Friday, October 31, 2014

Written on the fly~~Redux

Another 4 am wake-up for our drive to Managua and departure for Houston. Another 4+ hour layover in the comfort of the United Club, where I sat ruminating and collecting my thoughts on our last week in Granada.  I foolishly thought I could write a quick blog post, though the WiFi connection was sketchy.  I then proceeded to publish the update, only to thankfully check before our departure and see that more than half of it had been deleted. Thus you may have received an update notice to a non-existent posting, as I quickly retracted it.

Our departure was delayed by 45 minutes, the airplane full with nary a seat for standbys, then on to Sacramento.  We arrived at 8:45 pm and were gratefully picked up by daughter Stephanie and, in a torrential rain downpour, had a frightful drive to Loomis where our lovely little home was parked.  

A quick check revealed that our house batteries were dangerously low though we had been connected to 20 amp power which is plenty for us with all power systems off, or turned to gas.  I quickly got the generator powered up while Howard weathered the storm to track down the problem; quite simply a circuit breaker blown (how and why we don't know), and quickly restored.  Another very long day!   

Parting thoughts & shots:

I did hit the 3 week wall with all the usual symptoms and laid low for a couple of days.  We have a great condo with full service kitchen and cooked a lot of our own meals. We ordered one very special dinner from Ana, one of the staff plus a caterer, who delivered delicious steak churrasco, a popular Nicaraguan meal, with all the trimmings of gallo pinto, fried plantains, and sauces, to our condo.  

You'll notice the pizza box above on the counter, and there is a funny story that goes with that.  I wasn't eating much so Howard, who speaks no Spanish, took off to order a pizza delivered for the night's World Series Game.  By now we know the SF Giants won against a very formidable Kansas City Royals team.  The pizza arrived and he dug in...Hmmm, this tastes like tuna fish!  What did you order? Marinara, I think.  Well, I checked the menu and it turns out he ordered Marinero, as in marine, (not to be confused with marinara, as in the tomato sauce) and the topping was indeed tuna fish!! 

There are nine 2 BR/2 BA units in the Hotel Xalteva complex and over the course of our month we met many of our neighbors, all a great bunch of folks from all over the world.  We so enjoyed getting to know them and exchanging stories and travel adventures.

There were a group of 6 missionaries from Sup of the Lord Ministries, led by pastors Tom and Deborah Gibson. They were a terrific group, mostly Central Americans, fun, friendly, and very inspirational.  Tom jokingly said one day when I commented on how much fun they were having that "we're not lemon-sucking Christians"! They preached all over Granada and Managua, often 2 or more times per day, as well as meeting with groups and counseling those in need.

There were two young Dutch women next door, both medical doctors, here to complete a mandatory in-service volunteering, before returning to Holland to start their internship. They were assigned to a very sub-standard facility in OBGYN at Masaya Hospital.  They told of dirty sheets with 2 women sharing a very small bed, one bathroom for the entire hospital consisting of literally a hole in the ground outside. This is in serious contrast to the internationally renowned Vivian Pellas Hospital located in Managua which offers membership packages for foreign visitors and relocated ex-pats for services costing a third of what we pay in the US.  There are also several fine clinics and hospital in Granada.

Just a few days before our departure, Bob and Kim, Canadians now living in Costa Rica, arrived on a fact-finding mission to check out the area for possible investment and/or relocation; and of course to see the gorgeous surroundings.  There is a great website written by a local couple, Amy and Darrell Bushnell, that offers a wealth of information for anyone thinking of relocating to Nicaragua:  Nicaragua Guide.

We absolutely loved the area and will probably return but would certainly arrange our itinerary to include shorter stays in more locations throughout the country.  One very noticeable difference between the areas we visited in Nicaragua and those of Mexico and other Central American countries was the clean streets and lack of garbage dumped by the side of the road.  We also felt safe in our surroundings though would certainly not push any limits by visual displays of expensive jewelry or equipment.  Theft can be a problem in certain areas.  

Back to our final week:

We lolled by the pool and worked on our tans!  I finished reading Edge of Eternity and actually really got into the ending.  Howard read and really enjoyed God's Middle Finger: Into the Lawless Heart of the Sierra Madre, thanks for the recommendation, Cheryl.

We enjoyed passing parades celebrating various Saint's days, though got a bit concerned when what sounded like gun fire, though probably were fire crackers, went off throughout the previous night and continued during the day!  We later learned this was in honor of La Fiesta de Los Aquizotes, similar to Day of the Dead!  Very colorful...

We strolled around town for some parting shots:

You can barely see the top of Mombacho Volcano, usually completely covered in clouds

This simple façade contains a beautiful colonial home with courtyard.  They even have a garage!

Garbage pick-up!

School kids at the Square & Cathedral
Howard contemplates a Hot Dog
Along the Square

We had one last visit to Iglesia de la Merced to climb the steep, winding stairway to the view at the top in the bell tower....

La Iglesia de Merced

Capella de Maria Auxiliadora (blue) & Xalteva Iglesia in distance
Rear view of Iglesia de la Merced

Catedral de Granada with Lake Nicaragua in background

Our last day before departure was very emotional for me, saying our goodbyes to the very best staff ever.  Our month was very good indeed.  We probably would not retire here nor invest, but could certainly return!

We're back in our motorhome heading for Petaluma, family, friends and Thanksgiving.  It's really nice to be back!   Lynda.....

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