The Trip Home

Wow, been home few days now and still trying to get the energy back.

For our last night in Nica, our new found friends, old friends and us got together for supper at the Sea Salt restaurant at the resort.
Much tom foolery, stories and laughs were shared around the table on another warm night. A nice breeze kept things comfortable while a light rain fell outside the restaurant’s open walls.

One of my favorite after dinner drinks was a Spanish Coffee. I believe it’s coffee with kahlua, rum and ice-cream. One of the servers knew how to make it but wasn’t sharing his recipe so the others spent the week trying to make them whilst we tested them. Tough job, but you know…

After a couple of these I figured I’d have no trouble getting to sleep, but the travel plans got the better of me. We were getting picked up at 5 am, which should have given us a decent sleep. I think I got about an hour or two of solid sleep. That never bodes well when you have a long travel day ahead of you.

Add in the fact the light rain had now turned into a steady rain which can play havoc with the unpaved portion of the road leading to Gran Pacifica.To add a touch more drama, our driver was the same one that flipped the car that was supposed to pick us up when we arrived LOL.
5 am he was there, with the Toyota Hilux. Nice solid truck with 4 wheel drive. The first part of the road was in rough shape, but we got past it no problem. The rest of the ride in was uneventful.

I’m always amazed at how you get around in Managua because there’s no street signs…NONE. You navigate by landmarks. I guess when you’ve been there long enough you’d get used to it. Just like you’d get used to the locals crossing busy streets whenever, wherever and red lights are a mere suggestion.

Got the airport safe and sound and in plenty of time. Went through the usual check in, customs documents and proceeded to that area I really don’t like. The one where you have to shove everything into plastic trays that go through an x-ray machine. Not a big deal except for remembering to take everything out of pockets, take off shoes, belt if you have one, laptop out of bag etc etc.
All good. Then we get pulled over. Some one in fatigues brings a dog over to sniff our baggage. Can’t blame them, I’m sure there’s been a few attempts of North Americans trying to smuggle “goods” out of the country. Didn’t take long and we were on to wait at our gate.
Signage and announcements are all in Spanish/English so it’s really quite easy to find your way around the airport.

First of three flights wasn’t too full, which was a good thing. I neglected to upgrade to a “more legroom” seat. So with the extra seat in our row, at least I could shift sideways. Because let me  tell you, the regular seats are NOT built for a guy with long legs.
We’ve come to admire the job the flight attendants do looking after passengers. Not much room in the aisle and usually a bit of turbulence, yet we didn’t see any spillage from the drinks served. Up and down they go a couple of times on our 3 1/2 hr flight handing out small snacks and drinks.

This leg of the trip had us landing in Houston. For whatever reason, it always feels like we’re landing sideways in Houston. Not sure if there’s a lot of side winds or if it’s just in our heads. Coming from Central America to America, we are required to collect our checked bags and recheck them. Not entirely sure why. We pick up the bag on a carousel, walk a little ways, go through a border officer, walk a few more steps and hand it to a guy that throws it on a conveyor belt for loading again. This took all of 10-15 minutes.
We then go through a couple more check points, do the x-ray thing again and move on to our departure gate. I should mention that every time I walk through the metal detector, my new knee triggers it. So I get pulled over and wanded, frisked and more to make sure I’m not carrying anything dangerous…every time.

Another 3 hours or so from Houston to Toronto. I mistakenly thought TO would be the easy part of the trip. Oh no…not so. Signage not clear. The gate we were told to go to? Well they have a Gate D on two different floors. You guessed it, we went to the wrong one. Then we have to go through more check points and get x-rayed again. Didn’t we just do this?? The big difference is the line to go through this section was extremely slow. Managua and Houston and numerous staff members to direct and keep the lines moving. In TO, one. And that one didn’t look too interested in the job. The x-ray people are VERY thorough. As evidenced by the multiple times they would back up the conveyor to have another look. Or by the amount of times they’d bring one of those plastic trays back to go through a second or third time. When you’ve been up for the better part of the day already, tired and hungry and a little cranky, this doesn’t help. But as my good wife kept telling me….shut up….
Not really the place you want to mouth off!
The extra time we thought we had, got eaten up here. No time to eat, barely enough time to hit a washroom.
When we got to our gate, there was not a seat to be had. The place was packed. How in the world would so many people be going to Winnipeg of all places!
Then the announcement that due to the fullness of the flight, all the carry on baggage won’t fit. I just don’t get that. Aren’t the planes designed to accommodate carry on bags according to the size of that particular plane? So we check our two carry ons free of charge. This raises another question. Why do they have to charge for extra bags at check in on the other side of security? But when you get to the boarding gate, they’ll gladly check it for you for free. Hmmm….
Pet peeve time. It bugs me when there’s all this talk about not allowing oversized bags on the plane, then we watch passengers try to jam HUGE bags in the overhead. Yeah, I was getting cranky by then.
Got to our seats and lo and behold, we’re in the same row as Jack Froese from Winkler! How weird is that?
There were more than a few Jets fans on board and when we took off, they were down 4-0 to the Maple Leafs. So we figured oh oh. Sounded like the battle of top draft picks, Matthews and Laine, was going to the No 1 pick.
Plane was packed. Had an aisle seat. Lots of traffic to the bathroom. Which meant I got bumped every time someone went by. Makes sleeping tough. That and the fact my back was getting a little sore by now. Getting close to Wpg and there was a commotion up front. Someone was having trouble breathing. Call went out for any doctors on board. We were told to stay in our seats when we landed so that medical personnel could board and take car of this passenger. Of course most of the passengers either didn’t hear or bother to listen as evidenced by the usual rush to get off as soon as we stopped. Thankfully, another announcement went out and everyone sat back down.
That’s when someone tuned in the Jets game. Shock! Laine gets a hat trick and OT winner! Jets win! LOLOL!!!
Something to keep everyone busy while we waited to deplane.
It didn’t take too long. Hopefully, the passenger is ok. Someone said the passenger didn’t look to good when taken off the plane. Made our discomforts a little smaller.

By the time we collected our luggage it was late. We’d hoped to stay the night, but couldn’t find a room. Tried several apps. No room in any inns. Add to that we’re hungry. But what are the options in Wpg late on a Wednesday night? That’s right Timmies in the airport that’s what.

As you can see by the picture, keeping our eyes open was a chore. But, we decided to make the trip home anyway.  Didn’t do too bad until that stretch from Carman to Winkler. Road got pretty blurry in places.
Barely missed hitting a deer as well. That got the adrenaline going for a little while anyway.
Finally rolled into town and into bed about 2 am.
Long long day. But oh so worth it. Already planning the next trip. The bonus of going this time of year is that it’s not quite as much of a shock landing here. Coming from mid 30 plus temps to minus 30s is always hard. This was only down to plus 2 or 3. Much easier to take.

Glad to have the extra days at home to adjust. Thanks again for following along!

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