The Retirees and the Volcano (Nicaragua)

My husband and I retired to Ometepe Island, Nicaragua in 2010. We have an enormous fresh water lake, Lake Cocibolca, in our front yard and an active volcano, Vulcan Concepcion, in our back yard. Most of our family thought we were crazy to move to Nicaragua. “Isn’t there a war going on over there?” they would ask. “What will you do if the volcano erupts?”

Retire in Ometepe Island, NicaraguaActually, we never gave much thought to the volcano erupting because we bought a kayak and we figured we could escape easily by paddling rapidly across the lake. You see, we are risk takers. We always have been…and probably always will be. We chose Nicaragua after we delivered school supplies to an impoverished school in Granada, Nicaragua. The people sold us immediately on their vivacious culture, their generosity, and their simplistic living.

We were ready for simplicity, a carefree lifestyle, and another adventure. So, we packed 10 trunks with the necessities for starting a new life…including all of my husband’s tools and flew to Nicaragua in search of a new beginning. We built two lakefront houses in the flood of the century, and carried bags of cement on our heads across barbed wire fences because the lake rose and washed out the road in front of our house.

Life was not as simple as we expected. Yet, three years later, we now have a thriving year-round garden, 15 varieties of tropical fruit trees, at least 10 free-range chickens, and 3 cats. We developed life-long friendships with creative locals who built our furniture, our main house, and our guest house. My husband fishes and gardens daily, and I started a mobile lending library for the elementary schools on the island.

Life is good. Not only good, but cheap, too. We estimate that we can live here comfortably on less than $1,000 a month…easily. Our garden provides us with peanuts, sweet potatoes, green beans, egg plant, soybeans…and much more. Every month, there is a fruit tree bearing delicious mangoes, or papayas, or coconuts, or avocados, or bananas.

We swim, kayak, garden, landscape, and actively volunteer in our tiny all Spanish-speaking community. Who ever said that retirement is inactive? We are country folks at heart, but we love visiting and traveling to other parts of Nicaragua. We try to take a trip at least once a month. Last month we visited La Flor Turtle Reserve where we saw an Olive Ridley turtle arribada (arrival). Hundreds of Olive Ridley turtles waddled to the beach to lay their eggs. It was an incredible sight. We’ve been to northern Nicaragua and visited coffee plantations in Selva Negra where we snuggled under two blankets in the chilly nights. Retire in Ometepe Island, NicaraguaWe’ve traveled to all the Pacific beaches, our favorite being Playa Gigante, a sleepy little fishing village. Leon and Granada are excellent cities to explore museums, restaurants, and a variety of city activities.

Yet, we both agree there is no place like home. After a busy day, we relax on our front porch watching the ferries pass by on their hour long trip to the mainland. Peace and tranquility sooth our souls on Ometepe Island, Nicaragua. It is a wonderful place to retire. Goodnight moon, goodnight Ometepe Island. Until tomorrow.

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  1. Bravo! Beautifully written, I just love reading about different lifestyles and although I realize life on Ometepe isn’t easy, it sure is beautiful. Thank you so much for sharing this story. Cheers!

  2. Your life sounds lovely and relaxed! I do hope that when I come back to Nicaragua I will be able to visit you and see for myself!

  3. Bravo Deb…as I sit stranded in Atlanta airport on my way back to “civilization” from Nicaragua…I would much rather be at your beach bar watching the sun set over a cold Tonia!!

  4. Great article Debbie, love the idea of the kayak

  5. I am considering Nicaragua for retirement which is coming up December of next year and Ometepe was one place I definitely want to visit. My exploratory “expedition” will be this coming summer. I can hardly wait! Thanks for the info.

  6. Betti and Martin

    July 26, 2014 at 5:14 pm

    HELLO, well written and true.I have been on Ometepe 3 yrs ago and thought it is a peaceful safe place…Thinking about coming for a month or so..and looking for reasonable accommodation..any suggestions?..Betti

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