The Adventures of Princess Traveler, Nicaragua: Sorry, Parakeets not Parrots


Parakeet Homes


El Brujo Waterfall

Today we ventured off the ‘beaten path’ [Waaaay off—well given the rough road and the number of farms it felt like ‘waaay off.’ In reality our destination was only 30 kilometers from Managua] to Chocoyero – El Brujo Natural Reserve, intending to view hundreds of wild green parakeets in their natural habitat—a sandstone cliff side near the lovely 400m El Brujo (The Wizard). The waterfall, is so named because it disappears underground, leaving no trace at the bottom of the fall. We saw the waterfall and the holes
the parakeets had chiseled in the cliff side but not a single parakeet. The only parakeet we saw during our trek through the subtropical rain forest that surrounds the cliff was completely unwilling to pause long enough to be photographed. I didn’t mind too much, since for me, the footpath through the rain forest was much more intriguing than the missing parakeets.


Into the Woods

We started with a short visit to the park guide station, where we viewed the preserved remains of all the poisonous snakes we might encounter on our trek. [Nice to know what to look out for.] Then we proceeded on our walk through the subtropical forest. The approach to the path was somewhat forbidding and definitely worth fictionalizing in a novel.


Termite Home

Once inside the verdant cave the temperature cooled considerably, but the humidity rose. Despite dripping with perspiration we weren’t really uncomfortable. Among the fascinating things we encountered were a couple of termite nests; a village of snake burrows [Thankfully no snakes emerged to greet us.]; gorgeous flowers; and the screams of howler monkeys. [The monkeys must have been visiting with the parakeets because we never caught sight of one of those either.]


Snake Village (Look carefully, the holes are in the ground.)


Gorgeous Yellow Blossoms

Is this a Morning Glory?

Is this a Morning Glory?

We enjoyed the walk, despite the absence of parakeets, but I was hot and tired by the time we reached our car. Ulisses suggested we drive to La Laguna Apoyo  and have lunch there. I’m very glad we took his suggestion. The Laguna (read lake) is a gorgeous spot where rains LAGUNAapoyoand underground springs have filled the crater of a dormant volcano. Public and private beaches dot the otherwise rocky lakeshore which rises sharply from the lake. Small hotels and private homes are scattered along the rim. We chose to eat at ?? Abuela (read Grandma’s) and were thoroughly delighted. I’ve never had fried fish as light, crispy and greaseless as I had today. I am now a huge fan of Nicaraguan cookery as well as their excellent coffee. Still weary from our walk and sated from an excellent meal we decided to return to our hotel.

Tomorrow we head to the Gran Pacifica resort, one of the communities we are considering as an investment and a retirement home. Please leave a comment and tell me about some of the gems you’ve visited, especially those with unusual names.


The Adventures of Princess Traveler, Nicaragua: My Name is Traveler NOT Grace

MonkeyScratchWe decided our first trip outside of Managua would be to the colonial city of Granada. Colonial because it was originally a Spanish settlement. Established in 1524 Granada is the oldest colonial community in Central America. It’s streets are narrow and much of the architecture is very old. Some of the major sites include the Antiquo Convento San Francisco (now a museum), the waterfront, Las Isletas, and Volcan Mombacho.

The previous afternoon we contacted DeTour Nicaragua [I highly recommend this travel agency to anyone visiting Nicaragua. Juan and his staff know exactly how to treat a princess.] to hire a driver and guide for the day trip to Granada. The cost was very reasonable, and we did not have to worry about navigating any of Nicaragua’s very challenging roads. Don’t get me wrong. Managua and other cities in this country have very modern freeways and highways, but outside the cities you take your chances.

Ulises our guide and Alvaro our driver met us at our hotel promptly at 8:00 AM. This surprised me because I had expected them to arrive a good thirty to sixty minutes later—pretty much a standard for Nicaraguan appointments. The drive to Granada took about an hour allowing for stops, starts and swerves to avoid pedestrians, horse carts, cattle herds and other interesting obstacles. All were encountered with a calm and nonchalance that you would never see in an American city where the least obstacle is greeted with curses and impatience. Dream Man and I prefer the Nicaraguan approach by far.

MonkeyINtreeAt Granada, which sits wedged between the foot of Volcan Mombacho [yes volcan = Volcano]  and the southern edge of Lake Nicaragua, we began our site-seeing with an hour long boat ride through Las Isletas. This enchanting series of islets, where many of the richest Nicaraguans have vacation homes, is the result of volcanic explosions that occurred millennia ago. Those islets not overtaken by humans remain inhabited by a rich variety of wildlife, including but not limited to birds, frogs, snakes and monkeys. We had fun watching children from another boat tossing food to the monkeys who were eager to snap up the treats then beg for more.


Getting a full picture of the Catedral from the front is not easy, so this image is of a model located in the Antiguo Convento San Francisco. It is to scale.

After the boat ride we spent several hours walking the streets of Granada. It was in the stunning Catedral de Nuestra Senora de la Asuncion, built in 1583 that I discovered why my name is Princess Traveler and not Princess Grace. I am always moving and always looking ahead [or in the case of the cathedral looking up]. Grace would watch where she placed her feet, move fluidly to a vantage point, stop and then look up. I on the other hand tried to do all at once. In the process I did not see the kneeling bench that had gotten shoved out into the aisle where I was walking. Dream man tells me that I fell very slowly. My lungs don’t agree. I hit the marble flooring with enough momentum to knock my breath away.

Stupidly my first concern was that I had broken the camera and my phone. Thankfully nothing was broken although I bruised a knee, my chest and my forehead. I did not see stars only the plaster face of the Virgin looking sorrowful as if she, the Queen of Heaven, could not imagine such a clumsy princess existed.

Hands reached out from everywhere to help me to my feet. I clung to my dream man for a moment before sitting down. I insisted he go on with Ulises so I could rest and recover my breath. I took the time to say a prayer of thanks that the consequences of my fall had been small and for the kindness Nicaraguans extended to a stranger.

MasayaMarketWe had a lovely lunch after touring the city then set out for the market at Masaya. The market targets tourists (big surprise), but I wanted to see it nonetheless. In existence since the establishment of the city, the market today is divided into hundreds of covered stalls where a tourist can purchase everything from hand woven hammocks to pottery to large bottles of Flor Cana (Nicaragua’s national Rum). We indulged ourselves by purchasing Christmas gifts for friends and relatives then returned to Managua for more swimming and relaxation. I’m delighted that I visited Granada a vibrant and enchanting city, but I am Princess Traveler, and despite my stumble, I am always looking ahead. Tomorrow, Parrots.

Please let me know about an occasion when you stumbled but got up again and continued on.

The Adventures of Princess Traveler, Nicargua: Morning and More in Managua


We woke this morning to bright sunshine and a view of low mountains. Our hotel has a terrific breakfast buffet including traditional Nicaraguan dishes such as beans and rice, fried plantains, local cheese both fried and fresh, and a sort of stewed chicken as well as fare more familiar to North Americans like made to order omelets, home fries, scrambled eggs and a variety of breads. Dream Man loves the fresh off the tree fruit. My favorite part of every meal is the coffee. I don’t believe there is a bitter cup in the country.



I can’t say enough good about the courtesy at this hotel or anywhere else in Nicaragua for that matter. In very few USA hotels (and other businesses) does anyone open a door for a guest. Here in Nicaragua, everyone local and tourist alike is treated like royaty. Doors are opened, chairs are pulled out, plates are brought or whisked away with the wave of a hand. Perhaps this is true only of our hotel, but I suspect not. Today, while we’re tour Managua, I expect to be treated with the courtesy due a valued guest. The least Dream Man and I can do is return the courtesy and honor my hosts. We start learning Spanish today. No, we do not anticipated being even close to fluent before we must leave for Michigan. However, we already love Nicaragua and plan to return often.


Now that breakfast is finished we start the day’s adventure with a stroll from the hotel to la Plaza de la Revolucion. [Please forgive the lack of proper accent marks in my Spanish phrases. I haven’t yet figured out how to make this computer comply with international spellings.] The morning is sunny and pleasantly warm. The walk is relatively short although adventurous. The few sidewalks that exist are narrow and uneven. We often found ourselves, like most Nicaraguans, walking on the edge of the busy street. Thankfully the drivers seem very aware of their surroundings and we arrive at the Plaza without mis-hap. 


The Plaza is a broad open area with little to see other than the Museo Nacoinal de Nicaragua. We spend a lovely hour becoming familiar with the historical displays there. Then we continue our walk to the Malecon (waterfront) on Lake Managua. We quickly observe that the busy waterfront is not for tourists. I thank heaven that Dream Man is tall and imposing. No one on the Malecon thought we would make a good target.


Tired of walking we waved down a taxi and return to our hotel for lunch and an afternoon of swimming in the pool and sunbathing. This evening we plan to dine at La Casa de los Mejia Godoy. Godoy is famous for his performances of Nicaraguan folk music, and I hoped very much to hear some. Sadly the performance for the night of our dinner had been canceled. I still have the link to a You Tube video performance of Godoy’s which I share with you here,  As for our evening out, we did enjoy the company of some new friends and a delicious meal of local appetizers, seafood and beer before returning to our hotel to rest up for our journey the next day to Granada and the market at Masaya.


Please leave a comment and tell me how you handled a small disappointment in your life.


The Adventures of Princess Traveler, Nicaragua: Day 1

I was soooooo excited. Today was the day I would get to Nicaragua, land of Marimba and parrots. Then reality set in. Even a Princess as royal as I cannot change time.  Our flight from Michigan did not leave until after 2:00 PM, a loooong six hours from my 8:00 AM waking time.

I had a few ‘last minute’ arrangements to delegate, but I had hoped to spend the waiting hours in pleasant dalliance with Dream Man. However, Dream Man had to work from home until the metro car picked us up. I was left to my own devices [Dream Man is off limits when he works from home].DEESbook

I consoled myself and passed the hours with Cindy Dees latest romantic  novel. [Dream Man could be the archetype for those terrifically passionate fictional heroes.] The hours passed and finally [just as I got to the good part of Ms. Dees’ novel], the car pulled into our driveway. Dream Man stopped working. We loaded the cases into the car and were off…to do some more waiting [and reading].

Jet Airplane Landing at SunsetAt DTW we waited to board. Once on the
plane we waited two and a half hours to arrive in Atlanta where we would change planes. In Atlanta we waited an hour before boarding the Managua flight. We waited through three and a half hours on that flight before arriving in

Nicaragua’s capital city. [It was now a full 13 hours since I’d gotten up in the morn ing.] And we were not yet done waiting. Nicaraguan Customs officers are very efficient. However, we took our place in the Customs line on the one day that problems plagued the Customs computer system. An hour and a half later we were done waiting.

Finished with Customs we picked up our checked bags [which had been waiting for us], stepped out the door into an army of men who inundated TAXIus with pleas to allow them to drive us to our hotel. Dream Man selected a driver and we were off, arriving at our hotel in less than an hour, exhausted from a day of waiting.

Because the hour was so late I saw nothing of Nicaragua’s scenery between the airport and the hotel. The hotel was an odd mixture of elegance and shabbiness. The lobby was a marvel of mirrors and marble. Our very spacious suite [which has no dresser] must have the oldest carpet in creation. Holes adorn the worn upholstery of comfy chairs and a sofa. The electronics set up is state of the art. [All of the rooms electricity is controlled by inserting a key card into a wall slot so we only use power when we are actually in the room]. The bathroom is tiny but plush. That night I didn’t care. All I wanted was a bed to rest my weary body and mind. I was so tired I didn’t even mind that Dream Man was snoring before my head hit the pillow.

Please leave a comment. Let me know about a time when you had too much time to anticipate and how you dealt with that. Next time, Morning in Managua.

The Adventures of Princess Traveler, Nicaragua: Getting Ready

So, we’re going to Nicaragua. The decision’s been made. What’s the first thing Dream Man does, the morning after we celebrated making the decision? Did he kiss me with the passion that I love? Did he write poems about his gratitude for my wise and gracious decision to accompany him? HandFDid he make promises of romance and beauty at our destination? No. No, kisses, poems or promises. Not even a blissful thank you. What Dream Man did first was present me with a huge list of ‘To Do’ items, along with an announcement. “Beloved,” he says. “Since I must labor at my day job [The job that keeps me in tiaras and bon-bons] I know you will not mind taking care of these minor arrangements in preparation for our adventure.” With that he kissed my cheek and left me staring after him wondering if I was a Princess or an errand-girl.

Let me tell you, I am definitely NOT an errand-girl. I’m a Princess [note the capital P], and a Princess does not run errands or make arrangements. If a task does happen to come the way of a Princess, she delegates to underlings, so she can continue the difficult work of being the beautiful and gracious woman her dream man loves. Sadly the only underlings available were my two cats, Jose and Junior. Everyone knows that cats consider themselves to be more regal than the most royal of humans. Hence Junior and Jose refused to even acknowledge my orders to implement Dream Man’s list.

The upshot is that I had to remove my tiara, set aside my bon-bons and take up the role of errand-girl [Ugh!] Oh how embarrassing. Thank heaven that no one other than Dream Man [and now you, my friends] realizes that I am a Princess.

What’s that you say? You want me to cut to the chase and tell you what was on the list? Fine. For those of you more interested in practicalities than Princessly angst, here’s the list:

  1. Make Managua Hotel Reservations
  2. Make Airline Reservations
  3. Determine Vaccination RequirementsSHOT
  4. Get Vaccinated
  5. Notify Credit Card Companies to Avoid Credit Shut Off Due to Unusual Expenses
  6. Notify Alarm Company of Our Absence
  7. Notify Local Police Force of Our Absence
  8. Look into Need for Medical Insurance and Acquire Same
  9. Determine Phone Provider Support in Nicaragua
  10. Register Electronics with Customs to Avoid Paying Duty on Stuff We Already Own
  11. Review Customs Requirements in Nicaragua and US, Complete Necessary Documents and Pack for Safekeeping
  12. Arrange for Cat Care
  13. Determine Costs of Rental Care or Hiring Driver
  14. Investigate and Acquire Trip Insurance (if needed)
  15. Determine Where/How to Get Laundry Done in Nicaragua
  16. Decide on Activities to Pursue while in Nicaragua and Make Reservations as Needed
  17. Create VPN
  18. Acquire and Pack All Prescription Medicines.
  19. Pack All Suitcases and Carry Ons
  20. Arrange Transport to and From Airport & Hotel, Airport and Home

Now a twenty item list may not seem much to you, but many of those items are complex and/or depend on the cooperation of other people. Nonetheless, this Princess proved more than capable of handling the task. Then, will wonders never cease, Dream Man arrives home from his job (the day before we are to depart) and comes through with the adoration that is my due. [Needless to say, I did not get much sleep that night.] Believe you me, being adored, body [every very happy inch] and soul is an exquisitely pleasant way to live and well worth running a few errands.

SUITcaseThe work is done and we are on our way. Please leave a comment and tell me about your travel preparations. Next time—Day 1 in Nicaragua

The Adventures of Princess Traveler, Nicaragua: The Research Phase:

I promised my dream man that I would discuss the proposed Nicaraguan Adventure with him after I’d done some research on the place. Well we discussed at length and have decided to journey to Nicaragua despite some minor reservations. Here’s what I discovered.

VOLCANOometepeNicaragua is a tropical country with temperatures averaging 70 to  90 degrees year round. Located in Central America the country stretches from the Atlantic to the Pacific coasts. The geological features include pristine beaches (and some terrific surfing), tropical rainforests, active volcanoes [BTW and active volcano is not necessarily one that is in full eruption.] and associated earthquakes.

Although far from being a rich country, Nicaragua now has one of the most stable governments in Central America. As recently as the 1970s this was not so. The conflict between the Somosa administration and the rebel Sandanists was one of the bloodiest and most tragic revolutions in the region. The war destroyed not only the contemporary culture and infrastructure be demolished historical records and buildings that had stood since the Spanish conquest in the 1500s. Granada one of the country’s largest cities is said to be the oldest Spanish settlement in Central America.

_63433571_nicaragua_residents_624gJust because the government is now stable doesn’t mean life in Nicaragua is perfect, far from it. Outside of major cities (like Managua and Granada) the quality of the infrastructure is spotty. Some towns like San Marcos (a college town with connections to the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor MI) have superior medical and dental facilities other small towns and villages lack both medical and dental. Roads throughout most of Nicaragua’s interior are reportedly of poor quality. Similarly hotels are not common in smaller towns and villages; hence this princess is quite concerned about her comfort. There is hope. My research indicates that visitors to Nicaragua often lodge with local families (sometimes for extended stays). This custom promises some interesting opportunities for adventure, learning customs and language, and perhaps even making new friends. [I’m very willing to sacrifice a small bit of comfort in the name of adventure and friendship.]

In the course of my research I also discovered that music, art and literature are alive and well. The dream man and I plan to spend an evening in Managua at the Casa de Carlos Meija Godoy [Who appears to be something of a national treasure], soaking up the rhythms and harmonies of the Nica peoples. We’ll tour a few museums, spend some time a the national butterfly reserve outside Granada and take a day to peruse the markets and artisan workshops of Masaya and Los Pueblos Blancos (a series of small villages). Please leave a comment and let me know if you would go or not. Join me in a day or so and I’ll relate the adventure of packing and the VPN (a tale of epic mis-communications).

Below I list some resources for those who want more information about Nicaragua.


The Adventures of Princess Traveler, Nicaragua: The Adventure Begins:

My dream man came to me last night. Enfolding me in warmth and masculine strength, he laid his lips against my neck just below my ear and whispered, “Let’s escape to Nicaragua.”


“I don’t smoke,” I replied sleepily [I’m dreaming remember, ‘dream man’.]

I felt him smile as he nibbled the tender flesh of my earlobe, his breath gently caressing my cheek. Delightful shivers cascaded along my nerves.

“Silly Princess. Not nicotine, Nicaragua. Nicotine is an addictive substance found in tobacco. Nicaragua is a country in Central America.” He kissed his way from my ear to my shoulder.


“Mmmmm.” I stretched and rolled onto my back, bringing my front very pleasantly into full contact with his front. “Make love to me,” I purred. “Then you can tell me all about it while I’m in a most excellent state of mind.”

Quite some time later, after I regained my breath and my senses, I murmured. “Where is it you want us to go and why?”

“I want our next destination to be Nicaragua, my sweet.”

“Hmmm.” I still drifted on a cloud of physical satisfaction. “Why?”

“For the adventure of course.”

“Of course.” My cloud floated close to the ground and dissipated in a mist of practicality. I opened my eyes and gazed at my beloved. [Yes my dream man is real, but he still comes to me in my dreams—and a lot of other times too.] With a name like Traveler, I’m always ready for adventure, but even I won’t select a destination out of thin air [or in this case, vivid dreaming].”

“Oh,” he tossed out as if he hadn’t planned to seduce me into agreeing with him all along. “If you must have a reason, how about the fact that we both hate Michigan winters.SNOWcar We’ve been talking for a long time about moving. I’ve done a little research, and Nicaragua is one of the countries that appeals to me for its climate, culture and impact on our economic situation.”

Aerial ViewNICARAGUA[Sigh! I may be Princess Traveler, but that doesn’t mean I’m rich, certainly not as rich as I’d like to be, which is wealthy beyond my dreams.] “All excellent reasons.” [I want my dream man to know I support him.] However, I have concerns about bugs, language barriers, cuisine and accommodations. I need to be certain that what Nicaragua has to offer as a home base will suit my royal wishes. “Give me a few days to do some research of my own, then we’ll talk.”

“I knew you’d agree.” Dream man kissed my nose then proceeded to kiss a few other places and take advantage of the fact that we were still in bed with no commitments that day to anyone other than ourselves. What ensued turned out to be several interesting committed acts, but those have nothing to do with this particular adventure.

I’ll give an update in a couple of days when we know for certain that we’ll embark on a journey to Nicaragua. I’ll also let you know what I learned. Meanwhile, if you’ve got a question about my proposed destination, or would simply like to share your thoughts, please leave a comment.

Off Limits, cover art

Gratitude Plus (X-posted on the Coffeetime Romance Blog)

I’d like to open this post with a plug for one of my favorite organizations taken from the Operation Gratitude mission statement.

Operation Gratitude seeks to lift spirits and meet the evolving needs of our Active Duty and Veteran communities, and provide volunteer opportunities for all Americans to express their appreciation to members of our Military.  Operation Gratitude annually sends 150,000+ care packages filled with food, hygiene products, entertainment and handmade items, plus personal letters of support, addressed to individual Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines deployed overseas, to their children left behind, and to Veterans,  New Recruits, First Responders, Wounded Warriors and their Care Givers.  Through Collection Drives, Letter Writing Campaigns, Craft Projects and Financial Donations, Operation Gratitude provides civilians anywhere in America a way to say ‘Thank You’ to the men and women of the U.S. Military through active, hands-on Volunteerism.

 Operation Gratitude is a 501(c)(3) non-profit, volunteer-based corporation, funded entirely by private donations.  For safety and security, the assembling of packages occurs at the Army National Guard Armory in Van Nuys, California. Since its inception in March, 2003, Operation Gratitude volunteers have assembled and shipped more than One Million Care Packages

off limits half sizeThe sacrifices made by our service men and women and their families touch all of our lives. Gratitude and recognition is the least we can do as citizens who reap the benefits of those sacrifices. We say thanks by our actions as much as by our words. I write military romances not only to entertain and say thank you but also to promote understanding of some of the problems caused by being in the military. Off Limits is one of my favorite stories and illustrates just one of the conflicts that can arise when duty clashes with desire.

Off Limits: For Senior Chief Hank O’Mara no woman could compare with the sea until he met Lieutenant Bethany Morton.  Only the sea could draw two passionate people of such opposite backgrounds together, and only US Navy regulations could keep them apart.  Because fraternization between Officer and enlisted is forbidden, both Beth and Hank do their utmost to resist the passion and love growing between them.  However, love proves stronger than either the sea or the USN. If they are to be together, Hank must sacrifice his career and Beth will risk the destruction of her professional dreams. For more about Hank and Beth you can read an excerpt at

As a former USN Petty Officer, married to another former Petty Officer, I am keenly aware of the unique problems confrontingRAlogo2013blueJPGweb service members who fall in love (or even in lust). Fortunately my husband I were married before either of us entered the service, so our problems didn’t resemble those of Hank and Bethany in Off Limits. We did, however, have to deal with issues of separation, access to military housing (easy in some places, extremely difficult in others) and finding child care at odd hours or on very short notice. Most of the commands where I served recognized these issues and had resources available, but then I was stationed on land. Women had not gained the right to be stationed aboard most ships at that time. Duty at sea for married couples complicates an already difficult situation, especially if children are involved. Hank and Beth don’t have any children, yet, but their problems are very real. When you read their story, I hope you take away a real sense of the pride, love and sacrifice that make up every career military service member. Go Navy!

Please leave a comment. Tell me how you say thanks, and how you heard about this post. At least one of you who leaves a comment will receive a Ghirardelli Chocolate gift card.

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coffeethoughtsHelp me honor our service members, veterans and all their families. My post on Gratitude Plus goes live here at 8 AM eastern time tomorrow, 7/30/14. Leave a comment here or head over to and leave a comment on my featured author post (same post). One lucky commenter will win a gift card for Ghirardelli Chocolate. Thanks heaps for your support.


My Weird Behavior, or I’m Not Swearing, Honest!

IRATEdriverIf you ever see me (or some other stranger) drive past you and my lips are moving as I peer out the right side of my vehicle, please don’t assume that I am cussing you out for cutting me off (or some other idiotic driving maneuver). Also, don’t assume I’m singing. (I might be, but I wouldn’t be looking out the side window to do that.) What I am doing is reading signs aloud. See, I have a hearing problem. I’m not completely deaf but I don’t hear well, and haven’t for most of my life. As a child the hearing issues caused me to mumble, and a vocal therapist recommended tht I read signs aloud while traveling to help me learn how to ennunciate. Dstreet signecades later I have excellent elocution skills, better than most folks who don’t have a hearing impairment. I am also able to interpret most people’s mumbles fairly well and have a moderate lip reading ability. Reading road signs aloud has many benefits, and I’ve had other voice coaches and language teachers recommend the same practice. What I don’t have is better hearing, at least not due to the sign reading exercise. I have acquired hearing aids, and those have helped tremendously. So, please, when you pass or are passed on the road by someone whose lips are moving, understand that we’re learning elocution, not singing, and definitely not cussing. Do you have an odd behavior (or even not so odd) that others could easily misinterpret? Leave a comment and share your thoughts. Thanks.