The Whole Picture is Nothing But a Compilation of Details.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Boston, MA - San Diego, Nicaragua

There were two real options for flights, both with United Airlines: I could fly via Miami and arrive and depart Managua at humane hours with a twelve hour overnight layover in Miami, or bite the bullet on the return by departing Managua at seven am (count backwards with 1.5 hrs to the airport and early checkins and the time now says 4 am departure) and go via Houston. Spending a night in Miami had little allure, and I get up early, so I booked via Houston.
United Airlines flights to Houston depart terminal A and it should be noted that you need go towards gates 8-13 if you desire anything to eat or drink before departure, other than Dunkin Donut's and Wendy's. I luckily discovered this last minute and was therefore able to address the caffeine deficiency before boarding. Travel tip: look at what people are carrying, whether you are looking for groceries or a Starbucks, and follow the trail to the point of origin or ask where they got it.
Houston, TX - America's
petroleum capital
Walking through George Bush International airport, Houston, TX, I couldn't help but snicker. The picture says it all. A world so close yet so far away from us folks not from there. However, or perhaps because of this, the options for food and shopping (if you are so inclined) are pretty good.
Flying to Managua, or any other place for that matter, I recommend not checking luggage, especially not now that United charges $25/bag. It makes for an easy arrival plus you know you have your toothbrush with you at all times. But I did confuse the customs' officer who asked where my luggage was...
Having cleared the formalities of immigration and customs, where I overheard many arrivals speaking English with the officers, somewhat to my surprise, I approached the line of taxi drivers waving placards with the names of their passengers. Good news: No embarrassing sign with my name on it.
Bad news: No embarrassing sign with my name on it.
Looking to phone my friend who's driver was supposed to pick me up, I discovered that my international phone didn't work. I knew the last bus had left for the night, so dodging taxi drivers, I found a mini van loaded with surfboards and asked if he was going to Los Cardones, located down the street from where I was going to stay. The answer was negative so I turned to the Thrifty car rental agent and asked if she had a phone I could use. She handed me her private cell phone. I liked Nicaragua already. As I hung up the phone with my friend, my ride walked through the door.
My Spanish returned quickly and the driver, Alvaro and I had a great chat for the hour and a half it takes to get to La Casa on a mix of paved and bumpy dirt roads dotted with a variety of animals including skunks, birds, dogs, horses and oxen. So far, everything was in order and as expected.
La Patron had left me an extensive guide to the house and the pets, starting on the first page with power outages. As I read "we haven't had any in a long time so you should be ok", the lights started to flicker. I quickly skimmed the text back to where I'd seen flashlights mentioned. Flashlights were found next to the electrical panel so I flicked all the breakers off and on. The house remained pitch black, and what was worse, the fans were dead. I read the instructions for starting the generator and quickly realized, not trying to start it was the right decision, especially in the middle of the night. I don't like to play with electrical power.
By flashlight, I perused the rest of the house guide. Under "local critters" I read about scorpions, poisonous toads, tarantulas and sting rays. Exotic. It said that the local remedy for scorpion bites it to drink a strong cup of coffee right away. I wondered how effective that was, and hoped I wouldn't have to find out.

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