About C. Carol Brown

I make learning fun...and sticky!

Chamba means help

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A local Chambaman called Dellan, carries two 25 lb. sacks of rice and flour and a gallon of oil on his head. Note: He is drunk!

I’ll do a blog post about some of the words that are used here but this post is about paid help but not paid help in the traditional sense. The word “Chamba” means help but more like a paid handout. If you need something carried from the dock or a shop to your home, this would be considered Chamba. If you want your yard chopped (no one uses a lawnmower here instead they cut the grass with a machete) or a hole dug or just about anything, this would be considered Chamba.

There is a group of people here that are referred to as Chamba men/women. This section of the population are people who do odd jobs on a daily basis for pay.  What makes this group interesting is that the majority of them are either alcoholics or drug-users. They will do whatever type of work to feed their addictions but don’t think this means you can take advantage of them.  They haggle with you over the price of the work and often time I’m surprised at how expensive their labor can be.

What I also find surprising is what they can do while drunk or high.  They display great feats of strength, coordination and amazingly work ethics. They take great pride in their work and carefully build their reputations as chamba men/women so that when work is available, they will be sought out. And this works really well here in Pearl Lagoon.  I know there are two or three Chambamen that my husband Jose uses consistently because he likes that they work quickly and neatly. He doesn’t mind haggling with them over the price and unlike some, believes that if a man works, he should be paid like a man, regardless of what he intends to do with his money.

The chambawomen are not as visible here but they do exist. You don’t see them on the wharf or hanging out in front of Miss Isabel’s shop as you would see the men but you can find them just by asking for them. They are often used to wash clothes, general house cleaning, and sometimes even cooking.

The sad part of this is that while they will work, and hard oftentimes, the money they earn usually does not go into helping to support their families. Rather, the money is spent on their addiction.

As a newcomer here, I ask “Why use Chamba men/women if you know what they will do the money?”  “Why not hire someone who doesn’t use drugs or alcohol and who could use the money for their family?”  Jose explains that most men are too proud to do the work that Chambamen do for the amount of money it would net them.

So it seems the Chamba people have a corner on this part of the labor market. And they also occupy a significant corner in the community…just opposite the wharf in front of Miss Isabel’s shop where they can buy their drink of choice.

The Wages of War is Death

I have been living in Pearl Lagoon, Nicaragua for two months now. I have been paying attention to most things around me mostly because they are starkly different from the life I had lived in Toronto, Canada. The modern conveniences I had grown up taking for granted are now mostly gone and it is almost as if I have stepped backwards in time on some levels. One of the things that jumped out at me recently was the absence of men my age. Actually there is such a dearth of men between the ages of 40 and 50 that you can count them on two hands. My curiosity got the best of me and I started to ask questions. Here’s what I was told.

The civil war that happened in Nicaragua between 1979 and 1985 was a battle between Sandinista Nicaraguans and Contra Nicaraguans. The American government under President Regan supported the Contras and provided them with arms and other supplies in an attempt to oust then President Daniel Ortega. The Contras would go on to lose the war and the 100,000 Nicaraguan men who were young at that time paid the price with their lives. Many died defending their beliefs and their families. Today on the east coast of Nicaragua you can see the lasting effects of war in what you don’t see—middle-aged men.

And now there seems to be a new type of war brewing on the Atlantic coast. The coastal peoples are seperating from the rest of Nicaragua. They are now being represented by England and have their own King, flag, anthem and country called the Community Nation of Moskitia. The relationship between the Miskito people and the government in Managua has never been easy especially because of high unemployment rates and what amounts to “stealing” of their natural resources by the capital. What does this mean for Nicaragua? Will Daniel Ortega go to war to hold on to this very valuable region of his country or will this handover be seamless and bloodless? It is what the people of the coast want but does anyone really care what the people want?

My husband Jose was a boy during the Sandinista/Contra war. He saw atrocities and along with his family survived attacks in Pearl Lagoon. If this war happens, he’ll be prime fighting age. I keep telling him his life story will make an interesting movie. I just may have to write it.

The Facebook Nation

It was my friend Klodyne who convinced me to join Facebook.  I had protested that I didn’t have time to figure it out and even that I just wasn’t really that sociable. She argued that it was also a good tool to build my business through making connections. It was that point that sold me and I hesitantly opened my personal Facebook account.

Fast forward a few years and I now have two accounts—a personal one and a business one—and a group page for all my cruise friends. I’m still not sure I’m using it to its full capacity and I haven’t earned a dime or made any significant business contact through Facebook but I’m now connected to friends and family around the world. This connection only became important to me when I left North America for Central America.

I’m living in a Spanish speaking country and I don’t speak Spanish. Most of the television programs are in Spanish and I was only able to turn on the closed captioning in English on one channel so I feel as if the world is speeding past me and I am missing all kinds of important events and news. And that’s where the Facebook Nation has become useful and significant to me. I read the status updates to get all caught up on the world’s news. I found out that Nelson Mandela died and was grief-stricken (funny that I never met him but feel as if he was my grandfather) but then additional updates corrected that he hadn’t actually died but was in critical condition in hospital. Whew!

I’m also able to keep up with the happenings of my adult children, who don’t contact their mother enough. I can see that my friend Nicole and her sister Nichelle have become marathon masters! I can pray in support of my friend Tania as her son battles cancer. I can applaud Angelina Jolie for her decision to remove both breasts in a preventive assault against breast cancer and I can peek into the activities of my family members in Toronto, Jamaica, New York and England.

I’ve also heard all the complaints about Facebook but I don’t really understand them because as I said, I’m not really that much of a user. Sure I can post photos and update my status but I don’t play Candy Land so can’t really understand that obsession!

Now that I’ve got an online business, I plan to get to know Facebook much better. I’ve been asked by some of the young people here in Pearl Lagoon, Nicaragua to teach a Social Media course featuring Facebook so I’ve got some incentive.

Klodyne it looks as if you were right about this Facebook phenomena. And if I haven’t already said it, “Thanks for connecting me to the Facebook Nation!

Educating Jose

If you’ve been following this blog you know that I’m 48-years-old, married to a 35-year-old man and have left the metropolitan city of Toronto in Ontario, Canada for the small town of Pearl Lagoon in Nicaragua, Central America.  You also know that I’m going through menopause…at least, I think I am. I’ve done my research and know that there are about 34 recorded symptoms tied to menopause. I’ve had a few of them and sometimes all at the same time.  What makes this experience more interesting than I’m sure it usually is, are my husband Jose’s reactions. He speaks a mixture of Creole, Spanish and English and sometimes what and how he says things is hilarious, though he doesn’t mean it to be. He also tries to be very serious and squints to show just how serious he is. To me, his serious face is just too cute!

Most North American men have at least heard about menopause and/or have known a woman, usually a mother or wife, who has passed through it.  They’ve at least seen women fanning themselves or turning bright red when a hot flash strikes or they have heard the talk about the “change”. My husband is a menopause virgin. Until he met me, he had never heard the word nor had he observed any of the typical menopausal woman behaviours. You must understand that in Pearl Lagoon women don’t talk about their menstrual cycles or menopause symptoms quite the way we do in North America. You might hear a woman say she “got sick” which means her monthly visitor has arrived but if you didn’t know those code words, you’d just think she picked up a cold or a stomach virus. To make matters worse, it is hot here! Really hot! So if you see a woman fanning herself, you’d never think she was experiencing a hot flash.

Statistics show that many marriages fail while a woman is going through menopause. This is attributed to the mood swings and loss of libido that can happen during this phase of a woman’s life. I decided that I wanted my less than a year old marriage to be one of the ones that survive menopause. So, in my infinite wisdom I schooled my husband about the 34 symptoms and explained to him some of the behaviours to look for. Me and my big mouth! Now every time I’m irritated with him about something, he says, “Is this part of menopause?” This of course makes me want to strangle him even more than I did before!

I’ve got to him his props though. He has been very patient, understanding, supportive and loving. I’m sure there are times when he’d like to run screaming as far from me as he can, but he just shakes his head and says, “It isn’t as easy as you think”. Then he puts his arms around me and tells me how much he loves me. That’s when I realize how blessed I am to have this young man as my husband. And you know what? I think we’ll make it beyond this first anniversary!

Light Gone?

Pearl Lagoon, Nicaragua is an interesting community.

When I was here last year, very few had running water, only wells, and the street light stopped just shy of downtown, where we live. Uptown is where the majority of businesses are located.

This year, there is running water and you can see taps projecting out of the ground on many properties. Few have as yet put running water or flushing toilets into their homes but it is coming…soon. Sidebar…the water still tastes like dirt to this Canadian woman!

Road construction and repairs are also underway here. I’m told that the road used to be green grass which made Pearl Lagoon a pretty place. Now, the roads are rocks and gravel and like the Peanuts character Pig Pen, there is always a cloud of dust and dirt in the air. They’ve dug up a good portion of the roads in uptown so they are barely passable, even on foot.

The long-time residents are skeptical that the roads will be repaired since they have seen this level of activity before and no results. They are also aware that the rainy season is coming which will see these dug up roads turn to mud. I’m hopeful especially so that I can wear my sandals without fear of breaking my leg or twisting my ankle on the craggy roads and so that I don’t have to wipe down my laptop each time a car passes by our house.

There is no mail delivery in Pearl Lagoon or its neighborhood communities. No one has a mailing address as the houses do not have numbers and the streets don’t have names. The three main ones are called for where they lay so front, middle and back street. Sounds simple but try having a package delivered. You can’t. You would have to get an address in Bluefields and then go pick it up from there. Getting to Bluefields means taking a panga (boat). It costs NIO$160 or US$7 and is 1-hour each way from wharf to wharf, if everything is on time which happens occasionally. For a little higher price, you can also take a bus to Kukra (1/2 hour on terribly rocky roads) then a taxi to the wharf and then take a 30-minute panga from there. This isn’t bad a terrible system if you have something important or a lot of merchandise coming in but this becomes expensive and time-consuming if it is only junk mail.

There are now street lights on most of the three main streets as well, though there is still a problem with the loss of power from time-to-time throughout the day.  The question, “Light gone?” is a common refrain heard at least once daily. Luckily it doesn’t affect many functions like cooking as it would in North America because they cook either with propane or on coals, but it does affect television-watching and high velocity super deluxe air circulators. I just call them fans.

There are two things you really shouldn’t mess with here and those are fans and novellas. It is hot here, especially since we are experiencing an extended dry-weather season. And I mean really hot! Imagine, if you wil,l getting out of a cold shower and within about 15 seconds of being out of that shower being awash anew in sweat as you attempt to get dressed.  If you aren’t standing in front of or underneath a fan as you dress, it becomes an exercise in futility especially if you are a woman and are trying to put on a bra.   It is not just this Canadian this happens to. I’ve watched the members of my new family suffer this experience as well and they are native Nicaraguans!

Oh and novellas. They are Spanish soap operas and while I wouldn’t watch soap operas when I was in Canada, I don’t miss a novella if I don’t have to. Of course, I don’t understand a word they are saying but I was able through body language to get the drift, that is, until I figured out how to turn on the closed captioning in English. Now, I’m right in the thick of the conversation with the most committed novella watchers. I have arrived!

But for me, the power outage is more than a nuisance. My livelihood now relies on having reliable electricity. I got smart and make sure that I keep my computer and cell phone fully charged but when the power goes, so does my internet connection. That means no email, no Google search, no Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn and it means I lose the ability to run my online business at http://www.ccarolbrown.com.

How good is a virtual assistant, blogger and online trainer who has no virtual presence? See my problem?

Ah, Pearl Lagoon!

Barefoot Softball

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This past weekend I had the honour of taking in a Ladies Softball Tournament in Haulover, Nicaragua.  There were teams from the nearby communities including Brown Bank, Little Island, Kakabila, Kukra Hill, Raitipura, Pueblo Nuevo, Sandy Bay, Set Net, Haulover, Pearl Lagoon, Orinoco, and Marshall Point.

Many of the teams were a ragtag group of women ranging in age from teenaged girls to 40-something-year-old women.  Some had full uniforms with the team and sponsor names and colours proudly displayed on their hats and shirts while others you could barely tell who team members were for their lack of uniforms. Other than a great deal of team pride, the other thing most of the women had in common, when they took their positions on the field, was that they weren’t wearing shoes—and in fact most played in sock feet.

I asked my husband Jose, a native Nicaraguan, about the lack of shoes and he explained that most of the women were not used to playing with shoes on. He even explained that there are two types of shoes, one with metal spikes and one with rubber spikes. The spikes provide traction in the dirt and remarkable, so do toes. There was a point during one of the games where a woman actually kicked off her shoes after making a couple of errors and I must say, she played better defensively once she was only clad in her socks.

The players didn’t seem to care that the field was mainly dirt with small patches of grass, they played as if they were on a perfectly manicured playing field, sliding into bases, diving for and running after errant balls. And they played well.

There was some confusion during the game though. Sometimes it was hard to tell who belonged to which team, what the score was, which player was batting, what the count was, what inning it was or how many innings were going to be played, and even how the tournament was organized.. So much so that the end of the tournament saw everyone scratching their heads as to why Haulover won the championship, for the 17th year in a row, when Little Island was the only undefeated team. There was talk about A and B Groups and everyone needing to play everyone else and blah, blah, blah but at the end of the day I was disappointed with the results. Little Island should have taken home the championship trophy.

I also had the honour of watching the US Women’s College Softball tournament on television and couldn’t help but compare and contrast what I was seeing between the two events.  The US women were, as would be expected, very organized, professional and uniform. There was no guessing as everything was displayed on the television screen and the announcers filled in any delays in information.

Much like a North American ballpark, the event was being enjoyed by families of all sizes and composition and there was food and beverage to be bought. But, unlike a North American ballpark, there was no score board and no announcer calling the play-by-play, but, there was a lot of music. And, I think, only in Nicaragua could a game be halted because of horses, or dogs on the field.

The thing that was most remarkable to me was how much heart the women played with—during both tournaments. There was no giving up. They played the best they knew how to—right to the final out.

 

When Will You Reach Menopause?

This is a reprint from a WebMD Feature that was written by Gina Shaw and reviewed by Brunilda Nazario, MD. I’ve left the links intact.

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It’s a question many women wonder about, especially if you’re thinking about planning a family and your 20s are but a distant memory.

How many more years of fertility might you have, and how much longer will it be before you start experiencing “the change?”

As an obstetrician-gynecologist, Christiane Northrup, MD, of Yarmouth, Maine, has spent years caring for women when something went wrong with their bodies. These days, she doesn’t see patients anymore, devoting her time instead to speaking and writing. At midlife, she has a new plan and a new mission: teach women everything that can go right with their bodies when they reach midlife. What she is proposing may seem nonsensical to some and like a breath of fresh air to others. She wants midlife women…

Here’s what does — and does not influence the age at when a woman reaches menopause.

The Top Factor

There are a number of factors that affect a woman’s age at menopause, but one is more important than any other: the age her mother experienced menopause.

“Menopause is strongly genetically linked, so you’re very likely to fall within a few years either way of the age your mother was at menopause,” says Nanette Santoro, MD, director of the division of reproductive endocrinology and infertility at the University of Colorado-Denver School of Medicine and a member of the board of directors of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine.

This isn’t always true, of course. Some women reach menopause at an unusually early age — before 45 or so — with no known cause, which could be the result of an inherited issue or a one-time genetic mutation. “These can be random events, but can also be passed on,” says Howard Zacur, MD, PhD, who directs the reproductive endocrinology and infertility division at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.

So if your mother reached menopause at 40, but her sisters and your grandmother were all around the average age of 50, it’s unclear whether you’ll follow her path or theirs.

But if most of the women in your family, your mother included, reach menopause early, late, or somewhere in the middle, you can eye your calendar with some degree of confidence.

Menopause Age: 4 More Influences

Your mother’s age at menopause is a key factor, but not the only one. Here are four others to consider:

  1. Smoking. No other lifestyle factor does more damage to your ovaries than smoking. So if you smoke and your mother didn’t, you’ll probably reach menopause earlier than she did. If she smoked and you don’t, you probably reach menopause later than she did.
  2. Chemotherapy. Most forms of chemotherapy used in younger women are at least mildly toxic to the ovaries. Many women go through temporary menopause while undergoing chemotherapy; if cycles do return (they don’t always), you can still expect to reach regular menopause a couple of years earlier than you otherwise would have.
  3. Ovarian surgery. “The more you operate on the ovaries, the more healthy tissue gets damaged,” says Marcelle Cedars, MD, director of the division of reproductive endocrinology at the University of California, San Francisco, School of Medicine. So if you’ve had diagnostic surgery for endometriosis, for example, Cedars recommends using medical options (such as hormonal suppression) to treat the condition in order to avoid repetitive surgeries.
  4. Ethnicity. “Certain ethnic groups may have menopause at slightly different ages,” says Santoro. “Hispanic and African-American women reach menopause a little earlier, and Chinese and Japanese women a little later, than the average Caucasian woman, who reaches menopause at about age 51.5.” Those are averages; every woman is different.

 

 

Gay-bashing in Nicaragua

I was shocked and disgusted by a 16-year-olds comment against gay men a few days ago.

I won’t repeat the comment but the gist of it was the graphic nature of the violence he would perpetrate against any gay man who would cross his path. The other young boy in the room laughed and agreed with him. I stared in horror with my mouth agape.

I understand that we are in a small coastal Caribbean community in Nicaragua but I couldn’t believe that a young man could be so closed-minded and would result to violence against someone based on their sexual orientation. And it isn’t that there aren’t any gay men in the community. There are. They are few and far between though and they try to stay hidden as much as possible for their own safety.

The adults in the room tried to explain to me the boys’ reaction. Not that they thought it was wrong but just wanted me to understand that it isn’t something they are used to seeing. To make matters worse, they threw in comments about God and the Bible in their defense.

I countered with the race and slavery argument but to them “that’s different.” I don’t think so.

I don’t know at what point I started to cry or what it was that made me cry but I cried and through my tears I expressed my disappointment at what I was hearing. I have a gay son and the thought of anyone harming him or wanting to harm him because of his orientation made me defensive like any mother would be and sad at the same time.

The young man felt badly that I was crying and said that if he had known my son was gay, he wouldn’t have said what he did. I felt badly that he thought that way and didn’t feel better that he would have kept his thoughts to himself had he known.

With the entire world just a click of the mouse away and with many countries now giving marriage rights to homosexuals I’m still horrified that there are still a lot of small minded, homophobic people out there. I can only hope that this changes in my lifetime and that as a society we will learn to live and let live.

 

The Crying Game

My adventures with menopause continues.

Of the 34 symptoms of menopause I’ve now experienced four of them including: breast pain, hot flashes, body odour change, smell sensitivity. The latest symptom is mood swings.

A person with a mood problem is like a human roller coaster. One minute she’s up, the next minute she’s down.She never seems to be able to get off the ride. Her mood swings are intense, sudden and out of control. Chronic and severe mood swings are a psychological disorder, a health problem every bit as real as a physical ailment. In fact, sometimes they’re the result of a physical problem, like a premenstrual syndrome. And just like a physical problem, they can be treated. You should contact your doctor to get more advice.

I’ve always been very sensitive. As a child you only had to look at me the wrong way to get me crying. As I got older I stopped crying almost altogether because I realized that it wasn’t getting me anywhere except that I would end up with clogged up nostrils and red eyes. Then I had my four children and anything concerning them would have me weeping. When they were little it was Camara’s bicycle accident, Camarran and Caileb’s hernia repairs and Cainen’s coffee table accident. As they got older it was derogatory remarks, broken hearts, concussions, athletic disappointment, injuries from poor choices and having to make difficult choices in their best interests.  Basically, I’m a sucker where my children are concerning.

There are also television commercials, movie trailers and other sentimental acts that make me cry but I can usually see them coming.

So how do I know this is one of the symptoms of menopause?

Easy! It happens at the strangest times, sometimes without provocation, and I can’t control it. It feels as if my heart is breaking—literally!

Here’s the most recent incident. My husband and I were lying in bed early on one just talking and laughing about everyday things like laundry. All of a sudden, I burst into uncontrollable sobs and I can’t stop crying. Poor Jose! He didn’t know what to do. He hugged me and wiped away the tears but he couldn’t keep up with how fast they were coming. He kept asking me what was wrong but I couldn’t even speak to explain to him that I wasn’t crying for any specific reason. It lasted about 10 minutes and just like that it was done. It happened a few more times over the next couple of days and both Jose and I were able to identify what was happening. He would hold me until it passed and I would just roll with the deep sadness as it washed over me and then was followed by hysterical laughter…and more tears!

For some of us women, menopause is a very difficult time. It comes with so many changes that we have no control over. But is also a difficult time for the men who love us. They don’t know what to expect and they don’t know how to help us. It is important for us to share as much with our husbands as we can. Explain to them how we feel. Explain the lack of control we have over the changes that our bodies are experiencing. It will help them to understand and to continue to love us.

If you have experienced this symptom and would like to share please do. It will help your sister in menopause…and her husband.

 

The Final Frontier

I have now officially stopped writing this blog.

My relationship, if you can call it that, with Norwegian Cruise Line was concluded earlier this month with the settlement of my husband’s medical claim. No, we aren’t rich from the settlement but it will help us to start some business ventures and build our home here in Pearl Lagoon, Nicaragua.

But what this final blog post is about is the process and treatment we endured during the 10-months he was on medical. To quote Jose, “They treated us like animals!” And he isn’t exaggerating!

At the beginning he was in a hotel in Managua getting three meals each day and laundry services. The only real downside to that was the $15 per night cost for me to stay with him…if there was room. He was picked up and taken to doctor appointments and I could go with him…if there was room. The doctors only spoke Spanish and most wouldn’t even acknowledge my presence in the room. And while he was in the hotel, the company didn’t give him any money at all.

So we decided to leave the hotel. He would then receive $450 per month for food and accommodations but the bank would hold his cheques for 30 days because they were from outside the country. We asked for the money to be sent via wire transfer to avoid the delay and they promised they would do it but that never happened.

After 4 ½ months of seeing doctors in Managua and getting no information about his condition Jose asked to be taken to Miami. If he had known that he’d be jumping out of the frying pan and into the fire, he would have stayed put!

I don’t know what to say about the hotel in Miami but I’ll try. Jose calls it “a blinky hotel”.

The service was mostly awful save a couple of bartenders and a young man in the business office. Most of the staff didn’t speak enough English to be useful and those that did didn’t choose to be useful.

The menu was very limited and really only had three items that were prepared well enough to eat. Imagine having to choose between the same three food items for five months? That’s what we had to endure. And we only had a $35 daily per diem for food which had to be spent in the hotel. That included gratuity and taxes. So we skipped breakfast and ate our first meal of the day at 12:00 p.m. so that we wouldn’t go to bed hungry each night. By the time we finally left the hotel, the company had agreed to provide us with breakfast so the $35 would serve for lunch and dinner.

Cleanliness at the hotel was an issue as well.  The cleaning ladies didn’t know the meaning of the word! I watched a spot on the bathroom mirror and one on the television screen for the entire 3 months that I was there!  The bathroom was cleaned only cursorily each day. The carpets were vacuumed occasionally and the furniture dusted only when we asked. The refrigerator was never cleaned and the bed linen were never changed…not the sheets and pillows we slept on, but the duvet and decorative pillows. The towels were stained and we often had to ask for washcloths.

Our lawyer was a liar and not a man of his words. He would promise to call, visit or do certain things for us and then just wouldn’t. The worse part of his behavior was that he would act like your friend calling you “buddy” but then would treat you as if you didn’t exist. There were a couple of incidents where Jose asked him for very specific assistance. He agreed then we never heard from him on the issues again. Phone calls went unanswered as did emails. He even went so far as to exclude me from anything related to my husband’s case, unless it was in his best interest. He told Jose that wives didn’t belong in the case which was quite the opposite of what he said to me when we were in Nicaragua. He would encourage me to advocate for Jose especially because I am Canadian. We didn’t believe that he was working on our behalf and instead felt that he was in cahoots with the company.  His invoice on settlement would confirm that suspicion. The lawyer even plucked a settlement amount out of the air and made a request to the company without consulting Jose.

My husband didn’t receive any money from the company while he was in Miami. Not a cent. Not even to buy his toiletries. Now is that any way to treat someone? How do you expect someone to sit in a hotel room for 5 months and not need even deodorant, toothpaste or lotion? Sure the hotel provided soap, shampoo and conditioner but my husband is not a white woman, who those products are designed for. And we were washing our clothes two and three pieces at a time in the bathtub because the company was no longer providing laundry services. If I hadn’t been there how would he have washed his clothes when he only had 5% use of his left arm?

Other crew members were at the hotel and were experiencing similar circumstances. Some were lucky to have lawyers who actually worked on their behalf so they received services that Jose was lobbying for, though some complaints were universal.

The doctors in Miami were better than the ones in Managua in that they spoke English and acknowledged my presence. They weren’t better in that we saw the same type of doctors we had seen in Managua, did the same tests, x-rays and MRIs and got the same result. “We can’t find the source of your pain, Mr. Jimenez” became a refrain.

The company’s expectation while my husband was on medical was that he would sit in his hotel room. He wasn’t to go anywhere just in case…of what exactly we are still waiting to find out. So for months, the farthest he went was downstairs to get food or sit by the pool for a different view. He isn’t a television watcher or a computer user so the 50” flat screen television and the free WIFI were not benefits for him.

Thankfully all of that is now behind us. We are back home and trying to make things happen.

My adventures on the sea started out as a dream come true and it did bring my husband to me, so for that I am grateful. I do wish however that the cruise lines would remember that the people they hire are people and should be treated with respect even if they do come from third world countries. I can’t imagine they would treat an American or Canadian the way they treated my Nicaraguan husband and his fellow countrymen who were also on medical in Miami.

I am thinking of turning this experience into a movie so keep your eyes open for what I’m currently calling “Jose’s story”.

This adventure is over but the next one has already started.