigner who lives in another country.
          3. Getting around: We have a motorcycle, but there are many people who live here without a vehicle. You can take a taxi or a bus to almost everyplace you want to go.
          4. Churches: Nicaragua is predominantly Catholic. There are a variety of churches, but the services are in Spanish only.
          5. Ometepe Island is a beautiful place, but like most of Nicaragua it is not easy to get around if a person is physically challenged. The buses are not equipped with lifts, they are actually old school buses from the states. The roads are full of potholes and sidewalks are very limited.
          Here are a few questions for you to think about:
          1. You must be able to speak Spanish on Ometepe Island. There are very few English speakers, except for the foreigners who live here. Do you speak a little Spanish? In the larger cities, like Granada, it is possible to live there without much Spanish, but it helps to know Spanish to make life a little easier.
          2. Would you be willing to visit before jumping into a new life? Nicaragua isn’t paradise. There are no places in the world where you will find everything you are seeking. I’d recommend coming for a visit for 1-3 months before moving here. You will definitely know if Nicaragua is right for you. We live with many challenges, such as electricity and water outages on a daily basis. Electricity is very expensive, and if you want an air conditioner, you will pay plenty for the electricity to run it. Some days our internet service is very slow. We have no libraries, no movies, no malls, and a few restaurants on the island. The bigger cities have those services.
          Just a few things to think about. Come for a visit if you can. We love it here, but we’ve been in Nicaragua about 10 years, so we are acclimated to the heat, the culture, and the lack of some reliable basic services.

  60. Hi Debbei;
    With all the traffic on this site I don’t expect to hear back from you in this lifetime! But here’s hoping.
    Let me preface my remarks by saying I know that a lot of what I see comes from prejudice, rumors and probably misinterpretations of the facts but it’s all I have and my mind is open,
    I originally wanted to retire in Costa Rica because my children are both half Costa Rican, mother born there but is us citizen.
    I visited there a couple of times and was alerted by all the bars on the windows and statements by police, hotel owners, and locals that it was not safe to walk on streets of San Jose after 9pm due to crime!
    Well I dont want to spend the remainder of my years on lock down, Anyway I ended up in Philippines where I have been since 2010. I dont care to return to usa unless necessary mostly because the trip i find too grueling, Sometimes I wish it were closer, like i could drive. I have driven to Nicaragua and Costa Rica many years ago. Mexico would be fine with me but my impression that it’s more dangerous there than any of the other central american countries.
    I was told that the reason Costa Rica has gotten so dangerous is because of the influx of so many Nicas who arrive with no marketable skills or education and have to resort to crime to support themselves???
    I speak spanish thus feel inclined to live in a spanish speaking country.
    Here in the philippines most speak enough english so language is not an issue, I would be living in thailand if I could learn that language..but i feel totally lost there each time i visit…so i just go for the medical from time to time,
    I have thought about northwestern Panama as I have friends that have settled there. I would love to have a couple acres with gardens etc. but don’t feel safe enough to do that here, I live on a former Naval Air Station where i find it Safe, Clean, Quiet and Beautiful… only down side is I have to live in Small Navy officers Quarters. One room effeciency.
    Anyway I’m a retired psychotherapist and have found it helpful to ramble on here on your blog and in that ramble I have realized that I could probably get most of what I want here if I’m willing to increase my expenses for living which would not probably break me.
    Thankd for hearing me out… my best to you there…I will peruse your blog to get a better sense of what is going on there for you. Who knows where I might end up.

    • Hola Peter,

      Ahhh…there is where you are wrong. I always try to respond to new comments. :-) Peter, rambling is the best way to help one make decisions…at least it is for me. It looks like you made up your mind to stay in the Philippines at the end of your comment. When we were searching for our place in the world to make a comfortable nest, we had two specific criteria: 1. a short flight back to the states 2. a quirky place where we could immerse ourselves with the local people. We really didn’t consider safety an issue because there is no place in the world that is entirely safe. We are common sense risk-takers and I rely on my intuitions as to the feeling I get from a place. We ruled out Portugal and Brazil because of the distance from the states. We ruled out Panama because it wasn’t quirky enough for us.
      The Ticos are always fighting with the Nicas. They blame the Nicas for everything. Actually, the situation used to be reversed, when the Ticos came to Nicaragua looking for work and the Nicas complained that the Ticos were responsible for the increase in crime. lol Quien sabe?
      We have found our home on Ometepe Island. For us, life would be valueless if we lived with fear and paranoia. For us, life is about a healthy mix of adventure and compassionate living. I suppose that could be found anywhere in the world, but Ometepe just felt right for us. Granted, it’s not for everyone, yet it suits our personalities well.
      I wish you happy trails. If you are ever our way, stop by and visit us. I love that the world can arrive at our doorsteps carried from far away places on a little ferry. Thanks for your wonderful ramblings.

  61. Hi Debbie!

    My name is Jason Ernst and I am a 25-year-old Arizona native who has been traveling and working remotely (as a copywriter and SEO consultant) since graduating from university a couple of years ago with my long-term boyfriend. I stumbled upon your blog when I was researching Ometepe and was thoroughly impressed with every post I read and the life it seems you are living there (or here, I should say–since I am on Ometepe right now). After telling Jeff about your blog, he mentioned reaching out to see if you and your husband by chance wanted to meet up for coffee and a meal and chat. We have relished the opportunity to see the world the way we have over the past couple of years, but plan to wrap our trip up in a year and return to the States to continue our educations. We already talk about living abroad at some point in the future, and think it would be nice to see what your life here is like. We are staying in Moyogalpa (I actually think I saw a picture of you in our hostel) and will be here for three or four days. If you want to check out Jeff’s blog, featuring our joint travel experiences and some of his own, here is the link: http://blog.travelpod.com/travel-blog/jeffwright/3/tpod.html

    Thanks for reading this, for wanting to get to know your readers and visitors to your page. I look forward to following your beautiful, inspirational blog, and hope to maybe meet you while we are on the island!


  62. Judy, WOW am I so glad that I found you. Margie [49 female] and I [Val 56 male] will be landing in Managua on ~26th of November to spend 13 days in your adopted country. Margie is an Atlanta vegan-city girl who has become recreation-ally relentless for a few years. Triathlons, runs, and biking are her passion. I am a retired engineer, born in Jefferson county AL, having a year ago relocated from Shelby county TN to Paulding county GA. I was delighted to return to GA for the recent birth of my grandson.

    I’ll be brief, in case I botch this maneuver, and lose all this typing. Margie will be making her third trip to Nicaragua. See speaks Spanish and is quite the continental. I am a late bloomer to sampling Central America, but 30 days in Belize last summer has given me the bug.

    I’ll be briefer. First six days = little corn island, middle 3 days = Isla de Ometepe, final couple of days = Granada.

    We really need to know more about Ometepe and Lord knows that woman is going to want to scale those volcanoes. Maybe you can persuade her that I might perish in the endeavor!

    • Hola Margie and Val,

      I just love reading about my new blog friends. Thanks so much for all of your information….it kept me chuckling. Margie really needs to check out the Fuego y Agua Ultra Marathon held on Ometepe Island every February. She should enter. She can run up and down the volcanoes. They have the 100K, 50K, a 25K, and the Survivor Run. Although, we don’t actually run, we volunteer every year and it is so much fun. I can’t believe how many people we meet from TN. We still have a house in E. TN. and the most incredible thing….we met a woman on Ometepe Island who actually lived in our little town for 20 years, while we lived there. We never met until she moved to Granada and we discovered we had a lot of friends in common. It’s a small world.

      Tell me what you’d like to know about Ometepe and I’ll be glad to give you more info. And Val, you won’t have any problem scaling the volcano.:-) I think Concepcion is easier to climb than Maderas because it is drier and you can choose to go half way to the mirador. If Ron can do it, you can, too. lol I have your email (didn’t post it on this comment). Thanks for your comments.

  63. Hey! My name is Alexander In from Granada, Dave, a friend of mine from detroit sent me a link and im here! thank you for you post: The Anatomy of the Cult Ecoovie, it was very helpful to know that information!

  64. Thank you for sharing. We have been trying to decide whether to let family live in our house here or to sell it. You have been very helpful.

  65. Debbie,
    Thank you for sharing your journey in Nicaragua. I love reading your insight on expat living and looking at the beautiful photos.
    I am an elementary media specialist, from Minnesota, and would love to learn more about lending libraries throughout the region (KUDOS to You!).
    We will be visiting Nicaragua (our first visit) at the end of March, so I may have a few questions to throw your way. We love Costa Rica and are thrilled to investigate the neighboring country.
    We are exploring the idea of someday relocating to that area, but are not close to retirement. However, the idea of an “early experimental retirement” is very appealing. Would you mind sharing your experience with temporary retirement and teaching in Nicaragua?
    I look forward to watching you guys on House Hunter’s International.

    • Hola Judy,

      I call our experiment with “pretirement” a wild, unexpected, mysterious, and impulsive, ride through our lives. Now, that I look back on it, it was serendipitous.In 2003, my husband and I had just accepted new teaching jobs offered by the principal who was a friend of ours. We realized a week after we had moved, bought a house, and started teaching in North Carolina, that this was a major mistake. I cried everyday. What were we thinking? Before we took our new jobs, we had visited Nicaragua and delivered over 500 pounds of school supplies to an impoverished school, made a tremendous network of friends, and explored the possibility of retiring to Nicaragua in the distant future.
      Well, in 2004, one icy January day when school was closed, I received an email from the director of La Esperanza in Granada
      (where we had delivered our school supplies). He asked if we would be interested in managing his hospedaje on Ometepe Island. The only requirement was that we speak fluent English. lol Ron and I debated for 3 seconds, and accepted his offer. We finished the school year…still crying every day, but with an adrenalin rush and a new sense of adventure and hope. We sold our house in 8 days, moved our belongings back to our old house in TN that we were renting to our realtor (who wanted to buy our house), and told our son he was in charge of our old lives, our house, and our ailing old dog. In a whirlwind of ecstasy, we sold our cars, gave away all our winter clothes, and moved to Ometepe Island to manage a youth hostel.
      Well, we soon found out that we weren’t cutout to manage a youth hostel. We never had an opportunity to leave the hostel to explore, and we felt like nagging parents to the foreign youth who wanted to climb the volcano drunk, without a guide, and in flip-flops. So, after 3 months, we said “thanks, but no thanks” to managing a youth hostel.
      But, now we had a problem. We couldn’t return to the states, we had no jobs and no winter clothes. So, we started walking around looking for a cheap place to rent and we found the little beach shack that we now own. By the way, HHI was very creative in filming our back story as to how we chose Ometepe Island. They filmed us working in a youth hostel, and teaching English lessons to students I had 10 years ago. It was like a little reunion. :-)
      In order to acclimate to our new surroundings, we offered free English lessons to anyone that wanted to bicycle to our house. We learned everything we needed to know, including Spanish, and after a year, we returned to the states with a goal of becoming debt free, paying off our house in TN, finding new teaching jobs until we were 55 years old and could take early retirement with little teaching pensions, and returning to Ometepe Island to buy our little beach shack. The rest is history.
      Honestly, I wouldn’t recommend going through what we went through. We were very impulsive and really hadn’t thought through many things. But, looking back on the life altering experience, it’s amazing how everything worked out just the way we wanted.

      • Thank you so much for creating your blog. May I ask if you shipped anything in a container to Nicaragua? We will be moving there sometime in 2014 and are trying to decide whether to sell all out belongings and buy what we need in Nicaragua or ship.
        Thank you

        • Hi Catherine,
          No, we never shipped a container to Nicaragua. First, we didn’t have residency at the time that we moved, and in shipping a container, we would have had to pay a considerable amount of money to get our items out of custom’s storage. We were not faced with the problem of selling all of our things, because we still have a house in the states. Right now, it is an advantage for us because we can store all of our personal belongings in the house, we maintain a US address and mailing address, so we can have a US credit card and things shipped to our house in the states. We are debt free, and we own our house in the states, so we have good friends living there and they just pay for utilities and keep our place in good condition. We decided not to burn any bridges and keep our options open. You never know what could happen and call us back to the states…Volcano Concepcion erupts…a medical emergency?
          We enjoyed having all of our furniture handmade in Nicaragua. I designed it, my iron man made it. It was so much easier to buy everything here and if we couldn’t find what we wanted in Nicaragua, when we returned to the states, we loaded up on things like electrical supplies, tools, and lamp fixtures. Little by little we got everything we needed to make our little boomer nest comfortable and homey. I hope this helps.

  66. Hola Debbie,

    I just wanted to say thank you again for all the information and advice you have given me. I have shared it with my fellow travelers and it’s been very helpful in making some decisions on travel. We do hope to get to Ometepe…but weather and time will make the final decision.

    I do have one other question on currency. Is it better to exchange money in the States or in Central America? One of my fellow travelers wanted to know. I have already exchanged some money for the three countries we are visiting…but he seemed to think we should check out what the exchange rate was there. Do you have any suggestions or input on this?

    Less than a month and we will be in Costa Rica…and in about a month Nicaragua! Can’t wait!



    PS: I loved the photo of the chicken in the bag crossing the river!

    • You are very welcome, Ann. I would wait until you arrive to exchange money. The exchange rate will be better. In Nicaragua, there are money exchangers on the streets, and sometimes we exchange with them. Believe it or not, they are very friendly and trustworthy. I really don’t know how they make any money because they always give a good exchange rate. If you are in Granada, ask someone for directions to the bicycle shop. They have the BEST exchange rate in Granada…even better than the banks. If you decide to exchange money in the banks, make sure you have your passport with you.
      We always take our money out in American dollars using the ATM. Then, we go into the bank and exchange our money. The money we make by selling our American dollars to the bank, pays for our ATM transaction fee with about $10 extra. Hope this helps. Happy travels.

  67. Hi! Love your blog! Your photos are insightful! Am coming to Nicaragua 19 Oct for two weeks, want to take my intermediate Spanish to the next level… and have some adventures. You wrote of a home stay with a private room, (, right beside our house on the lake is Puesta del Sol. They offer homestays with private rooms)”… perhaps you have some ideas. I have had fun attending spanish schools in other places (Panama, Costa Rica) because I can meet and play around with the other students. I will be travelling alone, so I am always looking to make friends. I would love your suggestions. It does have to be Spanish school per se, a volunteer gig would work, my spanish is passable.

      • We will be in Nicaragua the end of January and flying out of Managua the middle of February. What do you suggest for a family’s first visit? Can you recommend a place to stay in Ometepe for a few days or a week? We are budget minded and not looking to live like tourists. However, we aren’t prepared for too many shocks (my kids have never been outside the US). Thanks for any suggestions you can offer.

        • Hi Kathy,

          Wonderful. There are so many places to go and so much to do in Nicaragua. For a family’s first visit, I would suggest staying in Granada for a week or more. It is easy to make day trips to Masaya ( the big market), Laguna de Apolyo ( the fresh water crater), a boat trip through the isletas ( in Granada)…oh so many other things to do. It depends on what you want to do on Ometepe Island where you would like to stay. We live on the Concepcion side of the island, near the port town, Moyogalpa. If you make Moyogalpa your home base, you can easily catch a bus to the other side of the island..the Maderas side. There are quite a few nice, inexpensive places to stay. One of my favorite places is Charco Verde. It is about 4 miles out of Moyogalpa and it has a beautiful nature trail where you can see lots of monkeys and a really nice swimming beach. It’s not located near other restaurants or other activities, though. If you decide to stay in Moyogalpa, I’d recommend Hospedaje Soma. It’s a short walk out of town with two cabins and a small hotel. If you want to stay right in town, The American Cafe and Hotel, or The Corner House. There are many nice places to stay on the other side of the island, too. Check out Trip Advisor. They always have wonderful recommendations. Let me know how else I can help you. Enjoy your stay. You have picked a perfect time to visit Nicaragua.

        • Thanks for the quick response. I’ll check out your recommendations and do some more research but may be getting back in touch with you for more info if you don’t mind. Thanks.

  68. Hola! I am so excited to begin following your retirement life in Nicaragua. My daughter Nikki and her boyfriend Mike were members of a team of engineering students from the Unv. of Iowa that built a bridge in Jacopo Occidental Nicaragua last year through Bridges For Prosperity. They developed many friendships that will last a life time.

    This year I met a new friend through Etsy, Carol Blackmore. Through her daughter Ivy, a Peace Corp, worker, has been assisting the weavers of FABMRON in the village of El Ocotal!

    Nicaragua holds a special place in our Iowan hearts. I hope to visit some day to meet the people who were so welcoming and kind to Nikki during her 2 month stay. I want to hug her little friend Mider (7 years old now) who’s grandmother housed and fed them all those weeks. I’d especially like to attend Mider’s wedding someday and see the beautiful country in which they live and you now enjoy.

    Thank you for sharing with us. I look forward to enjoying Nicaragua vicariously through you.

    • Hola Wendy,

      Thanks for visiting my blog. It’s always nice to hear of inspiring stories, such as yours. I have never heard of Bridges for Prosperity, but what a wonderful idea! I hope you have an opportunity to visit this beautiful country someday. Thanks again for your lovely comments.

  69. Hola Debbie!
    I found your blog through Thorntree, when you responded to a question I posed. I really love your photos and the way you describe life in Nicaragua.

    There are four of us traveling from San Jose to Tegucigalpa in early November. I think we have our itinerary pretty well set. Though we are still negotiating our first nights stay in Nicaragua after crossing the border. We plan to take a fancy bus from Liberia to the crossing and then travel to either Rivas or Managua. Two of us are holding out for Rivas and a visit to Ometepe. The Island sounds lovely and something not to miss. Plus I think after crossing the Border we are going to want to relax sooner than later!

    My big question is the Border crossing at Penas Blancas. Is there any day or time of day where it’s easier to cross? I hear some people say it’s a breeze and others say it’s a nightmare. (This is my first trip to Central America and I’m not sure what to expect.) I don’t speak Spanish, though one of our companions is fluent.

    Any information you can give me about crossing the border and then how to get over to Ometepe. Can you recommend any lodging on Ometepe?

    I apolgize if you have already answered these questions some place else on the blog. Just tell me the link and I will look it up.

    I am so excited to be visiting Central America. I am from Oregon and recently retired. I love to see new sights, kayak, camp and generally have fun. I like to take pictures too!



    • Hi Ann,
      Thanks, Ann, for the sweet comments. I’m glad you enjoy my blog. If you take a TICA bus across the border it will be a breeze. The TICA bus pulls right up to the custom office in CR. You get out, have your passport stamped and get back in the bus. Then, you drive to the Nicaraguan custom’s office and do the same thing. I think they have a different window to get your passports stamped at the Nicaraguan side, but I’m not sure. It will be very easy..no problems. A few helpful hints for the TICA bus: The buses are absolutely freezing. Take a jacket or small blanket. You will have to purchase your TICA bus ticket all the way to Managua from Liberia, but tell them that you want to get off in Rivas. You can purchase TICA bus tickets in Liberia. I think the TICA bus is the easiest way to get to Rivas. When the bus drops you off in Rivas at the TICA bus station, get a taxi to San Jorge where the ferry will bring you to the dock to go to Ometepe Island. If you have a phone, call my taxi driver, Francisco at 8441-5944 or have someone at the TICA bus station call him for you.
      It depends on when you get to Rivas whether it is too late to catch a ferry to Ometepe Island. If you arrive after 5:30 pm, you can spend the night in a hotel in San Jorge. There are several small hotels near the dock. Hotel California is my recommendation.
      It takes an hour to get to Ometepe Island. Travel by one of the larger ferries, not the small launchas. November may be a windy month and the ferries can handle the waves much easier than the launchas.
      Once you arrive in Moyogalpa on Ometepe Island, there are a variety of places to stay. It really depends on what you want to do. Hotel Soma has 2 cabins with air-conditioning and other hotel rooms, within walking distance of town. The American Cafe and Hotel, a block up from the dock, has 5 casitas with hot running water and 2 with air-conditioning. 4 miles out of town is Charco Verde Nature reserve. They have cabins, a restaurant, and a beautiful nature trail where you can see lots of monkeys. I love Charco Verde, but it is out of town. Yogi’s is a hostel in town. It has dorm rooms and some private rooms..a fun place to meet other travelers. If you want a real cultural immersion experience, right beside our house on the lake is Puesta del Sol. They offer homestays with private rooms. Let me know what you are looking for and I’ll be glad to help.
      If you decide not to take the TICA bus across the border, I’ll be glad to offer you more suggestions. I hope this information helps. You will love Nicaragua.

      • Debbie, Thanks so much for your quick reply! We have a rental car in Costa Rica and will do buses or taxis in Nicaragua and Honduras. We are trying to decide whether to drop our rental off in Libera or Penas Blancas. Is there any advantage to dropping the car off in either place? I’ve heard traffic can be bad at the Border. What is the feasability of taking a taxi or shuttle to Rivas from the Border?

        All your suggestions have been so helpful. I have passed them on to my companions. Your recommendations on lodging are very helpful.

        One of our travelers is a small time coffee roaster so we are visiting some Coffee Finca’s in each country. We also want to take in the less touristy road. We are not interested in all the commercial stuff. We don’t have a lot of time and it seems less and less as we find more sights we’d like to see!

        Thanks again! Have a wonderful day!


        • Ann, your best bet will be to drop off the rental car in Liberia. If you want to take a regular bus to the border, then just go to the bus station in Liberia and ask for the next bus to the frontera. I think they leave every hour for the border and they are not very expensive..maybe a dollar or two. Once you get to the border, have your passport stamped in CR. You will probably have to show proof of your return trip to the states, so have a copy of your airline ticket handy to show them. If you don’t have a return airline ticket, they will make you buy a “fake” TICA bus ticket for $35. You can’t really use it as a bus pass. Then, you will walk a long road to the Nicaraguan side of the border. Once you get your passports stamped there, you will go out a gate into an area where taxis and buses will be waiting. You can take a bus to Rivas (they are chicken buses…not at all like the buses in CR), or you can take a taxi to Rivas. There are no shuttles. The taxi to Rivas should not cost anymore than $25. They can take you right to San Jorge, which is only about a mile from Rivas, where you can catch the ferry.
          If you decide to do this instead of taking a TICA bus in Liberia across the border, then get to the border early. The bus station in Liberia has a sign posting the times of the buses.
          If you are interested in seeing a coffee farm on Ometepe Island, there is Finca Magdolina. It is on the other side of the island and will take a while to get there by taxi or by chicken bus. Hope this helps. Have a great day.

  70. Hi, Debbie:

    We are looking forward to spending some extended time (3-4 months) in Nicaragua beginning in January of 2015. We are a couple who is close to retirement and we think we can finally pull the plug next year. We have a home in Ohio which we plan to keep as we have three sons who all go to college in Columbus and we want to continue to provide a home base for them (and us). But we are certainly not ready to retire to Florida, as we have always loved adventure and new experiences, so we’ve been researching other countries. We’ve considered Panama, Ecuador, Belize, and Nicaragua, but we always come back to Nicaragua as there are so many things that appeal, including the people, the culture, mountains and cities and seasides.

    I’ve been following several Nicaraguan blogs including yours. It seems that changes are taking place in applying for pensionado residency and we’ll be keeping a close eye on that. We’re not too terribly worried about being able to afford, but we sure hope we can find a rental situation that will accommodate us for a few months, more than likely in Granada, which we use sort of as a home base while we explore other parts of the country. A main question that we have is how hard will it be to get along without a vehicle during that first visit? Can we get back and forth from Granada to other areas of the country via bus, for instance?

    We have started Spanish lessons, although I’m sure that nothing will compare to immersion in a Spanish-speaking country. My husband teaches in a school with a large Hispanic population, and his fifth graders are happy to help him along with vocabulary, although they giggle at his pronunciation :-) . At any rate, we are excited about the possibilities in Nicaragua to live a different sort of life together. We were canoeing on a nearby river today and could talk of nothing else! I really appreciate those of you who blog as your insights are invaluable to those of us considering making Nicaragua our home.

    Take care,

    • Hola Julia,

      It sounds like we have a lot in common already. I was a 5th grade teacher before I retired, too. I think you are wise to keep your house in Ohio. We kept our house, too and we have house sitters who watch over our house, gather any mail we have left, and take care of our cat. We’re still not ready to cut the cords to the states. Plus, I have so many emotional attachments to my “junk”. Someday, we will have to think about selling it or giving it to our son…although he’s already told me he doesn’t want any of my “junk”. lol
      As far as the changes in the pensionado visa, much of it is still the same as when we received our cedulas. You still have to have everything notarized and authenticated in the states. Except, it’s going to cost you more money because now, you have to have every document apostilled. When we applied, we were only required to send one document to a state department (we chose Florida) to have the entire packet of documents certified. When you are ready to explore the possibilities of getting residency, I have a friend who lives in Granada and has helped many people get their residency. She’s a jewel and very efficient. She knows exactly what Nicaragua requires.
      If you decide to make your home base in Granada, you won’t have any problems finding a place to rent. There are over 1,000 expats living in Granada. Transportation is easy. Most people I know in Granada don’t have a car. They take buses or taxis everywhere. So, that shouldn’t be a problem. In fact, my next post is about the taxi service in Nicaragua. Stay tuned. :-)
      Thanks for your comments. It is wonderful to “meet” you. Hopefully we’ll meet in person in the future.

  71. Wow.. I guess I missed this page when I first visited. Here’s my ‘official’ intro..lol I’m Regina, living in the US in PA. I’ve been to Nica twice, in ’09 & ’10 on mission trips to the Jinotepe & Diriamba area. I’ve gotten pretty close to the missionaries there. I love that the a bunch of the young people found they’re way on to Facebook (they didn’t have internet till after we were there the first year) so that I’ve gotten to stay touch with a couple of them.

    I’m coming back, finally! in November!!! It’s been a long three years! This will be my first visit in Nov, but I hear Nov, Dec and Jan are a good time to visit. I really don’t do great with the heat. I have not visited Ometepe, but I know that a lot of the teams that come in do make a trip there. I have been to Masaya – and the view from the volcanoes is box breaking. But my favorite spot so far is Catarina. I didn’t get to return there last time with the team, but it rained pretty good anyhow.

    As for WordPress! This is my first real go at blogging, and WordPress has made that pretty easy. I still get hung up with photos on pages and things not staying where I put them, but mostly I’m just having fun, when I have the time. With planning a team trip and trying to keep the rest of life in order, this has taken a back seat. But I do need to take a few days and do a much needed overhaul to my Nica blog! As you told someone, things are always changing in Nica! I can’t always keep up.

    And I was astounded by all the responses you got on this page, and most of them by people who’ve been to or planning to come down soon. Very cool! Well.. time to scoot again!!

    • Hi Regina,
      Where are you living in PA? I’m originally from near Pittsburgh. We’re big Steeler fans..awaiting the beginning of the new season. Plus, the Pirates are doing well, too. Thanks for leaving a wonderfully detailed comment. Catarina is one of my favorite places, too. I want to go back soon to buy some trees and flowers from their nurseries.
      November is the perfect time to come to Nicaragua. I really hope you get a chance to come to Ometepe Island. You won’t be disappointed. I’m going to pop over to your blog now and take a look. :-) Thanks again for your lovely comments.

      • Actually I grew up across in Mechanicsburg – not far from Harrisburg. Now I’ve been down in York County for the last 30+ yrs.. Yikes that makes me sound old! And yeah.. I might have to have a conversation with the ladies on the team, and Bonnie in Jinotepe… who knows.. maybe we’ll meet!

  72. Hi there, been following your blog for some time now and I really look forward to seeing new posts. I found your blog while Internet searching about moving to Nicaragua as me and my husband have been looking into it for about the past year. Your posts are wonderful depictions of living in Nicaragua, a very good mix of the realities of living there combined with your love of the country.

    We are hoping to move down in about two years time and we did visit this past April/May, although we did not make it to Ometepe (very disappointed about that). We hope to come again for a visit this winter and make it to Ometepe for a look see, sounds like a great place to live.

    Thanks for all of the great info and looking forward to more:)


    • Hi Shawna,

      I am always thrilled when people post on my blog and tell me a little about themselves. Thank you. Winter is the very best time to visit Nicaragua. In Nov. and Dec. it’s cool, still green, and lush. If you come to Ometepe, please let me know. I really enjoy meeting the people who follow my blog. Thanks again for your sweet comments.

  73. Hello, found your interesting blog. I love the Internet for satisfying my wanderlust. I am an American teaching English in Japan. I married a Japanese and have been here for ten years. I lived for six years in Germany before coming to Japan. I strongly believe in the simple life, not spending too much money. This has served me well living in two very expensive countries. I dream about retiring to a place like Nicaragua, low cost but high on culture. My Spanish is somewhat dormant right now. It has been replaced by the Romanian language I learned afterward. However, I was amazed how fast the Spanish came back when I made a two week visit to Ibiza. I love volcanoes. What does that say about me?Back in the 80s I traveled to Costa Rica and watched Mt. Arenal spit out orange lava at nighttime. I love the Big Island of Hawaii. On a clear day I can see our “house volcano” letting off some steam here on Hokkaido. Well, thanks for reading and continue with your wonderful life on Ometepe!

    • Konichiwa Stuart,
      Thanks for visiting my blog. Japan is an incredible country. I was invited to spend a month in Japan on a teacher’s Fulbright scholarship. I know what you mean about the cost of living. Fortunately, all of my expenses were paid. I don’t think I could ever return, although I would love to, because it would be prohibitively expensive for me. It’s nice to hear that your Spanish returned…it’s kind of like learning to ride a bicycle, isn’t it? Thanks again from one ‘gypsytoes’ to another. I love receiving comments from wanderlusters. ( if that’s even a word…lol)

  74. We live in Granada and are trying to apply for our pensionados. My problem is that I have lived outside the continental US most of my life and have no idea about how to get the medical letter to go with our application. We plan on going to Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, but don’t know a soul. Do you know of any doctors in South Florida who specialize in these kinds of physicals? How do you get their letter notorized and apostillized? We would appreciate any help you can give us, thanks

  75. Hi Debbie, my name is Terence, I live in Kelowna BC Canada. The claim to fame for tourism here is wine and sunshine http://terence-hill.blogspot.ca/p/mission-hill-winery-west-kelowna-bc.html. We have over 200 wineries. I am fortunate to live surrounded by two wineries a tree nursery and apple orchards. I have followed your Nicaraguan journey for over a year now giving me a good deal of your personal insights. Of course I also immerse myself in learning about the regions climate people economy government weather real estate and retirement dreams. I still feel like Nicaragua is a hidden gem. I wish to travel to within a year. Thank you for your blog and all that you do in your world. PS: your creative mind is most excellent! lol.

    • Hi Terence,
      Oh, I could go for some of your delicious wine right now. lol Thank you so much for your kind comments. It is great to know who I write for when I post a blog. Nicaragua is still a hidden gem, for which I am very grateful. I hope you can visit Ometepe Island. Nicaragua has such a variety of places to visit, sometimes it’s hard to decide where to go. It was great to “meet” you. Hopefully we can meet in person some day.

      • Hi Debbie, I continue to read your blog, your stories and photography have been such an inspiration from someone who has found peace and contentment in Nicaragua.

        Well I have answered the calling from Nicaragua. The passport has arrived and I am ready to go. I hope to be leaving Vancouver Canada on Feb.18th, so excited! As I am such a foreigner to the country, can you suggest any inexpensive options for accommodation in Granada and Ometepe Island? I will have 3 weeks to go north, south, east and west. I would really appreciate any info you can provide. I very much hope you meet you once on the island.

        Thank you

        PS: I have included my blog site for your viewing entertainment and looking forward to having a Nicaragua page!

  76. Hi,

    Just found your blog and wanted to know if you are interested in providing a guest psot for our recently launched retirement site retirementandgoodliving.com

    Many of the visitors to our site are interested in travel/vacations and retirement locations. We thought a post about either vacationing or living in Nicaragua would be great.

    Let me know if you are interested and I will send additional info.


    Simone Harrison

  77. Hi Debbie – I have been following your blog for awhile. Your information in insight into Nicaragua is greatly appreciated. I am a physician in my late 50’s and have been on 5 medical missions run by the Children of Destiny Nicaragua who have an orphanage in Los Cedros and in Jinotega. My husband and I have visited twice – 2 years ago we spent 5 days on Ometepe which is just beautiful. We have purchased a house near San Juan de Sur that is for investment and will be back in November to look for land or a house for us to retire to. We love the country and people and if I could only learn Spanish all would be really perfect. Hope to some day meet you. And Thanks again for your blog.

  78. Have a daughter that has lived in Managua for that last couple of years. She loves the people and the country – not so sure about Managua itself. Am considering visiting in late November. I have seen her pictures of Ometepe, but don’t know when she was there last. It may have been on one of her earlier visits to Nica, prior to her moving there.

  79. Hi Debbie, I just returned to the U.S. yesterday after spending 3 1/2 weeks in Nicaragua, all but the last 3 days on beautiful Ometepe. I stayed with my daughter and son-in-law, who have been living in Merida for the past year and a half. I just discovered your blog while traveling home yesterday and have enjoyed reading your posts. I thoroughly loved my adventure and brief glimpse into life on the island. I look forward to following your blog and maybe next visit, meeting up with you! I share your passion for the children and education – I am an elementary school secretary and after school program coordinator (and woulda/coulda/shoulda been a teacher!)

    • Hi Sue,
      Ometepe is such a small island, but we rarely go to the Merida side of the island. It’s like entering a different world on the “other side”. So glad you found my blog. Please stay in touch and you are welcome to come to “the other side” to visit us the next time you are on the island. Thanks so much for your lovely comments. :-)

      • Hola!
        I was wondering if you would mind emailing me. I have some questions about resources in Managua to pass along to my daughter.

  80. Hola, Debbie!

    Love your blog. And we definitely appreciate the time and thought you put into it.

    We are a mid-50’s couple looking to break away a little early. We are going to head down to Nica in late November. Our plan right now is to visit Granada, Ometepe, and Matagalpa. Dunno if that’s too aggressive for a 1 week trip! lol

    I love reading about your lives on Ometepe and we can’t wait to visit. We would like to climb one of your volcanoes. Right now we aren’t sure which one. Maybe both??

    We’d love to know a good (inexpensive) hostel where we can stay. If you have a recommendation, we would certainly appreciate it!

    How many expats live on the Island? When we move, we want to become involved with the local culture – but a “safety net” of Norte Americanos would give us some emotional support as we move out of our comfort zone. :-)

    Thanks again for your wonderful, informative blog!

    Rich and Pat

    • Hola Rich and Pat,

      Thanks for your lovely comments. Ometepe Island is very special. We have about 100 expats living on the island, but they come and go frequently. Right now, we are visiting friends in Granada and there is a huge expat population here..over 1,000 expats with more moving here daily. If you only have one week for your visit to Nicaragua, you will definitely be on the run. As you get closer to your trip, let me know and I will be happy to help you with recommendations for places to stay and things to do. November and December are the best months to visit. You made an excellent choice! :-)

        • We made our flight reservations! (Finally!) Could you contact us via email? Would love to touch base about Ometepe, places to stay, etc. Thanks! :-)

  81. Hi Debbie
    I love reading your blog. I’ve been to Nicaragua twice (Dec/Jan 2011 and again last winter) and have completely fallen in love with the country. I am coming for another visit this coming December and January which I’m really looking forward to. In my spare time I’m involved with a charity called Friends of Morazán (FOM) which helps to fund pre-school education in Puerto Morazán in north western Nicaragua. Puerto Morazán is ‘twinned’ with the city of Bristol, United Kingdom where I live. FOM builds new class rooms, funds some teachers and also provides school materials, water filters etc.
    I will be bringing some school materials with me on my next trip but could almost certainly squeeze in a few books for your library if you let me know the type of thing you need – I will be visiting Ometepe for two nights so could drop them off somewhere convenient.
    Kind regards,

    • Hola Elspeth,

      Thank you so much for your kind offer to bring some children’s books for my lending library. I am always looking for children’s books in Spanish from preschool to fifth grade. I try to stay with the simple elementary books because reading is not part of their culture and the kids are intimidated when they see chapter books without pictures. You are welcome to drop off the books at the American Cafe and Hotel or the Corner House, both of these places are located in Moyogalpa just up the street from the port.

      Thanks again for your help and when you come to Ometepe, if you have time, you are welcome to come for a visit to our place.

  82. Hi Debbie, I have been peeking at your posts for a few days and enjoy your reflections and stories about your life on the island, so let me thank you for taking the time to communicate so much of yourself to the rest of us out here.

    and after years of domains and specialized sites I believe I am most comfortable on WordPress and look forward to expanding my posts as you have.
    For the months of December through to April my primary destination for heat and cultural comfort has been to the Carribean coast of Costa Rica staying in Punta Uva at Selvins Cabinas. The facilities and food here just what I need but recently have considered a move for part of that time to Granada or Ometepe Island.
    I shall continue to follow your posts with interest.

    Bill O’Brien

  83. HI Debbie I could not figure out how to work your blog, so I had to start at the beginning I am in Granada, and I am going for residency could you please direct me to the place where you chronicled your achieving this, so I can use you as a guide and follow in your footsteps? I thought when I read it, as it was happening, that I could recover it at will, now, I need it and I don’t know where it is. Thank you, whick.

    • Whick,

      I’m afraid everything has changed, now. Your process will probably be totally different because Nicaragua is now a member of the Hague Convention, which means that your documents need an apostille, not just notarized like we did. I don’t know who to tell you to see because everything just changed within the past two months. Bummer. Maybe the process will be a lot easier, now. You may want to see Nadene Holmes in Granada. She’s the one that helped us with our residency. I think you can get a consultation with her for around $25 and she will tell you the new process…assuming she knows. Good luck. Sorry I can’t help you anymore. Nothing ever stays the same for long here.

  84. Hello!

    We are a 40’s married couple from Kentucky, USA who are contemplating earl retirement in Nicaragua, We are headed down in August for our second trip this year. We absolutely loved it there in January and enjoyed all the spots we visited. This time, we will be centered in Granada and Leon, but would love to bring you some books for your library. Since we won’t make it to Ometepe this time, do you have a drop off point somewhere in Granada? We are staying at an apartment adjacent to the Garden Cafe, but expect to wander around town quite a bit and can drop off wherever you suggest.

    Thanks so much for your blog. We so enjoy reading about your life on the island.


    • Beth, thank you so much for contributing to my lending library. Nicaragua has a way of getting under your skin and into your heart, doesn’t it? I’m going to contact my friends who live in Granada and see if you can drop off the books at their house. Or possibly you could drop them off at the Garden Cafe and I can have them pick them up. I’ll send you and email and let you know where to deliver the books. You are awesome!! Thanks again.

  85. Wow what a GREAT blog. Makes me want to get on a plane & run away. Is there a place my 51yr old wife could lay by the pool with her yorkie dog, maybe not the island but close? I am 53 and ready to escape the rat race, am coming to Nicaragua from Arkansas USA in August hope to run into you when I am there.

    • Hola John,

      Thanks so much. There are lots of places your wife can lay by a pool, or an ocean, or an enormous lake. :-) You really need to check out Nicaragua. It is a land of diversity..you name it, it’s here! We lived in Arkansas for 10 years. Surprisingly, we often compare our lives in the Ozark Mountains with Ometepe Island. There are many similarities. Enjoy your trip and be sure to let me know when you arrive. :-) Thanks for visiting my blog.

  86. Hi Debbie,
    I’ve been enjoying your posts for the last few years and have particularly appreciated your respectful capture of Nica life via words and photos. I have been visiting Nicaragua for the last four for five years, working on Spanish slowly but surely and getting to know the country and its lovely people. Spanish studies are at La Mariposa in San Juan de la Concepcion; every time I read of your projects I think of how like-minded you and Paulette Goudge at La Mariposa are and that the two of you need to meet. I’m coming down in August – drop me an e-mail and let’s see if something can work out.

    Thanks for all,

  87. Hey Debbie,
    Is that you? Did we meet in the plain from Managua to Atlanta?
    I lost the paper where I wroted down the name of your blog so I am not sure.
    If I find the right one, Thanks for the nice flight I enjoyed talking with you!

      • Yeah I will visit you when I come back to Nicaragua. I would love to! I need to study one more year and when I will be graduated I will return to Nica. I really love this country!! How is it going with you books?

  88. Hello! My name is Allegra and I am currently a grad student at University of Illinois at Chicago. My sister and I are planning to visit Ometepe Island July 1st-5th. I came across your blog a few weeks ago and I have really enjoyed reading about your experiences living in Nicaragua. I wanted to know if I could ask you a few questions about travel to Nicaragua from the US, such as the best way to get from Managua to Ometepe. Please let me know if you are able to answer a few questions via email. Thank you!

      • I am living in Granada. Much easier trip, but could you give me info on what to do when I get off the ferry? I hiked the smaller volcano years ago with a group trip. I’m solo now. Thank you! I love your blog, and I linked it on mine! Trying to get my dad to retire here;)

        • Hi Ashley,
          Where do you want to go when you get off the ferry? Let me know and I’ll be glad to walk you virtually through town. I’m in the states, now and I read on your blog that you are in need of gloves for medical exams. That’s on my list to bring back. My brother and his wife both work in hospitals, so they can supply me with gloves. Hopefully, I’ll have some extra gloves that I can donate to your clinic.

  89. There’s no place than our homeland. But you chose to be expat for living pleasures or rather enjoy your retirement benefits. Lots of unexpected than expected from a tropical country like Nica.Great articles and good English.
    See the latest news at Yahoo US that a 200 miles canal will be built alongside Nicaragua at cost 40 billions. Hopefully, it will employs 30 thousands local workers and raise up standard of livings.
    Greetings from Malaysia.

  90. Hi Love your blog, I belong to a wonderful book club that has branched out now to include plays and travel so I shared this link with our group. We are always thinking of interesting retirement options. My dream is to go somewhere warm ( we are in Canada) that has a sense of community and a slower, simpler lifestyle. I too work with individuals who have intellectual disabilities and I teach at our local college and am working on another degree so escape is not in the cards just yet but I can live vicariously courtesy of your blog.
    We just got back from Turkey, fortunately left Istanbul before the tear gas got too thick. Very beautiful country especially Ihlara Gorge in Cappadocia, maybe partly because it was unexpected. Next trip Nicaragua, you sold me where is a good place to start exploring?

    • Hi Brenda,

      Thanks for visiting my blog. We have many Canadian expats in Nicaragua. You can’t beat the warmth and the beauty, as well as the cost of living. If you are planning on visiting or considering retiring in Nicaragua, a good place to start would be to browse the book section on my blog. The books represent a variety of genres. The Moon Guide to Living in Nicaragua gives you a good start. Enjoy and thanks again for sending a link to your book club. :-)

  91. My husband and I visited Ometepe Island (La Via Verde owned by Elena near Balgue) for 10 days out of our 2 week long Nica stay. Needless to say we fell head over heels in love. We already have plans to go back. We’ve been extremely unhappy with our life in the US (the fabulously expensive & traffic filled Los Angeles, CA) for years now. Even though we’re not of retirement age in the US (we’re 33 & 34), the consideration for moving to Ometepe is strong. I know there are still many things to learn about Nica and Ometepe before we make our decision. We’ll also be checking out Ecuador in the next year. My question is for if we decide to take the plunge and move… How difficult is it to take your US life (Citizenship, shelter, physical property like clothes/kitchen utensils, and ESPECIALLY our pets- 1 large dog & 2 cats) and move it to a faraway island as wonderful as Ometepe? Thanks for any leads.

    Melanie & Marcus Santana

    • Hola Melanie and Marcus,
      La Via Verde is awesome, right? I know you enjoyed your stay. I wish I could say it was easy to move to Ometepe Island…but, it was filled with many agonizing decisions. First problems: our dog and cat. We had a large chocolate lab, that we seriously considered bringing with us. However, she weighed more than 80 pounds and they wouldn’t accept her on the airlines. Also, if the cargo was too hot..over 85 degrees the day we booked our flight, our dog wouldn’t be able to board. That would be a big problem. Another thing, vet care and dog food was seriously lacking on the island. This was 3 years ago, and since then, dog and cat food is available, but vet care is still pitiful. So, we lovingly gave our dog to a good friend because we knew that we had to think of our dog first. It was a very difficult decision, but I think we made the right one for us. Our cat continues to live in our house in the states with our friends who are house sitting for us. She is a very old cat and the change in location would have been very difficult for her. But, that is just our experience. Many people bring their pets with them,( especially if they are moving to Granada or San Juan del Sur) but Ometepe is a little different because we are an hour’s ferry ride from the mainland where good vet care is available.
      As far as the other ‘physical things’, we brought only the necessities we knew we couldn’t find here…fitted sheets, electronic equipment, laptops, and a bunch of those little cheap solar lights that you stick in the ground. Everything else, we left in our house in the states. We started all over here, having a fine craftsman make all of our furniture, and buying kitchen supplies, etc. at Maxi Pali or our favorite second hand store in Rivas. When we make trips back to the states, we gradually bring more of our personal belongings here in our suitcases. Now, the hard part will be to part with all of my things of sentimental value..mostly things passed down throughout the generations when we eventually decide to sell our house in the states. Right now, I like having options. We always know we have a place to return if we need to go back to the states. I can store all of my ‘stuff’ for free in our house. We still have a US mailing address which enables us to have a US credit card. We have trusted friends living in our house in the states and they collect any mail we still get, and take care of our house for us. So, I feel that we have the best of both worlds. I’m not ready to burn any bridges. We are legal residents of Nicaragua, and will always remain citizens of the USA. I hope this helps. Feel free to ask any other questions you have. :-)

  92. Hi Debbie I’m an ex-pat living in San Juan del Sur and congratulations on a great blog. Your honest opinions about life on Ometepe are insightful. I have been to the island before and have friends that decided that is the place for them so retired there. They love it but they are middle aged and adventurous so I think its a good fit. How is the power situation on the island? Is there anyone selling and servicing alternative energy?

    • Hola Sito,

      Thanks so much for your your comments. I try to keep it real while living on Ometepe Island. :-) Who are your friends living on Ometepe and how long have they been here? I probably know them. As far as alternative energy, there are a few solar panels on the island, but most were bought in Managua. There are two huge wind generators in the process of being installed on the windward side of the island. Two weeks ago, I visited the other side of the island and the wind generator poles were still laying on the ground. I heard they need the motors…still on route through the Panama Canal. It would be great to have someone selling and servicing alternative energy sources on the island.

  93. Hello….I love your title: Retired…Rewired….I am also Retired…..One friend said I “reinvented” myself…Rewired is a good synonym. I am a New Yorker….retired in Bangkok, Thailand. I also have a website with Travel Letters and Photos. Your Homepage reminded me of my trip to Lago Atitlan, Guatemala,one of my favorite places. I’ll do my best to follow your travels. Jan Polatschek

  94. Good morning Debbie,

    I found your blog on the Weekly Photo Challenge – The Sign Says. When I saw your header photo I thought you were from the Philippines, the mountain looked a lot like Mount Mayon. I’m from the Philippines, a homeschool mom to 3 kids. I’ve never been to Nicaragua, it looks very interesting. I’ll look around your blog some more to find out…Have a great weekend!


    • Hola and welcome to my blog. It’s so nice to ‘meet’ you. Actually, the mountain is an active volcano in our backyard. It is called Volcano Concepcion. She erupted about 3 years ago, but it was just a lot of ash. I’m keeping my fingers crossed she’ll stay asleep for a long, long, time. :-) You have a great weekend, too.

  95. Hi Debbie, I’m a South African with the hobby to cyber-travel, looking at how people live across the globe. I just accidentally came across your blog while surfing the net, but it looks very interesting…

  96. Hello. My name is Stephanie. I have really enjoyed reading your blogs. I first visited Nicaragua in 2009 on a mission trip and instantly fell in love. Unfortunaly, I’m only able to visit once a year. I’m hoping one day that all will fall in place and I can call Nica my home. I am a wife and mother of two. My daughter is 12 and my son is 19. My husband won’t even entertain the idea of living abroad. I keep thinking if he would just come with me one year then he would fall in love as well. I understand though that it’s really not for everyone.
    I hope that I get the chance to talk with you…or possible bring you some books for your lending library. I love reading. Thank you for making that possible for so many!

    • Hi Stephanie,
      Thanks for your lovely comments. Nicaragua has a way of grabbing your heart. I know the people grabbed mine. Oh, your husband really needs to come with you on a short trip. I think he may change his mind if he visits the country and talks with the people. Have you been to Ometepe Island before? If not, please come for a visit the next time you are in Nicaragua. And thanks so much for offering to bring a few children’s books. :-)

      • I have not yet been to Ometepe Island. Most of my travel has been limited to Managua, Masaya and Tipitapa.
        I really think that my husband will change his mind with one visit. I am hoping to come again later this year. I will be sure to let you know. I would love to visit the island. Here is my email ibstephie@gmail.com let’s be in touch! Thank you so much! :-)

  97. Hi. I’m Kathy (My husband Tilden and I are expats) and we now. live in Dolega, Panama.
    10 years ago when we moved here from Costa Rica, we seriously considered moving to Nica. We had made 11 trips there, including to Ometepe and we fell in love with the country and the people. It really was a tough decision. I had to smile when I read your comments about medical care on the island. I spent the night in the hospital there. Fortunately, we were staying at the Pirata hotel and the woman who ran it, brought me sheets, toilet paper, towels and fresh fruit. All of which the hospital did not supply. Then her boyfriend gave my husband the keys to his taxi, so he could bring me back to the hotel when I was released. That was the most amazing hospitality that i have ever experienced. Reading your blog is very nostalgic for me. Happy for you that you are living the adventure.on Ometepe:,Tierra Prometida,, Ometepe:: Oasis de Paz.. :-)

    • Hola Kathy and Tilden,

      We almost moved to Dolega!!! It’s a small world. Thanks for sharing your experience about our local hospital. I’ll bet it was one of the reasons you chose not to move here. lol Although the people are so gracious and helpful, medical care on the island leaves a lot to be desired. Please come back to visit, soon! Dolega actually isn’t that far away. Did you know Nancy and Joe who used to live there? Now, they live in Ecuador. Thanks so much for your comment.

      • You are absolutely right! It is indeed a small world. My husband and I used to sun into Nancy when we were all out walking. I knew they were moving to Ecuador. Although I don’t remember them living in Dolega for very long. I could be wrong. Have you heard from them since the move? Dolega hasn’t changed much since we moved here. Thank god. It still has it’s small town charm although the Gov’t is expanding the main road between Boquete and David to 4 lanes. We hate it but, unfortunately, no one asked our opinion! You know, for a crazy a time I had at your local hospital, for us it was such a positive experience. I had a little boy for a roommate and he was just the cutest, sweetest, child. I really believe that there is a silver lining behind every cloud. I would truly love to come back and visit Nica. We spent a lot of time in San Juan Del Sur. Drank a lot of Victoria while hanging out at the beach. And, I think Granada, had some of the best food I’ve had down here. Is the Pirata hotel still on Ometepe? Has it changed much? Enjoy the adventure!

  98. thanks debbie for replying so promptly!
    Iimagined the situation was a little bit like the one you described and we know that living in places where nature is still thriving and overwhelming has its cost as far as infrastructures are concerned, I didn’t expect mcuh more…maybe it is interesting that small private school in Moyogalpa, after all I did not know if putting eva (that’s my daughter’s name) suddenly in a bilingual school was a good idea, now she attends a spanish school, a public one, and she has a perfect spanish, and I tought in case we move for the first times not to change too much her habits by putting her in a bilingual or mainly english speaking school where she would not be able to follow…we are beginning with english at home and maybe she could have private english lessons to improve better (with all the expats from us it won’t be difficult to find someone…) but of course if there would have been a bilingual school I would have considered it… seriously!!!
    I have heard about Vivian Pellas hospital, everybody seem to be very satisfied about it…I’ve been to US several times to see my father and I know the american health care standard..everthing but cheap but high quality standard, so if an american says vivian pellas is good, I do belive it!!!
    I was wondering if there is any structure for “urgencias” on ometepe what about the hospital in Moyagalpa? I mean the natural clinic is a very good thing but if you need a pediatrician or a doctor urgently? and how is the connection to and from “mainland” the ferry is always working even with bad weather? for the emergencies you have to go to managua or granada?
    I thank you again to be so kind to inform us so precisely about all these things I hope not to disturb you with too many questions…but you know the best way to get info about a place is to talk with people who live there and have a wider experience,
    we really thank you again!!!

    • When we were trying to decide where to live, we talked with many expats from different countries in Central America. Expats will always tell you the truth, and you are asking important questions. :-)
      The local hospital in Moyogalpa is pitiful. If there is an emergency, they will transport people to the mainland. If the ferries are not running, which happens during high winds, the only way off the island is by a ponga (a big open aired boat with benches that seat around 12 people). Let me tell you a story about an emergency that happened here 2 years ago. After a party late one night, a drunk motorcyclist crashed into another motorcycle. A third motorcyclist tried to avoid the collision and crashed. Five people went flying off the motorcycles. Their injuries were life threatening. Since it was late at night, the police transported them in the ponga to the mainland. One young man died on the ponga and the others were triaged from one hospital to another because the hospitals lacked the necessary equipment to take care of them. A young American man had a traumatic brain injury. It took 12 hours for him to finally get to Vivian Pellas. He spent 2 weeks in intensive care, and was finally transported back to the states for rehab.
      After this horrible tragedy, all the expats got together on the island to see what the necessary steps were to avoid something like this from happening again. We now have a system in place with emergency telephone numbers of Vivian Pellas hospital. Instead of going from one hospital on the mainland to another, an ambulance will pick us up in San Jorge (at the dock on the mainland) and transport us directly to Vivian Pellas in Managua. But, we still have to get off the island. Right now, the only cheap option is the ponga, if it’s late at night. We do have a telephone number of the army helicopter ($800). However, it is not reliable and sometimes won’t come to the island if there is a lot of wind.
      I don’t mean to scare you, but this is the reality of life threatening emergencies on
      Ometepe. On the other hand, the local hospital can treat non-life threatening problems. There are two local doctors, very loving and kind, who are competent and can attend to most ‘normal’ situations. The main problem is a lack of equipment in the hospital. There are no x-ray machines, no ultrasounds, nothing like that.
      We usually self-diagnose..Google our symptoms…and go to the pharmacy where we can get medicines without a prescription. My son had sciatica. He was in a lot of pain and unable to walk for a week. We Skyped with a family member who is a
      doctor and he recommended a prednizone pack for 6 days. We translated it into Spanish and went to the pharmacy. For $6 he had all the pills he needed to alleviate the pain. He’s back to normal, now. So, I guess what I am saying is that where there is a will, there is a way. I also have a good friend on the island who was an emergency room nurse. She can stitch up cuts, and give advice as to the seriousness of the problem.
      I hoe this helps. Living on an island is not without it’s risks. But, we are definitely risk takers or we wouldn’t be here. Right?

      • I agree with you!!!! the info you gave us were really helpful…thanks again, I think now the only thing is to go and see by ourselves before taking a decision.
        …and if in ometepe there are other people as kind as you….well that’s great!
        hope to know you soon!

  99. Hi Debbie, Please read and advise. I speak spanish fluently and rented a place in Matagalapa 2 years ago. I am now trying to find a place and I am having a hard time as I don’t know where to look and this female realtor I consulted is inflating prices. A nice house should cost $250 in matagalpa because it is NOT a large ex-pat community and only green gringos pay $500 or more for a house there and I don’t want to be one of them. I don’t have it in my budget and it is not ethical what this realtor is doing-she is from grananda and wants to turn matagalpa into a granada rental market and I am not going to encourage her.

    What would you do-how would you go about searching for a place in matagalpa to rent Thank for your advice:) You have a great deal in ometepe but it’s too hot thee for me.

    • Hi Tatiana,
      I agree with you 100%. Matagalpa does not have a big expat community. The prices for a nice furnished house normally run around $250-$350. Even in Granada, you can find a comfortable place to rent for less than $500 a month. Where are you now? Your best bet is to just start walking around Matagalpa and let people know that you are looking for a place to rent. Tell them what you are willing to pay. Word of mouth is the best way to find a place. We walked all over the island near Moyogalpa looking for a place to rent when we were here 8 years ago. People were willing to rent us their chicken coups! lol One day, we took a walk along the beach and found our little vacant beach shack. We found the caretaker and said we would be willing to pay $100 a month if she would furnish it with the basics. Buenos suerte! Let me know how your search turns out.

      • hi debbie,
        we are elena and giuseppe an italian couple now living in spain, more precisely canary island, and we would like seriously to move to nicaragua…I fell into your blog and found it very interesting since my researches are pointed on ometepe. before coming to spain we lived and worked for 4 years in Madagascar so we have experience about living in a “difficult country”, but it was really hard for us to leave africa and as time goes by we realize that europe is not for us, we would like to have an activity (we have enough experience to run it) in a quiet place in contact with nature, but madagascar lack of health infrastructures and with a 6 years old daughter we did not feel safe there, so we began looking for a good place to settle and my attention fell on Nicaragua, and since we are fond of island life (in madagascar we lived on an island and even now we are) we noticed ometepe, it seemed the perfect site to realize something (I studied about minimize the impact of tourism on protected areas at the University of Venice..when I was young)Anyway this is not so important Just to let you know something about us, we will be in nicaragua next summer in order to have a better look and of course in ometepe too…the main thing we wanted to ask you concerns education and health on the island, of course our main concern is our daughter…I know that Nicaragua and Granada have good infrastructures as far as health and aducation are concerned but what about ometepe? is there a good centro de salud for the children? and the schools are very low level or can be considered ok? my daughter speaks spanish fluently and a small english (very small) even if granpa lives in florida…do you think it could be a good environment for her to grow up or maybe it is better to look for something near Granada area? I know that maybe you have already answered these kind of questions thousands times..but it would be nice to have more info as possible in order to focus better our researches, and you seem really kind and prepared person…thanks in advance and sorry if I made some mistakes, english is not my mothertoungue

        • Hi Elena and Giuseppe,

          Your English is wonderful! :-) I’m glad you asked about education because I am a retired teacher. Unfortunately, the schools on Ometepe are very poor, the teachers lack training, and most students don’t advance beyond the 6th grade. Several of my friends with young children home schooled them. One family enrolled their son in a small private school in Moyogalpa, but she felt that she always had to supplement his education. We discussed opening a small private bilingual school, but that is as far as we’ve gotten.
          It is difficult on the island with young children. Along with the lack of educational programs, health care is an issue. We do have a Natural Health clinic on the island operated by several trained homeopathic doctors from the states. They can provide supplements and herbal remedies, however in the case of a life threatening emergency, the best hospital is in Managua. A friend of mine has a 2 yr. old son. He was barefoot and stepped on a hot ember. She applied burn ointment, but it didn’t heal. So, she took him to Vivian Pellas hospital in Managua that specializes in burns. Poor little fellow had 3rd degree burns on the bottom of his foot. We are hoping that he will be OK and his severe burns will heal. Another friend has a daughter that has severe allergies to air pollutants, such as smoke. Everyone cooks with wood here and they often burn plastic bags to get their fires started.

          Life here is challenging, but in my opinion the rewards outweigh the challenges. But, then again, I don’t have young children. There are major improvements on the island. A new airport is almost ready to open. Wind energy is growing and 2 wind turbines will soon provide energy to the island. Many new hotels and hostels are opening. We still deal with the lack of reliable water from the city. It’s the dry season and usually we have water only in the morning. So, we’re looking into buying a tank and a pump as an alternate source. The crime rate is very low on the island. People are friendly and caring. Ometepe really is an oasis of peace.

          It really depends on the needs of your family. Granada has a larger population of expats, thus the schools and medical facilities are better. However, the crime rate is higher..it is a thriving tourist city.

          I’m so glad you found my blog. Thanks for visiting. If I can help answer more questions in depth, please ask. I think you will fall in love with Nicaragua. It is a diverse country. It just depends on what you need, and with resourcefulness and creativity, you’d be surprised what you can do. Enjoy your trip to Nicaragua. When you visit Ometepe, be sure to stop and visit us. I meet the nicest people through my blog!

  100. hi……..i feel a bit guilty about being a lurker for awhile and not introducing myself……my name is rick….i am also a teacher by training…….SpEd for severely and profoundly retarded….(i didn’t invent the name and realize that it is outdated terminology} most of my career was a teacher in a different sense……..i was a legal advocate for people with disabilities……..a behavior specialist and a service coordinator for DD folks……i have enjoyed your blog and am attracted to that area……i appreciate your frequent updates……..i am looking to escape life in the USA and spend the rest of my years in an easier place…..thank u for this blog and a place for people like me to dream

    • Hola Rick,

      It’s a small world! I, too, was a SpEd teacher for many, many years. I taught in a variety of settings with a variety of students with many challenges. Although I loved the students, the bureaucracy and IEP meetings finally got the best of me and I became a teacher trainer and elementary specialist in a university setting. It looks like you would fit in well here! :-) We need more advocates! Thank you so much for your kind and thoughtful comments. I write about our lives here for people like YOU, who not only like to dream, but choose to do! I hope you will come to our little island someday and we can meet. It sounds like we have a lot in common.

  101. Hi Debbie and Ron. My name is Mike and I had the pleasure of meeting you and Ron during the Survivor Tour. Ed and I (retired teachers) followed my son Patrick who was in the Fuego y Agua race. I had been following your blog with great interest for the past few months before our trip. I had no idea you were the author of the blog until I read your Fuego y Agua post. Small world. We had a great time on Ometepe and had a great day with you and Ron. I will continue to follow your interesting life from far away Canada. All the best. Mike

    • Hi Mike! What a small world indeed. I had no idea you had been reading my blog. I had a great time on our tour. I feel like all the parents are part of my extended family, now. :-) Next year, I’m trying to talk our son, Cory, into doing the Survival Run tour since Ben will be running. I heard that they are thinking of changing the day of the 50K and 100K to the day after the Survival Run. I sure hope to see you and Patrick again next year. Come a little bit early and Ron will take you fishing. All the best to you, too. At least you made it off the island before the ferries stopped running because of the wind. Lucky you!

  102. Hi
    I’m a 70 year old woman looking for someplace my money will stretch a bit more and my arthritis will quiet down.

    I have been seriously considering Ecuador for several reasons, but I just read there are a 1000 expats a month going there. Seems to me they would be getting tired of expats at that rate.

    Also, apparently you have to show less income in Nicaragua and the exchange favors American money. I’m not greedy, but I don’t get a very large pension, so the farther I can stretch it the better. Apparently you can have any other income in Nicaragua, but I am getting old an lazy any way.

    I might like doing some volunteer work. Need some way to get acquainted and build a life.

    I would like to know what it would be like in a smaller village. I’m not much of a city girl.


    • Hi Sarah,
      Thanks for visiting my blog. Honestly, there are pros and cons to living on a small island in the country. Although, we live withing a 20 minute walk into town, it is sometimes cumbersome living out in the country. Our neighbors are like family and we watch out for each other. But, the chores we have, get to be overwhelming occasionally. When we yearn for the city life, we go to Granada, which has a large expat community. I love our life, yet I wonder if I could do it alone. I really don’t think so. I’d probably move closer to town and buy a little place with a small garden. You should take a trip to Nicaragua to visit. Nicaragua has a variety of environments..beach..city..mountains..islands…I’m sure you can find a perfect fit. Let me know what kind of questions I can answer for you.

      • What kind of chores?
        I live in an isolated area. Much colder than your isolated area. I have spent most of my life in remote areas. I am sure I would like living close to a smaller town or village. I am equally sure that Granada or someplace that size is not for me. I believe I would like the Pacific side because it is supposed to have somewhat less humidity and be a little cooler than the Caribbean side. I also thought ouse of the mountains because I am born to the mountains.
        In any case, I plan to rent rather than buy. A little house with a garden does sound nice. A small hacienda style with an enclosed garden would be lovely.
        What is health care like there?

  103. Debbie, I’ve been in touch with Puesta del Sol for info and we are looking forward to our trip next week I’ll call Sam about real estate and am hoping to run into you when we are there. Thanks for all your insights into island life!

  104. Hi, I’m a ninth grader in HI, USA. My World History class is doing a project where we discover how a country was effected from the Cold War. Also, how the culture, economics and political stand was prior, during and after the Cold War. My group members and I were assigned with the country of Nicaragua. Would you be able to help us, and answer some questions to the best of your ability?
    -Kaila Sherwood
    HTA, Hawaii

  105. hi… just discovered your blog, through a fb friend… and i am wondering. Are you gypsytoes from the OT branch of what used to be the ThornTree? (it’s kinda crashed, long story) I am ‘was’ canayjun, and i did spend time in Granada volunteering for Esperanza ?? in the very very early days. Unfortunately i never made it over to Ometepe. I don’t know why, since i am an Isomaniac… but i did make it to the Corn Islands and loved them. No queries at this point, just thought i would reconnect…. if you are who i think you are.

    • Hi Elain,
      Yes, that’s me! Nice to reconnect again. I still post on TT of Lonely Planet and was really surprised one December day to see that they removed the site. But, it looks like it’s up and running once again. You’ll have to make a trip to Ometepe to visit. Everything has changed in Nicaragua. I doubt that you would even recognize Granada…very touristy. I still have your watercolor postcard. So glad to hear from you. Have you been traveling much?

  106. Outstanding feedback and food for thought, thank you so much! About how many people live on the island full time, would you say? I hear figures in the 40K, but one can never be too sure. How many expats, and are most of them NorteAmericanos?

    Many thanks

    • DJ, you are right. The population is approximately 40K on Ometepe Island. I am the U.S. Embassy Warden representative for Ometepe Island. Basically, I am a messenger for the Embassy in Managua. We started an expat Google group, where I can relay messages from the Embassy, as well as for expats to post other things of interest for our expat community. We are a small group of expats, a little over 100. Most of the expats are from the U.S. or from Canada. We try to have an expat gathering about once a month. You would think that for such a small island (22 miles in length), we would know everyone. But, that’s not the case. The Maderas side of the island is like another world and we rarely get over to the other side of the island. Hope this helps.

  107. Awesome blog. Very informative and written in a down to earth, boots on the ground, tone. Love it. Wondering how practical and feasible it would be to start some sort of a small business in Ometepe (or buy an existing one), and if expats you know have had success doing that sort of thing. I know about a few, but thought you likely know a great deal more… Though European by birth, I have spent time in Mexico and Central America, and am now considering moving to Ometepe sometime within the next six months. Any insight and/or advice to supplement my own research and information would be much welcome. Gracias!

    Saludos y vida pura!

    • Thanks so much DJ for visiting my blog. The opportunities are limitless in Nicaragua. New businesses are opening daily. My advice is to come to Ometepe and explore the market. With the opening of the new airport (hopefully soon), it will bring more tourists with more money to spend. It used to be a backpacker’s paradise, but slowly it is changing to include a different variety of tourists..more retired people who have more money to spend. The biggest problem is that the infrastructure is still lacking on Ometepe Island. The water and electricity goes out on a regular basis, making it frustrating to meet the demands of tourists, residents, and locals.
      Lately, I’ve noticed that there is a demand for shot-term, fully furnished rentals on Ometepe. Retired travelers are wanting to spend a month or more on Ometepe and they have few options except for hotels and hostels. Small cabanas with fully equipped kitchens would be a wonderful investment for these travelers. On another note, there are some talented crafts people on Ometepe,i.e. paintings, baskets, iron works but no centralized place to display their work. Tourists are always looking for souvenirs, but the souvenirs here are tacky and many of them come from Guatemala. It would be nice to have a gallery and small tourist shop with some of the fine work of the crafts people on the island.
      My concern is displacing the locals. I’ve seen it happen many times. More businesses are opened by foreigners, simply because the locals can’t make the monetary investment or don’t have a clue how to start a business. I don’t want this to happen to this beautiful island. I believe that we need to work with the local people and invest our time and money into helping them understand the economics of tourism. There are many projects that can be started together. For example: My son goes into indigenous communities and assesses their needs and wants. He helps them develop cultural programs for their communities, enabling them to share their culture with tourists. It’s all about sustainable tourism in the best interests of the local communities. I don’t want to see this magnificent island become a concrete jungle overrun with tacky tourist shops and displacing the local people. Just my two cents! Hope this helps.

  108. Hello again — I’ve been in touch with Sam, and apparently all roads lead to you…for rentals anyway… No, not really, but he did say that you would know the place Theresa just left, and the place by the Punta Paloma concession stand. I will just cross my fingers that when we arrive, something will be available. If you have any other contacts for rentals you would like to share, I would very much appreciate it, otherwise we will just do our normal walking around thing, and hope we are as lucky in Ometepe as we were in Panama and Granada. I’m looking forward to our month there.

    • Haha! That Sam! He called me and asked me if I knew of any other rentals. Theresa won’t be moved out until next Tuesday. Her place is conveniently located in Moyogalpa..a short walk to the beach. I’m not sure if it’s furnished, though. It’s difficult to find a furnished short-term rental. I know of another little house, right in town..but it isn’t furnished either. I’ll keep my ears and eyes open for you. When will you be coming? If all else fails, would you be interested in a home-stay type of place? My neighbors have a place called Puesta Del Sol. They offer bed and breakfast home stays in their homes. Most of the bedrooms are separate from their homes. They have an internet cafe and are located right on the beach. Another option would be Hotel Soma in Moyogalpa. They have two nice secluded cabinas, big bedrooms with air-conditioning and I think a little refrigerator. Maybe you could make a deal with them for a month. The restaurants and bakeries are a short walk into town and it’s easy to catch a bus to other parts of the island. Hope to see you soon.

      • I have already checked out Puesta Del Sol online – it looks pleasant, and is a possibility, but I have to say, after a month of having to eat out every day ( no kitchen here in Granada) I am really hoping to have my own kitchen! It is so incredibly nice of you to take the time to document some options for us — thank you. We will be arriving in about 2 weeks.

        • Well, I just talked to Sam again. I wasn’t sure where the Punta Paloma concession stand was. I call it our local little beach bar. There is a darling little house for rent..lemon yellow with a picket fence..I think fully furnished and right on the beach. It’s not too far from our house and close enough to town to walk. I’ll go take a picture of it and send it to you tomorrow. I love this little house and I pass by it often.

  109. Hi, saw your blog and decided to write. My wife and I are planning to retire in CA this next year in CA. We have been to Belize, Costa Rica, and Panama. The pics of Ometepe caught my eye; I found your blog; and read abit. We like the idea of living on an island but I am having trouble finding info on Ometepe. Is there a good grocery and pharmacy on the island? Is there much to do: I don’t want to end in in a bar all day. For example, my wife is a retired small animal vet- is there a need or a group where she could help out? Are there volunteer opportunities on island?


    • Hi William,
      Sorry it has taken me a little while to respond. I’ve been traveling back from the states. Ometepe is very different from the mainland. It is calm and tranquil. I never lack for something to do, and I have lots of projects from a mobile library for the elementary schools to my arts and crafts. It just depends on your wants and needs. There are always small town festivals here, rodeos, dances and celebrations for the patron saint of each town. We have a variety of small grocery stores in Moyogalpa, the port town. I can get practically everything I want and one of the grocery stores makes monthly trips to Pricemart in Managua and takes orders. The mini-supermarket caters to tourists and foreigners and they add new items weekly. They are willing to order things for us, too. There are many pharmacies here. All you have to do is describe your symptoms and they will give you one pill or as many as you want. No doctor’s prescription is needed. Here’s an example: My son coughed and got a herniated disc which put pressure on his sciatic nerve. My brother Skyped with him and told him to get a Prednisone pack and muscle relaxers and made a schedule for him to take the pills. He sent a friend to the pharmacy and returned with everything my brother ordered for him. The cost was $4 total. If the local pharmacy doesn’t have what you need, you can always make a trip on the ferry to the mainland for grocery shopping at Maxi-Pali ( kind of like a Super Walmart..owned by Walmart). They have a nice pharmacy there.
      Now the biggest concern is the lack of vets, here. We have no qualified vets. Vets without Borders comes occasionally to spay and neuter the animals. We adopted 3 kittens from Granada, on the mainland, from a rescue center started by a former Peace Corp woman. They have a network of foster parents for injured or abused animals. Then, when they are old enough or well enough to be adopted they are spayed/neutered at the clinic in Granada. The clinic is only funded through donations. If my kittens need care, we would have to take them to Granada. Your wife would be so very helpful on the island.
      Volunteer opportunities: pick one that interests you. The opportunities are limitless. You can pretty much do what you want to do to help. We have taught ESL classes, provided CPR training, volunteered in the schools, and taught swimming lessons. There is so much we can do to help others here, that we have a difficult time choosing one project.
      Ometepe is a very special place. You really need to come for a visit. :-) Only then, will you have a better idea if it will meet your needs. Let me know if I can answer any more questions for you. Thanks for visiting my blog.

  110. Hello, Debbie, I’ve been following your blog for a few months now. I love getting the email that says there’s a new post! We made it from Panama, to the States for the holidays, and are now in Nicaragua enjoying Granada.

    I’m sorry to bother you with this sort of detailed question, but it’s tough to get a feel for this type of thing from a distance — do you have a sense of how easy is it to find a one month furnished rentals on Ometepe, for people without a car who want to walk to the market, and to a nice swimming beach? In Bocas del Toro, Boquete and here in Granada, we looked at many things from online leads, but really, 5 of 6 places we ended up at were from signs or word of mouth after we got there. Ometepe sounds so different, are we likely to be able to do the same thing there?



  111. Hi Debbie,
    I am a friend of Tina and Cory’s from Yosemite and South Carolina, and I came across your comment on Tina’s blog and then decided to read a bit of your blog as well. Just wanted to let you know that I stopped by!

  112. Hi. I will be spending a month in Granada and want to hire a cook. What should I pay her for 6 days a week, 3 meals a day (I guess I give her one day off or two a week?).

    • Hi Clarissa,

      I’m not sure, but we hired a woman to clean and cook lunch for us 2 days a week and we paid her 100 cords per half day…more than the going rate. Unfortunately she only worked for us for 2 weeks. One day she just never showed up again. I’m happier without her because we were just trying to help her. She really only wanted us to lend her money. :-( Why do you want someone to cook for you? I think it’s very difficult to find someone to clean and cook, especially the way you want them to do it. We don’t eat fried foods, rarely use salt, and we like a variety of spices, fresh lettuce salads, fruit salads, and baked chicken. Most local women have no idea how to cook without frying, they use tons of salt, and the food choices are fried chicken, fried whole fish, boiled plantains, gallo pinto, and shredded cabbage salad. By the time you train her how you like your food prepared, the month will be over. Granada has an endless variety of restaurants, a big market, 3 grocery stores where you can get almost everything, and little pulperias or stores, where you can buy all of your regular food items. Workers usually work 6 days a week, with Sunday off. I’d be interested in seeing how it goes. Please let me know and best wishes.

  113. I just returned from an extended visit to Nicaragua where my son and his wife are serving in the Peace Corp. I loved it. I had previously visited Costa Rica and thought it was awesome. No longer, I plan to put the wheels in motion and live there. It is diverse, affordable and friendly. Go see for yourself

  114. Hello, I’ve SO enjoyed your blog since I discovered it several months ago! My husband and I have spent the last 14 months in Panama (Bocas del Toro and Boquete) and are looking forward to trying out Nicaragua in 2013. The first quarter will be Granada and San Juan del Sur, with a visit to Ometepe Island in between the two…perhaps we will run into each other. :) Thank you for being so diligent with your weekly posts. I look forward to them!

    • Thanks so much for your lovely comments. We’ve been to Boquete. It’s a beautiful,cool mountain town. Next time, we’re taking jackets. :-) I hope we can meet when you’re on Ometepe. When you’re in Moyogalpa, ask around for the gringos in La Paloma. Most of my friends have my phone number. Enjoy your trip.

  115. Hey Debbie, I am Lily and I am 18. I am planning on going to Nicaragua on a long term mission trip soon so I would LOVE to talk to someone who is there and knows what it’s like to go to a completely new place and adjust to everything. I am going to Granada. I was kind of scared when I read your post about the Ecoovie sect… ew, scary. Anyway, have you been to Granada? Is it difficult to get used to living in Nicaragua, and is it actually possible to get by without knowing any Spanish? Oh I feel like I have so many more questions than that but I cant think of anything else. Anyway, thanks for your blog and hope to hear from you soon

    • Hi Lily,
      Thanks for visiting my blog. I have been to Granada many, many times. It is a beautiful colonial city with a large expat community. It is probably possible to get by without knowing too much Spanish. However, there are several good Spanish schools in Granada that, if you attend one to learn Spanish, you will feel more comfortable being able to converse and buy things. Nicaragua is a very poor country and Granada is a large city, not without its problems, as all large cities throughout the world. Granada is a tourist city, so please never go out alone..especially at night. Always go with a group of people and leave your valuables at home. Muggings and purse snatchers are prevalent, especially during the month of December. I don’t mean to scare you, but you just have to use common sense, like you would in any large touristy place. I have been in and out of Granada for 8 years and never had any problems, but several of my friends have been mugged.
      My best advice is to be patient…Nicaragua moves slowly, sometimes the water doesn’t run or the electricity is off. What sold me on Nicaragua were the people. I love their vivaciousness, their easy going attitudes, and their culture. I hope this helps. Let me know if you have any other questions. I’ll be happy to answer them to the best of my ability. :-)

  116. Hola Debbie!
    I am interested in finding a volunteer/learn spanish opportunity on Ometepe. I am hoping there is something I can help out with for 1 to 2 weeks in March 2013. I am hoping you may have some good advice.

  117. Hola Debbie…..
    My name is Lourdes and I am residing in the Southwestern state of the U.S. I think I stumbled upon your blog when I was searching for any information on traveling to Nica local style. I read your chicken bus blog and I thought It was hilarious and I had experienced traveling that way years ago in the Philippines. My husband and I will be traveling to Nicaragua the second week of December. It will be our first time. We will be taking the chicken bus from Granada to Rivas and another chicken bus in Mayogolpa. We will be staying at Finca del Sol from Dec 17-21. I read about your mobile book library and I am now looking for books to bring to the American Hotel . I would love to meet you and your husband if you’re in town.

    Btw, I would recommend to any tourists visiting any foreign country to at least once in their tour schedule escape the tourist traps and go local. What’s important to my husband and myself is not what we see but what we experience. We’d want to find ways how to fit into local cultures rather than expecting to accommodate ours.

    I read a couple of your blogs and I thank you for sharing your life’s experience in your adopted country. I could tell in your voice a life of character, contribution and service as well as love and concern and appreciation for the people of Nicaragua. Viva Nicaragua!! Viva Ometepe!!! Debbie, you are not just the Mother Teresa of Ometepe but at the same time you are a ROCK STAR! You are smart, aware and sensitive to others. It’s in your DNA. You inspired me and one day I will follow your footsteps.

    I just love your lifestyle. Like you, I just want a simple life with a vegetable garden and tropical fruit trees in the back of the house. I’m a minimalist and I don’t require alot of space and stuff as long as I have rolls of toilet papers, toothbrush and toothpaste and a lipstick then I’m good to go. We are debt free and childless although we have a 15 year old doxie/terrier mix dog and eerily getting stronger everyday. I think we can do it. We can pack up and go. I’ve been reading about Nicaragua and the life, the culture and the tropical weather is very similar to the Philippine way of life where I lived for 10 years before my family immigrated to the U.S. The culture of being laid back and never on time is also very Filipino. It’s in our DNA. It bothers many Americans because it’s not their culture and I have been scolded by my Republican neighbors (secretly, I think they suspect I am one of the 47%). I don’t want to be uptight!!!!. This is why I need to get out of this Red State.

    Oh….. I’m sorry…. I didn’t mean to blab. Ok. I’m going to continue reading your blog.

    • Lourdes, You are a hoot. We really need to meet. You sound like my kind of woman. Yes, we will be here when you come to Ometepe. Finca del Sol is on the other side of the island, but if you have a chance when you are in Moyogalpa, stop in the American Cafe and Hotel and ask Simone to call me and I’ll come to meet you. You are going to love Nicaragua! Let me know how I can help you. Thanks for visiting my blog.

      • Hi Debbie…..

        I am so sorry I did not get a chance to meet you. The day we arrived, we caught the last chicken bus to Balgue. The day we left, we caught the first ferry boat back to San Jorge. Anyway, I asked Sheri to drop off a Spanish/English book and a chocolate bar for you at the American Cafe. Anyway, my husband and I had the best of time and definitely will be back.

        • Lourdes,
          I am sorry we didn’t have a chance to meet, too. But, I realize what the transportation is like on Ometepe Island. :-) Thank you so very much for the children’s book and the CHOCOLATE!!! You are a dear. Next time, you will HAVE to make a point of stopping by to see me. Thanks again.

  118. dear debbie, i miss your family so much. i very much hope that everyone is happy safe and well, and i plan to see you soon! all the love in this magnificent world, izzy :)

    • Izzy my love. I miss you everyday and think of you all the time. Amente asked about you the other day and sends her love. Are you really thinking of coming back soon??? We have a new addition to the guest house…even a bathroom, now…so you will have a nice place to stay. No more feed sacks for walls for you! Cory is here..we’re preparing for a big Thanksgiving feast. Come home soon. :-)

  119. Hi Debbie,

    Thanks for the quick response. One of our friends told us that once you moved out of the country that your Social Security was only good for 90 days. I take it from your response that this is not true.

    It is so interesting reading all your comments. You really must love it there. We have a lot to think about. It is a big decision. I will probably drive you crazy with questions. Hope you don’t mind.



    • No problemo, Sue. Ask away…that’s why I’m here. :-) I am wondering if your friend was talking about the 90 day visa? Until you apply for your Pensionado Visa…the retirement visa that gives you legal residency in Nicaragua, you have to leave the country every 90 days to get your passport stamped and your visa renewed. The only country you can do this is Costa Rica. Before we had our Pensionado Visas, we enjoyed going to Costa Rica every 90 days to renew our visas. We’d spend a day or two in Liberia, Costa Rica, then return to Ometepe Island.

  120. Hi Debbie,

    I am John’s wife, Sue. We have been seriously considering retiring to Nicaragua but one important question came to mind. We are both on Social Security, so how to we protect those payments? Are we still allowed to receive them in Nicaragua or do we keep having them sent to our account here? This is our only source of income so it is very important for us to protect it.



    • Hi Sue,

      There are two options for your Social Security. First, you can continue to have them direct deposited in your bank in the states and simply use the ATM machine to withdraw money as you need it. We chose this option for our pensions because we just felt safer continuing to have a bank in the states where our money was insured. The other option is to open a bank account in Nicaragua when you receive your legal residency cards. It is possible to open an account without residency status only to have your SS direct deposited in a bank in Nicaragua. Several of my friends chose this option. They opened accounts at the BAC in Nicaragua. One friend has her residency in Nicaragua, the other does not. Their SS is electronically transferred to the BAC in Florida, then electronically transferred to their BAC bank here on the island. Both options are good. When we take money out of our stateside acct. through the ATM, we choose to receive it in dollars. Then, we take it into the BAC bank and have it exchanged for cordobas. We usually make $15 on a $400 exchange because the exchange rates are in our favor. That covers the international transaction fee at the ATM and also the bank’s charge for using the ATM. The U.S. Embassy was very helpful to my friend who applied for SS while living in Nicaragua. They followed her through every step of the process and helped her set up a BAC acct. so her money could be direct deposited. I hope this helps. :-)

  121. Hello! My husband and I have recently fallen in love with Nicaragua. We will be spending two weeks in Ometepe in February at La Via Verde. We’ve been discussing the idea of relocating there. My husband and I are in our early 30s, and are planning on “retiring” there in the next few years. More like a half retirement. We’re planning on saving up enough for 2 years of living expenses, quitting our jobs (or part time telecommuting), moving to the island and begin working there within those two years of living expenses. What are the jobs like on Ometepe island? We speak little Spanish now, but plan on learning much by then. I love your blog, and thanks in advance for any answer! …M&M’S :)

    • Hola M & M,

      Thanks for visiting my blog. Have you visited Nicaragua before, and particularly Ometepe Island? I hope that you enjoy your stay here. It is a unique place with wonderful people. I’m not sure how to respond to your question because I struggle with this issue daily. Many foreigners have moved to the island and opened businesses. But, they come with enough money to apply for investment residency status so that they can operate their businesses legally. They hire the local people to work in their hotels, hostels, and other businesses. They have volunteer programs for their businesses, where tourists can come and help make a difference in the lives of others. This is a very poor island. Most local residents only make $5 a day working in agriculture and tourism related businesses. If they can’t find work on the island, many are forced to go to Costa Rica, leaving their loved ones behind. We have Retirement Visas in Nicaragua, meaning that it is against the law for us to work here. Come for a visit first before you decide to move here. I don’t mean to sound discouraging, but the reality is that most local people struggle to make a living on Ometepe Island. Without a sustainable source of income, it will be very difficult to find work on the island.

  122. Hi Debbie!
    Your blog is really great! My wife and I and our daughter are moving (extended travel) to Nicaragua/ Guatemala in about 1 month and we keep finding ourselves returning to your blog for info. Our main intentions are to see Central America and the people, and to learn Spanish. We would love to work with Finca Bona Fide on Ometepe once we get some better Spanish language skill “under our belts”. I am just finishing a Master of Arts in Teaching right now in Utah and my wife is finishing a yoga teaching certificate. We would love to say “hi” once we are on the island and are thinking of going to Granada for a while too. We plan to travel a bit, for a month or so, and then we would like to find a place (like Granada, Ometepe, Xela, etc) to settle for a bit, really work on our Spanish, and figure out a way to may a comfortable living while we are there. I guess I am writing to say hello and introduce myself in case I have the opportunity to meet you while in Nica. Thanks again for the helpful and fun blog!
    Bryan, Clare, and Edie
    SLC, UT, USA

    • Hi Bryan, Clare, and Edie,

      Welcome to my blog! I always like to hear that my blog is helpful. Let me know if you have questions. You are going to have an incredible experience traveling through Central America. When you get to Ometepe, be sure to ask for Debbie and Ron in La Paloma and stop in for a visit. Happy travels! :-)

      • Thanks Debbie! We look forward to meeting you and Ron and will keep you updated! We’ll be on Ometepe likely the first couple weeks of December. Best!

      • Hello Again Debbie (and Ron!)
        We are headed your way in a little more than two weeks. We would love to pay you a visit!
        Bryan, Clare, and Edie
        SLC, UT

  123. Debbie
    Found blog just the other day. Not sure why I hadn’t found it sooner, since I have been exploring the prospect of traveling down to Central America for sometime. The wife and I are coming to a time when our daughters will be on their own and Mom and Dad can become Lou and Brenda again. We have been looking at Panama and Costa Rica as a place to visit maybe with the intent of eventually staying. We both were born and raised in Texas. I am a licensed professional real estate inspector, with the intent of working for awhile longer. I am interested in what opportunities might exist for me in Central America. I know that the real estate business is not the same as it is here, with the controls and regulations. But there may be an opportunity for me to make enough to survive on, as the industry grows and changes. We’ll see what happens.
    I look forward for more of your great information.

    • Hi Lou,

      Thanks for visiting my blog. You are right about the lack of regulations concerning real estate businesses in Nicaragua. Here is an example: We are building a small addition to our guest house. We didn’t have to apply for a building permit, no regulations about digging a septic tank, and no certified electricians or plumbers. Home inspectors wouldn’t even know where to start! There are no codes for anything as far as I know. I hope you can come for a visit. Central America is diverse with many beautiful areas to live. Lots of opportunities. Thanks again!

  124. Debbie,
    Your blog is a wealth of information and I have read a lot of it but not all. My wife and I are thinking about moving some place we can live comfortably on about $2000 a month and Nicaragua seems to be a good fit.
    I’m 63 and my wife is 61, my health is pretty good but my wife has back problems and Fibromyalgia. How are the Hospitals and medical care and how are the related costs ? Also I have been an avid shooter and gun owner most of my adult life, do you know anything about owning pistols / guns there ?


    • Hi John,
      Thanks for visiting my blog. My husband and I recently visited Vivian Pellas hospital in Managua and bought their health insurance. I wrote a blog post called “Health Care for Expats” that will give you much information about this excellent hospital. The health care costs are reasonable and about 1/4 of the cost in the states. Once you obtain residency in Nicaragua, you can get a gun permit. It is a relatively easy process. However, guns are more expensive here than in the states. I have several friends who are avid shooters and they can recommend the best places to purchase guns. Here is an interesting article from a friend’s blog in Granada, Nicaragua. http://www.nicaragua-guide.com/blog.html
      Feel free to ask more questions and come for a visit. I know that we made the right decision in moving to Nicaragua. Life is good!

  125. Hello Jennifer,
    Thanks to Darrell Bushnell’s newsletter we discovered your blog. We are a retired Canadian couple that threw caution in the wind last year and made some major moves. We sold our house in Montreal, moved to New Brunswick to be close to my parents (elderly and at the time having health issues but ok now). We invested some of the money purchasing an income property in our area, renovated, rented it and then decided we needed a break. For the last few years I was doing research on retirement and Panama was looking very good for us until I started discovering Nicaragua. Didn’t take me long to book our flight to Nica and we were there for the month of June. By the way, from Managua we took the chicken bus to Granada which was a great way to start our adventure. We rented a casa near the Police Station/Pali Store in Granada. We were in a barrio that was typically noisy and full of life. Between the dogs howling, the roosters crowing, the horse carts going by and the blasting sounds of advertisements it was hard to get a good nights sleep but we loved it.

    We began house hunting and exploring Granada and environs. We went to San Juan del Sur but it wasn’t for us and after having lunch there we hopped on a bus and headed to Ometepe. What can I say! We fell in love. We only stayed a couple of days but they were so wonderful that there is no question of returning to Ometepe. We did drive right by the airport and had a long conversation with our driver about the feelings of the local people and what the airport will mean to them.

    We felt right at home in Granada, we visited a lot of properties, maybe it was the heat, I don’t know and usually we’re not that impulsive but we put in an offer on a house on our last day in Granada. Much to our surprise it was accepted and now we are proud owners of a casa in Granada. The plan for now is to spend our Canadian winter months in Nica. So lately I’ve been immersed in doing our homework, re: banking, getting internet, preparing paper work for possible residency application, where to buy plants, furniture, TV, health care, you name it, I’m looking for the info and thankfully with the internet its so much easier.

    We should be there by the end of November beginning of December and looking forward to meeting new people, exploring and enjoying Nica.

    • Hola Gordana,

      I just love hearing the stories of how foreigners discover Nicaragua. Thank you so much for visiting my blog and taking the time to explain how you found Nicaragua…or more like how Nicaragua found you! Nicaragua has a way of pulling on heart strings, doesn’t it? I know the area where you lived in Granada because I had a friend that lived in an old colonial about two blocks up from Pali. We have many friends in Granada, so be sure to contact me when you are here and I will introduce you to my Granada friends. They are a lovely group of expats.
      When you were on Ometepe near the new airport, you were very close to my house. Next time you visit, please contact me, so we can meet.
      Congratulations on purchasing your house in Granada. How exciting! You will certainly be busy when you arrive. Darrell is a walking encyclopedia of information and I know he can help you settle in comfortably in your new home. If there is anything I can do to help, please contact me. I hope to see you soon. :-)

  126. I never thought of retiring in Nicaragua before bumping into your blog, but now I am. It sounds wonderful. My husband and I have 5 more years to go before retirement and we know we won’t be able to stay in Hawaii (very expensive here). I started out reading all the questions and answers but there are so many, I will have to come back and read in shifts. Thank you for writing such detailed answers to everyone’s questions. As a writer, I love information. Perhaps our best bet would be to come for a vacation first. We love native culture, rainforest creatures, natural wonders, expressive landscapes. Can you give me any advice on that, or should I just keep reading? :)

    • Hola Jennifer,

      It is I who need to thank you for your compliments. I am a retired teacher, thus I feel compelled to research everything before I write anything! :-) I am humbled that you are considering retiring in Nicaragua because of my blog. The main purpose of my blog is to try to explain to future expats the importance of cultural immersion and living a simple lifestyle. Nicaragua is right for us. Ometepe Island is an oasis of peace. The minute we first stepped off the plane in 2003 to deliver school supplies, I fell in love with the people and the country. I think your best bet is to come for a visit. Hopefully, it will grab you with passion and hold you tight. Keep reading my blog…and if you have any questions that aren’t answered in my blog, then feel free to ask. In fact, you can make a list of questions and I’ll be sure to respond. That’s why I’m here. Thanks again for your lovely comments.

  127. Just found your blog. Enjoyed. I will share it with the wife. We are 54, been married 31 years and our 2 daughters are just about off to do their own thing. Or at least I hope they are about off. Love the girls but it is time for Mom and Dad to be Lou and Brenda again before we are Grandma and Grandpa. Want a little play time first. Right now I am taking a few college classes, just be cause I have never been to college. Tuff but I am enjoying it alot.
    We have been looking at Panama, Costa Rica, Ecuador and Nicaragua as places we would like to visit and maybe stay for awhile. Not being independently wealthy and only receiving a small disability check from the VA, if we were to stay longer than a short visit I would have to find a means of supplementing income to survive. What are the laws or rules for expats working there? Is it allowed? I am licensed to do real estate inspections here in Texas and I am going to college as an english major. I thought about teaching, but have changed my mind about teaching in Texas. What are your thoughts? Should we pursue the idea of staying longer than just a visit?
    If nothing else when we make it down that way, hopefully soon, maybe we can do lunch with you and your husband.

    • Hi Lou,

      Thanks for commenting on my blog. It’s nice to “meet” you. I always tell people to come for an exploratory visit, first. Have a list of all your questions and talk to the expats who live in the area. Expats will tell you the truth, much more so than a real estate developer or an expensive seminar. We also explored all the countries you mentioned and made trips to visit, except for Ecuador because we wanted a place that was closer to the states.
      All of the countries you mention are cracking down on perpetual tourists (those foreigners who live in a country without getting legal residency). It used to be very easy to cross the border to renew a 90 day tourist visa, but no longer. Each country has different rules and regulations about working as a foreigner in the country. For example, we have the retirement residency. With this residency, we cannot work in Nicaragua. However, with the investment residency, foreigners can work and open businesses in Nicaragua.
      My recommendation is to come for a short visit, first. Make a list of the questions you have, talk to the expats, and then make a list of pros and cons for each country. When we visited Panama, we talked with many expats. We enjoyed visiting the area, but our gut feeling was that Panama was not right for us. Costa Rica has gotten so expensive. I think the prices are comparable to the states. Nicaragua felt like home and met all of our needs.
      I hope this helps. Supplementing your income can be tricky without the right kind of residency. But, there are many opportunities in Nicaragua. You just have to come and check it out. If you come for a visit, we’d love to talk with you more. Let me know if you have other questions. Thanks again. :-)

  128. Hi, my name is Stephanie. My husband and I are looking to move to Nica for a few years. We have two small children (3 years and 1 years) and are looking to live in a safe area. We will have an income of $1750/mo. Do you recommend moving to a hotel while we look? If so, where can I find listings/pictures/prices for such? Also, our Spanish is not so good though we are willing to learn. Our 3 year old has several food allergies. Would you say that would be an issue there? Are their labels on food? If you haven’t already noticed, we have never visited. How is the educational system there?

    Thank you in advance for answering. I’m so happy to have stumbled across your blog, it is very helpful!

    • Hi Stephanie,
      Thanks for commenting on my blog. If you are near Bainbridge Island, their island has a sister program with Ometepe Island. It is called the Bainbridge/Ometepe Island Association. They have tons of information about Nicaragua. My suggestion is to come for a short visit first. Nicaragua is growing rapidly, but the infrastructure is still lacking. Right now, we have been without running water for 2 days. *sigh* Fresh foods and fruits are cheap, but there are no labels on anything locally grown and produced. The bigger cities, like Granada and Leon, have grocery stores similar to the U.S. but on a smaller scale. These grocery stores have labels on their foods, but they are more expensive to buy. The education system in Nicaragua is pitiful. It would probably be better if you home schooled your children, or placed them in a private school located in Managua or Granada. Come for a visit and research the areas that you are interested in exploring. You’ve taken the first step by talking to expats. That’s good. Let me know how I can help you. :-)

  129. Hi Debbie,
    I have so enjoyed reading your blog! My family and I will be traveling to Nicaragua very soon. This will be our third mission trip to your amazing country! I have enjoyed reading your blog and wanted to zip you an email to let you know how I found you. As I was emailing my daughter’s school counselor, Mrs. Shaw, to let her know that she would be missing a week of school, she informed me that “a former 5th grade teacher” had retired in Nicaragua! My daughter is a senior at UH this year and my son graduated from UH in 2009!!

    Our family has tossed around the idea of moving to Nicaragua in a “teasing” manner but after reading your blog it makes me want to pack my bags today!! LOL

    Thanks for “blogging” (is that a word?). I sure have enjoyed reading about your life in this beautiful part of the world!!


    • Hi Janie,

      It is a small, small world. I’m so glad you found my blog. Where will you be in Nicaragua? I really miss my teacher friends and former students from University School. In fact, I think your daughter’s class is my first graduating class of 5th graders I taught. I hope to return to visit for their senior tea. I promised them I’d come back..so I’m hoping everything works out that I can come for a visit.

      I love Nicaragua. The passionate and vivacious people sold us on retiring here. Please let me know where you will be…you never know. I may be able to pop in for a visit. Thanks again for dropping by my blog.

  130. Welcome to BlogExpat! I am the content editor for the site and saw that you just added your blog. Best of luck in your expat life and I look forward to reading more about you & Nicaragua in the future.

  131. Hi Debbie,
    I’m Mike and my wife and I are now living in Boquete, Panama. Hollycarter184 led me to your blog and I have begun reading about some of your experiences. Since you refer to the island, are you on Ometepe Is.? I know there are islands near Granada as well, but they look pretty exclusive. Ometepe was a real treat. They were nearing completion of an airport on the island. We were concerned that would change the island experience. I hope that’s not true.

    We visited Nicaragua for three weeks last year. We fell in love with the mountains near Matagalpa. We stayed at Selva Negra, which I recently blogged about. It is good to be reminded of the places we visited. Nicaragua was our second stop after three weeks in Panama.
    I look forward to reading more of your adventures.

    • Hi Mike,

      If you saw the new airport, you were close to our house. We live on the beach in La Paloma, very close to the airport. I’ve been doing a photo essay of the progress of the airport construction. Only time will tell what the changes will bring. Most of the locals are upset about the airport construction. There are so many things they need on the island more than an airport…a new hospital for example!

      Selva Negra is an amazing place! I’ll have to check out your blog. My favorite things about Selva Negra were sleeping under two heavy blankets and eating quail eggs. We’ve been to Boquete two times. It’s a beautiful place. That’s the best part about living in Central America. We are only a day away from Panama and Costa Rica.

      Did you happen to meet Phil and Jaquelin in Boquete? They left mid-August, but rented a little place in Boquete for several months. Thanks for visiting my blog. Maybe we’ll make a trip your way…I’m always ready for some fresh air and mountain scenery.

  132. Hi Debbie, my name is Sue and I’m from England, I visited Ometepe in 1995 with some friends for a couple of days after taking part in a voluntary work brigade in Bluefields. I thought it was a beautiful place if a little Macho, we stayed at a little place that was owned by I think a Swiss lady and her Nicaraguan husband but after the weekend she went off to work as a nurse in Managua and her husband had his rather loud drunken friends round and as two women on our own we felt a bit vulnerable. We were lucky enough to meet two other women staying on the island who were working on a voluntary project for pregnant women and later stayed with them in a small village, cant remember where but I think not far from Matagalpa. Anyway we did a bit of travelling including Granada and Matagalpa and loved the country and generally found people very kind and tolerant of our rubbish Spanish !
    I haven’t been back since then but have often wondered what the country is like now and would love to visit again some time. Sounds like you are very happy in your ex pat life hope it continues
    Take care

  133. Debbie, I feel like I’m late to the party after reading all these comments !😝. Where have I been! But I’m jazzed to have found you! I found your blog through Zebra Designs, she had very kind comments about you in her post today,8/25/12. My name is Holly and I’m a 46 year old woman living in Northern California. I’ve been a hair stylis and business owner for thirty years. After six years of research my husband and I are ready to close up shop here and start a new and very different life in Boquete, Panama. I really appreciate your reminder to abandon expectation. Our goal for launching our diabolical plan to expatriate is next June,2013, As our adventure is fast approaching I find your words of wisdom and your honest, authentic depiction of living as an expat refreshing . I look forward to joining in the community of people like yourself who have chosen to live lives outside the box and to embrace a different, more simple, way of living. Thanks so much for being you! 😃. Cheers!

    • Holly, welcome to my blog and thanks so much for commenting. Boquete…home of fresh air and marvelous gardens. You will love it, I am sure. Actually, it’s less than a day’s travel from our place to Boquete. We will have to get together some day after you make your move. Six years of research? Yes..I’d say that is about right. It’s difficult to explain to people how much work is involved in finding one’s niche in the world. I’m so glad you found yours. :-)

  134. Howdy Debbie & Jim
    My name is John and I have to say thank you for making my day. You see I’m a Born & Raised Expat (Dad was in Oil & Gas) and I’m currently in the Tunisian Sahara dessert working (I’m in Oil & Gas also). Drinking coffee and reading the news this morning I came across the “Migration in the Americas” articale on MSN and read some of the postings. Your particular postings really impressed me and brightened the day. Unlike others on that blog who have never experianced a long duration of being an Expatriot (most do not even understand the word) you share the same ideas as those who have, for this I thank you. To be able to adapt to an entirely differant culture/ local customs without prejustice and with the proper respect is a lot harder than people realize. Your comments to some very hateful postings and your volunteer work within your community is the shining example of a TRUE Expat. You chose to live there not to escape anything but rather because you love it.

    I little about myself;I grew up as an Expat in Europe and Asia, I’m 43, work Internationally EH, homebase from Houston and have a lovely wife who with me will evidantially retire overseas somewhere. We have one baby (out of four) still at home with us and if the time comes and she has not finished school yet then she’ll also move if she wants, which all four do (never gonna get them kids out of the house…lol). To get started on our plans we’d like to begin buying our family dream spot now, would you happen to have any recommendations. My wife has only been as far as Mexico but she has listened to my stories for 20 years now and is excited. I have the beneifit of being able to compare many differant cultures to to each other but I do not want to throw her into “culture shock” espiecially during her first experiance. We are looking for an area where residant visa, owning property, and basic utilities are not to difficult to obtain and also not packed with vacationing tourist year around. A strong Expat support group would be a plus. Can you give me a few ideas to start with?

    Best Regards

    • Hi John,

      Thank you for your lovely comments. The purpose of my blog is to educate…once a teacher, always a teacher. :-) I only want to express my views on the importance of compassionate cultural immersion..and I think I’m making headway if I look at the number of hits that I got yesterday on my blog from this article. I was amazed! It shows me that people are searching…for what, I’m still not sure, but they are open to exploration and an alternative lifestyle abroad. That’s the good news.

      The bad news is the number of comments on that article that were so hateful and bitter. I have a hard time understanding why. Is it jealousy? Intolerance for anyone or anything different? Cultural ignorance? Or perhaps, fear of the unknown? Maybe a combination of all of those things and more. That’s why I wanted to start a blog, to try to explain what living abroad is like and the only way to begin is to jump into the unknown.

      Anyway, it is very nice to meet you! It sounds like you should investigate Panama….at least at first. Panama has a strong expat presence, and the infrastructure is much better than in Nicaragua. Getting residency is not a complicated process. I’m afraid if you threw your wife into Nicaragua…she may experience culture shock. So, you can ease her into Central America via Panama. We considered retiring in Panama, and I think the only reason we didn’t is because it didn’t provide enough of a “challenge” for us. We have a pioneering spirit, and Panama was so, well… civilized and comfortable. lol

      Best wishes in your search. I have a link to one of my favorite expat blogs in Panama. Talk to Don Ray…he knows everything there is to know about Panama and he’s a great example of a TRUE expat.

  135. Hi, my name is Nicolas and I am a native of Nicaragua. I came to the US when I was 8 years old back in the 70’s, I have beautiful memories of this land when I was a child that I will never forget. Unfortunately I’ve been back only one time in my life but hopefully I will change that in the very near future (just bought a house there) but in the meantime I will be frequent visitor to this great blog and enjoy all of your wonderful posts!.

  136. Hello! I found your site through an article about many US citizens retiring to Nicaragua. I am not in a position to retire any time soon, but definitely want someplace warmer than New England! I’ve enjoyed reading your information and if I ever plan on heading down that way – I will contact you! :) You have given me some things to think about until then.

  137. Hello,
    We live in TX, we just sold our house to move out to the country. We sold a 2500sq foot for 5 acres. We plan to live off the land. We have a 3 year old, 7 year old and a nine year old. My husband has talked about relocating to Croatia. Once the kids are older, we are outta here!!!

  138. Hello,
    I just love reading your blog. I discovered it through a Yahoo article. I currently reside in Alabama but really am unhappy here. The bible thumpers are driving me crazy. I don’t want to move until I find where it is I would like to retire. I am an adventurer at heart and love exploring, meeting new people or all cultures and living among people who have open minds. It sounds like a great place to consider for retirement. One question, is it difficult to bring pets into the country?

    • Hi Gail,

      Welcome to my blog. It’s so nice to meet new people. We just returned from Leon, and I have lots of new stories to tell. I love this country. I hope that you have a chance to visit. As far as bringing pets into Nicaragua, that is no problem. I know many people who have brought their pets. I should write an article about the process. It’s much easier for pets than people seeking residency. lol Thanks for the comments and feel free to ask questions.

  139. “Who are you and why are you here?” What a great category! I have lived in Costa Rica, visited Nicaragua a lot, and now spend most of my time in Ecuador. Nancy Levin (Finding our Paradise in Ecuador) mentioned your blog today.
    I love visiting Ometepe and understand why you love it. Once while waiting on the ferry to return to Rivas, someone asked, “How long have you been on Ometepe?:” I looked at my watch and replied, “Two hours.”
    “Two hours?” he looked shocked.
    I smiled and continued, “Yes, I cam here to have lunch!” which was true!

    I look forward to your future posts!
    Lisa in Ecuador

    • Hi Lisa,

      Hahaha! A two hour tour….reminds me of Gilligan’s Island. Thanks so much for visiting my blog. One of these days we have to visit Ecuador. When Nancy lived in Panama, we tried to visit her, but she was at the beach the day we passed through. Thanks for stopping in to visit, and next time you are on Ometepe Island, you will HAVE to spend at least a day or two here. :-)

      • Thanks! It’s great to know that you’re there and happy! When I’m in CR for longer than 90 and need to leave and return, of course Nicaragua’s the easiest. I usually go to Rivas to decompress and catch up on my rest! Will give you warning if a trip to Nicaragua’s brewing! Z

  140. Debbie, Cat here, Cindi’s friend.

    To fix the Canon Power Shot battery problem, use a nail file or crotchet hook to lift and slightly bend up the two contacts on the down side. They get pressed down after a while and fail to conduct the juice. Love your blog. Cat

  141. Hi Debbie,
    My husband and I are in Chontales . I have about 2 weeks left in Nicaragua and want to see more of the country, However, I kind of need a Gringo break for a day or 2. By that I mean maybe running water ( warm ?) and an absence of mosquitos(maybe screened windows or even AC. ) The mosquitos here are daunting… I started with DEET 5% , went to15%, Then 96%………all to no avail. Can you recommend a hotel in Leon ? Or can you think of some other place to visit?

    • Tamara…we’re going to Leon this Wednesday. We’ve never been there before. When are you thinking of going? We’re spending 2 nights at a B&B called Posada Fuente Castalia. They have hot water, cable TV, internet, and air conditioning. It is $35 and seems to be in the center of town so we can explore the museums. Then on Friday, we’re going to go to Hotel de Playa Barca de Oro on Las Penitas beach. It sounds like a quiet, laid-back place close to a small island that is a bird sanctuary.

      We were trying to decide where to stay in Leon. Via Via looked good, but we wanted a place with air-conditioning because everyone said Leon is soooo hot.

      Let me know when you are going to Leon…maybe we can meet somewhere?

  142. I have enjoyed going through this section. I have added your blog to my rss reader, so I can keep up with the similarities and non similarities to the two countries.

    I have found in Panama that the most unhappy expats are the ones that moved to Panama with expectations that were set by publications such as International Living. None of the Latin American countries are going to be like the U.S. only cheaper. Each come with their own pluses and minuses.

    I recommend that anyone planning on retiring in Panama live here for at least 6 months. Both the rainy and dry seasons need to be experienced. Paying bills, buying commodities, etc need to be experienced first hand.

    None of these countries are right for everyone. If one can’t make the cultural adjustment, then they are better off not retiring in one of them.

    Spanish is an absolute neccessity to getting the most out of Latin America.

    Thanks for painting an accurate picture. Many sites on the Internet don’t and that causes problems for the ones of us that are living here.

    Don Ray

  143. I’m thinking that staying in a city, (Granada) it would be more prudent to make more smaller withdrawals than have a pile of cash on hand at any one time, hence my point re: unlimited.
    That creates another question for me: I’ve read differing things on safety.

    I don’t intend to sport flashy jewelry or clothes, but will it be safe to carry a tote bag/purse through the streets of Granada? I know the “type” of crime shall be largely “opportunistic” and I am wondering if an obviously American female with a shoulder bag is at risk of having it snatched, or am I exaggerating the actual concern? I want to keep and iphone OR ipad with me most of the time, is that safe? I’m reading about taxi drivers/shops overcharging Americans , we speak NO Spanish, (but plan to learn when there an dtake classes if need be) I was hoping to use an iphone/ipad to translate as I go, is that silly?

    I keep thinking of more questions…sorry to be a pest. My head is in obsession mode : ), and looking at multiple sorces just confuses me.

  144. I posted a reply way above before I realized I should’ve scrolled all the way down.
    Since that post I researched banks with ZERO ATM fees, internationally, and Charles Schwab has a checking account option that promises NO FEES ever, anywhere in the world the card is used, unlimited.
    From what I am seeing Capital One has a limit per month for the no fee ATM withdrawals.

  145. So which U.S. bank gives you that international ATM deal? Inquiring minds (and Nicaragua travelers too) want to know?

  146. Hi. I am a 40 year old doctor that has reached burnout and suddenly realized I need to plan for retirement! I found this blog in a roundabout way.

    I actually went to your volcanic island back in 1999. It was really cloudy when I visited though. I can’t imagine living there from what I remember. Must be an adventure. I remember it seemed scary going to Nicaragua at first but the people were friendly and honest. Something I don’t feel in the “developed” nation I currently live in! Congratulations for finding your own way.

    • Hi Marley,

      Thanks for stumbling upon my blog. There has been much progress on Ometepe Island in 10 years. I always compare the progress to food items I can get on la isla now. For example, 8 years ago we had to go to the mainland to buy peanut butter. Now, we have a selection of peanut butter, bacon, and my favorite chocolate. :-) We have 4 ATM’s on the island. Progress…progress. We probably won’t have to leave the island for anything in the near future. I hope you get a chance to visit Nicaragua again. You won’t believe the changes. And, as always, the people are vivacious, gracious hosts. The people sold me on living in Nicaragua. It’s my forever home, now. Thanks again, and I hope to see you sometime on our island of peace.

  147. Hello!
    SO happy to have discovered your blog. I,too, am retired and am very interested in relocating to Nicaragua. I first thought I wanted Ecuador but have decided maybe that area is not for me. I love all the wonderful information you have posted and am reading every word! Will be planning a trip there to visit probably in November. I love lakes and of course, the ocean. Would like to be in or near a small town…have had it with cities! haha
    It is wonderful to have someone on the “other end” and I thank you for offering this communication.
    I am trying not to be envious of you now that you are settled and have all the paperwork behind you. It feels overwhelming all the decisions to be made,etc, but I am excited about all the possibilites!
    I hope your week is wonderful and I look forward to hearing from you.
    With wam regards,

    • Hi Susan,

      Thank you for visiting my blog. Let me know how I can help you. Nicaragua is certainly an amazing country, full of adventure every day. My best advice is to take baby steps and don’t be in a hurry to get everything done at once. Nicaragua operates on a very slow schedule. Eventually everything will be completed, but you just have to be patient. :-) Again, welcome to a vibrant country. I hope we can meet in November. Best wishes.

  148. Hello there, my dear!
    I have been following your blog for a few months now, it’s wonderful! My name is Paola, and I’m a 17 year old in Miami. I’m a Nicaraguan myself, and your posts help relieve me of my homesickness. I hope to study and work and save to eventually become like you, a retiree living comfortably in paradise. I hope you enjoy everything our country has to offer, and don’t sweat the small stuff like being late (ESPECIALLY being late!)
    Best regards,

    • Hola Paola,

      You are so sweet! Thank you for following my blog. Nicaragua is a nice place to live, however it is the people who make this country GREAT! I only hope that I can pay forward the kindness shown to us by the vivacious, friendly, and generous people in Nicaragua. Tell me what kind of stories you would like to hear to help relieve your homesickness. I have many stories. :-) I had to laugh at your comment, “Don’t sweat the small stuff.” That is so true! Nicaragua is unique, I am so grateful to be here.

      • Hi Debbie,
        I’m communicating with Sam about leasing a small house in or around Moyogalpa. I asked him for “away from it all” which he found with no problem out near Balgue. Our understanding of “away from it all” were totally different. We are still working finding a place for me.
        I read about your border run experience. Very depressing. I read Rae Ann Hickling’s reply and hope you can share the secrets if you make a run with Rae Ann.
        I’m use to my Dell with a 22” LCD but don’t want to lug it with me on my trip. Is there a resource close to purchase PC’s and parts? I have a laptop and externals, but I also like a PC. I also make a lot of internet purchases.
        Is shipping to Nicaragua via internet purchases even possible? I haven’t found a freight forwarder that ship to Central America. I’ve completed a lot of research on Alternative Energy, i.e., solar and micro-hydroelectric. I would like to continue and start a project once I get settled. Internet purchases and shipping is imperative to a project like this. Should I just forget it and buy a good fishing pole?
        Cheers, Joseph
        Cheers, Joseph

        • Hola Joseph,

          Sam called me the other day and told me that someone from my blog had been in touch with him about property. He was just calling me to thank me for my blog. :-) I didn’t know who it was, but I suspected it may be you. As far as border runs, hopefully those days will be over. We go to Immigration in Managua on June 11th. We’re keeping our fingers crossed that they will issue us our cedulas, so we don’t have to make another trip to Managua.

          You can buy PCs in Nicaragua. Most of the stores are in Managua. Maybe someone else on my blog can comment on this because I never buy electronics in Nicaragua. Instead, I order them online and have them shipped to our house in the states. Then, when we return to the states, we bring back the items in our suitcases…minus the box, so it doesn’t look like a new laptop or other electronic equipment.

          One of my local friends always shops online and has the items shipped to Ometepe Island. I’m not sure how he does it, but I’ll ask him. He just received an Iphone from Texas, but he said the shipping was $50. There are some start-up companies in Nicaragua that are producing solar panels. You may want to wait until you arrive to check out what is available in Nicaragua. Meanwhile, buy a good fishing pole. That’s one item that is hard to find in Nicaragua. :-)

          See you soon.

  149. Hi Joseph,
    I think I’ll be the first who ‘ll use the blog of Debbie like a forum answer:)))
    Two months ago I was for almost 2 months in Nica and I did visit several parts of this for me (as a Dutch woman) wonderful and amazing country. This blog of Debbie and her personal help were realy a great for me! :)
    A lot of area’s in this country were so beautiful and very impressive, but the island Ometepe did feel for me so “that is what I was looking for in the world since a long time ” ! :)
    I know it maybe sounds a bit weard:)) But I only can suggest you: go by public transport and experience all the difference parts this island ! :)
    And maybe after this you will also have the same dream as me (or maybe even can realize) : “Going back to this so special place “!
    Friendly regards,

  150. Lo Joseph, An advance “Welcome to Nicaragua”, hopefully it will live up to all your expectations, certainly many will agree with Debora that Managua is a place to avoid, so much so that a prearranged $60.00 taxi ride takes me directly to my place near Rivas; in spite of the 2 hr trip, it is still easier, cheaper, safer, and less confusing than doing an overnight stay in Managua.

    As to banking, there is an abundance of ATM machines, I was likely one of the few last ones to open an account with only a passport, they now require a Nicaraguan cedula, which seems to me means residency. You can however make a substantial withdrawal from your Visa etc. credit card at some banks with only your passport, even without having an account, this may involve a ‘clearance process’ the first time round. There is an abundance of information on the Nicaragua Living forum, also many contributors and contacts on the Ben Linder mailing list.

    I can also only agree with Deborah that the Island is a wonderful place to be, and to visit, as are many other places in Nicaragua — Happy Trails, Eric

    • Malo Eric, thanks for the warm welcome and i’m sure Nica will live up to my expectations. it is very sound advise about the prearranged ride out of Managua. I intend to arrange pickup from one of the hotels in Granada as that is where i’ll have a look see for a few days while recovering from the trip. I don’t know if i’ll stay at Hotel La Bocona, just not my style; (sorry Debbie, i’m sure Nadene is a great host and might even stop by to say hello). i’m checking the hotels in Granad for one that has a secure place to store my belongings while i’m out walking, enjoying the sites and i hope the warm, 80-90 weather. winter time now in samoa, rainy and cold, below 80 is cold to me. i checked out the Ben Linder list and maybe eventually join up. thanks for that tip. by the way, do you like gardening, aquaponics, and hate cold weather? I tried to make a go of aquaponics here, but my tilapia seemed to just up and disapear in the middle of the night. maybe on my way to Ometepe we can touch bases.
      Cheers, Joseph

      • Hi Joseph,

        Eric has a beautiful and amazing aquaponics setup. I really need to go visit him, soon. No need to apologize for not wanting to stay at Hotel La Bocona…we don’t stay there either, but that is where Nadene’s office is for residencia. You will really enjoy the warm weather here. If it’s in the low 80’s, I’m all bundled up with a jacket and long pants. LOL Joseph, when are you planning to come to Nicaragua?

      • Hi Debbie,
        Eric does have quite an impressive setup to say the least. I checked the link he left on FB. His setup goes far beyond what I imagined. He is in the pro league. I was just trying to grow some vegetables. Fresh veggies are almost impossible to get here as everything comes in by container and most all the local grown is bananas or taro. I have to make one more trip to Tripler (Honolulu) early June. I hope to leave here around the 29th of July for Nicagraga, if not sooner. It would have been nice to leave for Nica from Hawaii after my medical stuff, but the timing is off just a bit. I’ll keep you posted as things evolve. I was checking a hotel by the name of Hospedaje Soma near the village of Moyogalpa to stay after I leave Granada. I think one of the cabins has my name on it. Ha! Can you shed any light on the place? Great reviews and the owner is very responsive to any reviews that aren’t perfect and even thanks the ones who give good ratings. My only concern in a place like that is the mosquitos. I haven’t seen any nets. Tell me you don’t have a problem with the vampires and I’ll be a happy camper.

        • Joseph, you can be a happy camper! We don’t have any problem with mosquitoes at our place. We live on the lake front and a nice breeze blows those pesky critters away. Hospedaje Soma is a great place to stay. Skinny is the owner and he keeps the place immaculate. It is within easy walking distance of the port town, Moyogalpa. You can buy a mosquito net at Arcies in town for 5 bucks if you need one. lol Check out the video I posted ( a friend of mine made it) on a tour of the island. Oh, and by the way, we do have vampire bats…another reason to have a mosquito net around your bed. See you soon. :-)

  151. You are soooo fast with a reply…..didn’t think i would hear from you for awhile. I just emailed my bank for info on using my ATM in Nica. The last time I was in Florida, they charged me an additional $8 for not using thier BOH ATM which there are “0” in the states. In Apia I was charged an additional $8 + an exchange service charge for WST, then a $5 charge for just accessing the ATM network…..what a rip off.. I emailed BOH to see if they have changed thier international charges.
    How does one get mail, or can you? I’m not shipping anything but might have a friend ship something to me once I’m settled; maybe that isn’t possible?
    Thanks Debbie and sorry to keep bugging you. By the way, my internet service comes with my cable and costs $150 per month….I don’t even have a TV..Ha Ha…

  152. Hi Debbie,
    I’m Joseph and pleased to meet you. I was one of the “hits” statistics furnished via WordPress.
    I want to let you know that your blog furnished me with most all the info, or links to info I need for my future trip to Nicaragua.
    I read the response you furnished to Ralph back in July 2011, as my situation is similar to his. I even emailed to him just to see how his quest was going. Unfortunately, the mail was returned undeliverable.
    Unlike Ralph, I know I want to live in Nicaragua, more specifically, Managua. But the more I look at Ometepe Island, the more I think it would suite me; not wanting to infringe on your paradise, but it does look like its big enough to handle one more Palangi, (Samoan for White people). Besides, I love to fish and the waters look unspoiled in Lake Nicaragua.
    I live on Tutuila Island in American Samoa and have been for here about 10 years. I am accustomed to living on an Island. Island fever does come to me about every 3 years and I have to go to what I call civilization, the US for some R&R. Ometepe might be the place for me. I’ve only been retired for 5 months which is long enough for me to realize I don’t want to finish out here. Work always kept me busy but now, overcrowding, slow economy plus the fact I can’t purchase any property in Samoa, beings I’m an American, are just a few reasons I’m leaving.
    Transportation to Sandino International from Tutuila is a little difficult to arrange, besides being expensive. I’ve yet to read where I need to purchase a round trip ticket to Nicaragua. Can you elaborate on that a little?
    I was also planning to email Paul Tiffer, a highly recommended attorney and start or complete the paperwork for the “cedula” prior to leaving. I’m hoping to make it a one stop affair. By that I mean travel to Managua, and set roots. Any suggestions on that?
    Thanks for any extra tips you could give me and I apologize for such a long introduction.
    Hoping to hear from you soon.

    • Hi Joseph,

      Thanks so much for visiting my blog. Concerning a round-trip ticket to Nicaragua, we only had one airline give us a hassle and that was Spirit Airlines. I had a rt ticket from Nicaragua to Miami. When we returned from Miami, the clerk at Spirit airlines wasn’t going to let us return to Nicaragua because we couldn’t show a rt ticket back to the states. I explained that this was the second leg of my rt ticket and we lived in Nicaragua. She still wouldn’t allow us to board the plane. So, with a little quick thinking, I told her the reason we returned to the states was to gather our documents for residency and I showed her some of our documents. Then, she called someone and approved our flight. I won’t fly Spirit anymore. We have never been hassled at the airport in Nicaragua. They simply stamp our passport and send us on our merry way. One time, they inspected our luggage, but that was a quick search. If anyone on either end of the flight asks to see a rt ticket, tell them you are in the process of applying for residency and you had to gather your documents. That should do the trick!

      If you have never visited Nicaragua before, you may want to do a little traveling around the country before you establish roots in Managua. Nicaragua is a diverse country. It has so much to offer. Managua is a huge, dysfunctional city. I try to get out of there as quickly as possible.

      I’ve heard many good things about Paul Tiffer. We used Nadene Holmes in Granada for our residency. I’m not sure how much he charges, you may want to shop around and check out the statistics on how many people get their residency through him. We are completely satisfied with Nadene. The process is not quick. We started last November gathering all our documents. Now, we are waiting for the final approval. Hopefully we will have our pensionado visas and our cedulas soon.

      When you come to Ometepe Island, I’ll be glad to introduce you to Sam, our local realtor. He has lived on the island for many years and knows all the real estate and the process. Let me know how I can help you. I hope you will fall in love with Nicaragua.

      • Talofa Debbie,
        Fa’afetai Lava!! I’m so appreciative that you responded to my inquiry. I now feel like I’m talking to a real person. This is a first time for me getting involved like this; maybe I’m a little old fashioned and behind the time. I feel now I have become part of the community, “Rewired and Retired.”
        Managua, thanks for the heads-up. I’ve had enough “dysfunctional” to last me the rest of my life. I definitely want to meet some xpats in hopes of finding some people you could rely on when the chips are down. It’s kind of hard when you are alone in a new place, or any other place for that matter. U know what I mean?
        I’ve figured out my transportation route, which will take me from Apia, Auckland, Hawaii, Houston, and then finally Managua. Long haul to say the least, but I have all the time I need.
        There is one more, well maybe more than one thing you might be able to help me with. How can I access my funds from Bank of Hawaii if I’m in Nicaragua?
        How or where can I open a bank account in Nicaragua to have my SS funds deposited? From what I read, you need a resident visa before you can open a bank account.
        Is there a way I can open a bank account in Nicaragua, start the change process of having my funds deposited in that bank, (min 60 days transition) prior to arrival in country?
        Maybe one of the vast numbers of readers of your blog could also comment on this.
        Oops, little more than one more thing..sorry Thanks Debbie.

        • Hi Joseph,

          Hahaha…yes I am a real person, welcome to my little community of Rewired and Retired. I try to answer all questions asked, but occasionally, I miss a few. We have our pensions direct deposited in our bank in the states. It is easier to bank online. We now have 4 ATMs on Ometepe Island, so when we need money, we take it out in dollars and go to the bank with our passports and exchange for cordobas. We actually make money in the transaction. We have an account where we can make 10 international ATM withdrawals monthly without being charged the ATM withdrawal fee. On every $400 we withdraw, we actually make $15 in the exchange from dollars to cordobas.

          We had a little problem 2 years ago when our bank in the states switched our ATM cards from Visa to Mastercard. At the time, there was only one ATM machine on the island and it only accepted Visa. We were stuck on the island with no way to access our money. The only bank in which we could open an account in Nicaragua without residency was ProCredit. We were building our house with cash only transactions (by the way, most everything on the island is cash only). So, we took the ferry to the mainland to get money from an ATM that accepted Mastercard and hauled our money back to the island. Then, we deposited it in ProCredit and they gave us an ATM card so we could access our money. What a hassle!

          But, when they started building the new airport near our house, all of a sudden 3 new banks opened on the island. Now we have 4 banks and 3 ATM machines that accept Mastercard. Of course, we are done building, so we rarely need money. I would suggest keeping your money in a bank in the states and having your SS direct deposited. I really don’t know if we will open another bank account in Nicaragua. It is just as simple to use an ATM card from your bank in the states. Plus, I’ve heard a few horror stories about the lack of confidentiality with bank employees in Nicaragua. Better safe than sorry.

          Another problem is the slow process of residency. Count on at least 6 mo. to a year before you receive your pensionado visa. You will need to return to the states to gather all your documents and then your documents are only good for 6 mo. You have to have all your documents authenticated at a Nicaraguan embassy in the states. When you get ready to apply for residency, I can walk you through the whole process. We learned so much and now that it’s over, I learned the easiest way to get everything ready for Nicaragua. Once your documents are in Nicaragua, the wait can be another 6 mo. So, in my opinion, you are better off coming here first, finding a place you would like to settle, and then start the process of residencia. Keep your bank in the states and use your ATM card. Get your money in dollars and exchange it for cordobas. If you settle in Granada, there is a bicycle shop that has the best exchange rate. We always go there to exchange money when we are in Granada. It’s kind of funny because you walk into a little store that sells bicycle tires among other things not related to bicycles and stick your dollars through a little slot. lol

          I hope I’ve answered your questions. Keep ‘em coming. :-)

  153. Hello Debbie,

    My name is Shamala and I am a 26-year-old woman coming to Nicaragua alone for one week — I just graduated from grad school and I decided I wanted to leave the country and get outside of myself, and also practice my Spanish, which is moderate/okay. I am considering doing a homestay at Puesta del Sol, and I was wondering if you might be able to help me with a couple of questions. I admire your website very much!

    – I would be coming from Granada to Omtepe, and my guidebook says that Sunday is not a good day to do this because public transportation is rare. Is this true?

    – I am a vegetarian and have been my whole life. Do you think that would be a problem for the homestay? That is probably a question I should ask them!

    Thanks, and congratulations on this wonderful website!


    • Hi Shamala,

      If you are coming to the island on a Sunday, all you have to do is get a taxi to bring you to San Jorge. The buses running from Granada on Sunday are sporadic, a taxi is quick and reliable. It should cost you no more than $25 to come to San Jorge. Let me know if you’d like help contacting Puesta del Sol. They are my neighbors. I don’t think being a vegetarian should be any problem whatsoever. There are lots of fresh fruits and vegetables on la isla. Thanks for visiting my website. If I can help you in any other way, please contact me.

  154. hi deppie, my name is ralph moansborough and i’ve recently moved from Albuquerque new mexico, to Leon nicaragua. frankly i can’t STAND it here, so i’ve taken to crawling.
    i’ve learnt a little italian thanks to the help of a neighbourhood street hooligan, but that has done little to no good – everyone is so rude and walks straight past me in markets, alleyways and at hotdog stands they give me mustard every time even though i specIFICALLY alert them that i have an INTOLERANCE! MUSTARD IS DISGUSTING AND FULL OF PRESERVATIVES!
    in the next few days i will be moving to the island because your blog has spread nothing but good news about the people, the air, the beach and the food.
    i’ve sent a few children from the house next door along to the island with all of my belongings, just this morning, and maybe tomorrow my sailor friend and i will take the catamaran to the island. do you think that we would be able to pull in and dock it at your beach? anyway, i’ve found a spectacular little house with ocean views, it’s next door to yours i think, if not it’s in close proximity (hey neighbour!!!) i’ve been told the man in previous ownership of the property is of the name rudy, but i don’t intend on speaking with him myself, i assume he will be out tomorrow when we arrive. the demolition equipment should be escorted on the ferry sometime at the end of the week, (my lawyer has taken care of it all) so maybe you can pop your head in and give me a hello when we arrive. lovely chatting, ciao bella!

    • Izzy! Sweet Izzy! You can’t fool me! How’s life in Australia? Love you and miss you mucho. Don’t eat too much mustard..it’s not nearly as nutritious as vegemite…which, by the way…Ron has developed a craving for the wicked stuff. You will need to bring us a case of vegemite on the catamaran. :-)

  155. Hello! My son’s teacher is Amy Martin and I saw where you posted your blog on her status tonight. I love to go blog-hopping so I took a peek at yours. Curiously enough, my husband and I have entertained ideas (maybe dreams) of having a second home in Costa Rica one day. The first time we visited (1998) things were cheaper than they were when we were there a couple of years ago. I still love the country and we have been treated well the two times we’ve visited. I’m intrigued by your “retirement” life and how you’re trying to get residency. Good luck! I’ll have to bookmark your site. :)

    • Hi Leslie,

      Thanks for visiting my site. Amy was my student teacher when I was teaching at the University School and we finally reconnected. We are enjoying retirement, culturally immersed in a vibrant little community on Ometepe Island, Nicaragua. I hope you enjoy my tales of campesino
      (farm) living. Everyday is a new adventure…most of them good…some of them challenging…all of them worth the effort of fulfilling dreams on a small island, in the middle of a giant lake, in the middle of Nicaragua, in the middle of Central America. When you return to Costa Rica, you have to come to Ometepe Island to visit. :-)

  156. Hi Debbie! Loved looking at/reading your blog. I am 46-years young and have recently returned to the US after living in the UK for 5 years. Sadly, the reason for my (early?) return was the sudden death of my dear husband while we were living overseas. Starting next year I will be able to collect his pension of just over $2300/month, and am starting to look at my options of retiring outside of the US. I have several friends with homes in Europe (Italy and Spain, mainly, and of course UK). Having spent many summers living with a family in Mexico, and having traveled quite a bit (including South America), I thoroughly understand your “gypsy toes”! I, too, feel like a citizen of the world, not just a country. Besides, with no children of my own (unless you count two big dogs!), I feel a little more mobile than most. Thanks for giving me one more (entertaining!) resource in my research for places to “pretire” to soon! If I make it Nicaragua, I will definitely look up “the gringos in La Paloma”! Thanks again for a great blog–happy to have found you!

    • Nancy,

      Welcome to my world of island living. I hope you will head our way, soon. Thanks so much for the kind comments. Looking forward to meeting you. Gotta run because a chicken is trying to roost on my kitchen counter. YIKES! Never a dull moment here. :-)

  157. Hello Debbie,
    I have arrived at your blog when I googled houses for rent in Grenada. You mentioned that your friends rented a mansion w/ pool on the cheap.
    How did they find it? Any help with this would be appreciated. I am looking for several months next winter. Did you like it there? Any tips?
    I am from Toronto, Canada but I have been in Mexico since December.

    • Hi Carolyn,

      Most of my friends, who live in Granada, stayed in a hotel while they were searching around for a place to rent. Word of mouth goes a long way in Granada. This is a great place to start: http://www.casagranadaproperties.com/about/
      I really like Granada. Granada has a thriving community of expats. We are more country folk and prefer living on Ometepe Island, but we often go to Granada to visit with our friends, shop, and eat! :-)
      Also, this is one of the most informative websites I’ve seen about Granada and Nicaragua in general. http://www.nicaragua-guide.com/
      As far as other tips, let me know what you’re interested in and I’ll try to help.
      Thanks for visiting my blog!

  158. Hi Debbie,

    We just got back from an amazing two weeks in Nicaragua. I can’t believe it’s already come and gone. I wasn’t able to make it to the American Cafe as we jumped on a bus the second we docked in Moyagalpa, but I left three books with Shari at Finca del Sol. She said she would get them there for me. Finca del Sol was wonderful and charming, and we loved the island. We definitely hope to return to Ometepe some day.

    Thanks! Becky

  159. Hi Debbie,
    It was so nice talking with you last Wednesday night. I hope we can get together before too long.

    Holly Winters

      • Sounds great. For now, I need to stay put and work on my Spanish. However, my daughter will be here in late April for a month. I would love to bring her to Ometepe. My e-mail address is: hollyw.ni@ gmail.com
        Is it easier for me write to you at this site or send an e-mail?
        I don’t have your e-mail address.

  160. Wow…it took a fortnight to scroll to the end so I could post this….alot of people want to say hello.:

    I’ve been exploring WordPress looking for folks my age who want to, or already have, retired abroad. I’m so glad I found you. I haven’t decided where, but it definitely will include sand and beach. You’ve inspired me to continue on my journey.

  161. Hi Debbie, I think we’ll be taking a ferry to Moyagalpa, so we’ll drop the books off at one of the two places you mentioned.

    • Whick,

      Are you referring to the poem above? If so, I just returned from a memorial for a close friend of mine who died in Granada. Very sad. On a happier note, his wake was held in an Irish Pub in Granada and we celebrated his life with many stories.

  162. Hi Debbie,

    The Wild Iris, by Louise Gluck

    At the end of my suffering
    there was a door.

    Hear me out: that which you call death
    I remember.

    Overhead, noises, branches of the pine shifting.
    Then nothing. The weak sun
    flickered over the dry surface.

    It is terrible to survive
    as consciousness
    buried in the dark earth.

    Then it was over: that which you fear, being
    a soul and unable
    to speak, ending abruptly, the stiff earth
    bending a little. And what I took to be
    birds darting in low shrubs.

    You who do not remember
    passage from the other world
    I tell you I could speak again: whatever
    returns from oblivion returns
    to find a voice:

    from the center of my life came
    a great fountain, deep blue
    shadows on azure seawater.

  163. I am back in texas taking care of taxes. I am going to drive my 20 year old Mazda P.U. down when I come, if I can find the guts. I am scared of mexico. finding someone else to travel with, or even convoy would be wonderful, but I think I will do it the same way I have done everything- Alone!.
    I will bring as many books as I can. Suggestions welcome.

  164. Sorry that we didn’t get to meet you while visiting Ometepe, but it was nice to meet your son when we dropped off the books. We really enjoyed our time in Nicaragua: Granada, Ometepe and San Juan. Met so many wonderful people. Hopefully we’ll be back!


    • Hi Eileen,
      I was so disappointed that we weren’t here when you dropped off the books. It was like Christmas, coming home to see new books waiting for my library. Thank you so much! Hopefully you will be back soon. Ometepe has a way of seeping into your heart. :-)

  165. Well, since you asked – I’m Eric Timar, living outside Washington DC. I lived on the east coast of Nicaragua for some time. Thanks for this blog. Also I happened to graduate from college in the class of Dan Kovalik.

  166. Thank you for the info. We would love to bring a book or two. Is there a specific age group you’re targeting? Also, thank you for the Hacienda Merida recommendation. Any ideas why they have gotten some really bad reviews on Trip Advisor? Some of them are good, and then some are really bad!

    • Becky,

      I am looking for early grade Spanish books…up to the 5th grade. I am targeting elementary schools. Most of the children on Ometepe Island have never seen a picture book or had an opportunity to read for pleasure. I can’t imagine a classroom without books. I hope to start them reading for pleasure as soon as they enter school. I’ll have to look at the reviews on Trip Advisor for Hacienda Merida. The only knowledge that I have is from my son and his friends who are building an earth bag school there. Cindi left a comment about Finca Mystica and a link. She lives part-time in Merida and she would be the one to know best. I live on the other side of the island and rarely get to the Maderas side. Thanks for your help with the children’s books in Spanish.

      • Hi Debbie, We ended up booking with Finca del Sol and we arrive on March 23rd and depart on the 26th. How should we get the books to you?

        • Hi Becky,
          Do you know where the ferry will take you? You can catch a ferry to Moyogalpa or San Jose. If you come to Ometepe on the Moyogalpa ferry, you can drop the books off at The Corner House or the American Cafe and Hotel. The American Cafe and Hotel is on the right, as you are going up the hill from the dock. The Corner House is on the right a block farther up the hill. If you take the ferry to San Jose, let me know what time you will be in San Jose and I’ll meet you at the dock on our motorcycle. I think you will enjoy Finca del Sol. I’ve heard many good reports about it. Thanks a bunch for bringing books. :-)

  167. Hi Debbie. we are in Merida at Finca Mystica. Leaving today and driving back to Moyagalpa for ferry. We have a few books for you. Would love to have taxi stop on our way and say hello but if not we will leave these books at Corner cafe. Thanks again for keeping up your blog.
    Check out our travels here in Nicaragua at: http://www.wabisabiroad.com

    • Steve, it’s late afternoon now, so you are probably heading back to the mainland. I’ll wave to you as you pass by my house. LOL I’ll stop by the Corner House tomorrow. Thanks so much for donating some children’s books. Sorry I missed you. I hope you enjoyed your stay on Ometepe.

  168. Hi Debbie,
    I saw one of your responses on a travel forum and then followed it to your blog. You have tons of information! My husband and I are a long way off from retiring, but we do plan to viist Ometepe in a few short weeks. We are hoping to spend 3 or 4 nights on the island and we hope to climb Maderas, see the San Ramon waterfalls, do some kayaking, and visit Ojo de Agua. We would like to stay somewhere with good access to all of those activities. We don’t need luxury, but of course we like comfort! I know you’re not a travel agent, but I really liked your responses to everyone elses questions and figured it would be great to get your opinion on a place to stay. Thank you in advance for any information!

    • Hola Becky,

      You will definitely want to be on the other side of the island, near Maderas. I know of the perfect place for you to stay. It is called Hacienda Merida and this is their website: http://www.hmerida.com/english/index
      My son and his friends are building an earth bag school house at Hacienda Merida and they rave about the place. Take a look at their website, I think you will love it. Let me know if you have any other questions. Safe travels. Oh, by the way, if you are coming to the island would you be interested in bringing a children’s book in Spanish? I’m working hard to develop a mobile lending library on the island and I am slowly gathering children’s books. If you would consider it, let me know and I’ll tell you where you can drop off a book. Thanks.

  169. Hello Debbie, I am Sue Ryans sister Deby. We maybe/probably are coming down in Aug..So Sue says. This will be a tough trip for her so I am glad we are all coming together. Living in the states is getting harder and harder, Sue loves Ometepe so. I still haven’t seen her she’s been so busy since she arrived, hopefully she will get here this summer before we all come to visit you. We have so many questions, and it wll still take us forever to get down there or anywhere else on a permanent basis, but this is a start and I can’t wait to meet you. Love the blog. Never been outside the US in my life!! SO EXCITED about this trip. Can’t wait to meet you. Deby Hart

    • Hola Deby,

      I know how difficult it will be for Sue to return to Ometepe. The mural she and Ian painted in my kitchen is a constant reminder of her love for Ian. But, we will be here to support and love her. I can’t wait to meet you. My blog should give you a little insight into our lives on the island. It’s always an adventure! Thanks for leaving a comment. August is just around the corner. Hope to see you, soon. :-)

  170. do you know Tim Rogers of the Nicaragua Dispatch?
    seems to be very brave …..
    any of the Nicaraguan papers report the same stories?

  171. Lo Debbie, Glad to come off the ‘statistical list’, and into the light of the page, as a retired Northerner (Canada), ended up settling into a little place in Buenos Aires, near Rivas. Having travelled the Island, and spent a total of three months there allows me to be familiar with most of the Islanders mentioned, and a few more. To anyone considering Nicaragua as a place to live, I can only say “I have no regrets” for making the move – to any one interested in gardening, in particular raising tilapia combined with plants in an organic recirculating water system, please check out my Facebook page at Eric Friesen, sorry, I’m just not technical enough to share the info and pictures in any other way — Where else, but Nicaragua, could you turn an empty scrub lot into gardener’s delight in just three short (part time) years? Yes I know! Many places, but I found mine! Thanks, Eric

    • Eric,
      So glad to have you off the statistical list. lol I am going to request that you become my Facebook friend. My husband is really interested in raising fish. He would love to come visit you and talk to you more about a fish farm. Thanks for your comment. Come visit la isla when you get a chance.

  172. Debbie:
    Hello once again. This is Rivasgringo!! Name is really Joe Jones and currently in Charleston, SC.
    Wife and daughter there in Rivas and I will be soon. Am retiring on March 20th (am a cop) and heading south as soon as I can. Am 66 years old, retired military and soon to be retired cop. Am sure we will meet as my family loves to come over to Ometepe Island. Take care…see you soon.


    • Joe,
      Congratulations on your soon to be retirement and welcome to Nicaragua, your new home. Make sure you come to Ometepe and visit us, soon. Maybe if you wake up and look at Ometepe each morning, you will see me waving at you! jejeje. Have a safe trip to Rivas. We’re headed to Rivas tomorrow because Ron has to have a tooth pulled. My biggest accomplishment of the day was calling the oral surgeon, explaining the situation, and asking for an appointment…all in Spanish. :-) Take care.

  173. Hi Debbie,

    You have so many new friends that it took me five minutes to get to the bottom of this page! Nice of you to be so welcoming to everyone; I wonder how invitees you have actually met by now?
    I’m a women in my 50’s and I plan on taking a long well-deserved break after my latest project is completed in a couple of months. If I am traveling alone, which I may be, I would like to do Spanish Immersion with homestays, staying a week each in 3 or 4 different locations. I would like to combine this with scouting out places for potential part or full -time relocation. I’m definitely more of a country girl; I google pictures of towns where schools are and if I see chickens or loose cows in the street it makes the list. It seems like there used to be a school or two on Ometepe but am not having any luck making contact with them. Any knowledge of that?
    Still, can’t work the whole time I’m on vacation and Ometepe sounds very worth a visit and the homestay in your village sounds inviting.
    Keep up the good work. You have a nice blog and nice values.

    • Nina,
      Welcome to my blog new friend. It’s funny that you should ask about the visitors to my blog that I’ve met. Last week, I attended an Ometepe Expat meeting, actually our first meeting ever. I looked around the room and wondered how many of these people were subscribers to my blog. After the meeting, several people came to me to introduce themselves. They recognized me from my blog pictures. It was fantastic to have faces to accompany the names. Just this morning, a friend called to tell me that another person on my blog is on the island and wants to come out to visit. Sometimes, when I’m riding on the ferry, someone will come up to me and say, “You look so familiar. Do I know you from somewhere?” LOL
      I am in the process of interviewing local communities that offer home stays, work programs, and Spanish Immersion. Once I get my list completed, I’m going to do a writeup for my blog. The problem that I have found is that some websites look amazing, but when you actually go to see what they offer, it’s a great disappointment. On the other hand, there are amazing communities that offer so much for visitors, but they don’t have a website or any means of communicating and marketing their home stays.
      There were two orphanages on the island where visitors could volunteer their skills. But, they have moved most of the children off the island when the volcano erupted in 2009. I think these places are up for sale, now. I think there is still one orphanage school left, but I don’t know anything about it. Stay tuned and I’ll gather more information.
      Thanks for visiting my blog, Nina. I hope to see you soon. If you do a home stay in Puesta Del Sol, I’ll be your neighbor. Stop in to visit. :-)

      • Thanks for your reply. I had a sneaky feeling that might be the case regarding the Spanish ‘schools’, i figured I would only consider ones where I had read many first hand accounts of the experience. Fortunately on the web that is easy to do. I look forward to your list. Will it be completed by April ?? ;))
        I’m curious as to how many expats are on the island.
        Your latest entry about medical emergencies is very informative, and rather scary, and I don’t scare easily… Stay well!!

  174. Hello Debbie! I’ve enjoyed reading all of your escapades and info. Thanks. I’m 61, female and want to retire next year. I live in So. California. Since I’ll only have SS and some gov retirement, looking for cheaper places to live. figure I’ve given enough of my life to WORK! I’ve always had the desire to travel and love it when I do. Even my kids call me gypsy. I’ve been down to So. Mexico, the Caribbean and a few other places. But, now the kids have their own lives and it’s time to get on with mine! When I first checked out Nicaragua on the internet I found Granada and it looked wonderful, quaint, walkable and hopefully enough to keep me busy when I want to be. Thinking enough expats to “ease” me into the new culture and pass on their knowledge. I know very little Spanish, but am willing to learn. I plan on selling the house, car, everything else and packing one suitcase and one backpack and hitting the road. I don’t plan on being tied down with things. I know you can’t believe everything you read on the net so am wondering if you know of any other good blogs (or people) where maybe there’s others that can enlighten me to other places, things to watch out for, think about, etc. The more info I have before doing this, the better. I will travel around a bit before settling down (if I ever do! LOL), but need some ideas as to where to travel! Does this make any sense? Maybe I’m rambling.
    Well, thanks for any thoughts you may have and any help you can give. Sheila

    • Hi Sheila,

      Thanks for visiting my blog. First, congratulations on your pending retirement. Your life will never be the same! Granada will meet your needs perfectly. It is a vibrant city with many expats. It is easy to walk around the city and take buses or taxis where ever you want to go. If you want to visit, I have many single women friends that would be happy to take you under their wings and show you all the ins and outs of Granada. You can rent fully furnished apartments at a reasonable cost, too. I like Nicaragua because it is centrally located, only 1 1/2 hour flight from Miami. You can make a home base and then travel throughout Central America easily. The TICA buses travel throughout Central America. In one day, you can be in Panama, Costa Rica, Guatemala,or El Salvador. I didn’t include Honduras because presently Honduras is not a safe country to visit, especially for single women. I find that by living in Nicaragua, we actually can save money to travel to more expensive countries because the cost of living is low.
      We explored many other countries, but our biggest concern was the distance from the USA. Ron and I both have elderly parents, so we have to travel back to the states frequently. A great website is http://www.lonelyplanet.com. Join the forum and ask lots of questions about any country. That is how we originally discovered Nicaragua. Shelia, you are in the initial phase of exploration and that’s good. I’ve met some expats that sell out and move to another country without ever visiting, talking with other expats, or asking questions. Usually, they stay less than a year. Best of luck to you and keep exploring with love. Let me know how I can help you.

  175. Hi Debbie: Have been enjoying your blog so much! We are coming to Nicaragua in 2 weeks and spending some time on Ometepe. We have some books to drop off for your library. Would love to meet you if you’re available.

  176. Dear Debbie
    A friend of mine just sent me your blog, I am looking forward to reading all of it. I have some good friends that spend a lot of time in Ometepe and enjoy visiting them. My husband and I own a small B&B in Granada, check us out when you have time. We are also enjoying our new lives here in Nicaragua. Next time you are in Granada stop by. Best of luck to you and thank you for writing.

    • Hi Becky,
      Thanks so much for visiting my blog. We will be flying back to Nicaragua from the states tomorrow. I can’t wait to get HOME! We’ll be in Granada tomorrow night. Maybe, if we have time on Friday, we’ll stop at your B&B to say hello. Next time you’re on Ometepe be sure to stop by our house and say hello. :-)

  177. Hi! I’m Jackie from Canada and just found your blog while looking for some information on Nicaragua for my blog.
    We returned a week ago from 18 days in Nicaragua (some with family) and spent the last few days in Granada staying at a small Bed and Breakfast right on Calzada at the end near the lake.
    If anyone wants the name just check out my blog.
    I have been doing some posts on our trip.
    We are planning to relocate this year and Granada is on our list along with Mexico and Ecuador.

    I will be following your blog now.
    Thanks for all the great information.

  178. I do thet every time I go have yet to find them that little biz to the left as you pass the gate at the dock -the lady there told me books were easy in central rivas Maybe you can pin her down she acted offended that I wanted to trade her for her copy of painted house_ I didn’t want it, just wanted a book connection found one at the Ist hotel to the right real nice guy will trade 1 for 1

  179. maybe next time there you could do some investigation of what is available and at what cost. I would be willing to contribute and feel there maybe others that would also do so

  180. In today’s modern world surrounded by satellites you can get any broadcast you are willing to pay for.
    O live on Ometepe. I only have internet, but Jerry likes football, so he has it all he wants to buy.

    • Hi Ed,
      At this time, I don’t know of a way to have books sent to Nicaragua. It’s very expensive and we never know what will arrive through customs and what will not arrive. Right now, until I come up with a better way, I have the books (one at a time) brought to Ometepe by tourists visiting the island. When I make a trip back to the states, I always pick up more books and bring them back in my suitcases.

  181. Hi there, I saw your comment on a Yahoo news article about retirement. I have considered retirement in another country even though that is still 20 and probably 30 years off. The only thing I think that will keep us stateside is tv. My husband and I love tv and he while we can survive without many programs, he will not miss his games/sports. My husband is active duty coast guard and his cutter takes him down to S. America-places like Colombia, Panama and if he can get a game on, it’s in Spanish and I know it bugs him, so probably won’t work out. I love the idea though and I’m glad I found your blog! I had an acquaintance move her children to Costa Rica a year ago and it was awful for the kids. They moved back less than a year later. They had no books. Only photocopies of books. No playground. So, that’s something for parents to consider before uprooting kids. There’s my 2 cents on that.

    • Hi Stephanie,
      Thanks for visiting my blog. We have a satellite dish for TV at our house and we pick up most of the football games and other sport channels, too. Sometimes, they are broadcast in Spanish, but it makes little difference because we can watch the plays, so we know what is happening. So, if lack of American football is the only thing holding you back…start packing your bags, now. :-) Anyone with school aged children moving to a foreign country really need to research the schools and programs offered before making a move. Most of the large cities have American International Schools, with a strong curriculum and certified teachers. However, when you get into more rural areas, you never know what you will get.

  182. Despite excellent advice about staying closer to Moyagalpa (Charco Verde area), I find myself making contact with some kids waaaaay out near San Ramon. I am thinking 4 nights might make the long haul worth it. We have a few books to bring and will drop one off for you in Moyagalpa.
    We will attend the international poetry festival in Granada and follow up with a visit to Ometepe begining Feb. 18th. Any last minute pointers would of course be appreciated …

    • Steve, the weekend of Feb 18th is the Fuega y Agua race across the island. It should be lots of fun to watch. They race up and down both volcanoes. On Sunday is the children’s race. Thanks so much for bringing a children’s book. San Ramon is a relaxing, beautiful area. I know you will enjoy your stay. Let me know what kind of pointers you’d like? Oh, and the poetry festival is awesome!

  183. I pass by there most every morning I usually eat breakfast at the American cafe for 55 cords
    I get a kick out of spending as little as possible, and still having everything I want. Let me know the day and time you plan to be there, and I will meet you I can afford to spend twice my usual one day to meet new friends

  184. I wrote you the first time I read your blog They call me Tex here in moygalpia because I came from texas I have been living here about 3 months I meet you, or someone I think was you on a trip to Rivas one day.

  185. Thanks for the link, you may yet talk me into seeing Ometepe. Unless the surf is so mind blowing I cant drag myself away from the playa, I hope to visit. Scott

  186. Hi, I somehow found your blog and enjoy keeping up with your adventures. My daughter was on Ometepe for a wedding this summer and the island caught our interest. My husband and I are coming to Managua for a 2 week medical mission (eye care). We want to come to Ometepe for 2 nights/days to explore. Is there public transportation to get around the island. Any ideas for “must visits” or places to stay? We like to visit with locals (husband speaks Spanish) and want a clean, safe place–doesn’t have to be fancy.

    • Hi Jo Ann,

      Thanks for visiting my blog. There are public buses around the island that will take you anywhere you want to go. Sunday buses are sporadic, but there are always taxis available. Or, you can rent bicycles or motorcycles to explore the island. If you are looking for a cultural immersion home stay, our neighbors have a small, rural community association called Puesta del Sol. Their website is one of my links at the bottom of my home page on my blog. They offer home stays for one or two nights, as well as packages for longer stays. I recommend them highly. There are numerous things to do on the island. It just depends on your interests. Let me know what you may be interested in doing and I’ll give you more information. You are going to love Ometepe! Thanks again for visiting my blog.

  187. Hi I think we meet My Name is Whicket Williams I am a new resident here in Ometepe.
    If that wasn’t you I meet on the Lancha, I am sure we will meet soon I live at Don Miguel’s Casa in Moyogalpia

  188. Hi Debbie……I am anticipating our health care needs when on Ometepe……you had mentioned in an earlier post about applying for Health Care Insurance when down there……could you please let me know how to go about this…..btw…….love your new iron shelving……actually all of his work is amazing…….and your kitchen is fantastic…..love that picture you and your friend did….our foundation has started…..I can’t explain how hard it is to be sitting up here when my life is unfolding down there……..soon….very soon! Keep well……….

    • Hi Eileen,
      Marvin is The Man! Let me know when you are ready for any iron works on your house, and I’ll contact him or give you his phone number. I’m sending you an email with more information. We have a Google Group for Ometepe Expats. I’ll send you an invitation to join. Tabatha posted lots of good information about health care options on it. I know how hard it is to be so far away when anticipating a new life. Pronto, mi amiga, pronto!

      • Hey Debbie– can you invite me to the Ometepe Expat group? Heading down tomorrow. Also, I need some iron work at my house in Merida if Marvin will go out there.
        Looking forward to meeting you-

  189. good stuff!

    lived w/o electricity on our own island in N Ontario
    you would not regret buying a Honda or Yamaha 2000 Watt generator (preferably Yamaha)
    expect to get ~ 3k hours, no more, b4 rebuild. with fuel, still expensive.

  190. Hola.
    My name is Ed Jones and my wife is Deb. we will be in sjds in march and hope to visit ometepe. we have been to Panama 7 times and planned to retire there soon but I think they are pricing themselves out of the market. Love your blog and maybe we will meet someday soon. we also live on an Island. dauphin Island, Al.

    • Hi Ed,

      Nice to “meet’ you. Thanks for visiting my blog. Isn’t island living great? When you are on Ometepe Island in March, please let me know. March is really hot and dry. You’ll find us hanging out at Ojo de Agua a lot. It is a beautiful, crystal clear spring. Thanks again.

  191. Thank you for wonderful website on Ometepe expat living. I have enjoyed these words about the lives around you and hope you carry on with this walk of yours.
    I traveled to Nicaragua in 2008 for 3 weeks and just loved my time there.
    Patricia & I are going back for 6 weeks in late January. I traveled everywhere it seemed in 2008. This visit will be longer but have fewer locations. I stayed in San Jorge last time and enjoyed a small hotel off the right side of the main road. Nothing to do in San Jorge but that was OK. I took the ferry across to Moyogalpa one morning and looked around that area on foot and then went back in late afternoon by ferry. I don’t know why i didn’t take time to wander the island a bit. This year we will make up for my errors and spend a week laying around at basic but comfortable digs somewhere on the island. Transportation did not seem easy to come by in Moyogalpa. I speak almost no spanish and sort of hit the wall while there.
    Could you please advise; should I make arrangements with a place to stay before I go or is it possible to arrive on the Island and find a way around to some of the different locations and determine which spot makes a good fit for us? We have no need for a lodge or resort even one that attaches “eco” to its name, nor do we need endless activities provided. We find the unexpected gifts from travel are always in abundance.
    I am somewhat budget minded and traveling light … have you any suggestions for a particular area? I read in one of your entries that you like the area close to Moyogalpa and wonder why travelers head to the farthest side … these are things I wonder about and would value any wisdom the two of you might share.
    Children’s books … could we purchase a book on amazon and drop ship to nicaragua address? Lots of old gringos have no children’s books left but could buy one for such a good & noble cause.

    • Steve, thank you for your kind words and your gracious offer to donate a children’s book in Spanish for my mobile library. Unfortunately, we don’t have a mailing address here and it is very expensive to send books through the mail. That’s why I’m asking people to drop off a book at one of the local hotels if they happen to be coming to the island.
      If you are coming to the island in late January, you should have no problem trying to find a small hotel. I would recommend getting off the ferry in Moyogalpa and spending the night in Moyogalpa first. The American Hotel and Cafe owned by Simone and Robert has five comfortable and immaculate rooms with hot water showers. When you get off the ferry, just walk a block up the street and you will see a large white building on your right. Simone and Robert both speak English and are wonderful hosts.
      Another place is called the Corner House. It is located just a block further up the street on the right hand side, across from the gas station. They have delicious meals and wi-fi available.
      If you plan on exploring the island, you must go to Charco Verde. It is about 20 minutes out of Moyogalpa by bus. I think they have the nicest beach on the island and beautiful walking trails around a small charco, or little lake. Plus they have little cabins along the lake.
      Another thought, if you would like to stay with a Nicaraguan family, Puesda del Sol, which is in my little community of La Paloma offers home stays with meals. They don’t speak English, but their son-in-law is there now and he speaks English. It is a great cultural immersion experience.
      I hope this helps. Let me know if you have more questions. And, thanks again for visiting my blog.

  192. Hi Debbie –

    Hello from Cincinnati. I haven’t explored much of your blog yet…but travel is my passion and I’ve been wanting to visit Nicaragua…so I look forward to reading more!

  193. I’ll also try to collect some Spanish children books for your library. :)
    Only a few questions: K5 books are books for the first 5 grades? And do I understand well: you are looking for children books with texts and graphics?

  194. Hola……..Just a quick question…..I am keeping my eye out for spanish books for you…..which catagory’s are you looking for……Chris will be coming down in February and I shall send any I have with him…….we probably won’t be down until the house is finished……hope you both are keeping well………Cheer’s

    • Hi Eileen,

      Thanks so much for offering to collect some children’s books in Spanish. I’m collecting lower elementary children’s books in Spanish and/or Spanish-English. I want to start with K-5 books since the kids have never had an opportunity to read for pleasure. Chapter books will be overwhelming for them and I want to develop an interest in reading at an early age. So far, the children really enjoy fairy tales, Dr. Seuss books, and anything about animals. Thanks again, Eileen. Hope you all are well and keeping warm. :-)

  195. hey Ed — I have a house on Ometepe but am not there full time. My bf, Brian, is often there with me and he is a fishing fanatic in constant pursuit of the wily guapote. He has experimented with many lures and would undoubtably LOVE to communicate with you on this topic. His email is brian.belew@gmail.com. Tell him I suggested you write him.


  196. I have considered being a volunteer for a year or so after retiring. I am finding that there is a fee to volunteer. I can support myself .housing and food. Will there be opportunites to volunteer that I will not have to pay to do?

    • I hate paying to volunteer. Ed, there are so many opportunities to volunteer in Nicaragua and on Ometepe Island. It just depends on what you would like to do. Since I am a retired teacher, I volunteer in the local schools and I’m in the beginning stages of starting a lending library in my small local elementary school. If you see a need, you can fulfill it easily. The needs are great, the opportunities are limitless. :-)

      • Glad to read this info!
        I also hate paying to volunteer, so as a start I’ll cooperate a few weeks in a Dutch/Nicaragua project (like twin cities) for free. After this project I want to use my time in N for traveling around and visit also some other volunteers. I consider being a volunteer for a longer time after retiring in another country then Holland. But I still know to less about N and the possibilities for volunteering! So for me it is great to read your posts! :)

  197. I am from NC and work in healthcare. A great Blog. Have you considered an Ebook? I have wanted to visit the island and hope to do so in the coming year or so. I too am interested in retiring abroad. I have purchased property in Belize but do not feel that I will retire there. I have spent time in Panama, David and Panama City as well as highlands. Spent time in Costa Rica about twice a year at least. I am planning to visit Nicaragua and Ecuador before I retire in 3 years. People are amazed when you say that you want to leave the States. There is more to life that we are taught to look for. There is nothing like the feeling of freedom and a closeness to the earth as when you are actively involved in doing meaningful things. I have looked into coming to a language school in Granada but will be limited to 10-14 days total time out of the States. Do you think it would be worth the effort or would I need more time to be meaningful. I want to spend 2-3 days on the island and will fly in and out of Managua. All of the things you see on the internet make Nicarauga sound very expensive. Good to know that one can live for less than $2500 a month in Nicaragua.


    • Hi Ed,
      Nice to meet you. Thanks for visiting my blog. I think a language school in Granada would be a great idea, even if your time is limited. My Spanish is called “survival Spanish”. lol We took Spanish lessons when we moved to Ometepe Island 7 years ago. We have the basics, and can carry on conversations, but those darn verb tenses kill me…14 of them.
      I’ve found that expat blogs and Google or Yahoo groups are the best way to receive more reliable information about Nicaragua (or any country). Most of the fancy websites are real estate related, so naturally you are going to get ‘high priced’ information. We considered moving to a little town outside of David, Panama. I joined a Yahoo group all about David. Then, when we made a scouting trip, I contacted the expats and we went to visit them. You will always get the truth from expats who live in the country of your choice. Stay away from the gringo real estate salespeople and the expensive seminars. Their only motivation is money and they will tell you what you want to hear, whether it’s the truth or not. Just my two cents worth.
      Let me know when you will be on Ometepe Island. Our new airport should be done next year. You will be able to fly from Managua to Ometepe Island. I hear the big machines beeping all day long. I’m still not sure how I feel about an airport a quarter of a mile from my house…time will tell. Thanks again for visiting my blog.

      • Can you get mail? I am asking because of fishing lures Would like to know what your husband uses for bait. What type line size does he use. Do you need a license to fish?

        • Hi Ed,
          We can get mail if we go to the post office and register to get mail. We haven’t done that, though. My husband has an Ultralight 4 lb test and a bigger rod with 12 lb test. He uses floating lures and sometimes live bait. You don’t need a license to fish. I hope this helps.

  198. Hola Debbie- just for fun I googled, Thanksgiving, Nicaragua. That’s how I happened upon your blog. Nice!

    I live and do missionary work in Jinotega, but am originally from Ohio. Still haven’t gotten down to Ometepe… it sure sounds lovely. Haven’t even been to the ocean yet, and I’ve been here 3 years!

    I have to be at a workshop on Thanksgiving Day and the day after, so I guess I was sad thinking about not celebrating our “traditional” T-day (not going to a restaurant where I can order a hamburger in lieu of turkey)…hence the google!

    You do have a lovely way of writing! I’ve had trouble keeping up with my blog (we don’t have great internet access at our house)… people tell me wordpress is better… I do like the set-up.

    Do you have any libraries on the island? I need to do some research on starting a small library- that would give me a work-related excuse to visit Ometepe! Sanity break is needed too, however!!!
    Have a lovely Thanksgiving!

    • Hi Dolly,
      I’m so glad you stumbled upon my blog. I just got back to the island yesterday. We tried to buy a turkey in Granada at La Colonia, but they wanted $60 for a little turkey..so we’re going to get creative again this Thanksgiving. I would really be interested in talking with you about your plans to start a small library. I’ve been collecting children’s books in Spanish to start a small mobile library on Ometepe Island. I talked with Jane, who started a library in San Juan Del Sur, and Carol, who also started a library in Granada. They gave me many wonderful ideas and ways to start my lending library. I hope you get an opportunity to visit Ometepe Island. We were in Jinotega in October. We have plans to visit again soon because my husband wants to go fishing on the lake north of you. I forget the name of it. So nice to “meet” you. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving.

      • I’d love to talk about the library! Someone suggested I visit a program in San Juan del Sur- maybe it’s the same one as Jane’s. At least maybe I could communicate with her and Carol. You don’t have actual access to my e-mail address (submitted to wordpress), or do you?

        The lake is Apanas. Good guapote!

        Happy “Not Black Friday” to us!!!

      • Debbie,
        My earlier reply for some reason apparently didn’t come through the Webpress software (FYI). Anyway, I’m very supportive of the Moyagalpa area getting some sort of library. I happen to have done some looking into this for my work in northern Nicaragua http://www.isla.cc There is a program going on through Hispamer books in Managua (Books for Life) that potentially matches a $2000 purchase with another $2000 in books, plus a computer/printer station. Obviously would take some upfront cash and a location etc. but would be a great project I’d be willing to help with and I’ll bet others would too. Please let me know if you have interest.

        • Hi Jon,
          I had that happen to another person, too. I don’t have a clue why the posts sometimes don’t go through. Maybe because you included a link, it went into my spam box. I’ll have to look. When will you be returning to Ometepe Island? We really need to talk. Thank you so much for your link. I am extremely interested in the Books for Life program. However, I’m not ready to open a location until I have a sufficient amount of books available. Poco y poco. I’ll send you an email.

  199. Hi Debbie,
    My name is Goran Bockman. I’m Swedish and nearing retirement. I’ve been scouring anything I can find on Nicaragua and came across your blog today looking for the right place to settle down. I’ve narrowed my choices down to the Philippines and and Nica. Your life in Nica sounds wonderful. My dream is to find a place where I can keep a couple of horses for me and my wife and enjoy retirement.