Some Mornings: Nica Nugget #84

Some mornings I wake up to a flooded house…during the dry season … when it hasn’t even rained. Some mornings I wake up to a large scorpion on my chair where I was about to put my hand…even when I haven’t seen a scorpion in months. This morning was that morning. For both. Time for a cup of coffee. Sigh. And some mornings, additionally, the electricity goes out. Like, just now…

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Selva Negra and Hammonia Farm: Nica Nugget #83

It’s coffee harvest time in the mountains of Nicaragua. One young man traveled from his home near the Miskito coast, inland up the Coco River which borders Honduras and then on from there by bus to Selva Negra north of Matagalpa to pick coffee at the Hammonia Farm. He spoke to me in halting Spanish, maybe partly from shyness and partly because his native tongue is an Indian dialect. I was on a coffee tour there last month with my husband and two close friends visiting us from their home in France. We stayed at the Selva Negra Ecolodge, in …

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The Sea Beneath Our Eyes: Nica Nugget #82

San Juan del Sur is a fishing village. A surfing village. A beach-lover’s paradise. A place of grand sunsets. A picture-perfect bay with brightly-colored pangas bobbing in the sea. But how deep does that sea go? How deep do the turtles swim? At what depths are the fish caught, which later we eat with gallo pinto while clinking bottles of Toñas at our favorite beachside restaurant? https://neal.fun/deep-sea/?fbclid=IwAR0Nw-CltOfbZdfdbmJmzno9MoB7n4ozhfafIdzUnuwZ8r44BaG-jvj9hm4

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Gratitude For What I Once Took for Granted: Nica Nugget #81

There is a Thanksgiving/Christmas-inspired commercial which is virally being shared via FB right now. It’s of a family in their Suburban home in the United States going about their morning as they get ready for work and school. As they turn on the lights, or the shower or their car, a large holiday bow suddenly appears on the item. As if each modern convenience were a holiday gift. Which indeed of course each is. It reminds me of one aspect I truly love about living in Nicaragua: It’s really hard to take modern conveniences and comforts for granted. Practically every …

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Day of the Dead, Rivas, Nicaragua: Nica Nugget #80

For years, while living in Mexico and now Nicaragua, I’ve wanted to visit one of the local cemeteries on the Day of the Dead. This year I was able to talk my friends Eve and Nathalie into going with me. I’d been told that the cemetery in the larger, neighboring town of Rivas was the one to visit, so that’s where we went. Outside of the cemetery, flower vendors had set up shop. We bought some flowers and headed into the cemetery itself. There we saw people gathered around tombstones, painting, sweeping, eating, chatting, laying down flowers. I felt shy, …

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Vibe Cafe and Making Dreams Come True: Nica Nugget #79

I first met Summer Shacklette over two years ago through a mutual friend. The three of us jumped into her truck to explore some of the northern beaches around Tola and ended up having lunch at the then-beachside restaurant of Mukul. Over drinks there we shared a bit about ourselves, as expats first meeting each other are known to do. Back in Dallas, Texas, Summer had been an Art teacher, a vendor of wines, had gone to culinary school, had worked as a pastry chef in a 5-star restaurant and in a 5-star hotel, and had opened and run her …

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William Walker’s Fort and the Lighthouse: Nica Nugget #78

Warning! John pulled ten ticks off of himself and I had two. Kathleen Brugger claims she didn’t get any. If you don’t want to be a tick magnet, wait until dry season. Have you hiked to William Walker’s fort (La Fortaleza) or to the Lighthouse (El Faro) on San Juan del Sur’s southern headland? Do you know who William Walker is? There are some crazy stories out in there in the world and the story of William Walker in Nicaragua is one of them. I still shake my head at the thought of him. He was from the United States …

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Rio San Juan Series, #11 of 11: Finale, Ferry Trip Back Upriver to San Carlos (Nica Nugget #77)

The alarm went off early. 3 am Thursday morning. John E Field and I packed the few things we still had in our hotel room, after having stored the bulk of our gear in our ferry the day before. By 3:30 we were out the door, stumbling about in the dark. The hotel owner was already up and began to turn on some outside lights so we could see and then she rushed up to Eve Kohlman and JoAnne Stoltz’s room to make sure they were awake. Since the ferry seems to always leave at 5 am and since essentially …

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Rio San Juan Series #10 of 11: Layover Day in San Juan de Nicaragua (Nica Nugget #76)

Our layover day in San Juan de Nicaragua came about because JoAnne was going to catch a panga from here up the Caribbean coast to Bluefields and then on out to the Corn Islands to visit friends. The panga to Bluefields only goes one day a week, Wednesdays. Or, I should say only WENT one day a week, back when it was even running, as in past tense. But we didn’t know this until the Tuesday we arrived. The panga Eve, John and I needed to take back upriver to San Carlos, where’d we’d started our river trip six days …

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Rio San Juan Series #9 of 11: Delta House to the Sea and San Juan de Nicaragua (Nica Nugget #75)

Although we would spend two additional days on the river, one as a layover day in San Juan de Nicaragua on a tour of the colonial cemeteries, and the other on a ferry panga churning our way back up river to our origination point at San Carlos, this day would be our finale paddling. We woke up at the Delta House and clambered out of our beds and hammocks, gathering our gear up to go. By this day, our sixth on the river, we had our routine down. In no time at all, we had eaten our breakfast, packed our …

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