Here at Last

Three weeks ago I was counting the days until Amanda arrived, trying to stay on task in my site, and looking forward to my first real vacation since arriving in the country. Two weeks ago was that vacation. On Friday the 24th I left early in the morning and found buses that took me across the border with Costa Rica and all the way to the airport in Alajuela. I arrived there at 6:30 pm on Friday and prepared for a long wait (until 12:15 am) for her flight. Unfortunately for me, there was no indoor waiting area at this airport; instead, there was a flat screen TV mounted on the glass divider where the arrivals exit the baggage claim. The floor was tiled and relatively clean though, so I sat/reclined and read/napped to pass the time. At about 11:15 the flight showed up as delayed on the board until 2:45 am. At 1:00 am the flight was delayed until 3:45 am. At 2:30 am the flight was listed as canceled. My cell phone had stopped working at the border, and I didn’t have enough change to call using the payphone, so I just looked at when the next flight from Fort Lauderdale was slated to arrive: 11:35 am. I was the only one still waiting at that point, and decided to just try to sleep for a few hours there on the floor. When I woke at 5:30, more people had arrived to welcome the early-morning flights and I decided to go into the nearby town to get some breakfast. The time passed more quickly in the daylight and when the flight was updated to ‘arrived’ on the board I walked back and forth around the exit. My only hope at that point was that she was put on the next Spirit plane out, though I wasn’t sure how likely that would be, considering that the flight was probably pretty full before they would try to add another planefull of people to it. The more minutes went by, the more I had to consider that we might have to go to plan B: meet in the beach town where we had been planning to head next. She wasn’t coming down the hallway that I was watching, but apparently there was a second exit because all of a sudden she was right in front of me. I choked out a surprised greeting and from that moment forward we’ve had incredible luck and great experiences.

I caught a mild cold and a persistent cough that day, but it didn’t seriously detract from our time in a beach town for two days and our adventures in Monteverde. The cloud forest in Monteverde was really amazing and was the most jungle-y terrain I’ve seen. We saw some cool creepy-crawlies.

I've decided that this is a Batman centipede

We went ziplining through the canopy and did a tarzan swing which may represent the most terrified I have ever been, albeit only for about 1.2 seconds.

Ziplining in Monteverde, Costa Rica

We stayed at a lovely hostel, cooked dinner, read our books on the balcony overlooking the hills, and went for hikes. We missed the only bus that would have gotten us back to Nicaragua on time, so we stayed an extra night and traveled most of the day on Friday to get back to my island.

The week spent on my island was more challenging, because I was no longer on vacation, but still great. I forget how much I depend on the routines I have built up over my time here and the time to myself to get organized and prepared for my days. It took about a day for me to re-adjust, then I was able to fully enjoy having Amanda with me and showing her my life as a volunteer. It helped enormously that she is very able to communicate and navigate by herself. She visited both my schools, met all of my counterparts and friends, saw my community classes, and got to know my host family. Two of her best friends, Jane and Megan, visited the island too, and we spent Friday together, hiking and eating and going to my community class.

On Saturday after a last breakfast with Jane and Megan we went to visit my training host family in Niquinohomo, where I lived during my training for the first three months in the country. My family was extremely welcoming and we had a great time, despite Alicia’s (the 8-year-old) over-exuberance and eventually annoying games, like shouting in everyone’s ear to make them jump. 🙂 We left in the afternoon and got to Granada by late afternoon. We found a hostel, had a great dinner at a street vendor’s place in the central plaza, and read/used the internet until we fell asleep. The next morning was spent wandering the streets, taking pictures, exploring the market, and having pupusas for lunch. Pupusas are these deep-fried pancake-shaped things made of cornmeal-breaded cheese. They’re like extra-delicious quesadillas, kind of. Then a bus to Managua and another to León.

León is a beautiful northern city with a massive cathedral, a large university, tons of shops and restaurants, and a few museums and cultural centers. Being in town on Sunday and Monday didn’t give us much opportunity to check out the museums, but we had a great time exploring, reading in cafes, buying fruit in the market, eating fried street food (fritanga), and staying in a dumpy but homey hostel that clearly consisted only of a few spare bedrooms in a family’s already existing home. At less than $5 per night per person, we weren’t complaining.

Now we’re in Estelí at a training that I have this week where I and one of my counterparts will be learning about new teaching strategies. Amanda will be coming to some of the trainings, but unfortunately for us is staying at another hostel quite a ways away. She’ll do mostly her own thing for a few days, then we’ll have another four or five days together before she heads on to her next adventures in Perú.

To see a photo album from our time together (I’ll add more as we take more) check out this link.

To see some videos I took in the cloud forest(if I’ve had the chance to upload them yet), check out my YouTube channel.

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One response to this post.

  1. Posted by Janet Boddy on July 15, 2011 at 8:50 am

    Thanks for catching us up on your Blog! Keep on adventuring. Love, Mom

    Reply

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