Ometepe Island Mudslides and Destruction

Kris Cunningham:

I was just looking for news and info to write a post about this, but this one from our friends at the scene is even better. I am just heartsick thinking about our new friends and all the suffering on this beautiful island. When it is determined how we can help, I will post the info and ask all my fellow blogger friends to do the same.

Originally posted on Rewired and Retired in Nicaragua:

Early Wednesday morning on October 8th, I awoke to take photos of the blood moon. The sky was inky black with clouds hiding the stars, as well as the eclipse of the moon. While I was standing on the beach, I shivered with a sense of foreboding. I couldn’t shake the feeling that something big was about to happen.

Thursday, the rains started. In 12 hours, we had 15 inches of rain. We lost our power early Thursday evening. Then, Friday morning, we had to walk into Moyogalpa to catch the ferry to take our very sick cat, Black Jack, to the vet in Rivas.

The rain sliced through the dark morning sky like sheets of glass. Our local beach bar’s ranchos toppled over like dominos.

IMG_4871We walked silently through the mud into town. The roads washed out, and waterfalls replaced our colorful treed path into town.
IMG_4878Upon returning to…

View original 559 more words

About these ads
Posted in Panama | 13 Comments

What do you DO all day??

I’ve been asked this question so many times I figured I’d wrote a blog post. Many people facing retirement wonder what they are going to do to fill their time when they are no longer working. Add living in another country where options may be different and it becomes even more of a question.

I can tell you what I do all day, but it may not be helpful when you are trying to figure out what you will do all day. What do you want to do? What are all those things you wished you had time for? Or (maybe more challenging), do you only work? Will you have to rebuild an entire new life from scratch?

I think these questions will need answers no matter where you live. You can retire in Florida, or North Dakota, or Tahiti and you will still need to figure out what to do and how to have a good life in retirement. When you figure out what you want, that will help determine where it is possible to do the things you want. You won’t be happy in Panama if your dream is to go skiing a lot or spend evenings at the opera. But, if you want to photograph bugs or hike in the mountains or go fishing, it could be wonderful.

As for me, I seem to keep very busy. I have friends I like to spend time with. I ride my bike, take photographs, write in my blog, and keep up with email correspondence. There is shopping and cleaning and cooking, like anywhere. I like to listen to books and work in the yard, and study Spanish. I have sewing projects I don’t seem to get to, and a website that needs updating. We have also been doing more traveling both in and out of the country. What a difference though to spend my days doing what I want to do, rather than what I must do. It’s been two years and work is finally fading from my daily thoughts, and hopefully it will also fade from my dreams too.

Retirement is such an individual thing, something we all have to figure out if we are lucky enough to reach those years beyond working. I’m fortunate that I have a lot of interests that mesh wonderfully with a life in Panama.

Posted in Miscellaneous, Panama | Tagged | 16 Comments

Interesting New Places and Possiblities

As you all know, we have been living in Panama for about two years and we recently came back from a great visit to Ometepe Island, Nicaragua. I haven’t travelled much or seen much outside of Panama so it was very interesting to visit another place.

Ometepe Island is a very unique place. It is hard to describe the tranquility that pervades the island but you can sure feel it. Life is very basic and most people have very little in the way of material possessions or comforts. But, the people have a calmness, kindness, happiness, and pride in their way of life. The locals often use the word “sano” (sane, wholesome, healthy) to describe life on the island. Most people have lived there all their lives and everyone knows everyone else. Crime is not a worry because who is going to cause a problem when they are stuck on an island? Work is mainly agricultural devoted to cows, pigs, chickens, tobacco, plantains, and other crops and of course there are fish in the lake. Tourism is also becoming a growing industry.

If you have seen my previous posts you have seen some of the amazing beauty of Ometepe. There is the spectacular Conception active volcano, and the Mederas dormant volcano on an island of tropical jungle in a beautiful, warm, fresh water lake. The beauty, the people, and the tranquility are very seductive. We could see ourselves living there! But, we also don’t want to leave everything we love about Panama so for now, no changes are in the works. But, land is inexpensive and if we found a bit we liked and could afford, we would definitely give it serious consideration just to have an option there. There is also a lot more of the world to see, so who knows if we may fall in love with other places too.

I also found just a few more photos from the island and our trip back to Panama.

We are now back in Panama and starting to feel settled back in, so I will resume posting things about Panama. But, we have another house sitting gig in Granada, Nicaragua in late November. This house sitting business has some great advantages!

Posted in Panama, travel | Tagged , , , | 11 Comments

Weekly Photo Challenge: Signs

Weekly Photo Challenge: Signs  For this challenge, share an image of a sign: it can be a sign near your home — a comforting sight after a long journey — a sign that doubles as art, or other types of signs that hold meaning for you.

Puesta del Sol is a business that arranges for tourists to stay in the homes of locals. Many houses nearby have the signs. It not only gives the tourist a unique experience, it gives the locals some much needed extra income.

This looks like a fairly commonplace sign, but the business and people it represents are anything but common. I snapped this photo while I was on Ometepe Island, Nicaragua.

Puesta del Sol started in 2004 with 6 families who would rent one of their rooms to tourists and also share their meals with the guests. It has now grown into 18 families! It is mainly managed by the women and has allowed them a way to make money which has improved not only their lives, but has helped the entire community.

For the tourists, it offers a very unique experience. These are hard working families who live a mainly agricultural life with few of the comforts and conviences that we consider normal. The homes participating in Puesta del Sol have prospered and are some of the best looking homes in the area but still, the tourist will get quite a different view of life and people on Ometepe than they would get in any hotel or hostel. To read more from some of these tourists, click this link to Trip Advisor. Their comments are overwhelmingly positive.

For me, we spent almost three weeks in the neighborhood so I met and talked to many of the participants on a daily basis. These people are warm and friendly and a real joy, and I am so happy for them that they have developed their hospitality skills and their business is prospering. Every time I think of Puesta del Sol I think of the new friends I made there.

It may be only a sign but it means a lot to many people, myself included.

Posted in Photo Challenge, photography, travel | Tagged , , , , , | 6 Comments

Rare plants and animals rescued ahead of Panama Canal expansion. – The Panama Blog

I am happy to see this article which talks about all the efforts to save wildlife displaced by the canal construction, and the reforestation that is also taking place.

Rare plants and animals rescued ahead of Panama Canal expansion. – The Panama Blog.

Posted in Panama | Tagged , , | 4 Comments

Charco Verde, Ometepe Island, Nicaragua

We are back in Panama but I had one more set of photos I wanted to share. This is another well known area of Ometepe Island, and with good reason. It was absolutely beautiful, and there are also howler monkeys that live in that area. It is on the south side of the island within reasonable biking distance from Moyogalpa. As you will see, we had a perfect, sunny day to go explore this area.

Posted in travel | Tagged , , , , , | 11 Comments

Weekly Photo Challenge: Nighttime

Weekly Photo Challenge: Nighttime  What nocturnal photos do you like taking? Whether it’s a starry sky, a street lamp, or the shadows cast by your cat, share them with us. Your shot can be outdoors or indoors, blurry or crisp, overexposed or ominously dark. As every owl (and night owl) knows, nighttime is when the real action starts.

Posted in Photo Challenge, photography | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments

A Beautiful Monday in Nicaragua

Our adventure continues on Ometepe Island, and it was another interesting day.  First we headed to town to pick up a few things.

After we got back to the house we decided to go walking. We heard that there was some land for sale nearby so we wanted to see if we could figure out which land it was since we thought we had a general idea.

We saw some young men sitting by the road and talking so we asked them if they knew anything. It turns out one of them was in front of his grandmother’s house and she wants to sell it! It is a small typical house with an outside kitchen, but it has city water and electricity. I am guessing it is on maybe 1/2 acre of land planted with a variety of trees and food producing plants. It is close to but not within sight of the water. They want $23K, but would also be willing to sell half of the lot, the part without the house.

We discussed the property, met with the daughter, granddaughter and other family members who were there, explained why we were here and that we were just looking at this point, thanked them for their time and left.

Later we were sitting in the kitchen and heard someone calling from the front of the house. It was the grandmother, this time with her son who we hadn’t met earlier. This frail little lady had walked all the way to the house in the total darkness, down the dirt road through sand, over tree roots, and up and down with one flashlight in her hand to talk to us further and to tell me that they would give us a good deal (though no actual numbers were presented). They must be anxious to sell me the place!

Not only that, yesterday afternoon we were walking the dog and said hi to some neighbors that we have passed before. He called us over to say he heard we had been looking for land, and he has some for sale at the east end of the airport area. Word gets around!

No, we aren’t moving here. We have barely visited for three weeks. But, if there was something we really liked for not much money, we might consider it. I do love this island.

Anyway, we finished our walk just as the sun was about to set and it was a great evening to be out!

Posted in travel | Tagged , , | 19 Comments

Bugs in Nicaragua

It is a rainy day today, perfect for sorting photos, catching up on blog posts, and cleaning up from a bug invasion.

It rained most of the night and today, every time I think about going out it starts to rain again.

It rained most of the night and today, every time I think about going out it starts to rain again.

You know me and bugs :D  I haven’t been specifically looking for them or working in the yard but still, since we are in this tropical place it is no surprise that we have seen a few.

The most interesting experience of the last few days was the invasion of the chayules.  I had heard about these bugs that occasionally show up in large numbers and make a mess of everything. They are harmless though and don’t bite or fly in your face, so they are more of an inconvenience than anything else. It is challenging to cook though, and don’t leave your food or drink uncovered.

The invasion was short lived though, some on Saturday, clouds of them on Sunday, less on Monday and then it was pretty much over. But, it wasn’t the only things we have seen. Besides a number of black witch moths which are so big I think they’d are bats, I have seen a few other interests critters.

We have also had some other great days here so there will be a few more posts coming. Don’t worry, no more bugs, but a lot of great scenery.

Posted in insects, travel, wildlife | Tagged , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Sunday in Altagracia

We had taken the bus through Altagracia and thought it looked interesting. And, since it is the other biggest town on the island we thought we would go check it out. There are buses that go there about every hour so we walked to town and hopped on one.

The drive was pretty, as was the entrance into town. It was Sunday though so most places were closed and the town was pretty quiet. We decided to walk around a bit though and see what the town was like.

We had also heard that the water was nearby so we headed out to look for the beach. A couple locals said it wasn’t far, and it was a bit farther than I would describe as “not far” on foot but it was an interesting walk.

We stopped for a really nice lunch and then made our way back to the park to catch a bus home, just in time to see a bus leaving town on the other side of the park. So, we asked around and learned at on Sunday there are no more buses, not until mañana. We set out walking knowing it would be a really long walk back, but hopefully some other option would present itself besides the $30 we were told it would costs for a taxi.

We walked along and had one of the most interesting experiences of the day. We passed this house with a yard full of beautiful flowers, and the lady was outside so I told her that I thought her flowers were beautiful. She was so happy that we liked her flowers that she invited us to come sit in the shade with her and her husband in front of the house. Conversation led us to her family and children, and she invited me inside the house to see the photos of her children! I have been very curious to see inside a typical Nicaraguan house.

I wish I was more comfortable and confident putting my camera in people’s faces and private spaces so even though she told me it was OK, I only snapped one quick picture and it isn’t as clear as it could be. Even so, you can see that the house has a dirt floor, brick walls, and a metal roof supported by wood beams. There was minimal furniture, only a small table and a few chairs, all but one that had been taken outside for us. There was a small shelf on the wall with some mementos and a few hair ornaments, and pictures on the wall of family along with some other decorations. The back wall is only a partial wall and I imagine the bedrooms are behind it. There was a storage area at the end of the room and I could see a couple bicycles there. I didn’t see any running water, bathroom, or cooking area inside the house.

She told me that she was born here and lived here all her life. They had eight children and a number of grandchildren but only a few of the children had pictures on the walls. She told me that most of them had gone to Costa Rica for work. One daughter had earned enough to come back and build the house that was next door. I tried to get a sense of what they did for a living but all I could determine is that he can’t work because of some problem in his back and neck that leaves his arms too weak and painful to work.

People are like that in this part of the world. You say a few kind words and you are invited into their homes and lives. We have had so many people here be so friendly and kind, and a surprising number have told us that we should buy some land and come live here. Anyway, I digress and these ideas will be addressed in future posts.

Meanwhile we had to get ourselves back to the house. We walked on for about 45 minutes until we reached the next town. A lady by the side of the road told us that a “busito” would be along soon. Sure enough, it wasn’t long before a van came by, told us he would take us to Moyogalpa for $4, so we hopped in very glad that we weren’t walking all the rest of those miles.

Another successful day and we made it home! I am glad we saw the Altagracia area. I heard it was another area to consider but we prefer the Moyogalpa area. There is a bit more going on in the town, the ferries are here if you want to leave the island, and it is on the west side where you can see the great sunsets every evening.

Posted in travel | Tagged , , | 8 Comments