A Rant on The State of the Middle Class and Retirement

Kris (my wife) wrote a great piece about an article I saw that said that a percentage of folks polled said they would rather ” die early” than life through their retirement without enoug money for a comfortable retirement. I don’t know how “early” they wanted to die, but I was shocked to hear that sentiment expressed by so many. Kris wrote a thougtful post that I felt was worth putting on my blog.
Peace, Joel

The Panama Adventure

I think it is common knowledge that many people are going to have a hard time affording a comfortable retirement, and we all know people who plan to work until they drop because they feel they have no other choice. Joel came across an article recently – Middle-Class Americans Living With Regret About Retirement Savings  One line jumped out at me

In a new survey question added this year, 22 percent said they would rather “die early” than live without enough money for a comfortable retirement. 

More than one in five people are afraid they will be so poor that the time will come when life isn’t worth living. What a sad statement.

I can quote more statistics and link to more articles but I don’t think we need convincing that many people are going to retire with less than they think they need, or won’t retire at all. What does…

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Travel Theme: Broken Lives

Rewired and Retired in Nicaragua

“This planet is a broken bone that didn’t set right, a hundred pieces of crystal glued together. We’ve been shattered and reconstructed.” ~ Tahereh Mafi

Broken lives…125 families forced to reconstruct their lives from the devastating rock and mudslides on Ometepe Island, Nicaragua. Yesterday, Ron and I tramped over boulders and through mud to reach the Los Ramos community to deliver supplies to the families. Take a walk with us so you can see for yourselves Mother Nature’s powerful and destructive forces.

Supplies were delivered at the top of the hill. “So far, this doesn’t look too bad,” I said encouragingly to Ron.

The bulldozers had cleared about 200 meters from the main road. Easy walking so far.

IMG_4894A few feet later, we came to the part of the road that had been dismembered like a severed limb, cutting the families off from the rest of the island and the…

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A Lesson in Real Humility

Wonderlful and touching……

Rewired and Retired in Nicaragua

“Life is a long lesson in humility.”
― J.M. Barrie

I was raised in the belief that one should always be humble, which I interpreted as being meek, never accepting a compliment, and certainly never acknowledging a gift or a talent one might have. But, this week, I learned that I have completely misunderstood this virtue.
Instead of an eyes cast down, submissive, weak, breast-beating virtue; I discovered within me an ability to take an honest appraisal of my abilities, and accept responsibility for the good and not-so-good things that I have done.

After the horrifying mud and rock slides that consumed the indigenous community of Los Ramos, I took a hard look at what I could do to help this community. What was I good at doing? What was I ridiculously silly at attempting to do?

I’m too old to be digging boulders out of their road. My Spanish…

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Care packages and many Hugs-The Ometepe Donations story continues…

Deb posted again to Facebook and I’m passing it on- boy, I would have loved to be there and given out some donations and a hug or two! Here are Deb’s

The families all lined up, Ever had a list of the families and checked off each name as they came by. The bags were all delivered within 30 minutes...every bag!!!

The families all lined up, Ever had a list of the families and checked off each name as they came by. The bags were all delivered within 30 minutes…every bag!!!

words and photos:

 125 bags of supplies packed and waiting for the families to arrive at Ever's house.

125 bags of supplies packed and waiting for the families to arrive at Ever’s house.

This is what your donations bought for each family...plus clothes were added at the last minute. —

This is what your donations bought for each family…plus clothes were added at the last minute. —


When we arrived at Ever's house, the community was bagging all of the food and other things we bought yesterday. "Say pizza," I said. "Where's the pizza?" they responded

When we arrived at Ever’s house, the community was bagging all of the food and other things we bought yesterday. “Say pizza,” I said. “Where’s the pizza?” they responded

It was a hugging kind of day! 125 hugs received. The people were so loving and they are great huggers!

It was a hugging kind of day! 125 hugs received. The people were so loving and they are great huggers!

When we were getting ready to walk back up the hill, all the families had gathered in the church to give thanks. The music and singing followed us as we walked up the hill. I was so touched, all I could do was cry.

When we were getting ready to walk back up the hill, all the families had gathered in the church to give thanks. The music and singing followed us as we walked up the hill. I was so touched, all I could do was cry.

This family is heading home with their goodie bag. We still have $600 left to spend. I think maybe piglets and chickens will be our next purchase.

This family is heading home with their goodie bag. We still have $600 left to spend. I think maybe piglets and chickens will be our next purchase.



Here is what your Ometepe donations have bought!

I thought everyone would liked to see just what the money donated to the Ometepe relief has purchased. Deb Goehring posted to Facebook and I cut and pasted her photo and text. She is THRILLED  and so am I !!!!! Thanks to all who helped this great effort!!!!!!!! ps $500 remains to be spent, how good is that!
Shopping spree successful! The truck was loaded with 220 lbs of sugar, 500 lbs of rice, 125 candles, 10 flashlights ( that’s all we could find in town), 125 bags of salt, six 5 gallon buckets of cooking oil, 500 plastic bags, 125 bags of powdered milk, baby diapers, and lots of small miscellaneous stuff. Tomorrow we go to the top of the hill in Los Ramos, bag everything for the individual families, and distribute it. Many thanks to everyone who donated, Rich Waters for driving his truck, and Ever Potoy for his great bargaining skills. We still have $500 to spend. Woopie!

A Day In The Life Of…Me

My dear friend Holly is changing, evolving-I have seen it and I admire her honesty and ability to write with such truth and transparancy. She is, as many of us in Panama are, coming to grips with the realities of the “divide” between the “haves” and “have nots”.

I share her post. I hope you read it.

Well done, Holly.

Let The Adventure "Continue"!

Here’s a snapshot of my day..which is not to be misunderstood as what everyday looks like because, seriously, I never really know what any day will bring…
I wake up everyday at 6:15, often I snooze for a few more minutes before getting up. I go to the bathroom, do my thing…no need for details here..ahem…brush my teeth, blah, blah, blah…then make my way into the kitchen where I always first and foremost, begin the water boiling for the coffee. After the water is on the gas I grind the coffee. Then given the fact that the cat has been meowing and meowing since about 3ish!!! Ugh! I give the damn cat his food! THERE!! As I look out the window I marvel at the beauty of the view of Volcan Baru. that view never gets old. Often its surrounded by clouds but mostly it stands so proud in the…

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I Posted to a great site, Boquete Ning to help Ometepe Donations

First, a little background……..

Kris and I recently returned from a wonderful trip to Ometepe,Nicaragua, an island in the middle of a huge lake with two volcanoes. For three weeks we house sat for a fellow blogger, Deb Goehring of http://retirenicaragua.wordpress.com/. We hit it off with Deb and her husband Ron and had a lovely time staying in their home, exploring the island and meeting all sorts of friendly islanders. We had a great time on that peaceful island and will be returning in late November after a house sitting gig in Granada.

Now, here is the reason I’m posting to ning. I get a lot more views on my blog when I post here. I’m NOT posting to promote IT, but to try to get the word out that a disaster has hit Ometepe since we left and the folks there need some help.

Heavy rains cause multiple problems, mudslides that blocked roads, killed farm animals, ruined crops in the fields, and damaged homes. Not JUST mud and water, but rocks, some quite large, some almost the size of my Hyundai Atos.  Oh, and a few days later the island felt the rumble of a large earthquake. I won’t go into more detail, Deb spells it out on her blog if you go there.

I’m here to let everyone know of a site or two where it is easy to help out with a donation.

ANY amount you care to give will go a long way on this island where a worker is lucky to make $4 (YES, FOUR US dollars a DAY, or $10 if they are skilled).

The first aids the town of Los Ramos. They were hit REALLY hard with a lot of mud, water and rocks, the town is a mess.   


The second site is Puesta de Sol, they had a lot of damage there. Kris and I became friends with many of the folks there and are happy to spread the word to help them. The site is in Spanish and English.  DONAR goes right to the PayPal site which is in English. http://puestadelsol.org/donations.php

There it is, my little plea that you will consider helping these kind folks. When Deb asked what they needed at Los Ramos, a guy replied “Candles and food”. Pretty simple request, I’d say.

Thanks for taking the time to read this, I’ll copy it and paste it to a post on my blog.

Many Thanks in Advance,

Joel and Kris Cunningham


Help Los Ramos Rebuild

Hey Dear Readers- These folks who just suffered a big hit from the landslide are hurting…. but they don’t ask for much, just food and candles.

If you care to donate to help these folks in need here is the site – just click on the words Help Los Ramos Rebuild in Deb’s original post. I clicked and donated, it’s easy! A BIG SHOUT OUT to Deborah Goehring for getting the donation thing going.
ANY amount will be appreciated. Thanks for caring.

Rewired and Retired in Nicaragua

I talked with Ever Potoy today about his lovely community of Los Ramos on Ometepe Island. Because of 5-6 landslides, their community was destroyed. I am sick with worry for this community and I want to help them rebuild.

“Ever, what can we do to help?” I asked.

“We need candles and food,” he responded while on his motorcycle going to get some supplies.

That’s just like these humble, hardworking people to respond with such simple needs.

So, if you can find it within your loving hearts…let’s buy these people lots of candles and food within the next two weeks. Thanks for your help!

Help Los Ramos Rebuild

If you would like to learn more about this amazing community, here is their website.
Los Ramos

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Back in David and liking it a lot

Boy, did I ever love our trip to Ometepe, Nicaragua. People who have traveled there often describe it as “magical”, “peaceful”, “seductive”,  etc. I fall into that group, the island has a special feel to it that words don’t really convey. It’s a “feel” thing.

 Part of me wanted to buy some land and just stay there in a sort of suspended animation. But the more rational, “left brain” part pulled back on the reins and said, “let’s give this some more thought”. Really, Joel,  are you ready to dash off to live on an island with an active volcano, the occasional mudslide, and few gringos to talk to just because it is such a neat place??? YES!—NOT!!! (Wish I could say that but not right now!)

Now that I have been back in David I’ve had some time to mull over my quandry and I have to say that life here in David suits Kris and me quite well. And that’s great because it would be costly to move ANYWHERE  away from here anytime soon. We have a pleasant, affordable life and that is not lost on us.

Home-That’s what the David area has become -home, with all the familiarity that comes with knowing the area and being comfortable with your surroundings. We have  a very nice rental house, many good friends. And there are many stores and convieniences that we enjoy and would certainly miss if we moved elsewhere. We feel safe in our home and neighborhood and know our way around. Want to go to the mountains or beach? Either is only 45 minutes away!

Where Boquete is known as the land of eternal spring, David has earned the reputation of being hot. When we tell people we live in David we always hear, “It’s so hot”. Maybe David would be a more popular place if people knew that David ALSO can be quite pleasant (70-84) for many months during the wet season. The  hot weather will be starting mid-December through mid-April but that’s okay, we have a/c and can take more trips up to cool Boquete! As for now, I’m sure liking the 74 degrees weather at 6:30 pm I write these words!

Day to day life in our neighborhood is similar to the way it was like years ago in small towns in the states and that’s a pretty nice way to live. Folks here  are often found enjoying themselves on the front patios talking with friends and family.  It’s a relaxed, low stress type of life, people’s attitude is very “live and let live”.  Did I mention the low stress part? 🙂

Holidays? Halloween here is a non-event. Thanksgiving is observed and this Thanksgiving will probably be celebrated up in Boquete with our stateside buddies. Ham, turkey and dressing, sweet potatoes, pumpkin pies and all that good t-day stuff.

Good time with good friends, yes, indeed, followed by… (drum roll)…..Christmas time! … I’m SO looking forward to it! Love the lights and decorations, the fireworks (MANY!!!), and walking all around the neighborhood at midnight with everyone exchanging “Feliz Navidads”. Fun!

Yes, David has worked out quite well for us indeed. We may end up leaving here sometime, but I doubt it will be sometime soon!

Enjoy the moment



Ometepe Island Mudslides and Destruction

We recently visited Ometepe and were horrified to hear of the devastation the heavy rain and subsequent mud/rock slides that ensued. This was a surprise and very unwelcome as the folks there
have had a hard year. Our friend Deb wrote a great report and I wanted to pass it on.

Rewired and Retired in Nicaragua

Early Wednesday morning on October 8th, I awoke to take photos of the blood moon. The sky was inky black with clouds hiding the stars, as well as the eclipse of the moon. While I was standing on the beach, I shivered with a sense of foreboding. I couldn’t shake the feeling that something big was about to happen.

Thursday, the rains started. In 12 hours, we had 15 inches of rain. We lost our power early Thursday evening. Then, Friday morning, we had to walk into Moyogalpa to catch the ferry to take our very sick cat, Black Jack, to the vet in Rivas.

The rain sliced through the dark morning sky like sheets of glass. Our local beach bar’s ranchos toppled over like dominos.

We walked silently through the mud into town. The roads washed out, and waterfalls replaced our colorful treed path into town.
IMG_4878Upon returning to…

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