Thursday, July 21, 2016

Back Home

For those who haven't heard from us in a while, we've been doing well, but nothing new. For three years, we have moved back and forth from Florida in the winter to North Dakota in the summer, working at Everglades National Park and Theodore Roosevelt National Park. It was what we were looking for - continuous work in the National Park System. We made our professional goal. It was awesome. But we missed travel, and we missed Nicaragua.

So we took this summer off, to live in Nicaragua again - this time on Isla de Ometepe, the island in Lake Nicaragua in Nicaragua's southwest. We are working with tour guides on this island to provide access to resources and training so their growing ecotourism trade can stay locally based. We have a blog about our work at, which we're updating fairly regularly - but returning to Nicaragua is not just a work project. It's a personal adventure, too, so I'd like to post a few pictures of things very off-topic from our work blog.

First, we may be working on Ometepe, but we had to visit our home from four years ago, the tiny community of El Jocote. Visiting this time of year is a little more difficult than when we went before. It is the rainy season, and though there is drought, there is enough rain to make travel interesting. We had a short amount of time to visit - one day to travel there, one to visit, and one to travel back - so when we found out the single bus to a nearby community was not going to run the day we had to travel to El Jocote, we decided to find alternate transport. This included other buses to as close a point as we could get, walking about 20 minutes to a nearby town, and hiring motorcycle owners to drive us there.
Twas a muddy ride.

Fortunately, we made it. And El Jocote was nearly exactly how we left it - ugly chickens and all.

But really, it has changed a lot. Remember these girls?

They're a little bigger now.

The baby we met when we visited six months after our work there was done is now almost four.

Kids growing up is expected, of course. There were less expected changes, though. The road to El Jocote has been improved, so there are a few motorcycles in town now, much to the fascination of the kids:

Cell service is available, as well, so cell phones are more of a thing now.
This turns out to be pretty cool, since we got to watch a couple videos of things we'd missed.

The wet season also brings more fruit than we remember in El Jocote.

And it is kitten and puppy season.

Some of the kittens we remember from before are still here, and still begging for food.

Some of the kids from before are now adults - and some are in university. One is even studying agriculture, and working with the organization we worked with, AsoFenix. He has his own garden at home where he's testing seeds for adding to community nutrition.

Jeff wanted to make a new video, and the family of Dona Ines helped:
(Check out his video at

The kids were still fascinated by cameras and binoculars.
And by Jeff's antics.

They had to try for themselves, of course...

...and sometimes got some assistance.

We made a nearly full circuit of town, and visited so many people.

The best part is that despite the changes, El Jocote is still El Jocote. The kids are growing...
...but the soul is still there.

We have been having fun at home as well, although I'm not as good at photographing the everyday. We had a party for the fourth of July with some local and international friends, and Jeff had to have his fireworks to celebrate. Only trick is, fireworks here don't have wicks.

So the trick is to light a long stick in a fire,
light the rocket, and run.
On a side note, Jeff is cheating here. He buried a bottle in the sand and has the rocket firing out of that. A true Nica would hold the rocket in his hand to fire from. Yikes!

Just like in the US, elections are looming in November. Unlike in the US, there is only one major candidate, the current president Daniel Ortega. This makes campaign advertisements interesting.
"WE CELEBRATE the continuation of Good Governing by COMMANDANTE DANIEL."
Remember, the election is still four months away.
But hey, I can still find humor in the little things - including interesting names of products like fragrances.
So I've got that going for me.

As much as I miss home in the US, I do enjoy being back home in Nicaragua. This place really does feel like home in a lot of ways, thanks to the incredible people here. Viva Nicaragua!