It’s just a few days shy of my nine year anniversary of moving to Nicaragua. My decision to move her shocked many people, but now many are inquiring about doing the same. I had a three year plan, but fast forward nine years and I am committed here for a significant portion of my future. I developed a beautiful group of friends, a business that I always dreamed of with a great staff who always have my back, a house (rented) at the edge of the forest and just one kilometer to my shop, which I can walk to along the beach, and an overall happy existence.
Today someone mentioned how nice it is that there are many women entrepreneurs here and what a nice resource that must be for me. I hadn’t really thought of it that way, but we do have a large group of strong, intelligent, ambitious women who have left their mark on this town. Our successes feed each other, but we sometimes take it for granted and do not always take the time to acknowledge it because everything feels so normal in that it is no big deal. My friends have started an all girls surf camp, yoga studio, school, restaurants, property management companies, horseback ranch and B&B, hotels, gift shops, clothing lines and shops, consulting services....and most started these businesses on their own as opposed to as a couple. It’s quite empowering when I think about it.
One of the strange, positive effects this has had is that living in Nicaragua, I am closer geographically to my sister and I see her far more often than I did when I lived in the US. I have been blessed with a bookstore operation that that allows me to travel to the US several times a year to purchase books and hang out with my mom, sister and her family in a gorgeous little beach town in close vicinity to Goodwills and thrift stores where I can restock while hanging out with my family. I have been able to have a close relationship with my niece and nephews because of this, something that would have been much more difficult if I still lived in the US. I build the cost of the airfare and car rental into the price of the books, so most of the time it is a greatly subsidized vacation affording more opportunities to buy pretty clothes and sandals of which I have xx number of pairs, a secret because I do not even know how many pairs I have. When I moved here, I loathed flip flops. I was a Teva girl. Now I can walk up my insane hill in flip flops. I hike through the jungle in flip flops. Columbias and Sanuks, mostly.
It is a small country and I can usually go to any other town or city and run into someone I know or someone who knows of me. It’s all one big blur at times. Sometimes we complain about living in the fishbowl, especially as foreigners who stand out, but in the end we all choose to live here and this fishbowl gives us a sense of community that many of us did not feel and missed when we were living in larger areas and suburbs where we are disconnected from our neighbors.
I do not remember the person I was when I moved here. I am freer. My creativity has moved into a higher dimension. I am happy. I enjoy my life. Although I don’t have enough time in the day to do everything that I want to do, I have enough time to do everything I need to do. I meditate (but not as much as I should lately). I make altars. I pray. I sing (though still not ready for a solo). I started to learn the guitar and I may get back at it in October. My wardrobe consists of funky skirts, dresses and shorts topped with tank tops. I have three more cats than when I arrived and learned to accept it and not be afraid of being called the crazy cat lady. I am more accepting of my faults, idiosyncrasies, and other shadow elements and I am less judgmental in my view of the rest of the world. The hardest lesson to learn was resistance is futile, go with the flow. The first few years I did not flow. It was hard to flow when I had to chase the Parmalat (milk) truck around town because Vladimir the driver would not stop at my store. I had to physically block the truck on more than one occasion to prevent him from refusing to sell me milk. Friends would call with milk truck sightings. “Block him!” I shouted as I jumped on my bike to find the elusive milk truck. Mind you, I purchase more than most of the little pulparias. Supply and demand are on two different tracks and resistance is futile.
For a year I would wait in line at the bank for no less than an hour to get change, only to here the infamous words, “No hay.” I stopped at a casino in Managua once to get a bucket of change because there was the great one cordoba shortage. We spent an hour each day begging our friends to count all the loose change on their dresser so we could make a bank.
Then there were the roads. And the police points and the fines for imaginary infractions and tales of aduana (customs) and hassle after hassle. The robberies and the tens of thousands of dollars of stuff that has disappeared over the years here...it’s not cheap or easy to replace any of those things, either. There were serious incidents of violence, the second so brutal that I wanted to leave, but in the end I knew that it was not the fault of the country and I understand the lesson behind it, much of which connected me to my spiritual nature in a way that I could never have foreseen. Detachment from material goods is key, as is embracing life and going with the flow with full faith that the universe is taking me in the right direction. In the end, I feel happier, safer, and freer here than I do elsewhere. I have so much gratitude that I was able to create this life, and grateful for all of the help I have had along the way.
Nine years with many more to come.