The month and the page are works in progress, but poco a poco both will get done, one more inexorably than the other.
Right now this is a placeholder page. more words and pictures to follow. We are in Granada, Nicaragua.
Page last worked on January 13th.
January at Home
Goodbye teens. Hello twenties. Welcome to the new decade. For you purists out there and your “no-year-zero/not-a-new-decade” diatribe try telling a 20 year-old they are still a teenager. So there. There’s a reason there’s no comment section here. 😊
We spent the first day of the year shutting down the water supply, taking out last year’s filters and flushing the system with anti-freeze in case the back-up heat fails. By today, Juanita was all packed, but, as usual I had a bit to go.
On the second day I finally finished packing and paid a few bills forward and did some tidying I had been avoiding since we moved back home in early August. A mess always bothers me at some level. It never seems to bother me enough to do everything necessary to make it go away while I’m there, but I hate to leave a mess. It can be a mess again the minute after I show back up, but there is this quirk that doesn’t let me walk away with a clean conscience if it is possible to fix it.
Then into town for a last few errands and to check the post office box for my re-do DNA kit. They said I broke their system and would have to spit into a new bottle and gave even more detailed instructions for the re-spit. Some people can’t walk and spit at the same time. It looks like I can’t even just spit right. It took them a week after their e-mail to mail the bottle and it went through L.A. on December 24th, but hadn’t it made it to Meadow Lake by January 2nd. Something to look forward to in the mail bin that Debbie keeps adding to while we are gone. We were here at Christmas so there is not the Christmas cards in March tradition to look forward to.
We hit a drive thru and then we’re on our way to Edmonton, through the cold, dim wasteland. We arrived in time to babysit while Becky took Ezekial to a Bible quiz practice. Over the next couple of days we did any more shopping and errands needed before our trip and the last couple of things on my pre-trip keyboarding.
Friday night Debbie, Ernie and two of their kids showed up. Sasha had to work, so she stayed home.
Saturday we all went to watch Ezekial play basketball at the Saville Centre. After lunch all but Juanita and the two youngest stayed home. The rest of us went to the “Spies in Disguise” movie. After the movie we celebrated Ezekial’s eleventh birthday back at home.
Edmonton, AB to Granada, Nicaragua
(by way of Toronto, San Jose & Managua)
On Sunday after church Debbie and Ernie drove us to a hotel near the airport. Normally, Nick would give us a ride to the airport the morning of the flight, but he headed back to Pittsburgh to work after Christmas. Our flight is scheduled to leave at six in the morning so we need to show up for check-in at 4:30. Even though it starts as a domestic flight with the first leg to Toronto, they want us there ninety minutes early to verify our documents. It would be a bit much to ask Becky to get up, load all five kids, including the newborn, in the van and drive us to be at the airport by 4:30. The hotel is a better solution and not much different than a cab in cost. I don’t think I’d want to trust an Uber to be that reliable that early in the morning. Old fashioned, I guess.
After we check-in at the hotel and drop our luggage in the room, we all went over to the outlet mall near the airport, had lunch and walked around a bit. Debbie and Ernie dropped us back at the hotel and they and the kids headed back home to Meadow Lake. We relaxed, ordered a donair pizza for dinner and went to bed early for a 3:30 wake-up call and a 3:50 shuttle to the airport. It arrives “once per hour at ten to the hour”. At the third pickup on the route, somebody came out with a sarcophagus sized and shaped bag which took all the driver’s strength and imagination to get into the shuttle and laid out on the reclined front passenger seat. It was some sort of ski equipment. Too short to be skis so maybe for a snowboard?
We had checked online as well as we could, but it wouldn’t let us complete the process. The counter agent gave us two of the three boarding passes and said we would have to get the third in Costa Rica or in Toronto if we could find a Copa Airlines agent there. They have an office, but we “would have to leave the secured area” unless we found them in process of boarding a flight.
Off through security for our same sex groping ritual and find a seat near the gate and buy a couple of $4 sandwiches for $9 each and wait for the plane. It loaded as well as can be expected when they load by group numbers and label one portal “Group 1”, the next portal “Group 2” and the third portal “Groups 3 – 6”. After the ritual barking from the gate agent at the mixed line to let the group three people through, we loaded. I think maybe people are nervous about getting on in time to stow their carryon while there is yet room. They keep announcing the flight is full, and they don’t have enough room for carry-ons and they will check your carry-on bag for free. Air Canada claims they were rated the best airline in North America in 2019. Gives you pause, doesn’t it?
The plane took off. Landed in Toronto on time and we found our flight on the screen, found our gate with San Jose and both Air Canada and Avianca listed and settled in for a fivish hour wait. There were no airline personnel at the desk this much time before the flight.
An internet search showed the only Copa Airlines flight through the airport left at 7 am. I went in search of an Air Canada airline help desk. There was a gate with agents around the corner from “our” gate. There was a younger woman at one end along with a man at a terminal with a couple of people in front of them. Toward the other end of the counter was another lady dealing with a customer. I stood off to one side of her and waited for her to be free. Eventually she was. I explained my boarding pass issue and she started working on it. A small dark Hispanic looking man approached the man at the now empty counter and presented his boarding pass. The Air Canada male gate agent snapped at the man and said “that’s for San Jose. Go sit over there”. The young woman at the end explained in Spanish and the man went over and sat in the waiting area while grumpy turned his attention back to his monitor and keyboard. I asked him if the gate had been changed for the San Jose flight. He snapped at me that “they were busy boarding a flight.” The pleasant lady kept working on my problem. I did a Spanish curved illusion tract with the young lady who had explained where to sit to the darker man. The competent lady issued me a boarding pass for Copa Air for the next morning, then she issued another one for Juanita and I gave her a curved illusion tract and gave her one to give to your “grumpy friend”. She smiled. Must be hard to work next to a grumpy. Air Canada has its share of them. And its share of competent, pleasant people, as well.
After checking the boards more closely we moved to the gate where I had got the boarding passes. Who knew there would be two flights leaving to San Jose so close together.
After the predictable and unnecessary circus boarding our flight it left pretty much on time. Not long after take-off they asked for a medical person, if any, to identify themselves. I suggested to Juanita that this was not a good sign.
The plane turned back to Toronto and landed, went to one gate to remove the person in distress, and to another gate to deplane us while refueling. A new flight crew showed up. We re-boarded and waited while a mechanic came and made a repair to the starter on the left engine. We took off again and we arrived at San Jose around three-thirty in the morning.
We had booked a hotel close to the airport for our scheduled nine-hour lay over. By the time we got off the plane and into the terminal we only had a couple of hours before it would be time to start lining up for the flight to Managua. So off we went and found a CDN$ 12 for the bargain price of $US 39, before going to the gate for our plane. Judging from the parade of cleaning personnel on and off the plane, it had some cleaning issues. They got resolved and we left for Managua not too late.
Off the plane, line up, pay our tourist fee, out to the customs area, and run our bags through the X-Ray machines and off to the cab line-up. Don Jose, who has met us in the past seems to have dropped out of sight during the troubles so there was nobody meeting us. The official airport cabs are safe enough. The official tout quoted me $US 50 to Granada. I rolled my eyes at him and he dropped it five bucks. Probably could have forced it lower, but that’s not that far off the going rate. Juanita sleeps a little bit on planes. I don’t sleep at all on planes and hadn’t slept well the night at the hotel. I was sleeping really well when the alarm went off, but it hadn’t been going that way for nearly long enough. Now I just wanted to get to our room. Close enough for cab price.
If you really want to save money. You walk out and grab a gypsy cab. Take it to the UCA bus depot and catch a bus. Maybe save $40, for the cost of two extra hours of cramped, hot conditions and some risk of being mugged. Not today thanks.
I offered the driver the extra five bucks back if he’d stop and wait for me at a supermarket on the way. I darted in and loaded up on jugs of water, toiletries too big for carry-on and snacks. At the hotel it was hugs and handshakes all around, throw the bags into the room and walk down to One-on-One Tutoring before going back to the room to recover a bit before lunch. After lunch at Cafetin Claudia (more hugs) there was a trip to the market for Cordobas, an extension cord and a piece of coaxial cable to rearrange our room more to our liking. I ran out of steam before buying a SIM card or getting a haircut. Time for a bit more sleep. That’s enough market for one day.
After a few days we settled into a bit of a routine with lessons and walks and getting used to the warmth. I bought a SIM card and made contact with Theresa at Way of the Cross. Director, Ben, arrived Thursday evening and on Friday we went and visited him at Camp Shilo and got a feel for events. It looks like Juanita will work helping with the pharmacy at the Medfest in Masaya and Paul will go up country with the construction team to work on a building for future missionary teams.
Saturday, we headed out early to Camp Shilo and hooked up with Theresa and Ben and Cindy, a translator. After stopping in Masaya for new tires for the van we got on the road to Matagalpa. In Matagalpa we visited the lumberyard where they are planing the flooring for the second floor of the new building. It is to be delivered to site next Tuesday. Then up out of Matagalpa to the Promised Land, east toward Dalia turning off the highway just before Cascadas Blancas Eco Reserve. Almost an hour of gravel and mud roads later we were high in the hills checking out the new structure on a pasture which is part of 96 acres of coffee plantation and forest.
After checking things out and some prayer time we headed up and down the roads back to the highway and drove to Masaya in the gathering darkness. They dropped us at the Puma in Masaya. We grabbed a cab back to Tele Pizza for a slice of pizza and then walked back home to the hotel.
Byron is scheduled to arrive Monday evening and we plan to go to Camp Shiloh on Tuesday to finalize my schedule with the construction team. Juanita will talk to Martha about her schedule with the pharmacy. There might even be some things to help with. Generally there is less help needed each year as the in country staff increase and the event becomes more routine to prepare for.