Feb 1, 2018-02-01
So….made the leap of faith to try living in a far off land for a while.
It meant quitting a job with a good steady income, selling our home, leaving family, band members and colleagues behind.
Nicaragua you say….is it safe? This has to be the number one question we get besides is this a mission trip.
Yes it is safe and no this isn’t a mission trip. We will be living in a community we’ve vacationed at four times now, Gran Pacifica. As the name suggests, it’s situated on the Pacific side of the country on a developing parcel of land that has been subdivided into lots. Each time we visit, we see more homes going up, although there are still quite a number to start the build.
As for safety, the civil war ended some 35 years ago. Most Nicaraguans are more concerned with which smart phone to own rather than past history.
Daniel Ortega, a leader in the revolution, is now President and a business man according to local residents.
As I learned in an online sales meeting, GDP relies on these businesses: Agriculture, fishing, forestry; trade, hotels & restaurants; manufacturing; business & personal services, and government services.
Government is making progress in improving infrastructure, education and health care. Poverty is still abundant, but again, the government is putting policies in place to help.
What strikes me in our visits is how happy the people are no matter what their situation is. They don’t have much, not by our standards, but they seem to enjoy life a lot more. Just my perspective.
Nicaragua is home to just over 6 million people with approx. 2.2 million living in the capital city of Managua. This is where you would fly into coming from the U.S. or Canada.
It is a full day of traveling. My flights typically start around 5-6 am and I arrive here at approx. 9 pm. My connections are usually Toronto-Houston or Atlanta-Managua. My preference is to have a couple hours between flights for a couple of reasons. First, you typically need to get from one end of the airport to the other for international flights. If you’re using U.S. connections, there’s the process of going through customs which can take some time. You get scanned again through security, an exercise I have been getting better at. What I mean by that is I don’t panic about how fast I can get the trays going for the scanner anymore. I take my time to try and get it right and keep track of things. Lastly, it gives me a chance to stretch my legs or relax with a meal for a while.
Of note, there are more avenues opening up that bypass the U.S. completely. They will go through Mexico City or San Salvador for example. I haven’t tried that yet, but for people who have, they say it’s quite a nice alternative.
This trip down was a little different in that I brought more stuff because we are planning on visiting longer. Always check with your carrier regarding how much weight per bag and how many you can take. Quite costly if you don’t figure that out first.
I was allowed two check-in bags and they have to be under 50 lbs. and two carry ons. Purchased a couple of those hockey type luggage bags and I must’ve packed them half a dozen times trying to keep the weight down. Needed to make room for my coffee prep and my electronics. If you’re going for a short visit, you won’t need to do any of that. Pack light…it’s hot down here.
Decided to bring one of my bass guitars along. So that’s one carry on. I asked around and guys I know that travel said just to walk up to the gate and get it gate checked. That way it’ll be in my hands for the trip. Well, that worked for the first leg, but from Toronto to Managua, the flights were full and they wanted to check it through to Managua. I had just purchased a Mono bag from Janzen Brothers and I’ll tell you, as much as I worried, my bass showed up unscathed. Although I will add there was a moment of panic as I waited for the bass to show up on the carousel. It wasn’t….
I did ask someone if there was more coming and he said no…more panic…
He did tell me to follow him and he’d get someone to help me. As I did, there was my bass. Someone had taken it off the carousel and placed it behind a pillar beside the carousel. So much relief!
After that it was a matter of having everything scanned again by the Nica agents and I was on my way.
My friend, Ken Hoyt, was there to pick me up. He’s the one that drove from Surrey BC to Nica back in October. We piled everything in his Buick Lucerne and headed off.
We did get lost for about an hour, which gave us a chance to catch up LOL. So here’s two old guys in a Buick cruising around Managua. Oddly enough, it was a twisting turning detour that brought us back to the right road! Funny how things work out. Part of the problem is there are NO street signs. They all have names, just no signs to tell you what they are. From there it was an hour’s drive to get to Gran Pacifica.
Some confusion at the gate as to who had my key for the house I was to stay in. Finally, through our broken or non-existent Spanish and their limited English, I did get a key.
Of course, we went to the wrong house. I was mistakenly given a master key to some of the houses in the area I’m staying. I knew it was the wrong house because someone else’s belongings were there. Thankfully, one of the guard supervisors caught up with us and directed us to the right house. Lovely little home with two bedrooms, two baths, full kitchen dining and sitting area. AC is in the bedrooms only. That is my refuge as I’m adjusting to the heat here.
The day I arrived it was a real feel of plus 40C. Coming out of a cold snap in Manitoba, it’s quite the adjustment.
Again, the hardest part of this is being away from Arlene and the kids. Thank goodness for good wifi and vid conferencing. I’m also thankful for the people I know here and the ones I’m meeting, like my friend Ken Hoyt and Mark Davison. Mark is a home owner here and is married to Lyn Suderman of the Winkler area. Well, Mark says she’s really from Haskett, but that another story. Mark and I had a nice two hour breakfast the day after I arrived, then Ken joined us and we headed off to one of the smaller local towns to get some groceries.
Picked up some fruit and vegetables in the open marketplace for a fraction of what we pay back home. Went to get some other supplies in a little store called the Pali. $60 U.S. and I’m good to go for quite some time.
That’s one of the attractions of being here. If you don’t mind doing some cooking, you can get away with not paying much for your food. If you want something a little more upscale and cooked for you, the Sea Salt Restaurant is a ten minute walk on the property.
Lovely spot overlooking the ocean that serves some great food and drinks by friendly servers from the area.
I’m going to end this episode here. Haven’t had a chance to take a lot of pictures other than the huge moon from last night. Still a little jet lagged.
More to come…