The page is "substantially complete" as they say in the construction biz ("Oh. You can take care of that little problem with your plant over the next few years. We are on time, on budget and on our way. See you." As they scurry for the exits.)
Granada to Matagalpa
Went down the street and had the last lesson of the year with Roger Jr.
Back to the hotel for breakfast at 7 and then finished packing. We went for coffee and then bought a bag of sliced fruit for me and a bag of sliced papaya for Juanita. On the way back we ducked our heads into Abdallah Travel’s office and were told they got the message. I had booked the shuttle the day before and gave the Mercado Oriental in Managua as the destination. Later in the evening I had realized my mistake. The bus depot for the buses to the north is next to the Mercado Mayoreo. Oops. That would be nasty. The moment I realized the mistake I went out and mentioned it to the desk clerk/ hotel owner’s daughter/ sister of the owner of Abdallah Travel. She said she would phone them in the morning.
At about ten to ten we went out and handed in our key and said goodbye (hugs) and sat in the rocking chairs by the Hotel Jerico entrance. At ten my iPod announced “ten o’clock” and the car for the Mercado stopped out front. How’d he do that?
This car was a private car in better shape than last year’s. He also knew where the Mercado Mayoreo was. Last year the driver had tried to dump us by the side of the road at a spot where the bus would pass by. I resisted. By the time a bus gets there, there is nothing but standing room. It seemed that he had two problems. First, going to the market would mean he had to drive slightly further than if he was taking us to the Managua airport. Second, he didn’t know the way to the market. I had to give him directions and encouragement. “Turn here.” “Not far now”
This year’s driver knew where the market was, but was foggy about the bus depot. He tried to drive further into it before dropping us off. With a little encouragement he dropped us near the street that goes into the market. We walked a little ways in and something seemed off about being able to connect to the depot so I asked somebody for directions. See. A man can ask for directions. Maybe it has more to do with stopping driving than with directions. Asking for directions while driving means you have to stop and ask for directions. Stopping walking to ask for directions is an entirely different matter.
My geo sense was right we had been heading in the wrong direction. We went back out to the main street and started walking east. When we started crossing the driveway. There was a bus leaving and a bus behind it. The tout for the second bus was yelling “Matagalpa”, our destination for the day. I asked if there were seats. He clamed there were. He didn’t say there were none together. I hadn’t asked that. I did ask if it was an Expresso or not. He mumbled that it wasn’t in a low enough voice that the answer was uncertain. Expresso make fewer stops. They may have more leg room as well. I would hope so. The tout took Juanita’s bag and put it on the rack near the front of the bus and put mine in the rack over where I would be sitting. We managed seats across the aisle from each other. I don’t think it would be possible to get both my knees in the allotted space, but with one knee in the aisle I managed to find a position that would not cause long term paralysis.
We paid our fare of sixty-five Cordobas each (US$2.16) and settled in to the three-hour bus ride. Pretty quickly the bus filled to standing room only and the cast of characters changed over a bit as people got off and other people got on to replace them. At various places vendors got on and hawked their wares and got off a a stop or two down the road and then crossed the road to wait for a bus going the other direction. I handed out a few curved illusion tracts and had a bit of a conversation with the fellow next to me until the town of Dario where he got off. I could barely hear him with the general noise and the wind noise form most of the bus windows being open, but we tried. He was replaced with a woman with her child of about ten years of age on her lap. She was not overweight but tall for a Nica. We all three managed to survive on a school bus seat designed for five-year-olds that I could fill all on my own if I manspread enough that my knees fit. Good thing I was on the aisle. I wear SEV tee shirts with a zippered pocket on the left armpit. It is designed for a smart phone. I have had that pocket picked and my iPod stolen while riding the aisle seat of a bus in Masaya. I am more aware now and don’t take the iPod out on the bus and pay more attention to the pocket when people are in my space.
Arrived at Matagalpa.
Out into the scrum for cabs.
No room in trunk for both bags. One bag went in with the bicycle. Woman with child in backseat. Person in passenger seat. Juanita got in back seat I handed her the bags. I got in she handed me the bag to put on my lap. Circuitous route. Looks like woman in back with the child is with the cabbie. Gave directions and got to the hotel. Hugs all around. Owner’s daughter leaving for Miami in a couple of hours.
Quiet time. Long walks. Check out a few new restaurants. Lots of reading in the parks between rain squalls.
One day we took our annual pilgrimage for Selva Negra a coffee plantation, restaurant, hotel not too far from Matagalpa. Usually we have a coffee, then hike a bit and then have lunch and then wander the grounds a bit more and read a bit, have another coffee and head home. The weather this year did not cooperate so much.
Texted Indy’s cab driver friend, Joel
Joel called back. Joel showed up half an hour early. We left.
Gray clouds and a bit of rain, Cold. We ate comfort food breakfast style. We sat around and read. During a break we walked to the chapel and back and on the way back found a covered dome/gazebo overlooking the lake and sat there and read. Then between squalls we darted back to the restaurant and went upstairs to the museum area. After checking out the exhibits we sat up there on some comfortable chairs and read for a while before coming down stairs for lunch. After lunch we went for a walk around the lake and back to the domed gazebo for a brief time before stopping by the restaurant for coffee and cheesecake.
Joel showed up at four and we went home after a pleasant day with about half the exercise and twice the calories (and cost) compared to our normal sojourns.
Bucket truck? We doan need no steenkeen bucket truck!
San Ramon is an eighty Cordoba (fifteen minute) cab ride from Matagalpa. We went there to this charming, mountain village and wandered around and sat in the park and had lunch before getting turned around and waiting on the wrong side of the road for a bus. When the bus came and we tried to get on they directed us to the other side of the road where the buses back to Matagalpa stop. The buses going the other direction go to a town called Muy Muy. It is far from anywhere and who wants to go to a town named after a rodent, anyway.
We had considered spending a few nights there, but the online ad for the B&B we were looking at said they included mosquito nets for each bed. Lost interest in spending any nights there. Nice place for a day trip, though.
Juanita wrote this in an e-mail to a granddaughter:
We love Matagalpa because it is cooler than Granada and fewer people! We left there four days ago because it was raining every day and we moved to Esteli. Bigger than Matagalpa - lots of people but fewer tourist than Granada and harder to find really cheap places to eat. The place we are staying does not serve breakfast and has yukky coffee so we need to be up and out or starve 😊
Esteli is not a tourist town so there is not really much to do here so we walk around, sit in the park and read, eat and sleep. We have seen two parades so far: first one was a religious one where the first people were carrying a statue of Jesus and they would sing and then stop at places where someone had already set up crosses - there they would do their prayers and some sort of reading and then go on to the next place. The second one was yesterday - lots of costumes representing different towns in Nicaragua. These parades were really interesting in that they just go up main roads and too bad for the traffic. There are not any blockades to show that they are coming so the traffic just gets backed up until the parade is past.
Museo de Historia & Arquelogia
We walked to this museum near the ball stadium and spent a few hours wandering around checking out the exhibits. The political portions leaned left, which is to be expected.
Back to Granada
We grabbed a cab passing by our hotel and went to breakfast at the courtyard of Coffee and Cocktails restaurant where Juanita had her Desayuno Estiliano and I had another of one of the best omelets I have had in Nicaragua, ever. Then we got another cab to Cotran Sur and went in the terminal and bought tickets for the Expresso to Managua which pulled into the bay as I paid for the tickets. We went out and let the helper know we were getting off at Tipitapa and he stowed our bags accordingly in one of the bays under the Greyhound style bus. At Tipitapa we got off and a pedicab huffed us and our bags to the bus terminal for buses to Masaya. An expresso was loading and we stowed our bags in the back and boarded and waited until it was close to full and off we went.
The bus got jammed full of passengers and it looked like we would have to ride all the way to the market in Masaya, but as we got to the edge of Masaya the crowd thinned and we got off at the Puma rotunda. We dragged our bags across the pair of one way streets to and from the rotunda and entered the gloriously air conditioned Puma convenience store and dined on chicken. Then I paid their kinda high price for a couple of gallons of water and we went out and negotiated a cab fare to the Hotel Jerico in Granada. More hugs all around. Put our bags in the room and went for a walk down toward the lake. Sno cone stand is gone. Oh well. Nice cold sno cone would have hit the spot. Pout a bit but get over it quickly. We stopped by the Spanish school and arranged for six o’clock tutoring to resume in the morning. I guess I was wrong when I said that February 1st was the last lesson of the year.
In Granada we enjoyed the warmth after the cold rain of the high country and just generally relaxed before heading to Managua on Tuesday to stay across from the airport overnight. We are booked to fly out on Wednesday, the last day of February.
On Monday we managed to hook up for breakfast with Nathan and Melody Durant. You may remember Melody as the missionary wife who went to jail as discussed in my Jail Mindset article. We dined at what I called Nicky’s Pancake House in a Tales of Buddy article.
Last week President Trump read “The Snake” poem to the CPAC crowd. Basically, a snake has a nature.
So does United Airlines.
This past week I got an e-mail from them saying we could get to sit together on the flights home if we upgraded to Premium Economy or some similar oxymoronic term they had for chiselling more money from their passengers.
Juanita went on line, checked and sure enough. They had cancelled the seating we selected when we booked and now had us sitting in different rows. The only way we could change the seats to be together without incurring a charge of around fifty dollars Canadian each was to move back ten rows from where they let us select when we originally booked. Snakes have their nature. Ask Adam and Eve. So does United. Ask anybody. Their customers. Their cabin crews. Anybody.
Hopefully that is the worst of the problems with the trip. I like boring when it comes to flying.