No, I haven’t left my home in Nicaragua. I just realized that I had posts in my outbox that hadn’t been sent and when I sent them, I received posts from friends and family who wanted to hear more from me.
I'm grateful to all of you who haven't forgotten me. I'm not promising that my postings will increase in a timely manner, and I'll see how I can improve the frequency. Getting used to the technology is still a process that stands more study and work.
As I meditate each morning I ask, “Guide and direct me to my greatest good today.” Then I follow whatever shows up on the day’s agenda. The first thing to show up on Monday, Wednesday and Friday is my FunLimón gym time at 7:00 am. In my past life, I went to the gym or Curves five days a week early in the morning before work. After 20 years of excuses here in Nicaragua, I’m back to the routine. The real truth is that I have COVID Long as a result of the severe COVID bout I had in June of 2018. The Naturopathic Doctor that I go to in Managua told me I needed to do something to get my blood pressure under control, something that was never an issue but COVID Long changed that. Hence I’m back at the gym and loving it again.
Teaching Adult English at FunLimón
For the past four years I have been teaching EFL five days a week for four hours most days. On Saturdays we have two levels so my day is from 9 to 4. My teaching partner, Diter Acevedo and I are a good team. FunLimón purchased a new set of textbooks written and published in Spain New Go Ahead that meets the INATEC criteria we teach. This session, which consists of 12 weeks, we have 7 levels of students. INATEC requires that we teach 12 levels before they issue an official Graduation Certificate. I feel that we are finally on the right path for teaching EFL to adults. I could write a book about my EFL experience teaching in a rural area. BTW our New Go Ahead books are written for the European and UK culture. My World Wall Map is frequently used to explain the differences in cultural words especially in clothing, places, and money. I’m also learning a lot of Spanish that is unique to our area. Needless to say, I love the students and my co-teacher. This session we have begun a new collaboration with University Anunciata in Rivas. Two 4th year Anunciata interns come to help the class at all 7 levels. Each level has the same two interns each week so that there is consistency for our students and the interns. We (FunLimón) will be evaluating the interns next week and Anunciata will be evaluating us. I hope that we pass the evaluation, as I think it is useful for Diter and I to be challenged by the interns at times.
Guasacate Dream Property Sold
Yes, in October 2021 I sold back my Dream House under construction back to my friends who were the original owners. I couldn’t maintain the mortgages I had on both the Dream House and the Rancho Santana condo. After many discussions with advisors, it was clear that the answer was to sell the Guasacate property. Although that area is growing, there aren’t enough permanent residents in Guasacste if I needed help. At RS, not only does everyone know me but they watch after me like a hawk. Some people may be offended by this, I am grateful. Now I will eventually be able to catch up on my finances again. And my children are happy about the decision and have supported me through the whole process.
There are other major projects that are currently under construction. I’ll talk about them in another episode. In the meantime, take good care of yourselves and your families.
I have now spent almost an hour trying to figure out how to get my normal WordPress site back to normal. This is as far as I’ve gotten and not sure if this is working. Please let me know if you have received it.
My problem is the assumed knowledge of the language used by the user. I swear that there has to be a rotating dictionary or glossary that is hidden somewhere in my computer, or I need to develop a ton more of patience.
So now I see that maybe a “block” is really a paragraph. MAYBE!
Short post. I’m writing EFL exams to be given next week and I still have Levels 2 to 5 to go.
Yes, Nicaragua is on lock-down like the rest of the world. However, living here at Rancho Santana with my beautiful condo and ocean view, it could be worse.
FYI, I had the COVID virus about two months ago. Sick as a dog for three days with high temp, 0 energy, body ache whereby I didn’t know whether or not I wanted to lie down, sit up, or cry. So I stayed on the top of the bed, only drank peppermint tea, and water for those three days. Day four I had a bowl of cereal and worked a little. By the end of the week, life was back to normal and has been the same for two months. Many folks here in our area have had similar cases, no hospitalizations, and no deaths. We are hearty folks here.
It’s a good thing that I recovered quickly because the following week I was dupped by an email scammer who successfully received $500 from my bank account in the US. After one whole day online with the Wells Fargo Bank Fraud Division, I had: to close and reopen a new account, contact every financial institution–credit cards, automatic transactions, etc.–I have three pages in a notebook regarding the mess. Thanks to WFB, they retrieved my $500 and I’m grateful to the 12 (yes 12) individuals from WFB who patiently worked with me from my cellphone and computer to get all the accounts straightened out. I know more about malware and what to look for in emails now than I ever thought I wanted to know. I finally gave up being paranoid this week.
I have had fun being quarantined. I edited some medical courses for Continua Group, a reputable company that teaches CEU programs online. And I edited a great book that I will hopefully get published this year – Dirty, Wet, and Bitten: A memoir of a monumental move, a marriage, and Mexico by Abby Smith. I’ll let you know when it finally becomes published.
Since the last blog, my textbook partner and I finished the new FunLimón Adult English Book 1. YEAH, now we’re waiting for the FunLimón Board to approve funding for the compendium of 6 books. I was hoping to have all 6 Textbooks written by January, 2021. If we don’t get approval, I’m not writing, although I did outline the chapters for Book 2.
There is so much time for me to busy myself because there’s no one here except the few people who were visiting RS before lock-down and now have been stuck here since March. Of course, one could be stuck in a less desirable place. I find it interesting that some people are filled with fear, won’t go out unless forced. I have other friends who are mindful in crowds, where we all wear masks, but aren’t afraid to receive and give hugs. I’m very grateful for these “brave souls”.
The Center for Especialistas de Addiciónes (CEA), a 30 bed rehab center in Managua where I am the only female board member, is really struggling with this pandemic issue. CEA is open but hard pressed financially as the need for CEA has grown within Nicaragua while the US and other country clients are no longer able to come to CEA. We relied on these patients/clients to subsidize those who needed financial aide to be in rehab. At the last board meeting via Zoom, the CEO said that we would be $8000 short by December. If anyone feels that they could contribute some help, please read David Stadthagen’s request. I’m going to see if I can attach his letter at the end.
Our rainy season has been consistent so far and thankfully, no flooding. Everything is green and beautiful.
My Guasacate house is still for sale, although a few people from Managua have looked, love the location and the view, but feel that there isn’t enough of a community there as yet–hum, sort of a slam to all the folks and businesses who are part of the Guasacate community. I have hope that someone will see the light and buy; the price is perfect for the structure and the view.
Zoom is becoming quite the thing for me. I’m Zooming weekly with my three brothers and monthly with a couple of friends. If you haven’t tried it, you may want to.
I’m getting hungry so will probably spend the next 30 minutes trying to attach some media to this blog before I can eat.
Take care of each other, STAY POSITIVE, and remember ONLY LOVE PREVAILS.
My little condo hibiscus garden with the iguana who thinks it is his restaurant.
Why the update so soon after many months of no blog? Two important pieces of information to report.
One, it’s been 2 1/2 months of quarantine for Rancho Santana and management is loosening up some of the strict policies within our community. YEAHHHHH. Today the Tienda is opening up for customers again. All the store supplies had been moved to the El Cafe area in the hotel and were only available on order with household deliveries via masked and gloved personnel. Today I can go to the Tienda with my mask on and pick up my leche crude – I can’t make lattes without that. Yes, I order and get two liters of raw milk about every other day. RS cows are raised here on the ranch, hand milked, with all milk sent to the RS kitchen for processing — filtered and pasteurized for those who want pasteurization. I choose leche crude. We have two main kitchens here at RS – the main one supplies the food to the restaurants – normally 5 venues – and the charcuterie kitchen. The latter makes all the sausages, cheeses, and feeds all the employees three times a day. The charcuterie is a very special kitchen with its own micro areas for different food preparations including the butcher shop. During this crazy lockdown time the charcuterie area only had five employees. The manager, my friend Abby Smith, did some great research on what types of cheese would work in our environment. Note to others: try some different cheeses and find out where they came from. Some varieties are unique to certain countries and climates. Ok, that’s number one report.
Number two important information is that my Guasacate House listing is now posted at: https://www.nicaraguarealestatehorizon.com/nicaraguarealestate.htm. It is under / Real Estate – La Loma in the listing. Although my agent wanted to add more photos and drone pictures, it has been delightfully raining and prevents alternative photo captures. So if anyone wants a beautiful vacation or living sight in Nicaragua, contact Horizon Group, my realtor. I have a complete set of construction drawings to finish the house and reservoir that will be included in the sale of the house if anyone is interested. I will finance with a contract for 60% down payment.
Nicaragua, like other countries in the world, is experiencing COVID-19 deaths. Who knows what the true statistic for deaths is. I do know of several individuals from our Rivas Department who were hospitalized, recovered and are now in their own homes. One of these was a guard here at RS. We are practicing prevention as we should. However, I am also encouraging folks, local and expat, to stop listening to and spreading gossip. Live one day at a time and be a positive role model. Stay home if you are sick, get to the hospital if you can’t breathe, wear a mask when you go out into public areas, and think positively everyday.
So much for updates. Today is today, nothing more.
Hello Everyone near and far. Yes, life still goes on for me here in Nicaragua. Although my dining room table isn’t crowded these days, I still occasionally have breakfast or lunch with specific friends who have been socially distancing.
What I am learning from this time in my life is that I need to be more patient on a daily basis. One day at a time has become a necessity rather than a daily guide.
I am fortunate in that I have a lot of “projects” to fill my days. Two weeks ago my boss at FunLimón and I decided to try teaching EFL to my adult students online through What’s App. So far only one third of my students have responded with the weekly homework. There could be several reasons that this is occurring – no smartphone, no minutes on the phone to receive What’s App, or no interest. The students who have responded are so encouraging, thoughtful, and concerned about their future and that of their families and our country, Nicaragua.
Lesson instructions are given on Monday and homework is turned in on Saturday, all via What’s App. This was the first lesson graphic. The instruction in both English and Spanish directed them to chose one of the words, look it up in a dictionary, and tell me why they chose the word. I’ve been keeping the responses in an Excel file. The first week results were fearful, sad, disgusted, and one happy – it was the student’s birthday. I acknowledge each group. The What’s App posts go out by Group Level — English Group Level 1 etc. through English Group Level 6, my highest level currently. Week two had a different but similar feelings chart. This had similar instruction with the addition that they not only had to write their homework but also to speak it to me.
It is heart wrenching to hear the reasons for their choices. I try to be empathetic, positive, and encouraging in my responses. I remind them One Day at a Time.
I’ve been debating on what to do for the Week Three Lesson. I think I’ll ask, “What change can you make this week that would make a difference in YOUR life?” My example is, “I would be more kind.”
In general life is going along here, although it is emotionally quieter both within Rancho Santana and in the villages. On a trip to Managua this past week, it appears to be the same – quieter and more cautious. Most people are wearing masks including truck drivers in the city. Stores are taking serious precautions including taking a forehead scan temperature prior to entering the store. Alcohol spray of cart handles, peoples hands, and alcohol mat outside the door are common in most places.
I met with a realtor a week ago who is listing my Guasacate house. It makes sense to sell in its unfinished state at this time since Phase 1 of my assisted living project – Mi Casa Con Corazon – probably won’t happen and the house was going to be the Phase 1 domicile. If and when the timing is right, we’ll start with projected Phase 2. So although I’ll miss the dream of seeing whales from the terrace in Guasacate, I can rest that someone will be happy with a beautiful vacation home. I’ve included the construction drawings to complete the house with the sale listing.
Nothing else to report here. All of my family in the USA are doing ok. Thank technology for Zoom. I use it for meetings and staying in touch with family and friends who are interested.
Remember to take care of yourselves, One Day at a Time.
For the past two years, I’ve considered myself too busy to post a new blog and to tell the truth, I didn’t think anyone would be interested in what has kept me busy. Free time has presented itself to me in a rather unusual but global appearance-COVID-19. Let me explain.
In 2018, a full year of Nicaraguan changes–first political chaos, second Hurricane Nate that flooded much of my municipality creating homelessness and need for community help–I found my life moving from one event to another rather seamlessly, participating whenever and however I could. In October 2018, I said yes to a more radical event/opportunity.
I was recommended to consider teaching adult English as a Foreign Language (EFL) at FunLimón, the non-for-profit Mark and Kathryn Ford Foundation site across the road from the Rancho Santana gate here in Limón. The previous EFL classes were being taught by temporary teachers and volunteers on a 90 day visa basis. The program was faltering and although it is a government supported, INATEC, program the English speaking success rate of the classes was dismal and very discouraging to the adults who were truly interested in learning to speak English. After serious evaluation of the previously used books and handouts, I decided to give it a try by basically winging it based upon previous techniques and logic of teaching caregiving to clinicians and families. Much to my surprise, I loved teaching people who were interested in learning EFL. After the first 10 week session teaching Levels 1 through 6, one of the Level 6 students and I wrote the first version of textbooks for Levels 1 – 5. Level 6 which is only taught in English had a different goal at that time. Two years later, here I am rewriting six textbooks for the fourth time.
You may be wondering why an EFL textbook is a challenge. My students and I live in very rural areas. Many of them haven’t ever attended school beyond 3rd grade and some of them are already Nica university graduates is special career fields. There is no concept of written directions, addresses, cities, and many things that in a city would become relevant when documented in a book. Given the diverse educational level of students, I decided that, number one the EFL classes had to be relevant to the students or why waste their time and mine. Another somewhat interesting thing, I learned early on, was that I had to be a tough disciplinarian even though the students are adults. Other teachers didn’t seem to care about students not paying attention or understanding what they were learning. Many students entered my class at Level 5 when they could barely pass a Level 1 exam. My goal was and still is that the students feel confident in speaking English at whatever Level they are in. So far I’ve had the support of the FunLimón Executive Director and Board. Hence I continue to rewrite textbooks and have them copied in color, a necessity when referring to pictures for exercises. Copying a textbook for distribution to 76 students in six levels of classes is both expensive and frustrating–transitioning from one text document to another is often a disaster as well as hysterically funny. We laugh a lot in our classes sometimes at my Spanish and sometimes at the textbook. Oh, did I forget to mention that Levels 1 to 4 are EFL taught in Spanish. Nicaraguan Spanish isn’t the classical Castilian version that I learned umpteen years ago. First sessions of class are the students learning the English alphabet sounds and numbers. This process continues every class until Level 3 or 4 depending on the group. Every student has to repeat the alphabet following the answer to, “What is the alphabet? The alphabet is: a,b,c, etc.” Same with the numbers.
As a consequence of the second version of textbook writing and prior to the third version, I decided to get a Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) certification – 160 hrs. online during the holiday break last year. Much to my shock–yes, shock–I was astounded about how much I didn’t know about teaching English. I also found out how much new information there is about learning and teaching. My respect for teacher’s work notched up considerably.
So back to textbooks, I’m currently in the process of revising Version 4 thanks to the forced break due to social distancing and closure of FunLimón until mid-April or beyond. This time I am trying to find a format to create a template for future changes and for continuing to add textbooks for Levels 7 through 12. INATEC vocational certification requires 12 levels of EFL for adults. I’ll be spending a couple of weeks researching a textbook format that FunLimón can afford to print. Any recommendations, I’m all ears.
In the past year, I’ve had a series of both family and friends visit in my second and third bedrooms. I’ve also rented the second bedroom several times to friends for weeks at a time. Everyone tolerated my 32 hours a week teaching schedule without complaints. Having Saturday to Tuesday as free time, I could entertain and travel within the area to show off my paradise.
When my son, Aaron, his girlfriend, and an older friend of ours were here last October, we talked about my Guasacate house project. We came up with the idea of completing the house and making it an assisted living place–an idea I’ve had for many years but not at my house. With great advice from some trusted friends, I formed a real estate limited partnership. It is now a legal entity, Mi Casa Con Corazon Cia LMTD. Grace, Aaron’s partner, and I are the two initial partners. We are seeking at least three more investment partners for $50,000 each and at 8% per share each in the business. I’ve written a five page business plan with financial projections for two phases of the partnership. This global hiccough has pointed out two interesting facts. That there is interest and would be clients already if the project were up and running; the second phase that includes a medical tourism component is more interesting to some potential investors. I know that this is a project unique to Nicaragua and see it as a private model for living a safe and pleasant life in one’s own space with trained caring attendants.
Another successful event in December was right eye cataract surgery at Vivian Pellas Hospital in Managua by a great ophthalmologist/vitreologist, Dr. Luis Bustamonte who practices at the VP Clinic. During the one week before and after surgery I stayed with my driver Ricardo, who also acted as my nurse for the routine drops, at a friend’s house in Managua. I worked on textbooks after day two at my friend’s house in the bedroom that used to be his twin daughter’s room–two desks, great light, comfortable bed, one to sleep in one to hold papers. You see, I’m well taken care of here. Ricardo was the most punctual nurse, I’ve ever seen. He set his phone alarm to remind him of my drops. He could also teach cleanliness techniques to many of the nurses I’ve seen over the years.
There is one more event that I’m involved with ongoing. I’ve become an El Centro de Especialidades en Adicciones (CEA) Board member. This organization was founded almost 30 years ago by the friend whose home I used during cataract surgery. David Stadthagen had been running the 30 bed CEA treatment center with the doctors and therapists without advisors and helpers. In January, David and his co-founder Juan Manuel Caldera, decided to form a Board of Directors to help them get the organization stabilized administratively. Hence, I’m the oldest and only female advisor. It’s a great facility for both private and non-paying addicts with all variations of disease. The global COVID-19 hiccough has curtailed the international clientele who basically have been subsidizing the non-paying patients. CEA is internationally noted for their consistent positive rehab results. I don’t know how David and Juan Manuel have been able to keep up with all the things they had to oversee in the past. As a CEA Board member I’ll be going to MGA monthly for meetings, btw, conducted in Spanish. Not a bad thing for me as I can use the day for my monthly essential shopping. I’m very lucky in that I’ve always had a monthly shopping list and can survive any long period of time with things I have in my cupboards. PriceSmart is our Costco.
Since I’m now basically up to date with information about my Life In Nicaragua, please keep me up to date with your lives. Remember Only Love Prevails – Solo el amor prevalece.
Many years ago Lennie Wilker, my first husband, and I wrote an annual “Holiday Letter” that updated our friends about the latest happenings in our family. Sometimes it was sent before the end of December. Occasionally it wouldn’t get written or sent–yes, in an envelope with a stamp–until later by a couple of months. I thought it would be nice to update my Blog with a new Holiday Letter.
The Holiday Season beginning with Thanksgiving and continuing until the day after the New Year is a festive time for me. Here in Nicaragua it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas too. Now that most of the rural homes have electricity, those families that live above the survival level are decorating their homes with a few lights. Other families have small cardboard images of Santa Claus and other commercial Christmas figures hung on their doors or stuck on palas (sticks) in their yard. It is surprising to me to see how fast the commercialism of the US has spread to us here in rural Nicaragua.
Managua is a whole other level of splendor and Holiday paraphernalia. The rotundas are decorated with gigantic figures of Nativity scenes, Christmas trees–all metallic–and Santa with Elves. There isn’t enough money in the government treasury to pay for employees but somehow there is funding for these elaborate displays. OK, that statement is out of line for a cheery holiday spirit. Needless to say it bugs me though to see this dichotomy of resources.
My tribute to the Holidays is to do a little decorating at Condo 1B. My roommate/tenant, Sherry, helped me make a wreath with greenery from around the yard and a pine cone that I purchased at Sinsa, the biggest hardware chain in NI. I also picked up a little wooden stick Christmas tree that has tiny lights. It is battery operated so we can see the tree and lights from almost everywhere inside and the front terrace.
My biggest event for the season will be a piñata party at my Guzmán Family’s compound in the village. I got a large white headless angel piñata and will fill it with the carmelos (candies) that are usually expected with a piñata. I decided that the headless angel was a better idea than beating to death a piñata that looked like a real angel figure. Last year the circular Santa face piñata that I found was filled with 5 cordoba coins and no candy. It was truly fun and every child in the compound under 12 years old also got a piggy bank to put in their found coins. This year isn’t going to be as lavish an event as I made last year. I can’t afford that extravagance again, however, I did a lot debating before deciding against a repeat performance. The party will be in the afternoon on Christmas Day. I know everyone will enjoy the cake and juice and the kids will knock each other over in the scramble for the piñata candy.
I’m spending many hours most days working on the English as a foreign language (EFL) textbooks that I am writing with Kathy Ramirez. Two books completed five to go before January 11th. So I’m stopping this blog now and getting back to work.
This is a special holiday weekend for me. Thanksgiving has always been my favorite holiday of the year. It is always a time for thankful gatherings of family and/or friends. My life in Nicaragua hasn’t changed my passion or pattern of thankfulness and celebration.
One of my friends always hosts Friendsgiving dinner prior to Thanksgiving. They provide the major meal and the rest of us bring our own drinks, side dish etc. This year there were about 70 people at their home. Such a beautiful event. On Thanksgiving Day I and seven friends enjoyed a delicious Thanksgiving Dinner at Finca y Mar, the Rancho Santana restaurant, again a great gathering. There were several seatings for the repast. Being part of the senior population here, my friends and I were seated at 5:00 pm.
My ESL classes ended on November 10th. There were 25 students total from all of the classes that finished the whole ten week course. ALL of the students passed to the next level without too much coaching. I am a somewhat different teacher than the students have had in the past which made many drop out in the first few weeks. My goal–and the Fun Limón director Bismarck’s–was to teach courses that would help them learn enough conversational English to participate with gringos and enhance their opportunities for employment. Many of the students were laid off during the “troubles” in Nicaragua. This category of students was given full scholarship to ESL classes. Hence I wouldn’t allow the students in any of the four levels to use their textbooks or cell phone translators to answer questions during class participation. I told them early on that they won’t be carrying their textbooks around with them to have a conversation and that although they do carry their cellphones, it isn’t always possible to use the translator features for a conversation in English. My WIN-WIN at the end of the class was that all the students could repeat the English alphabet which they finally memorized and that they had a concept of creative thinking. Thanks to my daughter, Rivka, who went to Spanish Immersion School from kindergarten to sixth grade and continues to study Spanish from a College Profesora friend, I was finally able to change my textbook teaching format. When I mentioned to Rivka that I was frustrated by the inability to have the students attempt more conversions, she told me that her teachers had the students write stories together in class. This concept worked for me even when there were only two students in the class on a particular day. I wrote what I called Little Stories which they had to read and then answer questions as the example of a Little Story. After that they had to collaborate and write a Little Story–always no more than five or six sentences–then one of them read the story to the class and I would ask the questions about the story. WOW, that seemed to work and chase away the fear of embarrassment to participate in conversation. YEAH! All collaboration had to take place in English.
I am so grateful for this opportunity to teach English as a Foreign Language (EFL) not ESL. The students are teaching me so many new Spanish words, some that are unique to Nicaragua. When I have a hard time explaining a lesson, I ask one of the students to explain in Spanish and then I have them write the new words to me on the board so that I can better learn my Spanish conversation. I am a visual learner and find it nearly impossible to hear what the new words are. We have a good time in class and I’m proud of these adults who come after work and give up family time to attend the classes.
As a result of the “textbook” issues I had this session, I convinced Bismarck and the Fun Limón Board to continue to pay my meager monthly salary for the next 10 weeks to write textbooks that we could use for our classes. Katherine, Bismarck’s wife, who was my 6th Level student, is working with me on the project. We have seven levels of textbooks to write before classes begin again on January 8th. After that I’ll be adding one textbook for every session from Level 8 to Level 12. INATEC, the government department that certifies the language vocational programs, requires twelve levels of instruction. So far Katherine and I have about half of the first book in conception and I do all the input for print. No eating bon bons for me.
The editing work for Continua is always fun for me because it requires some research. I hope that the latest project for the Florida Board of Nursing Application is accepted by the FL Board. Think positive thoughts for us here. A new venue for Continua sales means more work for me.
Nicaragua is still in a state of sadness for us. The lack of compassion by our leaders who refuse to tell the truth to themselves and the people is astounding and foolish. Tourism is still minus 0 and universities and businesses are still closed. Here in our “little rural bubble”, the biggest problem is lack of tourists that used to fuel the economy of small and some large businesses. In some respects the crisis was a good thing. The “troubles” curtailed the rampant rise of greedy investors who saw Nicaragua as a goldfield of opportunity and were “mining” with our cheap labor pool. Now the government is running out of money so the opportunists can’t get the government services for licenses, permits, and development. Banks aren’t giving credit of any form–loans, credit cards–and haven’t been doing so for several months. Bank customers are pulling large sums of money out of the banks leaving enough to keep accounts open but not enough to warrant global credit and interest. This Nicaragua isn’t “normal” as the government media are defining it. Most large towns basically shut down at dark. One reason is for safety, another is for defiance and resistance to participate as the publicized normal.
I have two big real estate sales that will be coming to closing status before the end of the year. For this I am very grateful. It has been a rough month for me financially. My Nica daughter, Carmen, had to have a C-Section for a her one month premie baby–Alicia. She was born at 5 lbs. but had pulmonary hypertension in her little heart and lungs and ended up in the Premie ICU at the private Vivian Pellas Hospital in MGA. In order to keep her there, we had to scramble together to make a $7000 deposit for Alicia after Carmen was released post surgery. Alicia was able to come home here a week ago. I went to the pedie cardiologist with Carmen this week and was delighted to see–with the latest technology ultrasound–that Alicia’s heart and lungs are functioning normally now. My slight concern is that her neuro system is lagging behind somewhat but that may catch up to normal in a couple of weeks when she would have been a full-term birth. I’m praying for this. Carmen and Alicia’s dad are dedicated parents to both of their children. Their son, Sebastián, wasn’t very happy about the new intruder in his mother’s space so I told Carmen to get him a doll that he had to take care of while she was attending to Alicia. He is recovering after a week of divided attention.
All else is running smoothly here. I got a new set of headlights for my “truck”, the term that they use for a 4×4 SUV. Now oncoming cars don’t have to be blinded by the diffusion from the severely pitted headlights. I was always getting the bright light signal when I wasn’t using the brights because the diffused light was terrible. Autos down here have to be sturdy and resilient, my 2006 Toyota 4Runner is perfect.
As in the US, the stores have been promoting Christmas stuff since October. This year, I think it will be not so “over the top” as it was last year. My room mate and I need to discuss what we may or maynot do about decorating the house. Since Sherry is a hermit anyway, I don’t think I’ll do much inside the house. I may make some kind of wreath for the door though or buy an artificial wreath and decorate it with beach shells and glass. Yes, that would be a good project.
It looks like I’ve run out of sensible information so I’ll stop now.
Take good care of yourselves wherever you are. Life is precious.
Katherine and I at the Promotion Celebration. Unfortunately no one told me that I was going to be a participant so I’m not appropriately dressed for the occasion for sure.
It has been six months since I last posted a blog. I’m sorry for the lack of attention to the news from my paradise. Some of you may not understand the reason for my being out of touch and there are several causes.
In mid-April, the troubles (my friend from So. Africa calls it) began in Nicaragua. The troubles affect us physically out here in rural Rivas Department in much the same manner as it is affecting the folks in the large cities and other parts of the country. The September issue of the New Yorker magazine has a wonderfully accurate article titled Fake News: Crisis in Nicaragua written by a reporter who came here to see for himself and write about it. I recommend that you read the story online to understand some of my angst.
Rancho Santana among most of the other tourist areas all over the country is suffering greatly by the cessation of travelers. More than 90% of the businesses in our area are closed temporarily and some of them permanently. This, of course, has meant that many people are out of jobs. I am proud to say that the owners of Rancho Santana and the RS department managers have done their best to keep the Nicaraguan staff working, while sending the “gringo” employees back to their countries where they have job opportunities. Other businesses that are still open have thinned their staff and reduced the salaries of those still employed. This same situation is occurring in all Departments. Soy triste.
Although I consider myself Nicaraguense now, I commend USA Ambassador to Nicaragua, Laura Dogu, for her clear headed guidance and information posting to US citizens. The STEP alerts are non-judgemental and factual. So much for Reason #1.
Reason #2. In June, Rivka and Brian Bent sent me a ticket to come to San Juan Capistrano, CA to house and dog sit for them while they traveled to the Wheels and Waves Event in France and Spain. This is the fifth year that Brian was invited to participate as a performer and he took Rivka and Esther along for the fun this time. I was thrilled with this great opportunity to see my CA families who came down to SJC to see me. Also I connected with many friends who I haven’t seen in 20 years. Since I was in charge of a five bedroom house, I could invite friends to spend a sleepover with me. The weather was GRAND. I didn’t have to wear three layers of clothing to stay warm. I was able to visit with the Bents upon their return for a couple of days before I ventured back to my home in Nicaragua.
While I was away, an Australian friend stayed at my condo for a couple of weeks to be away from the troubles that were severely affecting her house in Laguna de Apoyo. It was definitely a win-win for both of us.
Another win-win is that I now have a permanent roommate, Sherry Long. Sherry is my friend Abby Smith’s mother and had been living in Granada for one year. When the troubles began, Abby didn’t think that Sherry was safe where she lived and that was the case. Sherry has a dog. It became impossible for her to walk Rue in the area around her home. So now I have a roommate and friend. Sherry is somewhat of a hermit which works great for both of us. She stays in her room most of the time and doesn’t mind the series of dinner guests that parade in and out of my home. I believe we definitely have a win-win.
Since my decision was made to no longer rent my condo on Airbnb or to others than Sherry, I finally decided to empty the “personal locked closet” where I stored all the precious items that I didn’t want used by renters. It took me a whole day to empty the crates, rearrange most of the kitchen, sort out and give away duplicates, and then work on a redecoration project. I now have new sofa cushions and pillows, new pictures on the walls from my stored stash and a sense of contentment that I haven’t felt since I moved from CA five years ago. I’ve got my feet on the ground again.
OK, so that you don’t get the idea that I am sitting here eating bonbons, I have taken on a new 5 day a week job. I’m the ESL teacher for the INATEC certificate program for adults at Fun Limón. I have four levels of classes–one beginner’s, two level three and four, and one level six. I teach Tuesday through Friday from 1 to 6 with an hour break between two levels. On Saturday, I teach a new group from 8 to 12. Classes began on August 28th and will continue for 10 weeks. The salary is a pittance but this keeps me off the streets and is fun. Since most of the students except level six have very little English skill, I am using a lot of Spanish and they are helping me when I need to be corrected–another win-win.
I will continue to review and edit online medical courses for Continua because I have my mornings free to research, study, and review the medical stuff. All of this keeps me thinking positively about our future here.
Please stay in touch and if you want to follow what is going on in Nicaragua, I recommend the website news http://www.confidencial.com or #sosnicaragua.
The quilt was one of my Aunt Hilda’s. I don’t know how old it is but I think it is probably at least 60 years old. It’s all sewn by hand.
The I AM calligraphy hung in my houses in CA since the 1970s and I’m happy to see the George Bernard Shaw quote back up on the wall here along with Brian’s early paintings and the water color that Greg did when he was about 6 yrs. old.
The modern lady is a painting by my roommate Sherry Long. The collage is done by students at Una Escuelita compiled by my friend Pope Noell, the owner of Una Escuelita.