10 January 2014

Whirl Wind Year End and Back on the Road Again!

© 2014 Terrell Neasley

For the first time since I started this blog in 2007, I went a whole month without a post. I would say that from mid-November til the end of the year was a blur. And by blur, I mean, as in the interior of a tornado. I simply could not keep up and looking back, I needed help so many times and should have gotten some. But I didn't. My bad. Things were actually supposed to slow down around the 1st of December. BUT, I ended up getting ill, was on my back for the good part of a work week, and then was like a walking, coughing zombie for the next week. Despite that, I had put in notice, a month earlier, on the apartment where I lived and ended up moving as soon as I could get out of bed. I moved myself since I didn't want to get anyone else sick.

Bus stop in Rivas. Just pullin' in. © 2014 Terrell Neasley
I hit the road mid-December, but I was simply not fully prepared to leave. When you have a flight reservation, you leave anyway. So I flew around to a few cities visiting family and friends for the holidays before finally leaving again for Nicaragua just before New Year's which I spent in Managua, the capital city. I was able to book a late reservation at El Gueguense Hotel for a 3-night stay. I had no clue what to expect when I got there. But let me back up for a second. I flew into the Augusto Cesar Sandino International Airport which is the main airport located in Managua. My experience in the airport was not so bad. I made it through customs with no issues. I had previously been warned about flying with one-way tickets, but so far no custom agents have given me a problem. My main issue is when you get OUT of the airport. I had made no prior arrangements for transportation and I wish I had.

Bus stop in Managua. Roberto Humbres Marcado.
© 2014 Terrell Neasley 

Maybe its just me, but I would think a place promoting national tourism would make things as easy as possible for foreigners to get to their destinations safely. Specifically, I would have appreciated better signs directing me where to go as you exit the airport. Maybe in information desk could be helpful. But most importantly, a way to make things easier and safer to select a taxi. There were people all over the airport exit soliciting taxi services. But you really don't know who is really a taxi driver or not. I was approached by one taxi driver and was offered a ride for $20, but I wanted to wait and kept walking. I settled on another ride for $12 after his series of offers and my counter-offers. After we settled, his car wasn't on the curb lined up with other taxis. Nope. I followed him across the street and into another business parking lot where he said it was cheaper parking. But all was well. He was helpful in informing me about places of interests and precautions as we drove maybe 20 minutes to my hotel.

Managua. Locals on New Year's Eve  © 2014 Terrell Neasley
I selected El Gueguense using Hotels.com for two reasons. One was the room availability (so close to NYE). The next was the reviews it got on a few sites I checked. I liked that it was billed to be in a quiet secure neighborhood. The reason for that is the fact that just across the street is where the nation's President lives. So yeah, police and military units all around the place, but its not obtrusive. I read some of the other reviews that pointed out that there wasn't much to do around the hotel. You can still find what you need relatively close and take a taxi for $3 or $4. And on top of that, there is a REALLY nice restaurant, Eskimo's about 2 blocks around the corner. One part is fine dinning. Another area is a cafe, and then they also have an ice cream bar in another room.

I spent my New Year's Eve with some locals I met on a corner down the street. The plan had been to visit a local club I had been told was a good spot to get pics of the celebrating. I stepped outside and saw some fireworks in the distance just a few blocks away. So I delayed the call for a taxi and checked it out. I was able to ingratiate myself with the family and friends who were celebrating. NOBODY spoke English, but they insisted I take their pictures and I did. I decided to stay with them instead of heading to the club and it was a great choice. So instead of celebrating with champagne, I was toasting the New Year drinking a coke out of a sandwich bag with a straw tied off at the top of it. It was a good evening.

Luis y Laura, Your Friends at Hotel El Gueguense  © 2014 Terrell Neasley
The managers at El Gueguense is probably what makes the place rock. Its a family owned business and they go all out to help you enjoy your stay. Luis and his wife Laura were both great at helping me get situated and continue on with my trip. The rooms were what you might expect for a bed and breakfast, but I would not call it a hostel. My room was simple but I had a wide-screen TV and AC. As long as it was clean was the main thing I cared about. And the complimentary breakfast is not just toast, jelly, and coffee. You get a breakfast meal prepared whenever you get up and desire it. When I got ready to leave, Luis drove me to the bus station at Roberto Huembes Mercado. It was not a short trip and there was no charge. The man just wanted to see me off safely to my next destination.

So now I am in San Juan del Sur and will be here for a while learning Spanish. I just completed my first week in school. I'll tell you about my day two near death experience next time.

No comments: