Our scheduled departure was "8 to 8:30" so I got up early to eat breakfast, check e-mail, shower, clean out any perishables from the fridge, take out the trash, wash the dishes, and finish packing before heading to the daily SOWER devotional. The GL handed out the pay checks (record of volunteering at project) and Judi handed out fleece lambs. There was a choice of one that hung from a ribbon or one that had a magnet glued to the back.
I chose one with a blue ribbon because that is Juanita's favourite colour. There are limited locations in the rig where a magnet works. The front of the fridge is wood. The range hood and the microwave above it will hold magnets, but above the stove seems like a poor place to hang a fuzzy wool lamb to catch cooking vapours. It might end up hot and fuzzy when it catches fire. Unlike warm and fuzzy, hot and fuzzy is not good.
Eventually everything is packed and crammed into Jeanne's car and Ben, Jeanne, Indira and me fit ourselves in the remaining spaces and we drive north, stopping in Corpus Christi at the China Bear Restaurant buffet for lunch.
Then it was back in the car and onward to San Antonio where we had dinner with and stayed overnight with with Jeanne's niece and husband.
Day 1 - San Antionio - Houston - Managua - Masaya - Granada
We flew out of San Antonio to Houston, meeting Gilbert Garcia at the San Antonio airport and Luke Kuhlman at Houston.
Flew from Houston to Managua.
Drove to Masaya to meet with Gilberto and area pastors at the local buffet restaurant.
We stayed overnight in Granada at the Hotel Granada, a few blocks up from the lake, several blocks down from the cathedral on the town square and across from the church.
Day 2 - Grenada to Leon
After breakfast we walked a few blocks down to the shore of Lake Nicaragua and came back to the Hotel Granada before getting on the road to Managua. We crossed through Managua and carried on to Leon, the traditional competitor city to Granada.
There were people standing by the side of the highway holding up live iguanas for sale. Fresh meat!
In Mexico it is common for each town to specialize in a certain product. Every roadside stand has the same choice of products. We have been through dried shrimp town, mescal town, rocking chair town, honey town and many others. Nicaragua seems to have the same mentality. Today we passed through hammock town and a town where they fired ceramic roof tiles and sold them at the side of the road.
We met with pastors from Leon and Chinandega at a Christian school. Brother Ben and Brother Gilberto, a national pastor that works with Way of the Cross started the ground work for this summer’s crusades. Indy interpreted.
Meanwhile, back in the van, Luke and I filled gift bags to be given to the pastors. Included with the jewelry and other goodies for the pastors’ wives were Bubba Lubba chocolate bars. We ate our share. Muzzle not the oxen, you know. Eat too many of these and you weigh like an ox. I don’t know what chocolate they use in these bars, but it doesn’t melt even in the back of a van at close to a hundred degrees in the understandable scale. All that heat and all those chocolate bars worked up a thirst so Luke and I walked up the block to a tienda for a soda.
We had lunch with the pastors at a Leon buffet.
After a brief nap back at the hotel we drove out to a beach on the Pacific Ocean and waded a bit. On the way back from the seashore I made my first acquaintance with the ice cream parlor chain, Eskimo. Economical cones and sundaes with lots of flavour choices.
Day 3 (Sunday, February 1st) - Leon - Esteli - Matagalpa
After breakfast at the Hotel La Posada del Doctor we loaded up and drove to Esteli where we met with pastors from there and north of there. The meeting was in a hotel on the Pan-American highway on the outskirts of Esteli. After the meeting we turned back the direction we had come and headed south without actually entering the city of Esteli.
We carried on south on the Pan-American past the point where we entered on the “highway” from Leon. I use the term highway advisedly. At one spot we stopped and tipped a couple of fellows filling in a potholes with gravel. A Nicaraguan form of freelance highway maintenance.
We arrived in the market town of Sebaco. The Pan-American highway from Esteli and points north continues to Managua and points south from here. This is where we leave to take the highway up into the mountains and the city of Matagalpa. Before we depart we wait a bit until Indy’s father arrives. While we wait we can admire the colourful fruits and vegetables for sale and buy camera batteries and snacks.
Along side of the highway to Matagalpa we pass rice fields and fields with coffee beans laid out in the sun to dry. Coffee is grown higher up, but things dry quicker down here in the lowlands. In Matagalpa we meet up with pastors for planning meetings.
In the evening we go out to dinner with Indy’s family and stay overnight in a hotel just outside Matagalpa.
Day 4 (Monday, February 2nd) Matagalpa - Boaca - Jinotega
Indy, Luke and Ben are up at 3:30 to take Luke to the Managua airport using Gilbert’s car. The rest of us arise at a more civilized hour and travel to Boaco. Boaco is a town on two levels with a lot of steep streets and stairs between the two. We meet with pastors at a church off a side street in the lower level. We are rejoined there by Ben and Indy.
After the meeting we travel to Juigalpa and eat lunch there. As you enter Juigalpa from the north the highway descends and you look across the gulch at the colourful crypts in a cemetery that seems endless.
We drove around checking out various hotels before meeting with pastors for more planning. Later at the hotel we have a bit of time to our selves and then dinner. I am not sharing a room with Luke anymore and catch up on my laundry, making good use of the room fan. That polyester short-sleeved dress shirt I bought at Walmart sure dries quickly.
Day 5 (Tuesday, February 3rd) Juigalpa - Nueva Guinea - Granda
The Longest Day
We travelled from Juigalpa to Nueva Guinea through wet area vegetation like Vietnam. Where there is no vegetation the red soil shows through. This is different countryside than the other side of the lake or north of Managua. Beside the highway are milk cans waiting to be picked up.
It is the first day of school after the Christmas/New Year’s break so there are uniformed kids everywhere.
In Nueva Guinea I find an Internet café and check my e-mail. Then back across the street to meet and have lunch with the pastors. There is one little pastor who knows how to track progress. He has discipled converts from the last crusade and has all his follow-up and all the people he has led to the Lord written down like a celestial accountant. Nueva Guinea was a favorite spot of Andrea, a WOTC missionary that died in Mexico. If I understand it correctly she felt particularly attached to that pastor’s church.
Then it was back on the road to retrace our steps from Nueva Guinea to Juigalpa, Masaya and, finally, after dark, Granada. We stayed overnight at the Hotel Granada.
Day 6 (Wednesday, February 4th) Travel to Rivas
After breakfast we drove around the base of the volcano to hook up with the Pan-American highway as it got closer to exiting Nicaragua. We met in Rivas with pastors in the backyard of a pastor’s house. The mangoes are approaching ripeness and would drop off the tree onto the tin roof and then roll off the roof to join the meetings.
Further down the Pan-American highway we stopped at a resort on the shores of Lake Nicaragua to check it out as potential accommodation for short-term missionary teams. It had a spectacular view across to Ometepe Island with its twin volcano peaks. At the swimming pool Indy pointed out a sign pointing to the showers, Las Duchas. That is the word for showers in Nicaragua. In Mexico it has another, more private, meaning in Mexican Spanish and she had received a bit of negative feedback for using the word around Mexican staff members.
As we left the resort property we came across a smoking VW van on the side of the highway across from the resort entrance. A Saskatchewan couple was on their way to Costa Rica to leave the country for a few days to re-initiate their Nicaragua visitors’ visa. It is only good for so many days before you have to leave the country for at least twenty-four hours. Not enough days on a visa to stay the whole winter without a short trip to Costa Rica or Honduras.
We returned to Granada with Gilbert and Terry and overnighted again in the Hotel Granada.
Day 7 (Thursday, February 5th) AG Tabernacle
Not much to say about today.
We drove to Managua and checked out a facility that could be used for the Pastors’ Conference. It had lots of potential with accommodations for hundreds and cooking facilities and meeting areas.
After that we drove back to Granada and spent the night. I succumbed to the entreaties of a street kid and bought a couple of grasshoppers he had woven out of strips of palm frond.
Day 8 (Friday, February 6th) Grenada - Managua - Houston - San Antonio - Harlingen
We were up early. I hadn’t slept well. I was sharing a room. My room mate likes the A/C set on max. I was so cold I couldn’t sleep. I dug in my survival section and got out a space blanket. Warmer then, but noisy. Every move I made the space blanket crackled. I made so much noise I don’t think my room mate slept much. What is that they say about company being misery?
Oh well, the misery didn’t last long for either of us. Get up time was 3 a.m. The cold and the early hour didn’t deter the mosquito I killed in our room. Amazing amount of human blood squished out of such a small insect.
We travelled to the airport in Managua and flew to Houston. On the plane I visited a bit with a perso returning from volunteering in Nicaragua. In Houston we went through customs and security and found the gate for our plane to San Antonio. Once we boarded that we sat there on the tarmac while they checked it out and maintenance fiddled with things until the pilot was happy. They we left.
We drove to Harlingen from San Antonio and Juanita had arrived in time to greet me back.
Back 'Home' in Harlingen
Liquids from every available orifice.
Gradual recovery to full strength.
Meet with new SOWERS.
SOWER February work discussed.
Point form is all you get in this pane. Thanks for reading.