This page is complete as far as I know. If you run across any typos or there is a need for a caption on a photo please let me know.
While this page was being completed February was a work in progress and the Fall Update gained a story about bears.
The Black Swan
A few years ago a co-worker at the Regina Refinery gave me a copy of the book The Black Swan: Second Edition: The Impact of the Highly Improbable. It was written by Nassim Nicholas Taleb. This Wikipedia link describes the black swan theory as “a metaphor that describes an event that comes as a surprise, has a major effect, and is often inappropriately rationalized after the fact with the benefit of hindsight.”
I started reading the book at the beginning which was a whole lot of boring prologue and I set the book aside on the bedside table in the RV and then the bedside table in the house. Last spring I ran across a reference in another book and it suggested I “read chapter __ of The Black Swan.” We couldn’t find the book. The story of our marriage - “I” lose something but “we” look for it. But I digress.
In December I purged the bookcases in the house (the sea can is another territory) using the principles of:
·Would buy at full price today?
·Otherwise toss, donate or sell
In that process I found my copy of the Black Swan. I also made a trip to the library to retrieve a couple of donated books that belonged to Juanita and I had thought belonged to me. Oops. But again I digress.
I couldn’t remember which chapter had been recommended so I guessed at chapter nine and started reading. I got hooked and read chapters 10 and 11 and then went back to the beginning and started reading from chapter 1, avoiding the swamp of the prologue. I even re-read chapters 9 through 11.
On Saturday, January second, we finished winterizing the house and packing. The only thing left was to pour antifreeze in the drains, close the gate and drop the truck at Deborah and Ernie’s. Sunday morning we went to check-in on-line with the airline and we both succeeded with that, but failed getting a boarding pass for Juanita. The airline system defaulted to her US passport. That passport has less than six months left before expiring so she wanted to switch to her Canadian passport on their system, but the system didn’t cooperate. That and other things took longer than expected so Juanita headed to town and I closed the gate behind the truck and took the truck to church as well. After church we fueled up both vehicles, grabbed a hamburger at McDonald’s and drove to Debbie and Ernie’s. At Ernie’s direction I backed the truck next to the house so it could be plugged in if temperatures were low and they needed to use it. Then it was on the road, again. We’ve been back and forth a lot to Edmonton this fall but this is a new year and so this was the first trip of the new year. That didn’t make it seem novel, but at least the roads were clear and dry.
Once at Nick and Rebekah’s we made one final sort of our stuff, checked the weights of our carry-on baggage and made one final shuffle between carry-on “bag” and “personal item” and settled in for a bit of a visit before calling it a night.
Monday we were up hyper early and Nick drove us to the airport and dropped us off. Check-in was quick with no bags to check and we headed for security which went smoothly and then we had breakfast and waited to board the flight to Houston. That flight went well and we had five or six hours between flights in Houston and had some indifferent Stromboli (last time we ate there they were much better) and walked around a bit, and caught up on e-mail and shared curved illusion tracts until it was time to go to the gate. That flight boarded smoothly although the people who were not prompt in getting into the line for the higher boarding groups had some challenges with finding space for their carry-ons.
We landed on time in Managua and lined up for immigration. I darted out of the line and exchanged $US 20 for C$ 407 (Cordobas). The person in the “official” exchange booth encouraged me to exchange more at a slightly better rate for several hundred dollars and warned me about people cheating me if I paid in dollars not Cordobas. Pants on fire! The exchange on the corner the next day was 27.5:1 vs. the 20.35:1 at the airport and increased to 28:1 within days, a rate that was 37% better than the airport rate. Almost like getting American dollars for Canadian.
Going through immigration we paid our $US 10/each entry fee and had our passports and visas stamped. Past immigration we went to the baggage area and saw a Best Western person holding up a sign for somebody else and we went over to him and said we had a reservation at the Best Western and he said “Mr. Alton?” and then we followed him as he found the people who had actually arranged for him to meet them and got in the van and rode across the street to the hotel. It is a short walk, but I don’t like making it at night.
We checked in, went to our room and turned on the A/C to overcome the muggy 75 degrees F. that won’t seem warm in a few days, had our showers and went to bed.
(Almost) A Week in Granada
January 5th onward
After a restful air-conditioned sleep we wandered to the buffet and ate far too much. That’s the nature of buffets if one is not careful. When we were down to sipping coffee I excused myself and went back to the room briefly. On the way there and back I managed to accost many hotel staffers with curved illusion tracts which they seemed glad to get. Also had a good visit with the couple who’s van reservation we co-opted the night before. He is a retired Spanish teacher from Michigan. They were waiting for their hired car to take them to San Juan del Sur and the apartment they have rented for a few months. They have been going there for several years and are surrounded by a like minded community of Canadians and Americans, fellow fugitives from the winters.
When we checked out I checked the posted prices for taxis that are stationed outside he hotel entrance doors. The price to UCA was $US 17 and the price to Granada would be a number too big to remember. We took a pass and walked another twenty-five feet to the street and caught a cab for C$ 150 (about $US 7.50 at airport exchange rates). UCA stands for University of Central America. Well, probably Universidad de Centro America but you get the idea. But UCA is normally meant to mean not that you want to go to school but that you want to go to the bus terminal across the street from UCA. That is where the middle sized buses leave for Granada.
At the terminal we resisted getting directed onto the almost full bus that was about to leave and went to the cleaner, more empty bus in the next bay. The driver stored our carry-on bags in the compartment at the back of the bus and we got into our seat, bought some bags of water from a vendor and some stale yucca chips from a kid and waited until the bus filled and left. It stopped again across the street until it was really full and proceeded, hit-and-miss to Granada. Have not quite figured out why they are called Expresso buses.
Once the crowd settled in the conductor came around and collected C$ 50 for the pair of us as fare to Granada. When we got off at the central park in Granada he tried to collect another C$ 50 for our two bags which had migrated to the top of the bus when somebody else loaded buckets of paint. I guess the suitcases tie onto the luggage rack easier than five gallon buckets. Probably offer less wind resistance, too. The back packer getting off reluctantly paid his C$ 25. I put up a better fight but eventually caved to the grumpy stares of the conductor and large-for-a-Nicaraguan driver and paid, as well. Chalk it up to cowardice or choosing one’s fight’s or who knows maybe they are right and it is not a lot of money, any way. Further research a couple of weeks later is that the fee is normal. Everybody pays it if they have freight that travels on top or in the compartment. If you can bring it inside with you there is no charge. Live and learn.
A walk down to the Hotel Jerico, smiles and hugs all around and we check into our usual room, and pay for a few weeks by topping up the amount we had sent by Western Union. They have added a bed and taken out the sofa, but promise to return the sofa tomorrow. I also understood them to say they would take out the extra bed, but that must have been a misunderstanding on my part.
Speaking of misunderstandings: we walked down to the language school and set up a lesson schedule for the time until WOTC staff arrive and then walked down to the nearby tienda to buy a couple of gallons of water. They no longer carry gallon jugs so we bought some when we went to the Pali for soap and shampoo. When we walked into the hotel they asked what we had paid for the water. I answered that it was C$ 27.60 a gallon. I understood them to say that they were going to stock gallon jugs of water for us but they couldn’t sell them for that so to save me trouble I could just take them and go to the Pali and get some to replace them. That didn’t make any sense to me at all. We would still have to hand carry them over a kilometer from the Pali. Surely they couldn’t mean that. Surely I misunderstood so when there was a lull in a lesson and we needed a break I brought one of my tutors back to the hotel to discuss this with them. Sure enough. That was the deal. I said that wouldn’t work, but I felt bad they had stocked them on my account and I would buy them for C$ 40 when we were too busy to go to the store. I bought a few, but other guests bought the remainder so I guess we are okay.
We settled into a routine of lessons and lunch at Cafetin Claudia (hugs and smiles all around there, too. It’s nice to be made welcome) and dinner in various locations. Didn’t get as much blogging done as hoped with being distracted by reading Scott Adams blog and his series on how Trump is persuading people. Adams, the creator of the Dilbert cartoon, claims to not back any candidate, but is merely explaining why Trump is defying expectations of the pundits. This is a tremendous time suck. I allowed it to eat much of December. The only thing that could be worse would be to be caught up in commenting. As one commenter stated “internet commenting is heroin”. Of course, Adams also promotes his latest book which I found to be an interesting read with some probably, practical information: How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big: Kind of the Story of My Life
Pa' Picar Comidas Rapidas
Finding the Pupusa Lady.
A couple of years ago there was a doorway about a block up Calle La Calzada from the Hotel Jerico where we usually stay in Granada. There was a doorway with a grill in it. There were a couple of iron grate doors that opened up and folded up against the wall. On one of the doors was mounted a stuffed cloth happy hamburger. The menu included hamburgers for about a buck fifty and pupusas for C$ 20 (less than a buck). Pupusas are like pancakes with cheese and/or meat fillings. We became mostly fond of them, as long as we didn’t eat them too frequently.
Last year the pupusa lady and her happy hamburger were gone. A couple of jewelry vendors said she had moved to a new spot past the depot for the UCA buses. We found her and were greeted with smiles and hugs and, of course, pupusas. This year that spot was no longer her restaurant but they gave us directions to her new spot. It is brighter and has an expanded menu and is well worth the two block walk south from Calle La Calzada where all the expensive restaurants offer expensive meals that become even more expensive when the bill comes and has a 15% IVA (VAT/GST) and 10% tip added to the posted prices.
This year not only did we get hugs before we ate, but she showed us around the restaurant and the back yard and their living quarters. Look for it. It is two blocks south of Calle La Calzada on the street one block east of the cathedral. Of course we had pupusas, but we also had a delicious smoothie served in a traditional wooden Nicaragua cup.
Preparation for Medfest
January 10, 2016
I was up early as usual and went down the street at six to the session with the Spanish language tutor.
The Way of the Cross staff has been arriving in country over the last couple of days. Last night Phillip texted us and asked if we wanted to join them for church services Sunday morning. We did and, as instructed, we were out on the corner across from the Eskimo at nine. After a bit we called Phillip on the cell to make sure they were coming and he said Ben was on the way. A couple of minutes later Ben picked us up and asked if the phone call he hadn’t answered was from us.
“Nope. Probably Phillip.”
There have been many changes at Shiloh base camp since we were there last year. Lots of paving has been done. The fence is completed around the property and the warehouse has been stuccoed. They have planted trees, shrubs and flowers all over the place. All the casitas that were being started to be painted when we left have been painted long enough to need some touch-up.
Church started with a worship service and ended with preaching and then prayer. After church we ate lunch. Then we all worked together to move stuff out of the kitchen and into the church. We piled it away from the walls so the walls could be painted tomorrow. The person who donated the money for the church is coming to the country later this week along with his family and Ben wants the church to look its best.
Juanita stayed and visited with Martha and Paul went in a van with some others to the market in Masaya. At the market we bought some pipe fittings that are needed for some immediate repairs and some fruit for the camp. I had the chance to hand out some curved illusion tracts. Then we went to the Maxi Pali to buy groceries for the camp for the next couple of days. There were only a few tills open at the Maxi Pali and the lines were long. I stood in one to buy some personal items and the others stood in another to buy camp stuff or personal stuff. When the line had moved enough that I was only a few people away from paying, some guy shoved in with a large bottle of pop. He said he needed to push in “because” he was on his way to Managua and needed it for his family and didn’t want to wait. I fussed a bit since I was in a cluster of people who only had one or two items and we had all been waiting a long time. I didn’t want to be too obnoxious since I had been redeeming time by handing out curved illusion tracts to my fellow hostages in line. Nevertheless my fussing didn’t change anything. One of the Nicas in line said, “What do you expect? It is Nicaragua.” But I was reminded of something in a book on persuasion by Cialdini influence: The Psychology of Persuasion. In the book he mentions that inserting the word “because” persuades people to accept otherwise unacceptable things. One example was some guy who shoves into a line of people waiting for the photocopier and gets away with it by saying he needs into the line “because” he needs to make some photocopies. And people accepted that as if they were not all waiting in line for the same thing.
Back at Shiloh we visited and helped and joined them for supper and then we got a ride back to Granada with a group going to pick up ice cream for the bigger group. Not sure they would have gone without us needing a ride, but it was a synergistic reason for all concerned. “Because”
January 11, 2016
I walked down the street for the session with the tutor from one-on-one tutoring and then walked back to join Juanita for breakfast at 7. At 7:30 we headed for the bus depot and there was a bus waiting to fill so we got on and waited too.
During the ride to our drop off point across from the Maxi Pali in Masaya I handed out curved illusion tracts to the captive audience. Then we got off and took a torito (three wheeled motorcycle cab) to Camp Shiloh. There we helped move stuff. I helped put the cross on the church then we made a list of needed pipefittings.
Paul went with John Hayes (from Aldama, Tamulipas, Mexico) and Byron Kroeger (from Harlingen, Texas) to buy pipe fittings, pipe and barrels. Juanita stayed to help Martha Kroeger. We picked up the pipe fittings and pipe at several stores (nobody has everything you need) around Masaya and then drove to near Tipitapi where there are several competing used barrel sellers along a couple of kilometer stretch of highway. It’s not like going to the one-price store. You have to check them all out to see what they have in the way of barrels, what the barrels had in them and how much they ask for them today and how much they are willing to drop that asking price when you want more than one. Eventually we managed to buy seven steel barrels that had been used for paint thinner. They will work fine as trash barrels and as water barrels as needed when drilling the well. The final price was okay and much better than some that had been demanded.
Driving along with our barrels and planning to head home Byron noticed a problem with the engine starting to heat up. The engine belts had been squealing a bit intermittently but now produced a chorus of unhappiness. We pulled into a gas station and Byron crawled under the truck to check things out. The bolt that the alternator pivots on to provide tension to the belts had fallen out. There was a ferreretria (hardware store) across the street and Byron walked across to buy a bolt and despite their apparent indifference he succeeded.
A bit of digression is in order here. When you go to a ferreretria it is not a purchasing experience like back home. You don’t just look around, grab what you what, and walk it through the self checkout and pay with your tap-and-pay card. Everything is in the labyrinth behind the counter. If you are lucky they have a display of bolts, pipe fittings and other items wired to peg boards and you can point and grunt.
If there is no display you have to ask for what you want them to go get from off a shelf somewhere in back. You have to know the word for what you want in Spanish and hope that is the word they use. If neither of those is true then by explanation, drawing and pantomime you endeavor to communicate your needs. For example, one time I asked for diluente (Spanish for paint thinner). They looked blank so I explained I wanted to make paint skinnier. And they replied “Si! Tu quiere (you want) theeener!”
THEN when you have successfully communicated what you want and they have found it they write that on the factura (invoice) and hand it to the person in the payment booth or give it to you to stand in line to give to them. The money person takes your money and gives you your change. Then they hand the factura to another clerk who stamps it “cancelado” and give you the factura and you give the factura to the original person and s/he gives you your stuff. In smaller stores the three people you have to deal with may be lined up at the counter close enough to able to touch each other. We had gone through this process a few times buying pipe fitting today and I assume Byron went through some variant buying the bolt.
I have no first hand experience on the purchase of the bolt. John and I took turns hanging out at the truck so stuff didn’t disappear while the other one went inside the gas station store. Byron just said they didn’t seem too interested in selling him anything. I guess it was because they were close to closing for the day. When the bolt didn’t fit and he went back for an alternative size they were all closed up. That would have been the end of my options. Byron, the resourceful missionary he is, MyGyvered something to hold things kind of together with a piece of heavy wire from a clipboard somebody had left in the truck.
You can’t stay still Nicaragua in public without somebody bothering you and the gas station parking lot was no exception. I bought a rechargeable flashlight from a pedlar who I am sure I convinced the last thing in the world I wanted was a rechargeable flashlight. Well, maybe the second to last thing. I showed even less interest in the kitchen knives he was selling. In any case the flashlight at its discounted “not interested” price came in handy. I have no idea how we would have managed without it as we carried on working in the dark. Actually Byron did the work I just held the flashlight.
Eventually we started getting worried phone calls, but by then we were making our way through the darkness back to Camp Shiloh. Somebody gave Juanita and I a ride home to Granada and we got there really late and showered, washed our clothes and collapsed into bed.
January 12, 2016
After the six o’clock tutoring session and seven o’clock breakfast we walked to the Ferreretria Lugo and bought an assortment of bolts and the pipe fittings that we had not been able to find in three stores in Masaya. Lugo is different. The locals tell me that it is expensive and has “American” prices, but they don’t seem much different than all the other hardware stores. What is different is they have shelves and bins of things and you pick up what you want and take it to the checkout and pay in Dollars or Cordobas as you wish and get your printed factura and leave.
We walked to the bus depot with our bag of stuff and caught a bus as it was leaving the station. Since buses sit there until they are full this one was full so we stood half way to Masaya when enough people got off to free up some seats. We took a torito to Shiloh. These hold three people snuggly in the back seat and perhaps a person either side of the driver. As well there may be a child or two sitting on somebody’s knee or lap. Today pastor Juan Pavon joined us for the ride to Shiloh. When we got there he paid our fare.
There was much activity after devotions. People were painting the church and the warehouse. Other people were moving paving bricks closer to where they would be used for the walkway around the property. Some were preparing the base for an additional 2,500 gallon water tank that is due to show up tomorrow. After Byron installed a proper bolt in the alternator pivot he went with Michael to buy more big blocks for the tank base.
Paul worked with John redoing the piping on the pressure pump for the water system so it stopped drooling on the warehouse floor. Then we started cutting the ends off the steel barrels bought yesterday. We used a cold chisel and hammer and afterwards “smoothed” the cut edge by pounding with a hammer. Juanita worked with Martha cleaning things from the warehouse.
We finished at three. It took an hour to make it home and then an hour to clean up and do our laundry for the day and get dressed again. We went up the street for a smoothie for Juanita and then to the cart outside the Eskimo for a hot dog for Paul and inside the Eskimo for ice cream. We talked to an Irish guest while the hotel staff looked for our missing room key.
After watching Wheel of Fortune for the first time in months I finally worked on the blog creating a backlog of pages to fill.
January 13, 2016
In the regular six a.m. lesson it seemed I am getting a lot faster in the conjugation drill for past tense irregular Spanish verbs.
After breakfast we walked to the ferreretria and bought more pipe fittings for the new water tank before walking to the bus depot. We got on an almost full bus and sat down. Then I got up again and did the curved illusion tracts demo and handed out several tracts before sitting back down.
When we arrived by torito at Camp Shiloh the trucks were already loaded.
We rode in a van to the school grounds where Medfest will occur and helped a bit with unloading the truck. The process went quickly thanks to all the young men who helped. Juanita helped Martha clean the school room to be used for the pharmacy and do a bit of sorting. Then it was back to camp, load the truck and vans back up. Then back to school and unload and back to the camp again and reload. The new tank arrived and was unloaded and manhandled into place on the base prepared yesterday.
After lunch the trucks headed back to the school with more stuff for Medfest, but Byron, John and I stayed to work on plumbing in the new water tank until later in the afternoon when we need more fittings. The three of us plus Juanita and a few locals head to Masaya. Half a block short of the careterra the truck starts overheating. The locals hop off and head home for the night. Juanita and I do likewise, leaving Byron and John to deal with the truck and buy the fittings. We later learned that the truck just needed the rad topped up.
We walked across the rotunda to the Puma gas station and bought and ate a couple of pieces of chicken then caught a bus going to Granada. It was one that went to the terminal far uptown from the park so we flagged down a cab for less than a buck and got a ride to near our hotel.
Back at the room we turned the A/C on high to cool down the room and went for a smoothie (J) and an ice cream (me) before heading back to the, now cool, room. A bit of vedging (sp?), showers, laundry, Wheel of Fortune, Jeopardy, some blogging, some prep for tomorrow and then crash for the night. Another day.
January 14, 2016
Walked down for my one-hour Spanish lesson and found door locked. Waited for six minutes and said good bye to the maid also waiting to be let into the facility and walked back to the Hotel Jerico. Breakfast was at seven and then we walked down to the Hotel Granada and said hi to a number of people who arrived last night and got onto one of the three waiting buses and rode to camp Shiloh.
After devotions (by Ben on II Kings 6:1…. worth a write up when not so tired) there was Evangecube training and some truck loading and lunch. Then we all got back onto the buses and headed to the school grounds where the Medfest will be held. People cleaned classrooms and moved stuff and set up rooms and bike workstations. The big tent got set up and a number of small tents. Juanita worked with others in the pharmacy and helped get it organized to the point where people started counting pills. They are behind that timeline compared to previous years, because work normally done before people got here was left so they could have the investment in doing it. Things should be fine tomorrow. By the time the doctors see enough patients that they start arriving at the pharmacy in numbers the pharmacy people should be ready.
I wandered around carrying the odd thing and helping here and there and took a few pictures and handed out a few curved illusion tracts and helped a little with putting up the big tent and helped a bit putting tags on lanyards for discipleship trainees. Then it was time for the construction team to go to the church where we will be building the roof structure on a church, then painting the structure and the tin that goes on it and then applying the tin.
In the front yard of the home next to the church was a shoe factory – half a dozen people sitting around tables and a couple of sewing machines making shoes. They make sixty to eighty pairs of ladies’ shoes a day depending how many hours they work.
Then we went back to the school grounds and some people milled around and visited and others worked to be ready for tomorrow. Then it was time to load on the buses and go back to Granada. The vans and the truck took staff people back home to Shiloh.
We got off the bus and checked to see what time tomorrow’s buses loaded (eight o’clock) and then headed back to the hotel. I stopped to check in with my instructor who apologized for not setting his alarm and we agreed to meet tomorrow at six. One of my former instructors asked me if I had any curved illusion tracts in English for her student who didn’t read Spanish yet. I said I had none with me, but had some back in our room. We went back to the hotel, turned on the A/C, opened a package of English flavored curved illusion tracts and dug out a hundred dollar bill from its hiding spot for a later visit to the coyote / cambista/ moneychanger.
I walked down to the school and gave the teacher a couple of tracts and then handed out some Spanish ones to the café owner next door plus half a dozen patrons there. As I walked back to the hotel Juanita met me and we walked up to the market street. There were two coyotes and they both wanted my business so I gave one a hundred dollar bill and asked for $C 1,400 and $US 50 which I gave to the other in return for $C 1,400. 28:1 is way better than the official money changers at the airport who paid me about 20:1 ($C 407 for $US 20) the night we arrived. All I changed was twenty bucks so we would have cab fare to the bus depot in Managua and bus fare to Granada. The two coyotes today seemed happy enough to share our business.
Further down the market street we bought an electrical plug for the camp and some nice mandarin oranges and nice bananas for the pharmacist. We could have gone further to the Pali and bought a couple of jugs of water and on the way had a shoe shine for less than a buck (half that before tip) and a hair cut for less than three bucks before the tip but we were both too tired to do anything more than we felt was necessary so we turned around and walked back toward the hotel by way of Tele Pizza and the Jugoso smoothie stand. Back in the room we caught the tail end of Wheel of Fortune, watched Jeopardy! And called our Grandson Ezekial on his birthday. He was born seven years ago while we were at a Medfest in Mexico. After the Medfest Juanita flew back to Canada. A few weeks after she left I flew to Nicaragua to tag along on a bunch of meetings that Brother Ben was holding with pastors to prepare for summer crusades. That was my introduction to Nicaragua. A few years later, after Medfest was moved here, we followed.
Showered. Laundry done. Blog done. Time for bed. Good night.
January 15, 2016 - Medfest Day 1
Went down the street for a Spanish tutoring session at 6 AM. After the session it was back to the hotel for breakfast at seven. There was no power and, thus, no Internet. After breakfast I puttered in the room shuffling money from the coyote visit last night so there would not be too much in an external pocket. We got ready to go down the street to the other hotel, gave the room key to the maid to clean the room and walked to the hotel Granada and the waiting bus.
We got on the bus with a few others and waited until the rest of the teams were herded onto the buses which went to the schoolyard in Masaya. When we got off the bus, Juanita went straight to the pharmacy where she would spend the day and started working to get as much done as possible before work was halted for the worship service.
The worship service had lots of singing in both Spanish and English. Steve Martinez preached from the book of Nehemiah. I couldn’t hear it very well where I was standing but caught the odd phrase such as “Good News”. The situation of Jerusalem described in Nehemiah is a wonderful analog of the Christian life, but I could hear so little of what was being said that I have no idea if any reference was made to that. Oscar Brooks preaches tomorrow. I’ll make sure to get a spot where I can hear.
After the preaching I darted over to the snack bar and tried to buy a crate of empty glass coke bottles. They were only selling plastic bottles at that snack bar, but they gave me an empty crate and two empty glass bottles they happened to have. Across the street they sold me a crate full of empties for an exorbitant price and promised to buy them back for somewhat less if I brought them back at the end of the weekend. I took the crate and the bottles to the game room and put them with the rings of Byron and I had made.
Then it was time to head to the van that was loading with construction people. There was one more person than seats in the van. I said, “I’ll meet you there” and started walking towards the highway two blocks away. After crossing the highway, I waited for a bus. When one came I got on, stood for a while until some people got off and freed up seats for the standees. When stopped at a traffic light a vendor sold me a bag with three mandarin oranges in it for 10 Cordobas.
I had told the conductor when I paid him that I wanted off at kilometre number 35 which put me a short walk from the church a little before 11. The pastor and a member were waiting for the work crew to show up. They had been told 10 o’clock and were ready for us. The pastor found some chairs and we shared the mandarin oranges and visited with me getting to practice Spanish for the second time today.
A little before noon the van showed up full of construction crew with ladders and welding machine on top. I volunteered to go to the supermarket and pick up bread and sandwich makings and water. Somebody offered to buy fried chicken for the group so my errand list changed. At the Puma in Masaya, I put in the order for chicken and went next door to the Maxi Pali to buy water and cups. I stood in line with the cups and when I said I wanted a 20 litre jug of water the clerk looked over at the rack of empties and asked somebody if they have any water they went and looked and returned saying, “no hay agua”. I guess I could have skipped the line. Back at the gas station the chicken was being put in boxes and boxes were being put in bags. After my experience last year when they only gave me half the chicken we took all the boxes out of the bags to open and check every one of them. The customer may be a pain but he is still the customer especially if he is stubborn. I added a couple of gallon jugs of water to the purchase and a couple of employees helped carry the chicken, potatoes, Coca Cola and water to the van.
Back at the church, work stopped for lunch. This year there was enough chicken to go around. After lunch, work resumed. Henry the Nicaraguan magician with steel was busy welding. A couple of guys were busy cutting channel and most of the others were busy painting channel. By quitting time at four, all the channel for the purlins were painted, two out of three trusses had been made, one of them painted, and all the pieces cut for the third. On construction sites in Nicaragua the practice is to just tap into the passing power line. With the chop saw and the welder on the same 120 Volt leg things were a bit laboured for both at the start of the day's work. That was quickly fixed by changing the setting on the welder and going across both legs to get 240 Volts for teh welder. Both the welder and the chop saw ran happier after that adjustment.
The van headed back to the school grounds. I walked back to the highway and waited for a bus. On the bus I amused myself and others with curved illusion tracts. On the last leg into Granada the woman in the seat in front of me had a parrot walking around on her hand and on the seat back in front of her. Don’t see that in Canada.
You also don't see signs like the one that advised that if you threw up on the bus there would be a C$ 20 fee and then a verb I am not familiar with but I think meant that after you threw up and paid your C$ 20 you would be thrown off the bus.
When the bus stopped near La Colonia supermarket I got off, bought a couple of gallons of water and some snacks. A cab back to the hotel was the outrageous sum of 15 Cordobas ($.54).
Along about the time I had finished my shower and was working on washing my clothes, Juanita arrived. After she showered and changed we walked down to the hotel Granada. Jesse and I were supposed to have arranged supper plans, but we had only talked about it and not decided. After meeting up with Jesse and Indy we decided to go for supper together tomorrow night.
We walked back to the Hotel Jerico, picked up my wallet and went for a smoothie, a hotdog and an ice cream. We saw lots of team members out and about. Then it was back to the room for an early evening.
January 16, 2016 - Medfest Day 2
Up early and down the street for a tutoring session at 6 and back up the street to the Hotel Jerico for breakfast at seven. By eight we were further back down the street to the Hotel Granada and onto one of the three waiting buses. On the bus ride to the second day of Medfest I continued reading The Black Swan. The pages today were discussing a value of discontinuity of diet and exercise. It seems like our bodies benefit from periods of fasting and feasting and periods of relaxation and extreme exercise. Apparently the same old mellow middle all the time is harmful. Life should look like, according to the author: lots of long slow walks walking slow enough to carry on a conversation; every few days lifting the heaviest object we can; occasionally outrunning something large and dangerous and almost as fast as we are; going hungry periodically; and eating too much occasionally.
At the Medfest site there was a worship service and Oscar Brooks preached a message on “Where does wickedness live?” After the worship/preaching service Medfest activities started up.
In the parking area inside the gate the construction crew, eager to get rolling climbed onto the truack. Then they got off the truck and unloaded the supplies for site and evangelistic activities and got back on the truck. More experienced Nica hands (mostly staff and me) get in the van. The truck and the van head out to the church just off the highway between Masaya and Granada.
The last truss gets welded and people pitch in and paint all remaining bare spots on the trusses. The purlins are set up on blocks on the road. Two full lengths plus a one-meter length are welded together to make a purling that will go the full length of the church. Then we move the purlins off the road so the van can go for fried chicken for lunch. While I was gone getting the chicken they raised the last truss and put the purlins on the trusses.
After lunch the purlins were welded to the trusses and the rest of the tin was painted. Enough work for one day – back to Medfest grounds. The van stopped to get a leaking tire fixed. The lug wrench in the van was a generic X-shaped lug wrench and it could not get in the gap between the wheel cover and the lug nuts. The tire shop had nothing that would fit either so the van was rolled back and forth until the leak was found. The van was jacked up and the tire deflated and a tire plug inserted. The tire was re-inflated and the van lowered and $C 50 (about $2) was paid and we were on our way.
Back at the Medfest grounds I took pictures of the bike repairs in progress and the pile of dead bike tires that had been replaced on locals’ bicycles. Then I hung out in the pharmacy where Juanita was working until it was time to get back on the buses back to the Hotel Granada.
Back at our hotel we showered and changed and went down to meet Jesse, Indy and Savannah Stone and we all went to the Chinese place for Nicaraguan chicken on banana leaves. We had a good visit over supper and then said goodbye. They headed for their hotel and we headed up the street for a smoothie for Juanita and then to the Eskimo for an ice cream for me. Just as we got to the entrance to our hotel Jesse, Indy and the child came by. They had been visiting with somebody up the street. So we all got to say goodbye again.
We listened to about ten minutes of TV while washing the day’s laundry and then crashed for the night.
January 17, 2016 – Medfest Day 3
The day began with the regular drill – lessons at six at One-on-One Tutoring and breakfast at seven at the Hotel Jerico and on the bus at the Hotel Granada.
After the worship service at the Medfest grounds Oscar Brook preached on the eating habits of missionaries and the Key of King David. After the preaching ends the other Medfest activities begin.
The construction crew are quick learners. Today they unloaded the truck before getting on it to ride. Also today several of the construction crew joined the experienced Nica hands in the van. The vehicles stop at the Puma for fuel and everybody goes into the gas station to buy snacks. We go to the church and the van gets there first and the van riders start moving tin off the painting/drying stands and set up the ridge cap to be painted.
The truck arrives and we discover one sheet of tin that didn’t get painted so it gets painted and set in the sun to dry. That won’t take long.
Byron, Jesse, Henry and a few others are up on the roof with people on the ground handing them sheets of tin. The tin goes on quickly, but by the time they are ready for the last sheet it is as dry as the first one. The roof is done in a few hours and there is a mini-dedication with the congregation on hand. We all head back to the Medfest grounds with a brief detour to the El Paradiso resort on the Laguna de Apoyo, a lake in an extinct volcano. A few people sit around. A few people go swimming in their clothes. Myself and another guy order a pizza and then change the order to a couple of salads since there wouldn’t be time for a pizza to be cooked. We eat the salads in the back of the van by hand, there being no plastic forks available at the resort food counter. I was glad I said to not add salad dressing.
Back at the Medfest grounds things are winding down. After the last bikes are repaired the big tent is taken down. The pharmacy is about the last thing to close and everybody gets on the buses. The WOTC staff is invited out to pizza. Back at the hotel we decide that pizza is a good idea, but going out for pizza is not such a good idea. We get the desk clerk to order us a pizza from Tele Pizza. Thin crust. Juanita showers and goes for a smoothie and gets back. I shower and the pizza arrives. We eat it. We both crash. Probably not good to go to bed on a full stomach. Probably worse to stay up when you are falling over in exhaustion. Too much fresh air I guess.
January 18, 2016
The daily Spanish tutoring session at six is both productive and pleasant. I leave our room and the hotel gate keeper unlocks the gate at the street and lets me out. There are always a few people out and about that early to get where they need to be or to get a walk in before things heat up. When I get to One on One tutoring I say hi to the tutor and he makes the coffee while I put the table and chairs out on the sidewalk. During today’s session we had done our conversation portion and had moved onto verb conjugations. Somewhere in there I noticed a smallish yellow jacket on my shirt and brushed it off. I looked for it to make sure I was not sitting on it and with an eye to stomping on it, but it was nowhere to be found until I took the last sip of coffee in my cup. I had noticed something like dark grounds in the last mouthful, so only took half a mouthful. Not grounds! Yellow jacket! I could tell right away from the texture and spat it out, but not quickly enough to prevent it stinging the end of my tongue. I abandoned the lesson and rushed back to the room and took a couple of anti-histamines. The swelling and tingling went down pretty quickly, but I decided it wasn’t worth it to walk back five minutes for the last fifteen minutes of lesson so checked e-mail and then we went to breakfast.
After breakfast we headed down to the Hotel Granada and checked around for a doctor, but didn’t see any before we got on the 8:30 bus to Camp Shiloh. The bus we were on didn’t start so we all got off and push started it up the slight grade in front of the hotel. At Camp Shiloh, at church service, Oscar Brooks preached on Genesis 31:6… and 30:31… and the impact of what is before us on what we think about and act on (one of these days I will write it out in appropriate detail but not today). Fortunately, I took notes despite fading in and out from the anti-histamine – during the worship service I was trying to figure out why a song lyric would be “there’s nothing we won’t pour” and finally realized it was “there’s nothing we want more”.
After the service we found a doctor and I took his advice to take a couple more anti-histamines (it had been four hours) and we all got on the buses and went to the church the roof had been put on and had a ribbon cutting and dedication service. David Hefly the philanthropist who has funded so many church buildings through Way of the Cross spoke as did the church pastor and the church pastor’s wife.
After the service two buses went back to Granada and and one bus went to Masaya for touristy activities in that area. We took one of the buses to Granada and when it got a little off the right path on its way back to the hotel we hopped off and went to Cafetin Claudia for lunch. Then we went to the Museo de Cocoa for a quick walk around and the use of their bathroom. The coyote changed some money for us and I got a shoe shine and then a haircut. Juanita walked up to the Pali and the edge of the market and got a couple of gallons of water and some bananas and mandarin oranges while I was getting my haircut. We walked back home and had showers and what is for me, a long nap. I kind of woke up when she left and finally woke for real when she came back with a couple of smoothies. We watched Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy! (ya gotta like old folks and their habits. Don’tcha?)
Afterwards Juanita was checking e-mail and she mentioned one from one of our daughters asking if the other one had contacted us. She hadn’t. But that sounded ominous. I phoned their house and got her father-in-law who said that they were at the hospital with our grandson who has been diagnosed with leukemia. I don’t want to write about it any more here.
January 19, 2016
Down the street for lessons at six and then back to hotel for breakfast at seven. A couple of people who had been staying at Camp Shiloh had booked into Hotel Jerico to have a few days in town before going back out to the camp Thursday night to fly out Friday morning. We visited with them a bit at breakfast then we headed up the street and across the square to the bus depot and got on a bus and waited for it to fill. A few curved illusion tracts got handed out and Juanita watched one young man intently read his and make the sign of the cross part way through and carry on reading.
We got off the bus in Masaya across from the Maxi Pali super market and walked the few blocks to the school. Within minutes of our arrival the the large truck showed up along with the crowd of WOTC staffers and some Nicaraguan pastors and church members. The truck was quickly loaded and the classrooms swept and the school desks put back in the classrooms. In under an hour the load was headed back to storage at Camp Shiloh.
We walked back to the highway, handing out curved illusion tracts on our way. We crossed the highway and stocked up on snack food at the Maxi Pali and spent a horrendous amount of time waiting to pay. We came out intending to catch a bus at the corner near the roundabout, but the second cab driver in line dropped his price as we walked away from the high price quoted by the first one and we decided to speed up things after losing so much time in line and quickly rode back to Granada. The cabbie was unsure where to go, but when he got close enough we had him drop us off and on our two block walk back to the hotel we stopped and found out more of the zip-line Canopy Tour of Mombacho Volcano, a nearby extinct volcano that we hope stays that way. Once we find out about the family situation we may book a canopy tour for tomorrow. We can wait as late as this evening to make the booking.
Back at the room we checked e-mails and surfed a bit and then did a bit of writing before heading out to lunch. Back from lunch we telephoned and e-mailed back and forth to Canada re grandson and I loaded pictures onto the computer as the first step of getting a selection onto the web site.
Around five we walked up the street and booked a canopy tour for tomorrow and bought smoothies as our dinner for tonight. Back to the room in time for Wheel and Jeopardy! and more surfing and e-mailing and blogging.
January 20, 2016
When I asked Juanita what she wanted for Christmas (it is probably not the most romantic approach, but it seems to work for us. Surprises are fine unless it’s not what you want.) she answered that she wanted a zip line canopy tour on Volcan Mombacho. I looked up an example on the internet, hit print and stuffed it in an envelope. That was easy! Last night when we went up the street for a smoothie we booked a canopy tour for today at eight a.m. “Be here at ten to eight.”
This morning after the daily six o’clock tutoring session and the usual seven a.m. breakfast we headed up to Erick Tours. The office wasn’t open yet, but our driver was waiting and we got in and he drove through town and past the massive cemetery with its ornate statues and mausoleums onto the road to Rivas.
Just as the road was joined by the road coming from Catarina the driver turned left and went through the rain forest and part way up the side of Mombacho to the canopy tour base camp. We went inside the building to the desk and signed the register with our names, ages and country of origin. They stored my back pack and Juanita’s water bottle and we went outside onto the deck to be fitted with bicycle helmets (more decorative than useful) and harnesses. They gave us each a pair of gloves with thick leather palms and gave us brief instructions.
The ride further up the mountain was in the back of a jeep with facing bench seats. Same principle as the stretch Hummer limo we rode in in Vegas, but definitely more down scale. Then we climbed some steps to a platform, got rapid fire instructions and were hooked onto our trolleys and sent zipping down a series of lines. At one point I was offered the “Superman” hook-up to “fly” arms out and attached at the back but declined at the last minute. Juanita when given the same opportunity leapt at the chance so to speak.
It was a good Christmas gift for Juanita. She really seemed to enjoy the whole experience and certainly said so throughout and afterward. It wasn’t on my bucket list and I won’t say I was scared or terrified, I was uneasy however even though the three guides took really good care of us and the equipment was in good condition and seemed to have good levels of redundancy. I joked in Spanish with the guides when we were about half through that we had passed the middle (medio) but I was not past my fear (miedo). A glutton for punningnishment to the end.
One of the guides took lots of pictures of us with Juanita’s camera. Afterwards we took pictures of the guides and had some samples of the coffee grown on the slopes and sold at the welcome center. Then the driver took us back to Granada. The whole tour was slightly shorter than billed, but with just two people as guests there was not much waiting while going from one line to the next. I imagine with a large group you would stand around a lot. This was better.
Looking at the pictures, Juanita looks a lot happier than I do.
This evening while waiting for a smoothie Juanita was talking to a 20'ish Norwegian girl and the subject of doing a canopy tour this morning came up. The girl looked surprised and asked "do you mind me asking how old you are?" Juanita answered and the girl asked, "you didn't do flips or anything did you?"
January 21, 2016
After lessons at six and breakfast at seven we visited with a couple from Medfest. They had been staying out at Camp Shiloh through Medfest and came into town and stayed at the Hotel Jerico for a couple of days before heading back to the States. Philip from Way of the Cross was picking them up a little after nine and we tagged along rather than doing our normal bus and torrito run. The van that picked us up then picked up Joe and Ben where they were dropping another van at the repair shop. After running a few errands in Masaya we all went to Camp Shiloh.
Much of the stuff had been moved out of the warehouse and piled outside. Henry’s guys were building a frame for shelving to support pallets of clothing and other relatively lightweight items about 6 feet off the floor - effectively doubling the capacity of the warehouse.
Juanita found Martha and started helping her. I found Byron and started helping him. We located where a well hole had been drilled last year to about 100 foot depth. The plan was to extend it to the full capacity of the drill rig (about 240 feet) to gain experience using the well drilling rig. After we found the old hole Byron laid out the mud pits and we started digging. Soon others joined us and by lunch time the mud pits and trenches were dug.
After lunch we rescued the well casing pipe from the warehouse and laid it out near where we would be drilling. Then everybody pitched in and dragged the well drilling rig trailer to the hole. I played to my strengths and stood on the back of the trailer to make the front easier to lift. Everything is ready to drill once a trip to Managua is made to buy a new mud pump. The original mud pump was designed for water and any hiccup in operation that caused a bit of tailings to enter the shaft seal killed the seal. The new pump will be chosen on its ability to pump “trash”.
Then Byron and I sorted tools for a while to ensure that the good tools stayed behind when the general purge and cleanup happens to the warehouse when the shelves are ready and stuff is brought back inside. Obviously this is the ideal time to get rid of anything that shouldn’t go back inside.
Everybody at Shiloh was busy today. There was cleanup and landscaping and local labourers continued on filling the nooks and crannies with pavers. A number of people also worked putting clothing and other items and backpacks to give as gifts of gratitude to the hotel workers and school employees that helped with Medfest. When it came time to for the backpacks to be delivered to the school and the Hotel Granada Juanita and I caught a ride on the back of the truck delivering backpacks. The truck travelled on the bypass around Masaya and went a few kilometres on the carretera to Granada. Then the driver realized he hadn’t gone to the school so we turned around and went back to school at Masaya to drop off the backpacks there. When the truck got to the hotel Granada we parted company and walked up the street to the Hotel Jerico. On the way I checked the tienda where we used to buy gallons of water. They had not been stocking gallons this year but they were today. They were about four Cordobas more than the Pali but a whole lot closer. I bought a gallon jug.
We showered, changed and did laundry, surfed the Internet and relaxed. Around five we went out for dinner. That is, we walked together for half a block and then Juanita went up for a smoothie and I walked across the street and bought a hotdog. Along about the time I was finishing eating it Juanita came back and gave me two, one Córdoba coins so I could buy an ice cream without breaking a bill. After I bought the ice cream we walked back to our hotel and settled in for the evening.
January 22, 2016
The day each year when I become the same age as Juanita until her birthday rolls around again in August.
Despite my suddenly advanced age I managed to get up okay and get showered and dressed and down the road to the tutoring session at six a.m. and rushed back up the street for breakfast at seven. We headed up the street to the bus before eight. When we got off the bus across the street from the Maxi Pali in Masaya we caught a moto taxi to Shiloh, arriving there before nine. Chapel was in session with Joe Garza preaching about being the best we could be for God and not hurting our neighbours.
After chapel Juanita started working with Martha sorting pharmaceuticals. I watched a few short tutorials given by Byron and Phillip to the staff on how to open and close the valve on the propane/butane bottle regulator that clips onto the twenty pound LPG bottles. They have a connection more like the one-pound disposable camping bottles sold in north America. You just shove the regulator onto the bottle and it is held on by one or two latches depending on the make of the regulator. The valve itself is a toggle sticking out the side of the regulator. It is good to close the valve to prevent propane leaking out when the bottle is not in use. The clothes dryers will each have a bottle next to the them so anybody who is going to dry clothes needs to know how to open and close the valve. If you don’t open the valve your clothes won’t dry. If you don’t close it when done using the dryer you could waste gas or cause an explosion.
Byron and I go to a ferreretria in Masaya and buy pipe fittings. We are invited to customer appreciation day tomorrow (Saturday). At eleven o’clock they will be serving vigaron. Vigaron is served in a banana leaf. Boiled pieces of yucca go in first and then a layer of chiccarones (deep fried pig skin) and then a layer of shredded salad (mostly cabbage) and then a vinaigrette is drizzled on top. It is not quite as bad as it sounds, but not something I eat every trip here. Juanita ate it the first time here, but not since. I just asked her and she said she would eat it again if it was the only thing available, but “It wouldn’t be a choice.”
While at the ferreretria we strike up a conversation with a couple of Canadians about the difference of buying stuff at hardware stores here and at Home Depot or similar places in North Americans. The sister of one of the Canadians takes a fancy to the WOTC truck we are driving and wants to know what it would cost and says she wants one.
Then we looked for a place to buy butane hose based on directions from the ferreretria. That didn’t work. We find a gas appliance repair shop and he directs us to the “casa de mangeras” (house of hoses). The only way to turn around from where we are is at the rotunda at the Puma gas station so on our way by we stop and have a piece of chicken each. There is a strange (to me) sign in the window of their convenience store. It is a special deal offering a pancake, a beverage (a small container of orange juice or a cup of cappuccino) plus a package of Halls. I was translating the sign to myself and stopped and went back and read it again more carefully. Yep. That’s the special! Don’t ask me to explain any connection between breakfast and Halls cough drops.
We drive past the Casa de Mangeras a time or two before stopping where there is a sign barely visible under their awning reading “Mangeras y Connexiones del Sur” (“Hoses and Connections of the South”). We park the truck in the curb travel lane. There is no parking lane. Just the sidewalk, a boulevard and two travel lanes each way. Vehicles just stop for however long they need to buy or load or unload and other vehicles smerge around them. We buy a length of hose and the fittings we need to connect to the regulator and the new dryer and head back to Shiloh. When we get back we move the generator to the other end of the warehouse and then it is lunch time. We had just eaten chicken so Byron takes a bit of a break but no lunch and then gets back to work. I didn’t get fat by turning down lunch so I stop for lunch and after eating was visiting with the other diners. Then I realize I haven’t seen Byron for awhile and go search him out and find him working so I get back to work too. We install the gas lines on the clothes dryers and the exhaust lines and put the dryers in place.
After that we rip out the old (two weeks) 1” drain line for the washing machines and install a new 2” drain line which is a little less likely to back up and overflow having about four times the cross sectional area of a 1” line.
During the day Javier and a helper were working placing pavers in the last of the nooks and crannies missing pavers. When that is done they will continue on the walk way around camp. Also during the day, a truck load of pavers arrives. It sits across the road from the camp immobilized with a broken clutch for most of the day. Along about the time we are leaving for the day it becomes mobile and they move onto the property and start unloading.
When done the drain line I go and watch Juanita and Martha until they are done and we get a ride to across the street from the Maxi Pali in Masaya. We go to the Maxi Pali and go in to buy snacks. As usual the line up at the till is long so I hand out curved illusion tracts until is our turn to check out. Outside we bargain a bit with a cab driver and we ride back to Granada by cab. Because birthday.
We arrive back about five and shower then watch Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy until seven before going out to my birthday dinner at the Garden Café. We come back to the hotel afterward and hit bed almost immediately. I had planned to update the blog, but got a text message that the staff is taking Saturday off. They are planning to go shopping in Managua at the new Super Walmart and the new Price Smart (cross between Sam’s Club and Costco in terms of shopping experience).
I will work on the blog in the morning and then we plan to go to the Monkey Hut on Laguna de Apoyo (a lake inside a hopefully extinct volcano). I guess free vigaron at a Masaya ferreretria is no longer a likelihood for tomorrow.
January 23, 2016
Today is a day off. We could join the Way of the Cross staff on the shopping trip to Managua. They are going to the new Super Walmart and the new Price Smart. Price Smart is a local membership shopping store. It carries both Sam’s Club and Kirkland brands. I would like to see it, but just as a walk through. There is nothing on our shopping list to buy from there or Walmart so going there with a bunch of people who actually plan to spend time there shopping appeals far less than going and sitting staring at the waters of a lake in a volcano while drinking coffee and reading.
The Spanish tutor and I have our usual six a.m. session. Juanita and I have our usual seven a.m. breakfast at the Hotel Jerico. Then I puttered on my blog until ten o’clock and we leave for the bus depot.
We walked toward the bus depot, and hopped onto a bus before we got to the depot. Buses typically leave the depot when almost full. This bus had no standing room of our dimension – not enough head room, and no handles or rails to hang onto. There were a couple of seats left in the back and we sat there and passed out a few curved illusion tracts.
We got off the bus on the side of the highway across from the road to Laguna de Apoyo. After crossing the highway we agreed on a fare with a taxi and rode to the Monkey Hut, a resort on Laguna de Apoyo, a lake in the caldera of a hopefully extinct volcano. I arranged for the taxi to pick us back up at 4.
We signed in at the desk and got a card to show the wait staff if we bought anything. Then we walked around the main building and found a spot closer to the beach and lounged around reading and drinking free coffee.
It was too windy for me to want to kayak so I didn’t kayak this time. We ordered and ate pizza from the wood fired pizza oven on the property. The slogan is “Relajate” or “relax yourself”. We did.
Just before four we settled our tab for the day and walked out of the property and had the security guard verify that we had paid. The taxi was waiting and took us out to the highway corner and we flagged down the next bus. The bus was crowded and we stood most of the way to Granada where the bus let us off at bus depot we started near.
We walked through the central park, past the cathedral and down La Calzada street to our hotel. Thre we dropped our stuff and walked back out onto the street. We went for a smoothie and a hot dog and ice cream and then back to the hotel where we watched Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy!
After that we checked in with the Edmonton folk on the USA/Canada phone line at the hotel desk.
Tired from relaxing all day, we went to bed a little after seven and slept until 2:30
January 24, 2016
Kinda point form, probably stay that way.
Awake at 2:30, couldn’t go back to sleep right away so read.
Almost back to sleep around four when guests returned from wedding, loud voices, in room above us, dropping coins etc. before they settled in. Coin noise can travel through concrete floor! Who would have guessed!
Sleeping hard when alarm went at five.
To tutor at 6.
Breakfast when I got back at 7.
Hotel pretty full but not many guests up early.
Blogged a bit then we went for coffee so maid could clean room before many more guests wanted breakfast. Other maid was a no show so one person is being maid and cook.
Never made it to coffee on first try. Got waylaid by daughters of owners. Thought they were interested in us, but turned out one of them wanted us to donate to Lions’ Club event next month where a bunch of eye doctors etc. show up and work on poor peoples’ eyes, give them glasses etc.
Yesterday I translated for the desk clerk and an Indian (dot kind not feather kind) guest. He had wanted to pay in Cordobas, but gave them a US fifty dollar bill. They were trying to give him change but he just wanted them to hold the room with the fifty and he was going to the bank machine to get local currency and then get his fifty back. Also explained for him what he wanted for breakfast. No eggs or meat, cheese was okay. The clerk understood, but that was not who took his order this morning and brought him eggs, gallo pinto, cheese. He wanted me to explain that he wanted new stuff without eggs and didn’t want anything that touched the eggs back. The desk clerk from yesterday showed up and took away the plate and promised him all new. Then I found him a map of Ometepe Island and showed him on a bigger map how to get there. Later he explained how he lives under a tree in the mountains in northern India for five months a year and travels the rest of the year. He says he has been doing it for thirty years. This year he has been in Boston and then Central America (Belize, El Salvador, Honduras). I asked about the danger of El Salvador and he said he hadn’t realized how dangerous it was until after, but that was probably best and related the story about the centipede. Somebody asked it how it knew when to move it’s 88th leg and it started thinking about that and became unable to move at all.
Finally after the dunning event and two trips back to the room we went for coffee. There was no need anymore since the room had been cleaned long ago but we went any way.
Back to room and loaded pictures from earlier in the month onto web page.
Went for lunch at pupusa lady’s restaurant. Had quesadilla type things. Don’t know names. Didn’t take notes. Juanita’s was Italian and mine..?
Restaurant menu says the place is two blocks toward the lake from the Lugo hardware store (ferreretria). More like four, but the street ends on a cross street just past the restaurant location so you can’t miss it.
We walked up to the market street where the aforementioned Ferreteria Lugo was closed for Sunday. The normally crowded street was almost deserted. The casinos were open and a few booths. More stands were open on the side street across from the Pali. The Pali was open so we bought a small bag of clothes detergent and two jugs of water at the Pali and then bought some bananas and some mandarin oranges from vendors.
Back at the room we relaxed and I did a bit more posting of pictures. Around five we went out for a smoothie for Juanita and an ice cream for me. No hot dog tonight. Lunch was pretty substantial.
Puttered on blog until a bit past nine. I guess it has managed to be closer to ten.
January 25, 2016
Down the street to the Spanish tutor at six for coffee and conversation. Mostly gossip, today. A little light on verb conjugation drills.
Back to the hotel for breakfast at seven.
A little slow off the mark getting on the road to the bus, but we got on it about fifteen minutes later than normal. There was a full bus leaving, so we waited for the next one. Right away the new bus was swarmed and we ended up in the seat next to the door. There was not much foot room on the window side so I ended up on the aisle side of the seat with the aisle on my left and my zipped wallet pocket next to Juanita.
Eventually a few kilometers outside of Granada the bus started to fill with standing passengers. I was reading the book Antifragile: Things That Gain from Disorder on my iPod, but as things got scrunched I figured I shouldn’t have it out in my hand so put it in the zippered pocket next to my left armpit for safe keeping.
Once in Masaya the bus really got crowded. People would start to get on and opt out. A few blocks before our stop a person announced he was getting off at the Puma and shoved through the standing passengers past me. The Puma was about three blocks away and I pointed that out and other passengers seemed not to happy to have him crowding to the door early and he started making his way past me toward the back again hitting me in the face with his backpack and really crowding me. Shortly after that, at the next stop he bolted off the bus and moved quickly down the street in a direction away from the Puma. Ours was the next stop and as the bus approached I noticed my zippered pocket was open and my iPod Touch was gone. I said he stole my iPod to the conductor and the guy nodded like he was not surprised at all.
We got off the bus and walked to the torrito (3 wheeled open cab) stand and got on and sat there for a minute since they don’t leave with just two passengers. In less than a minute we decided to go back to Granada and called Byron to tell him that. Then we walked across the street to the Maxi Pali and flagged down a cab and went back to our hotel where I checked the locator on the iPod. It wasn’t logged onto wi-fi so didn’t show up so I locked it remotely and left my telephone number on it and set it to erase it’s contents the first time it is connected to wi-fi. I also copied down the serial number into my notebook and changed a half dozen critical passwords that somebody might learn from it or that are stored on it to access e-mail etc.
Then we asked about the police station in Granada and walked there, but by then people were leaving for lunch and a bystander said they usually took two hours. We walked up the street a bit and bought a couple of baggies of deep fried plantains and mulled our next stop. I called Phillip and he was having lunch at the camp so I said we would call him when we got to Masaya to make sure he was still there before we hopped on another torrito (you might know them as tuk-tuk’s from movies or travels in SE Asia or the Philippines).
At the camp people were busy moving stuff from outside onto the rack that Henry had built in the warehouse. Byron and Michael hand mounted pallets on the rack. We talked with Phillip and Byron about what was happening on site and unless they are successful getting a mud pump there is not that much that needs our help. Juanita stayed to help Martha with sorting stuff and I rode with Phillip into Masaya.
He went to the bank and I went to the police station and explained what happened to several people in turn in my improving but less than perfect Spanish. They parked me on a bench and in short order an interpreter showed up. He knew me and I kind of remember him from interpreting for the construction team last year that was putting a roof on the church on the road to the Laguna de Apoyo. I mostly talked in Spanish and he helped me over the hard parts and a young police officer filled in a paper report form with details of what happened, my identification paper details and the serial number and value of the iPod. Then she took both the interpreter and me to another office where I repeated the story while somebody typed the same information into a computer and then showed me a bunch of pictures of the local bad guys. Tough looking bunch, but none that leapt off the screen as being my thief. They didn’t have any pictures of butts and black backpacks which was pretty well all I saw and I didn’t remember much of that.
Phillip and I had been texting back and forth as he finished various errands. Just as I finally was on my way out of the compound he texted his location. I stopped to give the last of my curved illusion tracts to a couple of police officers who hadn’t got them during my search for the right desk and they were asking for them. By the time I caught up with the interpreter a block away he was visiting with Phillip. We parted company with the interpreter and walked the block to the van and headed off on the next errand. Phillip and Jessica’s daughter Paige was along for the ride and I admired the bunny in the bag they had picked for her as a pet. I suggested names (Stew, etc.) which amused Phillip, but was too old humour to offend her.
After finding out the old place didn’t deal with butane tanks anymore we followed their directions and got the tanks exchanged and headed back to the camp. There Phillip dropped off the tanks, and we changed into the truck and Phillip and Juanita and I went to Granada. Phillip dropped us off around the corner from Tele Pizza and headed to the repair shop to leave the truck to be repaired and pick up the van they had been working on. After the mega slice special each we walked back to the room. Juanita was too stuffed to have her evening smoothie and I took a pass on an ice cream.
After watching Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy! we Skyped briefly with Becky and Ezekial at the hospital. He was still pretty groggy from the chemo therapy and it wasn’t long before we said goodnight and Becky moved to one side. The baby, Ansel, was fussing so we cut that short, too. After a long enough time to allow for Ansel to be fed and for Zeke to doze off, Juanita called Becky from the free phone at the desk and they had a long talk. We will not be going back to Canada early as long as things are progressing as planned.
I am not particularly upset at the loss of the iPod except a little at myself for making a rooky mistake (what they call verde (green) here and hold out a crooked index finger to indicate an untrained parrot), and the reflex of reaching to see what time it is or to check e-mail or to take a snapshot. However, with the day’s events and the talk with Zeke tiredness set in early and we went for an early bedtime.
January 26, 2016
The usual: tutor at six; breakfast at seven, but then routine changed.
We decided there was no point in going to Camp Shiloh today and after a bit of web browsing I called Byron and we talked about pumps a bit. Then my phone’s minutes were gone and it beeped and ended the call. Then he called me back and we talked about pumps a bit more. It may not be that easy to find an appropriate pump in Nicaragua. Or it may, but so far they don’t have a line on one.
We dug through money belts and purses and wallets and nooks and crannies and counted our cash on hand and compared that to the time left in the country and we are fine so far.
I puttered on the internet and chewed through a bunch of e-mails, getting back as far as October and did a bit of writing. Somewhere in there we went to go for coffee for a while so the maid could clean the room, but then we decided we could do with just towels and so we exchanged those. Along about noon we walked up to market street, changed some dollars to Cordobas and found a cobbler and had one of Juanita’s shoes glued back together.
Then we went to the Hot Dogs Connection of Granada for a couple of Combo #1’s with Tico dogs and a Coke Zero each. Juanita has been less than enthusiastic about eating hot dogs for about six months now so we don’t dine on tube steak as much as we used to. A few evenings she may have a smoothie and I will have a hot dog off a street cart and we are both happy, but today was the first time for us to visit the Hot Dogs Connection this trip. The three girls that work there were happy to see us again and asked how long we were here for this year.
Then we walked home and spent a lazy afternoon and evening. Almost like being retired.
Kinder Surprise eggs are hollow chocolate eggs that have a plastic capsule inside containing a toy. These toys can be simple figurines or impressively large and complex action toys that you assemble form the parts in the capsule.
I tend to make fun of the United States border service’s efforts to restrict the entry of Kinder Surprise chocolate eggs. The eggs are available in Canada and Nicaragua and many other countries, but they are banned in the USA under a law from the 1930’s against food with toys inside.
I am not alone in that ridicule. A mockumentary program on CBC radio has had spoof news reports of Kinder Egg smuggling rings. But perhaps there is an element of reality in the ban when one reads of the tragedy of a three year French toddler who died after choking on a "Kinder Egg Toy".
January 27, 2016
I got up etc.
This was our last day paid for at the Hotel Jerico. However, we decided to stay for another week of low intensity relaxation, reading and writing so I paid for seven more nights. Juanita booked us into a hotel in Matagalpa starting on the evening of the third of February for a length of five days. Somewhere in there we will figure out our next move. The hotel in Matagalpa is not the one we stayed in last year, but it looks fine in photos and reviews and will be about the same cost as the Hotel Jerico for this week. This week I took the option of fan-only and cut the cost of the room by a third over what we had been paying for the room with air conditioning. We have been here for three weeks and are getting used to the heat so it should be okay. If it isn’t we can always add the a/c back into our payment. Economizing by choice is always easier than doing it under duress through necessity. You can always change your mind and move back upscale. Like the time I was sick in San Juan del Sur a few years ago and said, “forget buses we’ll take a cab to San Jorge for the ferry to Ometepe Island.”
A lot of my writing is done in our room and during the day we open the curtain so the keyboard is visible. After years of typing using about eight fingers I can type relatively quickly but still need to see the keyboard. The light in the room is so dim to save the hotel owner money that at night I have to use additional artificial light of some sort to assist me. In December I bought Dragon Naturally Speaking, and it is incredible although it is hard to get used to thinking before speaking rather than thinking before typing. If our non purposeful period extends well into February I may learn enough about dictation to be as fast as my typing at which point it should be easy to get much, much faster than I would ever get on a keyboard. I may even be able to teach the program to write Juanita correctly. When I say “Juanita” it comes up with remarkable alternatives to what I want it to write. One risk of being able to enter information faster is I may learn I don’t have as much to say as I thought I did.
While pondering writing speed I was reminded of my Dad’s former boss, Russell Walker. When my Dad worked for him in the 1930’s he was a stock broker. Walker would occasionally go out for lunch and not come back. Part of my Dad’s duties was to wait until the cheques started coming in and then track him down to the hotel where he was shacked up drunk with a prostitute, sober him up and take him home to his wife. I doubt that was part of the formal job description, but it was certainly part of the job until the second world war came along and that brokerage firm shut down. Russell went to be a fixer in Provincial Politics in Victoria and my Dad went to Powell River.
What has that to do with typing speed? Well, in retirement, Russell Walker wrote two books. The first was an autobiography (he didn’t mention the binges) and the second was a history of Prince George. My Dad bought both and I read both. The remarkable thing to me was that between books Russell suffered a stroke and was partially paralyzed. He pecked out the second book using a pencil in his mouth to hit the keys of an IBM Selectric typewriter. I have no idea how he changed the paper and had never thought about that before typing this with my fewer than ten fingers.
Around nine, after lesson and breakfast, we left the room key with the maid and I moved into the eating area to surf the interweb and Juanita walked down the street to her favorite café for a couple of more coffees. I get a coffee with my lesson and another with breakfast so have had as much coffee as I want without walking down the street.
After the room was cleaned we huddled in the room with the a/c cranked up for our last couple of hours. At noon we shut it down and went to a walk to Cafetin Claudia for lunch. After lunch we walked to the Pali we had seen on Monday when we went to the Granada police station. It is across the street from the “Michael Jackson” church. A church the Medfest team buses drive past in the mornings. The church has several statues along the edge of the roof. The team members frequently comment on the statue holding a baby much like Michael Jackson held the baby on the balcony.
Pali is a chain of supermarkets owned by WalMart. This particular one was almost deserted with nobody lined up at the cash registers. The one at the far end of the market street is crowded and you always wait five or ten minutes in line in a store that is being heated by all those warm bodies. In the Maxi Pali in Masaya the lines are even longer. In neither store would I think of using a shopping cart, but here it is no problem. We bought some bags of peanuts, some bananas and four one-gallon jugs of water. The bananas cost more than in the market, but though we are about the same distance from our hotel we are a long way from the market and the bananas were still a fraction of the price back home in Canada. Not to mention a lot sweeter. We stepped out onto the street and flagged down a cab who already had a passenger going the wrong direction for us to join in then we hailed a second taxi and negotiated his price to what anybody else would pay and rode with our four gallons of water to the corner a few meters up the street form our hotel.
Another relaxing afternoon of reading, writing and surfing followed until it was time for Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy!. Occasionally we tried connecting with Skype to Edmonton but never succeeded. No news is, hopefully, good news.
A quick shower and off to bed to try sleeping with no air conditioning to wake me up cold at three or four a.m. when I kick off the sheet (no blankets needed here).
January 28, 2016
Down the street a little before six and did a bit of review while waiting for the door to open and then settled in for pretty steady verb review until seven. After breakfast at seven I remained out in the eating area and puttered at the computer doing a bit of writing and a lot of surfing. Photos were brought up to date.
At noon we walked to Cafetin Claudia and had lunch. At the next table a man and a woman were eating, He had been in Nicaragua for four years and she has just arrived. I got the impression that they were involved in some sort of medical activity here. One story he told concerned the path from the outlook at Catarina to the Lagune de Apoyo. They tell individual group members not to walk that path alone but to travel in groups. Recently, however, they had a group of four guides and five interns walk down in broad daylight and things did not go well. Part way down they were accosted by two men with machetes who took their backpack and cell phones. Now their advice is to travel as a group and take nothing with you.
After eating lunch we walked to the market street and looked for the table that usually sells scissors. It was not there and another table further down the street was selling only manicure scissors and other manicure tools. Eventually we found a store and bought a pair of German scissors for about C$ 95, about half the price it would be in Canada. They are legal length by TSA standards, but that will mean nothing when we leave here. They have their own rules here. Airport security people will seize them if we don’t give them away before we leave.
After that there is not much to say. We relaxed a bit, read a bit, Skyped a bit (Ezekial is looking much better) and eventually watched Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy! before going up the street a bit. I walked with Juanita to the Juguso where she bought her usual “veinte-cinco” (#25 smoothie) and then we walked further up the street to try to find the waitress who asked us for a couple of curved illusion tracts. We were on our way home and I had none left so every time we go past that restaurant we have been looking for her.
Back at home we watched a bit of CNN to see the Trump Veteran’s fund raiser and watched a bit more live streaming on-line when CNN cut to other news. Then it was time to shower and go to bed.
During the day, one of the owner’s daughters explained she was going to leave and go to the States next Monday to live with her son. She works pretty hard here without pay and without days off and is pretty frustrated and feeling pretty unappreciated. She asked for prayer as she was going to tell her father this evening. Later, in the evening she talked to us and the talk had not gone especially well so we commiserated with her and said what we could. Language school Spanish doesn’t cover all the bases.
January 29, 2016
After breakfast and the daily lessons, Juanita went for a coffee down the street while I surfed and then wrote. She noticed what she thought was a cashew tree in the street next to the café. The other Canadian guest here at the Hotel Jerico and I went for a walk to have a look, but decided although it was very much like the fruit on a cashew tree it was slightly different and it definitely lacked the seed pod on the end of the main fruit. Walking back to the hotel we noticed a torrito cab sitting in the middle of the street. One of the people sitting there said, “I bet you don’t have any of those where you come from.” I started telling her in Spanish that we don’t have them in the streets, but that there were some in the paper mill where I worked as a summer student when I was young. Then the conversation turned to the curved illusion tract and about six got handed around. Then we walked up to the next corner so I could show him where the Chinese restaurant is around the corner and the Eskimo on the corner.
At lunch time we walked up near the square and checked on the store where we have bought Nicaraguan maps in the past. It was closed for lunch so we walked to Cafetin Claudia and ate. After eating we walked up to the market street and walked its length and bought some bananas and mandarin oranges. Walking back past the store that has sold maps in the past we found it now open, but no maps for sale. A couple of doors down we got a poorer map of the country, but good enough for our purposes and the price was much better – free. I can tolerate a few ads and a bit of lack of detail at that price. We just want an idea of where towns are when we start wandering around the country by bus next week.
We read, wrote (Expansion of January 10th point-form and an article on Bears for the Fall Update) and relaxed the afternoon away trying Skype unsuccessfully a few times. At a little after five we walked around the corner to the Chinese restaurant and ordered Pollo Asado (roast chicken) from the cart outside the door. They brought it to our table with the chicken, ensalada and two types of plantains on a banana leaf.
We got back to the room early in the Wheel of Fortune game and watched that and Jeopardy! before trying Skype again and more reading and relaxation. I showered and we headed to bed before nine. There was some sort of loud street party that we did not investigate and which did nothing to slow our falling asleep. A life of relative idleness can be tiring.
January 30, 2016
I was a bit early down the street today and had put out the table and chairs and was just sitting there enjoying the dawn, waiting until the instructor came out with the coffee and a person stopped. He suggested that I was probably not a native Spanish speaker and I agreed. Then I asked him about why he was in Granada and his trip so far and learned where he was from Manitoba. I said I knew where that was since I was from Saskatchewan. Then I asked him what town and I only remember knowing one person from that town, but he knew him too and I said to say hi from me and then he continued on with his walk and we started our session.
After breakfast we visited with Victor, a Canadian from Abbotsford, B.C. and then we read a bit and wrote a bit until lunch time. Juanita went down the street for her second cup while I was writing. In there somewhere we did some Skyping to Edmonton and then it was lunchtime. Where does the time go?
Lunch was at Cafetin Claudia and after that we walked up the market. We bought some bananas and mandarin oranges and changed a fifty-dollar bill into Cordobas since cambistas seem to take Sundays off.
On the way through the square we were quoted ten dollars each for a three-hour tour (catchy phrase for a boat tour) of the isletas with time to stop for a cool drink and another stop to swim and a stop at the old fort and climb to the top of the fort and then return into the sunset. He said he had five people and if we were interested to show up there at three.
Back at the hotel for more writing and surfing and then we got involved in a phone call to Canada and took a bit too much time to get to the square so just missed the tour. We walked back to the hotel and then we walked toward where we had last tried to find The Bridge / La Puente church a few years ago. That effort had ended dismally. We could not locate it and ended up in a pretty rough area and ran into somebody who had shined my shoes a few days before and he dragged us to some crippled friend’s house who wanted money so we gave him a one-dollar bill and a tract and boogied out of the barrio tout suite as the people in eastern Canada say.
Today worked better. There were more people on the street and we asked directions several times until it narrowed down to the right building. The pastor and a few others were there and we chatted a bit and learned the time of tomorrow’s service. The pastor introduced himself when he met us at the gate, but by the time we were leaving I had forgotten it so apologized and asked him to repeat it and he said it was Carlos the third and I said “like the chocolate bar Carlos V?” and we all laughed, but I remember his name now.
We walked home up a different street and timed our walk so we know how soon to leave for church tomorrow. It will probably be quicker in the morning since this was a new street to us and there were lots of people around the fronts of their houses and we handed out a number of curved illusion tracts.
Then we had an ice cream each and I had a cart dog and we watched Wheel and Jeopardy! weekend edition and then called it a fairly early night after a bit more reading, writing and surfing.
January 31, 2016
Our exploration yesterday to find Eglesia La Puente (The Bridge Church) www.thebridgegranda.org paid off this morning when we able to get there on time and find a spot to sit before the service started and the place filled up. We shuffled a bit to find a spot where the sun wouldn’t get my bald head or my red-enough-already neck, but it quickly became apparent that we had failed and I ended up not quite wearing my hat, but did have it draped on the back of my head and neck to stop sunburn. I didn’t notice anybody taking notice enough to be noticed taking notice. If they did, I would guess their opinion of me is none of my business, in any case. The pastor preached a good sermon with a lagging translation by a learning teenager. Even Juanita (who claims to know no Spanish) knows enough Spanish to catch his shortcuts and mistranslations, but he will improve over time. Good for him being brave enough to even do it. The pastor may not know enough English to correct the young fellow. We have been around Way of the Cross preachers for so long we are used to most of their speakers correcting any mis-translations in real time. No harm done, just a mild diversion at the time.
After the sermon there was a communion service followed by the baptism of a recent believer. The joy on his face as he came up out of the water was beyond compare. One of the worst things of taking pictures is that I tended to dwell more on missing that picture than on experiencing the sight of his face.
After church we walked back to the central tourist street up from the lake to the park and bought a sweet bread at a bakery on our way home to our hotel. There we changed into shorts and I visited a long time with Victor from Abbotsford who told me about his experiences running a small hotel in rural Alberta. A definite tale of buddy to be written there.
At noon we walked up to the Hot Dogs Connection. On the way we kept our eye out for yesterday’s tour tout near the central square. We had no luck finding him and no luck at the Hot Dogs Connection. They were closed for the day. They used to open Sundays and sometimes had nacatamales. No nacatamales for us. Glad they get a day off. At Tele Pizza we shared their mega slice special and a glass of iced tea.
Back at the room I texted somebody we had met in the square a week ago when he was touting a tour to us. He gave me a card that said he was our “Go To Guy in Granada”. We texted back and forth with him being cagey and not committing to price and us not committing to identity or exact location. Finaly he told us to meet Hugo in the green shirt who would be waiting under the big cross at the cathedral across from the park. We went there and eventually his surrogate in the green shirt showed up. The shirt had a tour company logo on it. Our go to guy was out on a boat so Hugo would have to do.
We discussed a three-hour-tour (has a ring to it, doesn’t it?) on a boat on the lake. They did not have anybody else scheduled yet for the 3 o’clock boat ride. Under those circumstances we negotiated a reasonable price, but not as good as if we were two being added to five already paying full fare. Then we walked to his office across the square and near the bus depot to pay and get receipt.
On the way to the office we carried on a conversation.
“How long are you here?”
“A month so far.”
“All in Granada?”
“Stayed here but did some work near Masaya.”
“Do you know Nathan?”
“Yes, Nathan and Melody. We are meeting them for breakfast on Tuesday.”
“Have you been to their house?”
“That’s my aunt’s house. I used to live there. Say ‘Hi from Hugo’ to them on Tuesday.”
We paid at office and agreed to come back at five or ten minutes to three. They said they would try and find more passengers.
We were back to the office on time and handed out Canada flag pins and curved illusion tracts. They had no other passengers so it would be a private tour. Just us the boat man and the guide. I bought a couple of bottles of water at the snack stand in the bus depot and a driver drove the guide and us to the boat and dropped us off there.
It was a nice tour, longer than any we have had in the past. The waters were calm and we saw lots of birds. There are 365 isletas. One of the islands has an old fort which was restored a few years back. We got to climb on the fort, but didn’t go swimming. We also stopped on an another island for a while. Our boat stood off from Monkey Island while a couple of other boats enticed monkeys aboard them. Not the smartest idea. Not exactly pets.
After the boat tour the car and driver was waiting and he dropped us off near our hotel. We waited a few minutes for Wheel to start, planned to go for supper afterward. When we found there was no Wheel tonight we left for Tele Pizza for a Mediterranean salad and a scoop or two of ice cream on the way home. There we read, wrote and went to bed.