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January 23, 2015

Today is my first day to ever set foot in Nicaragua. I’m excited to be here, though I don’t have too much to report yet, as most of the day consisted of twelve hours of travel.

My first flight out of Denver to Miami which appeared to be a new plane for American, an Airbus with TV monitors in the back of each seat, was delayed an hour due to a broken A/C. Funny, the plane was plenty cool!

The TV’s in the backs of the seats were nice to have especially given current Academy Award nominated movies were available for purchase. I was able to knock Whiplash off the list. Originally, I had just planned to read my book, but the woman behind me was such a loud complainer both me and my seatmate had to resort to headphones. She is worth mentioning because it was so humorous!

Her “TV didn’t work” because “she forgot her headphones”. But that didn’t keep her from continuously tapping the screen harder and harder so it felt like someone was kicking my chair. She didn’t want to pay $5 for headphones and wanted “complimentary ones since we were delayed.” And oh, she was “going to miss her connection” and have to “walk so far between gates.” We were all at risk of missing our connections! The lady next to me just started laughing as we both drowned out the noise with our headphones.

After I ran to my gate, I found out my next flight was late too. Way to go American!! It was a pleasant surprise, however, when a text came in from American notifying me of my upgrade which provided a lovely three hours of peace to Managua.

So I’m not sure I have ever been the first one off the plane by myself in a foreign country. I felt a little unsure as I followed the signs and reached a corner where I had to pose a few seconds for the camera before I continued on to customs. It appeared to be an arbitrary choice as to what lane to enter, and after a few minutes of typing the agent informed me I owed $10.

I didn’t check a bag, so I proceeded out of baggage claim, ran my bags through the X-rays, and looked for the shuttle to my hotel. Fortunately, a gentleman held up a sign with my name, and we were off to the Hotel Camino Real in Managua just a few minutes away. If I hadn’t seen a few nice pictures of my home away from home, I would have gotten a little nervous driving up to a bunch of neon lights. Later I figured out these were the signs to the casino next door.

The staff couldn’t have been nicer. Check in was smooth and quick. Just a short walk through an intermittent open and closed air hallway took me to my room. It was sweltering compared to the 30 degrees at home. The A/C unit seemed broken, so I walked back to the front desk to tell them. They had someone to my room in three minutes to turn it on! I have to recommend this hotel, though it is not in the city center.

At first, I wasn’t sure if the hotel water was on a filter system, but judging from all those who had ice in their glass, I supposed the water was fine (and later found out that to be true). But in the meantime, I chose safety and ordered a bottle of water with my complimentary National beer, Toña as I spent the evening watching opening day baseball. The locals were very excited for their pastime.

IMG_0683 tona

I had hoped to get a tour of Managua tomorrow, but the front desk said to just take a taxi. If I had a partner in crime, I would have considered it, but the guys I met at the bar said they went to a swanky club and as soon as they left each other, one was swarmed by the other patrons. I don’t want to give Managua a bad name, as I have no experience. In the daytime, it might be a different story touring the capital city whose metro-area population exceeds 2.4 million, but I suspect I might look like a tourist, so I’ll likely spend a day by the pool and wait for my adventure tour to begin on Sunday. While an entire day at the hotel sounds a bit confining in ways, the opportunity to soak in the sun by the pool in the middle of winter will be nice luxury. ETB

January 24, 2015

Today started out with an early morning breakfast buffet which offered fantastic options. The fruit area included two fruits I’ve never seen! I opted out of the cereal bar and went for the hot food which included the traditional Nicaraguan breakfast. Eggs made to order, rice and beans, fried plantains, and fried cheese…delicious! Another area included a variety of breads…one of the servers was making homemade tortillas…that will be tomorrow’s treat!

I opted for poolside early in the day as I wasn’t quite acclimated to the warm climate. I think I only lasted 45 minutes in the sun before I retreated to the shade! I’m not sure my glowing white body was in the sun long enough for a tan mark. After hanging by the pool for the cool part of the day, I strolled around the hotel. I found a small gym, two tennis courts in rough condition with a gentleman sweeping the cement with a dried palm leaf, lovely manicured grounds and even a bird who was good at squawking “hola”. A little exercise seemed like a good idea though it didn’t appear like a good idea to anyone else as I had to turn on the A/C and the TV at the gym!

Lunchtime approached and tortilla soup and gambas al ajillo appealed to me. Both were rather tasty, though the shrimp could have been cooked a few minutes less. Later, the pool called my name again. I may actually finish my whole book on this trip…that could be a first.

It wasn’t too long before I met my roommate, Connie, who is new to Texas, so we already had a little in common. She came in with some others in the group and provided some insight to the week to come. Though a co-ed trip, an eclectic group of twelve women signed up! She mentioned a handful of the girls went into Managua. Shucks, I wish I would have run into them so I could have gone on a tour as I was getting a little stir crazy from not leaving the hotel. I got a few pictures from them though:

Regardless, Connie and I enjoyed more time at the pool when Mayra joined us. Originally from Mexico City and now living in Chicago, she is an energetic ball of fun. Soon, we went for an early dinner. Mayra’s meal looked the best…the Churrasco, a pounded filet. I think I will try it upon our return in a week. I’m looking forward to finally leaving the hotel tomorrow and starting our tour! ETB

IMG_0701 dinner

For notecards and key chains visit www.notablenotecards.com or www.etsy.com/shop/nichenotecards

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