Monthly Archives: September 2012

Guest Post – Meet Wendy!

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Retail Therapy at the Colonia

One of the wonders of ex-pat living is discovering that certain activities and/or habits in which you would most likely never engage in your place of origin become common features of your new life abroad. Take for example, my strong affection for the Colonia, a grocery store chain here in Nicaragua. For many years, while I was living in Brooklyn and NYC, I had the pleasure of  shopping at farmer’s markets, smaller family-owned grocery stores, and natural food stores. Unlike the rest of the US, there are not many big grocery store chains in NYC with the exception of Whole Foods. Whenever I was outside of NYC, the grocery stores generally frightened me in the US – they were huge and I found the amount of food and sheer size of the building to be completely overwhelming. Thus, the pleasure I derive from the Colonia is somewhat puzzling but nonetheless comforting. It’s not nearly as big as US grocery stores nor as imposing but generally looks the same just with different stuff and in Spanish.

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At Home Yoga Retreat

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Recently, I had an opportunity to attend a 10 day Vipassana retreat in Northern Nicaragua.  For those unfamiliar with Vipassana, it is a form of silent meditation that is normally taught over a ten day silent retreat.  The schedule for the days is long, with meditation beginning at 4:30 in the morning and lasting about 10 hours each day.  Wow!   On top of that, meals are sparse.  As I’m still not feeling 100% myself, I opted to retreat at another time in the future when I am up to such a rigorous schedule.

However, I was inspired by the idea of a retreat, and opted instead to design and implement a yoga and meditation retreat right where I am.  “Meet yourself where you are,” is one of the lessons that I continue to re-learn throughout my life.  Read the rest of this entry

Breath is the Pulse of the Universe.

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I was a big quote collector when I was younger.  I didn’t keep my favorite quotes just in my journals, although they were covered in quotes.  I also wrote them in different fonts and colors all over my shoes, jeans, and backpacks.  I still have one of those backpacks today, broken zipper and all, and the only quote that has survived the repeated washing is Freddie Mercury’s
“fat bottom girls, they make the rockin’ world go ’round.”

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Life on the Island of Ometepe

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As promised, while on la isla, I took lots of photos.  Life on the Island of Ometepe is much more tranquillo and laid back then life in Granada.  One of the first differences I noticed is that Ometepe and many of the towns I traveled through to get there are much more Sandinista than conservative Granada.  This is evidenced by the familiar negro y rojo of the Sandinista flag tagging telephone poles, park benches, casas, and tiendas.

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Platicando en Espanol

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Right before I left for the island of Ometepe, I was at a point of complete frustration with my language learning.  While I was able to communicate well with people I knew, I was still a train wreck when it came to talking to people not used to my accent or way of speaking.  Although I’d been studying irregular verbs for well over a month, I could never remember the correct conjugation while speaking with somebody.    I didn’t feel like I was learning new words or making any progress.  I had plateaued and plateaued hard.

Then, my dear friend returned to the country with my new kindle.  I downloaded a few primers to get used to reading in spanish.  Free downloads are available on kindle that tell fairytales using simple vocabulary.  My intent was to read these to further immerse myself in the language.  (Yeah, because being in a Spanish speaking country surrounded by Spanish speakers 90% of the time isn’t immersion enough!)  Anyway – my good intentions went to the wind when I realized the vocabulary wasn’t quite simple enough for me and I found myself bouncing back and forth to the Spanish dictionary so often that it took me a good half-an-hour to read four sentences.  Perhaps with more learning, that will become realistic.

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Getting Sick and Getting Better

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I found myself in need of medical care while on the island of Ometepe.  Going to the doctor is never an enjoyable experience in the best of times.  Especially for this girl, who’s first stop when sick is Web MD and my collection of teas and essential oils.  Language barriers and a lack of complete trust in Western medicine as well as wariness of  local doctors made it more difficult here in Nicaragua.

First, a moment for some brief Nicaraguan history.   Read the rest of this entry

Living in the Unknown

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Spacious.  That’s how I feel right now, as I spend time with a friend waiting to see what will be next.

A brief illness sent me packing from the island of Ometepe early, and I returned here to Granada to stay with a friend as I recovered.  While here, I began searching for my next opportunity.  I sent emails after leads I’d heard of, but all came up bust.  So I’m in an interesting space of watching life unfold and bustle busily around me but standing in a space absent of movement.

My body has reflected the uncertainty of my mind as it’s forced me to physically stay still while recovering my strength and health. Read the rest of this entry