The alarm goes off at its usual five a.m. I shower and get things ready to leave right after breakfast. Even though the Spanish tutoring session starts at six I ran a bit late getting there. It is easy to set pushy deadlines, but old-man bowels on a third-world diet sometimes have a different opinion.
After the session with the tutor I rush back to the hotel for the seven o’clock breakfast and we are out on the street before 7:30 headed to the square to catch a bus. Buses pass on the far side of square as we approach. There is no time to get across the square in time to catch one so we go down a block to the terminal and get on a nearly empty UCA bus that fills quickly and leaves the terminal.
We hop off the bus at the WOTC staff house, arriving there before the devotional and have some time for visiting. The subject of the devotional is “change”.
We rode in the truck to the school grounds where Medfest will be held. Byron checked out where the tent would go then he and I headed in the truck to Sinsa building supply store in Managua. The store looks first world. It is nicer than any building supply store I have visited in Canada. We needed 12 toilets, 12 sinks and stands and faucets for them plus six kitchen faucets.
We spend a lot of time trying to find sufficient faucet quantities with metal internals in the right price range, and negotiate a quantity discount for them since they do not have the less expensive ones we saw a few days ago.
The toilets and lavatory sinks we want come in sets. We are assured that they have 12.
Both Byron and I push for this to be verified to the point of obnoxiousness. Store clerks become visibly annoyed at us and insist there is no problem.
Past dealings with Sinsa have revealed their policies. If they do not have all of an item on your invoice when you go to the loading dock to pick it up you can come back for the shortage at a later time. You cannot change your mind and cancel that part of your order and buy that item elsewhere unless you cancel everything else on that invoice.
And then you will not get your money back.
You will get a store credit.
This education took four hours of fussing all the way up to the store manager one day last year when they did not have the ceiling tiles they said they did and put on the invoice. I suppose one could force the issue by giving everything back and using the store credit to start over to buy the parts of the order they did have, but then you would be left with a store credit for the stuff they didn't have.
We check out the evaporator unit and condenser unit listed at $400 on the web site and agree to buy two and open the packages for inspection and then learn that the “conjunto” (with) on the web site means that the listed condenser unit is used with the evaporator unit. It doesn’t come with the evaporator unit. The condenser is an extra $600 dollars. Stop the presses. No deal.
In the paint department we work our way through what is available and what isn’t with about six helpers trying to be helpful from their perspective. There is no semi-gloss or gloss latex paint available in five-gallon cans. We buy two five-gallon buckets of sealer and a five-gallon bucket of satin tinted to order.
Shortly after noon we head to the till. This is taking way too long. The valves and toilets were entered into the system in the plumbing department. The paint, in the paint department. The bill gets totalled at the till.
We just about push the attendant over the edge when I ask again about if he is sure they have the toilets before we pay and Byron asks if he has seen them with his own eyes and the guy tells us it “will be fine”. Byron gives the till operator the money. About $US 1800 cash. She holds each bill up to the light and carefully inspects it.
All the valves are checked at the till against our receipt. We go to the loading dock and bring the truck around. Still no sign of the toilets, sinks, and pedestals. The security guard takes each item that we do have out of the carts and checks it against our receipt.
We load what we have onto the truck.
The toilets will be here soon we are told. Eventually we go sit on some display furniture and visit. Clerks show up to tell us there are only eight toilet sets at the store. There are a hundred in the warehouse and we can come back for four more tomorrow.
The clerk who could speak English well has disappeared.
I rant a bit. Well, a lot. And we try different solutions because our truck is busy tomorrow. None of the solutions work. I ask for somebody who speaks English better. They bring a sacrificial virgin for the dragon, but her English is worse than my Spanish so we carry on in Spanish and eventually I get across that they should bring us what they have and we will load it and take a clerk hostage and go to another branch of Sinsa or the Sinsa warehouse for the difference.
They seem good with that idea and finally go off to actually physically get the toilet sets. They come to the loading dock on three jumbled pallets shrink wrapped along with other toilets and bathroom chinaware.
Four people supervise while two workers open each box and inspect the pieces inside for damage and accessories (toilet float, valve, seat, etc.). They open and we inspect and they tape back up one box each for ten sinks, eight toilet bases, seven toilet tanks, and ten sink pedestals.
During this process Byron had talked to Ben and Ben said they were coming into Managua tomorrow and would pick the balance up that the clerk said would be in the store by ten. They allow us to take seven sets and promise that the others will be in tomorrow by one. Hopefully they are under promising.
The English-speaking clerk briefly reappears just before we start loading. He asks at one point if we can pick the rest up “yesterday” and in a better mood I might have cut him some slack, but didn’t. I just pointed out that was impossible a few more times than necessary. Someday I will pay for that churlishness when somebody ridicules me for one of my frequent translation errors.
Each box is now inspected and initialled (so we can’t sneak them back in?) by the security guard before we load it on the truck. We are back on the road to Granada at 3:45. No wonder they have a café in the store. We are not especially happy, but glad to not be going deeper into Managua in rush hour traffic with a Sinsa hostage.
Back at the staff house a van loads up and we are off to find the church where the construction team is going to put on a roof. It is getting dark by the time we are near where Ben remembers the site to be. A few locals we ask suggest it is on the main road to the Laguna de Apoyo and we are on a side road and Ben knows it was not on the main road so we give up and head back to Granada. The van drops us at the main square and we walk to Tele Pizza for a Mediterranean salad and a pitcher of ice water.
When we get to the room we get power turned on for the AC in the room. The AC is on a separate breaker for each room. The breakers are lined up in a row behind the reception desk. We (usually) turn the unit in the room off when we leave in the morning, but the owners make sure by opening the breaker at the desk. I guess they are also making sure the AC is not turned on by the maid or is on when the door is open for room cleaning.
We are in time to watch Final Jeopardy and then there is nothing else worth watching so I finish the “Eye Wall” adventure book on my Kindle.
We take turns showering,
I post the day on my blog in point form and we go to bed. Another day of glamor and excitement winning the lost - one hostile commercial transaction at a time.
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