Plan B

Daily living in Nicaragua is an adventure unto itself. I guess this depends on where you are originally from. Being from America where we tend to take everything for granted, I have had to make many adjustments in not only how I think, but how I live. I am lucky enough to have lived and traveled to several different countries during my military days, so the adjustments I have had to make came with minimal pain. In the most progressive countries of North America and Europe, the people are used to stable utilities such as power, water, communications and cable TV. Here in Nicaragua, as well as most of the other Central and South American countries stability means being lucky enough to have those things on a part-time basis at best. Also, if in America or Europe and I happen to need something, let’s say some spices or herbs for cooking, I can just run out to the nearest grocery store or specialty shop, buy what I need, and that is that. Again here in Nicaragua those simple things can become a frustrating chore to say the least. Very few items are made or manufactured here in Nicaragua, and items that we normally have are imported here, which most Nicaraguans cannot afford with the exception of the cheap junk brought in from China, India, Pakistan, and other places.
Bottom line is that as an expat if you are going to live here, or any other third world country, you have to prepare for just about anything, you must have a PLAN B for just about any and everything. Welcome to Nicaragua!!! A perfect example is today, a Sunday here in Rivas. I like to live simply and that I do, but sometimes even simple becomes complicated. I have morning routine, one that I not only enjoy, but it is a must for me and anyone around me. I have to have, and I mean that literally, my morning coffee and shower. If not, then that cranky old man within me comes to the forefront, and life becomes miserable not only for me, but everyone or anyone around. Now I have been here long enough, about 2.5 years, and although somewhat slow on the uptake at times, I have come to understand how things go around here. On Sundays, you can rest assured that when you get out of bed there will (a) Be no power (b) Either no water or very low water pressure (c) It will last all day and sometimes well into the night. So Plan B is important!! My Plan B is damn simple; I keep a few gallons of bottled water available at all times, I take a shower before bed on Saturday. Here everyone uses propane stove, so cooking is no problem. I have a way to make my coffee, the old-fashioned campfire way. About seven cups of water in a tea kettle, seven scoops of ground coffee thrown in, boil, strain it and now I have my perfect coffee. The teas kettle is used because I have never found an old-fashioned percolator coffee pot, but the kettle is perfect so no sweat there.
Now I am prepared for the rest of the morning, and with a bit of luck the utilities will only be out for half a day. However, today we are at the 10-hour mark and still no sign that it will be available anytime soon. Luckily, I have a full battery charge on my laptop and can pound out my thoughts today. About the only disappointment for me today is that I am missing some pretty good NFL games now, but at least got to see my team, GO IRISH, take Michigan apart last night in what could be their last meeting for a very long time. Being a tar heel, born and raised one, of course, am an ACC fan. I find it exciting that Notre Dame is now a part of that fine conference and look forward to watching them against my boys the North Carolina tar heels.
John TS Words of Wisdom: Always have a PLAN B!!

The Small Things in Life

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My time of the year, rainy season!! Living in a tropical country means adjusting to having only two seasons, dry and wet. For me the rainy season is the most enjoyable time of the year. The weather is cooler, always a slight cooling breeze during the day and night. Like most of the homes in Nicaragua mine has an old-fashioned tin roof, which to me is the best sleep aid ever during rainy season. When I was a kid growing up I spent a lot of time on the farm of my mother’s parents. The farm was up in the Blue Ridge Mountains, specifically not far from a little place called Burke’s Fork, Va. It too had a tin roof, and my sleeping quarters was the loft room, which was small, but still roomy directly under that old tin roof by only a few feet. When it was raining hard it was a bit loud on the ears, but when it was a slow, gentle rain it was the most relaxing, soothing sound in the world. Even though it has been about 60 years since those days, I still experience those same feeling of being at peace with the world, and myself,  when I am laying down listening to the rain pattering on my roof.

My point here is everyone should slow down their life, take a long look at yourself asking “What are the small things that would make life better for me?” Is it a tin roof beating to a gentle rain? We all go through life wanting to be successful, get ahead in our professions, and take care of our loved ones. While traveling that road of life we tend to forget to also take care of our self! We forget those small things we felt, enjoyed and experienced when we were kids because now we are adults with responsibilities. I suggest to you that take a few minutes of honest self-evaluation, then you will remember, and maybe find a few new, small things that would make life much more enjoyable. Something like my old tin roof…..

john T’s words of wisdom….Learned the hard way, but no less enjoyable at this time