We were both packed early for our trip to Edmonton and beyond. That usually doesn’t happen. Usually I pack at the last minute, but this time was different. Nothing like a cold snap to help focus one on heading for warmer climes.
In the week leading up to our departure we brought in 3 gallon RV antifreeze jugs that had been filled with water last summer. We placed them in the bathtub to thaw and be available for flushing the toilet before we left and until the water system was up and running when we got back.
Two days before departure it was minus 32 degrees C. I drained all the water out of the water system and then filled it with RV antifreeze. Could have waited for the last minute, but like to have time to go to town and buy parts if any are discovered to be needed. The filters got bypassed and the elements removed. New filter elements are ready for installation next spring. The water was sucked out of the line from the well to below freeze level and then backfilled with RV antifreeze.
The crawl space and the house will be heated to just above freezing to minimize effects on the flooring. I suppose one could leave it at that, but even with R60+ ceiling and R50 wall insulation a three-day power failure would be hard on the water lines. So we do the belt and suspenders thing by doing two things when one might be enough.
To minimize the use of flushing water I found the bushes were handy for most but not all of my needs even in the cold weather. I headed out to the outhouse. It doesn’t get as much use as it did when we were boon docking in our fifth wheel trailer and hauling water in a forty-five gallon bag in the bed of the pick-up, but it can still come in handy when needed. When I got there I realized it had been quite a while since it had been used. Somebody had left the lid and seat up.
The vapour from the pit had condensed as ice crystals on every available surface. Even my two signed pictures of Stephen Harper, the former prime minister of Canada, were covered with ice. I kicked the side of the seat and the ice blockage in the tube dropped into the pit. The trusty do-nut of Styrofoam worked just fine, but I didn’t even consider catching up on my reading or any other activities other than the one that summoned me there. After a quick conclusion to the activity I closed the lid and left the outer door ajar. Hopefully the ice will melt in the spring and the ventilation from the slightly open door will allow things to dry out. Guess we will deal with any squirrels or other new tenants in the spring.
I decided if I used a few extra jugs of water we could just refill them at our daughter’s house if we had to.
We boarded up the windows and dropped the car at our daughter’s. She will take care of getting it to the body shop and getting the bobo fixed when the parts come in and then bring it to Edmonton when she comes and take our truck back to Meadow Lake. Update – The parts came in and were wrong and had to be re-ordered. How that is possible with a VIN number is beyond my comprehension, but maybe that is part of being in the latter stages of early onset grumpy old man.
Update – a friend asked why I had two signed pictures of Stephen Harper in my outhouse. My reply was that they were given to donors and it was the only house I had at the time I received them.
December 31st morning, things had warmed up to a balmy minus 28 degrees C. We warmed up the truck, loaded our stuff in it, emptied the toilet tank, removed the water from the bowl with a plunger and filled the bowl and all sink drains with RV antifreeze. After shutting off the appropriate circuit breakers we drove the truck through the gate, locked the gate and headed to our daughter’s house and picked up our granddaughter, Sonja, who will be us for the first two weeks in Nicaragua.
The roads were mostly okay on the way to Edmonton. After passing through St. Walburg we turned on the road toward Maidstone so we could come into Lloydminster along the Yellowhead Highway and do some shopping there. There wasn’t much traffic on that highway.
As we travelled down into the valley of the North Saskatchewan River I used the engine brake to keep the truck facing forward and reduce our speed to 80 km/hr (50 mph). As we crossed the bridge we passed a truck and semi-trailer coming toward us. After we passed I started applying a bit of pressure to the accelerator to get up more speed to get up the hill going back out of the valley. The truck turned sideways. It took both lanes to get it back under control. Wouldn’t have wanted to do that in front of an oncoming semi, nor would I want to go off a bridge and crash through river thin ice fifty feet below. The ice on the lakes is getting so you can drive on them about now, but I don’t think river ice will support a dually driving on it let alone plunging off a bridge. The climb out of the valley was devoid of any conversation.
We got our shopping done in Lloydminster and had lunch then carried on to Edmonton, arriving after the first guests had arrived at Nick and Becky’s for New Year’s Eve. Juanita and I visited and ate and played a game, but went to bed before midnight. It’s been a couple of years since we stayed up to ring in the New Year, but this year we may have been a bit more tired than normal, coming off the adrenalin high from the bridge.
January 1 (Monday)
My iPod Touch had been holding a charge for only half an hour to an hour. I called the Apple Store automated system and was informed that the store was open, but they were not accepting appointments. It was a matter of showing up and waiting your turn. We went there and I asked about getting a replacement battery installed. They said they didn’t do that. They give you a new iPod for the price of a battery.
They ran a few diagnostics and created a sales/work order. We went back home and I backed up the iPod to the laptop. It had last been done in November so it took only a couple of hours to do that and get back to the store.
They gave me a new iPod, and coached me through erasing everything on the old one and had me sign something that if I lost data, too bad, not their dog. They kept the old iPod and we headed out into the mall to have a screen protector installed at a kiosk and then headed home. My old iPod had a newer iOS than the new iPod so first order of business was to update the iOS.
Five or six hours later the new iPod was restored to think it was the old one and I had downloaded all of the thousands of pictures, hundreds of songs, had started downloading a small portion of my Kindle library of about fifteen hundred books and had downloaded a couple of podcasts.
Nothing seems to be lost. A number of things will have to live in the cloud until I have time to download them, but they are not gone, just not home at the moment. There are more than enough books and podcasts and tunes to amuse me for a few months.
January 2 (Tuesday)
Today was a down day with a little last-minute shopping, fueling up the truck and organizing stuff to go with us and to stay in Edmonton. We went out and spent about $35 to use a $12 birthday coupon for lunch at Smitty’s Restaurant. Probably don’t need my MBA to figure out it wasn’t necessarily a good deal.
January 3 (Wednesday)
Son-in-law Nick drove us to the airport. Juanita and Sonja left their winter coats in the car for when they get back. I wore my Scottevest travel jacket/vest that has zip-on/off sleeves to adapt it to conditions.
Check-in, security and clearing U.S. customs was uneventful in Edmonton, as was the flight to Houston. When the flight landed we walked up the jet way and through an open door at a gate in the concourse where our next flight was scheduled for departure. I think the normal drill is to send us through TSA security but that didn’t happen.
A few miles of walking and a couple of minutes of groping avoided.
We went to check the monitors on flight status then found our usual food court and settled in for lunch and wi-fi surfing. Our departure gate changed, of course, and we headed to the gate when it was getting time. The flight boarded on time, but had a hold-up as we waited for the captain to get to the plane from his delayed flight deadheading from Newark. In repayment for the delay they gave us free movies. The wi-fi based stuff only lasted until we left US territory, but the movies were available all the way to Managua. That was a pleasant change. Usually I am too cheap to pay for something that used to be free.
The captain made up the delay in flight and we arrived on time in Managua, Nicaragua and lined up for customs and immigration, bought our visas and headed out of the secured area. Phillip Zinck, from Way of the Cross was waiting with a bottle of water each and a van to give us a ride to our hotel. Hugs all around at the Hotel Jerico as we checked in along with the offer of food which we declined.
The book being read during the parts of the journey when not distracted from reading by Internet and movies was Slim by Design. Written by a researcher in human behaviour concerning food, it had fascinating research on people’s reaction to minor changes in things around them. What I particularly found interesting was how even when highly intelligent people are completely informed that they can be triggered into certain behaviour by certain conditions they still mindlessly respond to the stimuli.
The size of the plate determines how much you eat. Fruit in a bowl on the counter gets eaten at a higher rate than fruit in the refrigerator. Snacks in a covered candy dish on your desk get eaten at a lower rate than those in an open candy dish. Leftover snacks wrapped in aluminum foil last in the refrigerator without being eaten far longer than leftover snacks in clear wrap or clear containers.
Read this book. Follow its advice. It could change your shape and your health. Mindlessly.
January 4 - 6 (Thursday - Saturday)
We walked down the street in the morning and booked Spanish lessons for Sonja and me at One-on-One Tutoring. It was good to see Roger Sr. again. His health and eyesight has degraded since last year and he handed me off to his son, Roger Jr. for my six a.m. sessions before breakfast each day. I will miss him and our conversations, but his son is just as effective in helping me along my erratic path to fluency.
We got in three hours each for a couple of days and then cut back to give us time to go to the Monkey Hut on the Laguna de Apoyo. I added the six a.m. session for me on the second day and have kept on at that even when the later lessons were set aside for Medfest and other activities with Way of the Cross.
From the day after we arrived until the day Sonja left to go back to Canada we tried to cram in as much activity as we could into any available time slots to ensure that she saw as much as possible in her brief time here in Nicaragua.
We cruised the isletas, including Monkey Island, on Lake Nicaragua. We re-visited museums and walked up to the Granada cemetery and climbed the bell tower of the old cathedral. We took her to Cafetin Claudia (hugs all around), The Hot Dogs Connection of Granada, Pa'Picar (the pupusa lady’s restaurant, more hugs), Catarina overlook, the Masaya Volcano at night and the Monkey Hut a second time.
Wasn’t much we missed except maybe for a zipline canopy tour and a ride in a horse drawn carriage. I don’t think there was a window for the first and none of us were interested in the second.
January 7 (Sunday)
After my six a.m. lesson and breakfast we headed to Way of the Cross’s Shiloh base camp at Las Conchitas near Masaya for a worship service. From that day onward the drill was to finish breakfast and head up to the bus terminal near the central park and catch a bus to Masaya and then a torrito (three wheeled covered motorcycle that can carry five people and the driver, called tuk-tuks in some parts of the world) to the base camp and join in the worship and preaching and help get things ready for the American and Mexican team members that started showing up on Tuesday and Wednesday for the Medfest medical outreach which is to begin Friday morning (January 12) and end Sunday evening (January 14).
But that’s next Sunday. This Sunday afternoon was a period of downtime before the onslaught. The three of us headed to the Puma in Masaya for a bite to eat. After learning that posters on the windows offering special deals have nothing to do with what you can buy we ordered lunch from what you can buy and ate it. The posters may have cheese panini and a Fresco Cacao drink for eighty Cordobas, but it won’t happen for you if they do not have a number to enter in the cash register for that special. They have panninis. You can order as many as you want. They have beaucoup bottles of Fresco Cacao in the cooler. You can buy them out of those.
But to order a cheese panini and a bottle of Fresco Cacao like on the big poster in the window of the store - They just point at their hand written list of cash register codes and say it is not on there. Of course, since you can’t buy the special you would have to pay the regular price for each component of the special.
After lunch we went out to the waiting cabs and negotiated a fare for from the Puma roundabout to Catarina, spend half an hour there and then back to the Las Flores roundabout. When we arrived at the Catarina viewing area the cab said he would be happy to wait a full hour for the same price.
Catarina is a town which sells bedding plants and garden statues and at its upper edges a lot of tourist trinkets. The main attraction is a scenic overlook which looks down on the Laguna de Apoyo (a lake in an extinct volcano) and across it to the far rim and beyond that the city of Granada and Lake Nicaragua. We admired the view and then Juanita and Sonja headed to the souvenir stands for that perfect something. I stayed watching the view and handing out curved illusion tracts and taking pictures of people with their cell phones. Haven’t seen anyone use a camera lately.
On the way to the Las Flores roundabout the driver suggested we could go all the way back to Grenada. Hah! His bringing up the subject before I did meant we arrived at the best price I was going to get and he pulled over at a wide spot, he took the lights off the roof and put the Fuera de Service (Out of Service) sign in the window and we were on our way back home.
January 8 (Monday)
I have noticed that the last few months I have spent wasted at least two hours a day following Twitter accounts on the Twitter app on my iPod Touch (basically a smart phone without the phone bill). Today I deleted the Twitter app.
January 8 - 11 (Monday - Thursday)
We all got involved with preparation for Medfest. The annual medical outreach that Way of the Cross holds each January. Originally it was held at Rancho Tranquilo near Aldama, Tamaulipas, Mexico. About nine years ago it moved here to Nicaragua. We helped with it in Mexico a couple of years and then followed it here a year or two after it moved. As Way of the Cross establishes a bigger presence in Nicaragua and more and more nationals get involved there is probably less of a need for us to help with the preparation for the event and the teardown afterward. It is still fun to help and there are still pockets where we are useful. As long as that is the case and we are able we hope to help.
Juanita mostly worked with Martha Kroger on pharmacy stuff. Sonja got plugged in with some teens and Jessica Zinck to get ready for the kids’ ministry. I worked with Byron Kroger with stuff he was responsible for: making flag poles for the church flags that will be used at each carnival game booth; buying rebar, cutting it up and using it as poles to run rope between to layout the path the bikes will follow to the repair tent; laying out the booths in the field using slaked lime lines. I helped get the big tent for the bike repairs ready to be put up, but wandered off to get some hardware that it turned out we didn’t really need and didn’t actually fit right anyway. By the time I had walked ten blocks to the nearest hardware store and caught a cab back the big tent was up. There were lots of younger, stronger bodies around so I am pretty sure I wasn’t missed.
The big tent got set up Monday as was the bike path. Ben took Byron and me and a few others to the location of the church where we will be putting on a roof. It is about three blocks down a side road that joins the main road across the street from the school where Medfest was held last year, about a twenty-minute drive from this year’s location. Last year’s church was over an hour drive away so this will be better since we start each day at the Medfest grounds and end there if possible.
Near the end of Tuesday the people to set up the stage arrived and set up the stage where it was wanted, which was partly where the big tent already was. Oh well. We pulled out a few poles and said. “We’ll move it tomorrow”. By Wednesday morning somebody had figured out a way to incorporate the stage in the end of the tent and a few ropes got moved and a bit of the bike path was adjusted and things were fine again.
Midday Tuesday the groups from the States started showing up and got plugged into the preparations on Wednesday. From Wednesday onward the three of us took a break from local buses and torritos and joined the groups on the buses from the Hotel in Granada each morning.
The Medfest has traditionally been held in a location for two years and then moved. They have been in the general area and outskirts of Masaya. The first two years were at a church a fair distance off the bypass highway around Masaya in the Las Flores district. The next two years were at a school in the Las Conchitas area (Schools generally have their “summer” vacation in Nicaragua in December and January). Then two years at a school a couple of blocks off the carretera (highway) through Masaya. Last year they moved to a school in Las Flores, about half way between the original location and the bypass. It was planned to be held there again this year, but the director of the school took too long to come to a decision and the location got moved to a Catholic School in a somewhat rough area of Masaya. It is probably the best facility yet, but it took us few days to figure where all the streets went and the best ways to get out to a highway from there.
Considering how handy the church we would be working on was to last year’s location first thought was to question the planning, until considering there had been no intention to change locations. The plan just fell through because of the director’s inaction. Reminds me of the cartoon of a pick-up truck with the silhouette of the wife sitting by the passenger door saying “remember when we used to sit close to each other” and the silhouette of the husband in the next panel thinking “who moved?”.
January 12 - 14 (Friday - Sunday)
The first day started at the Medfest Grounds with a bit of preaching and singing by Mike Russell and then the events started. The bicycles lined up for repair were given numbers until the maximum was reached that could be worked on in one day and the rest were told to try again tomorrow. The evangelism buses loaded up with food to hand out and evangelism teams. The triage nurses started to sort people. The carnival booths got the games set up. The bike repair people moved chairs out of the bike tent and set up their work stations. Juanita started helping in the pharmacy. Sonja started helping in the child evangelism room.
I went out to the join the construction team assembling by the vehicles. Byron drove the truck with some people and equipment in the back. I drove the van with more people. The van went straight to the church. The truck went by Henry’s house to pick up some more supplies and then to the church and started getting organized. Henry calculated how many sheets were needed to cover one side of the church.
In North American we put all the tin on a roof with the edges of the sheet pointing down. In Nicaragua they alternate up edges and down edges to reduce the overlap of the sheets and get a bit better coverage. We counted out the necessary “downs” and “ups” and piled them separately. This reduces the amount of mindfulness required while painting. If you paint the wrong number of sheets then some of the last sheets can end up with the painted side down and have to be painted on the other side after they are put in the roof. That leaves a permanent record of your error for the congregation to review when their minds and eyes wander upward. You want their thoughts at a higher altitude than ten or twelve feet.
Some people started cutting C-channels and welding them into roof trusses. Some people started painting C-channels and sheets of tin. Others started cutting up some sheets of tin in thirds to go with the long pieces of tin to cover each side of the roof. There was a brief panic when we seemed to be one sheet short of long sheets and held off cutting the last one to be cut in thirds. That was sorted out to just be a miscount and after rounding up the cutters again, the last sheet to be cut was.
After things got going I pretty much stayed out of the way except to make myself annoying through misinterventions. Hopefully not too many. Mostly my job once the ups and downs are figured out is to stay out of the way of people who know what they are doing and have paid for the experience of working on the church. Oh, and to go get fried chicken for lunch and run a few other errands like pick up more paint and buy grease for the bike fixers when I go to pick up the bicycle they repaired for one of the neighbours who helped on the church roof. Last year we were a bit short handed so I pitched in more.
Each of the three days was pretty much a re-run of the others at the Medfest grounds and with the evangelism buses other than Oscar Brooks being there to preach first thing each morning. The truck was no longer available for the construction team so we squeezed into the van. At the church all the tin got painted the first day. On the second day the rest of the channels got painted, the roof trusses all up and all the purlins were put up and tacked into place with some welding left to be done Sunday morning. Sunday, the tin was put on the roof and then we headed back to the grounds a bit earlier than before. The intention was to help pack things up but a lot had already been done and the rest was done as the medical and pharmacy finished up.
One day the bus following ours to the Medfest grounds started having problems so they moved some people from it to our bus and then we started following it so we could be gassed through the open windows by the billowing clouds of white smoke from the ailing bus’s exhaust. After stopping a few times one of the construction team members pushed the priming button (?) enough times that the engine seemed to run better and the bus got people to the grounds.
January 15 (Monday)
We all loaded onto the buses at the Hotel Granada and headed to Shiloh for a service in the church there. One of the buses continued to have problems, but made it there despite the problems. Oscar Brooks preached and people gave testimonies about their Medfest experience A collection was taken up to go towards finalizing construction on Pastor Gilberto’s house and to add stucco to Phillip and Jessica’s house.
Then we loaded onto the buses again and went to the church the construction team had worked on and joined with the congregation for a dedication service. At the end of the dedication service one of the construction team members rode a new motorcycle into the church and it was presented to the pastor. He lives a fair distance from the church and had been travelling by bicycle. This should help him redeem the time better.
People broke up into groups and went in various directions for sight seeing. Choices included the Masaya buffet, Masaya artisans' market, Masaya volcano or back to the Hotel Granada to seek their own diversions. We took the bus back to the hotel but got off at the intersection to the road to the Monkey Hut. Another couple and their daughter joined us.
There were two cabs at the intersection and we arranged for them to take us to the Monkey Hut, pick us up at 4:15 and take us back to the Hotel Granada. There is a 4:30 bus that goes by the Monkey Hut and there have been times when we have been stood up by a taxi and the bus is a good fall back option. On seperate occasions we have walked up or down that steep hill between the Monkey Hut and the rim. It is hard to say which results in more pain the following day.
We all sat around visited, ate and relaxed. Sonja went swimming but the rest of us just enjoyed the peace and quiet. Far too quickly, 4:15 arrived and we paid up and went out and rode back home.
January 16 (Tuesday)
We were all up at 3:30 and walked down the street to the Granada Hotel.
The buses were waiting outside on the street. The older, reliable bus was in front and the newer bus was in back. I assumed the newer bus was the unreliable one from the past couple of days. I was told later it was just its twin. I pointed at the newer bus and told Sonja, "don't get on that bus."
When people started coming out of the hotel at four, I told her to get on the bus and keep her carry-on bag on her lap. She complied. We walked to the bus door and I briefly prayed for her as she stood on the bus step. She mounted the bus and sat on the side of the bus facing the hotel. We continued to visit with her as more and more people came out of the hotel and handed off their luggage to be loaded on the top of the buses until the roofs were full. The balance of the luggage was placed in the ministry truck which would follow the buses to the airport in Managua.
The buses left for the airport. We waved.
We walked back to the Hotel Jerico and the owner's daughter let us in through the nighttime security gate.
There was an ice storm in Houston. Planes circled overhead waiting to land. The plane the Medfest grup was on didn't have enough fuel to keep circling. It was diverted to New Orleans for more fuel. Back it came to Houston and landed. There were NO flights departing.
We had asked a couple of people to keep an eye on Sonja, but once they hit customs they all had their own problems and were going to different terminals to not fly out of. Her mother on phone with United Airlines took care of her. A case of skin in the game, I guess.
Her mother arranged for her to overnight in a lounge for minors and seniors in Houston.
Her original flight from Houston had been a direct flight to Edmonton, the city we all flew out of. She has three aunts in Edmonton. Our son in law was going to pick her up at the Edmonton airport with her winter coat that she left in his car.
Her mother rebooked her on a United airlines flight to Calgary the next morning with a tight change to an Air Canada flight to Edmonton. The flight left Houston late and her mother rebooked her on a flight from Calgary to Saskatoon, before the plane landed in Calgary. A cousin picked her up at the airport and her father came and got her after he finished work.
She made it home fine at midnight the day after she left Nicaragua.
Now she just has to figure out how to recover her driver’s license, laptop and winter jacket which she left in Edmonton with a few other things. :-(
Way of the Cross staff came back to the hotel for more team members at 10. We got a ride to Shiloh and helped out there a bit. Byron was studying for a lesson he was going to teach the next day, but he and I went for parts and discussed how to install inverters in the vehicles. I then proceeded on my own except when needing more guidance or another pair of hands. Got two of the four done.
January 17 & 18 (Wednesday & Thursday)
After breakfast and a bus and torrito ride each day we carried on with the inverter installations and Juanita helping Martha with sorting meds. On the Thursday we had the treat of getting a ride from the camp back to the corner near our hotel.
January 19 - 21 (Friday - Sunday)
We played retirement for an extended weekend. I added a couple of hours of lessons each morning and after lessons we walked to lunch.
While walking to lunch on Saturday I peeked into a partly open door at the front of a store. The owner came from the back and said they weren’t really open. I said I was looking for a snail necklace my granddaughter had seen. Suddenly we had cooperation. She had three ammonite necklaces (fossilized prehistoric snail like creature). I enquired as to the price and they were twenty-five or thirty dollars depending on the necklace.
Not knowing which one had been seen by Sonja I paid $25 and the owner put aside the two likely ones until I came back to claim one, paying an additional five dollars if necessary. The store had been closed since the day before Sonja had left and she said she was willing to pay up to sixty dollars for the necklace if the store re-opened.
She tried to leave a handful of US money with us to cover the cost, but Juanita pointed out she might need the money on her trip back. She did. She used it to buy a sweat shirt and food when she was stranded in the airport in Houston. As Nicholas Nassim Taleb says, pay attention to the advice of grandmothers!
The shop owner said she had problems with the previous shop attendant. We traded a few stories about business and Canada, took pictures of the necklaces, got a receipt and went on our way. A few hours later Sonja responded to the e-mail about the necklaces and we went and picked up the waiting necklace. The new shop attendant looked over the receipt, released one necklace from custody and put the other on display.
January 22 (Monday) The Big Seven - Oh
Monday I went to the six a.m. lesson and then we had breakfast and caught a bus and a torrito to the base camp. Juanita helped with the last of the meds and I assembled the frame for a tent roof and marked it to be colour coded by painting the joints. One of the Nicas from the base camp will see that it gets painted and the other three or four assembled and painted.
If this gets done according to the layout it should reduce confusion of assembling the small tents. If not, I guess things will be no worse than before. I would have liked to add screws to the simple pipe to pipe joints, but couldn’t seem to get anybody willing to lend me a vehicle to go to the Masaya Sinsa for screws.
Of course, I didn’t try too hard either. This was intended to be a half day. It was kept that way by not being too focused on getting screws. We ended up at lunch time and went out and waited for the half past bus to the Puma rotunda and took a torrito there when one came by before the bus.
Today, I am the same age as Juanita once again. A friend sent a congratulatory e-mail and asked about the day. My response:
Not a bad day so far.
Went to session with Spanish tutor at 6. We drink coffee and trade stories in Spanish and do a few verb drills. He flirts with the passing girls and I get to listen and watch.
Then back to hotel for breakfast then took time dressing for street and work. About eight we wandered up the street and bought a couple of 1/2 litre bags of freshly cut up ripe fruit and ate on way to bus.
Rode bus to next town and then caught a torrito/tuk-tuk to base camp. We visited for a while with an evangelist that wanders the world. Then we visited with the camp nurse. Then Juanita worked with her to finish the last of the meds sorting while I put a tent frame together from metal tubes that are all white now. I marked with a sharpie the colours I wanted the joints to be painted so it is easier to assemble and showed that to a Nica who will get the students to assemble the other three frames tomorrow morning and paint all the joints.
Then I said goodbye to the director until next fall in Texas and we went out by the gate to wait for a bus that goes by every hour shortly after the half hour. A torrito came by first so we took that to the rotunda and had lunch.
Then we took the second bus that came by. The first one was too full. This one was full but not so much and two people got off soon after we got on so we able to sit down and ride to the central park in Granada. There I got a shoe shine and we walked home and turned on the air conditioning.
Tonight we plan to go out for a fancier dinner than normal. Same place as last couple of years.
We did. It was wonderful. And three or four times more than we usually pay for supper here. The fancy meal was about two thirds of what a simple meal out costs in Edmonton.
January 23 Onward
As mentioned above I have been meeting with a tutor for coffee at six every morning since the day after we arrived in Granada. The first couple of days Sonja and I had three hours of lessons from 8 to 11. Then we got busy with Medfest. I added back two hours a day starting Friday, but didn’t find them as useful as they cost. I had already said Monday was a down day except for the six a.m. session. I think I will keep it that way.
Just finished a long book on Nagasaki atom bombing. Interesting. Don’t entirely agree with author that bomb wasn’t necessary. Feel bad for the innocents affected. Feel bad for those in the Philippines, at Pearl Harbor and Nanjing as well. Think the bomb ended the war quicker and before the Russians captured a lot more territory while the Japanese tried to negotiate a better deal. But what do I know?
We are booked into the Hotel Jerico until the end of the month. On February first we are booked into a hotel in Matagalpa in the high country. Matagalpa is generally cooler than Granada. With the cold weather pushing down from Canada and the States it has been downright cold in Matagalpa, but that has changed back. Hopefully it will stay that way.
For the rest of January I don’t plan on doing a day by day account of our activities. We have settled into a routine of lesson at six, breakfast at seven, surfing and writing from 8 to 11 ish and walk up town to Cafetin Claudia for lunch. Afternoons are taken with some limited sight seeing (this is something like our tenth time here) and reading and relaxing. Then out for a light supper and early to bed. There is cable tv, with every channel in Spanish. There is still a channel on the guide channel that says it is ABC out of Miami with Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy! but that channel actually is some local program with lots of masses and communion and so on.
Stay tuned for any special features that call out to me to be written about.
Ferro Carril Pacifico
Granada at one time was the other end of a railway that ran from El Corinto, a port on the northwest Pacific coast of Nicaragua. Railway traffic was suspended in 2001. You can read about the history here.
One afternoon after lunch we walked to the old railway station. It is in a park across from the police station. It looks like it was set up to be a museum, but all the rooms were closed as was the gate. A dollar each to the security guard gained us access to the fenced grounds and the bathroom (that was an important consideration at that particular moment. And then it wasn’t).
There were a few labels on doors that suggested the rooms were being used for some training sessions in cooking and diet, but no sign of any people other than the guard and a young fellow around back painting the wall of one of the out buildings. We wandered around and peeked in the railway cars and took pictures of the cars on the tracks in the fenced in ground and of the box car on a turntable near the park entrance.
I handed out some curved illusion tracts through the fence to Nicas and talked through the fence to a Russian born Vancouverite who was wintering in Nicaragua. Then we left and walked back to the hotel buying some mandarin oranges from the back of a pick-up truck on the way.
Casa de los Tres Mundos
Casa de los Tres Mundos is a grand looking historic building off the central square. It gets written up in guide books, but when we looked at the building plan and what was there decided we really didn’t want to pay twenty Cordobas each (67 cents) to go in and look around. Like someone said, “Even if something is free it takes time.” Or something like that. Close enough.
I certainly don’t diligently ask Lakein’s Question (“Is this the best use of my time right now?”) like I may have at one time, but I still try and avoid doing things neither of us want to. And neither of us did.
Snapped a few pictures from the entry way and waddled back home. Your artsy, humanistic tendencies may vary. Help yourself. It’s waiting there for you.