Saturday, July 5, 2008

Final Post From Nicaragua

The good news, I've been having so much fun that haven't had time to write. The bad news, I'm sitting at the airport in Managua waiting to leave and end my vacation. Here are the last things that I did.

---Thursday 7/3/08---

I had lunch with my aunt. She was shopping at Pricemart, which is a complete rip-off of Costco back in the States. I got to say goodbye to her. It was great seeing her one more time.

I then went to see Hancock. I know, I know .... but tickets are so cheap and I enjoy a good movie.

After the movie I met up with my friend Rita again and had dinner at the Eskimo restaurant. Now this place was weird. "Eskimo" is a brand of ice cream in Nicaragua, so I thought she was inviting me to an ice cream parlor. When I pulled up, sure enough it looked like an ice cream parlor. I walked around looking for for her, and did not find her. I asked one of the employees if this was the "Eskimo" restaurant, she said yes and pointed me to a hallway in the back. Man, was I shocked. In the back of this ice cream parlor was a NICE expensive, fancy restaurant. I found Rita and her boyfriend.

We then decided to go to a club. She wanted to make up for taking me to such a crappy club the previous night. We went to "Moods", which was located in that Galleries of Santo Domingo, the place I raved about before. This place was so nice. I ordered a Redbull Vodka, but the waiter did not understand me. I had to say it without an english accent: "vODka", emphasis on the "O" sound. He finally understood me and brought the table a large bottle Grey Goose vodka, and no Redbull. So maybe he didn't understand me completely. I eventually got my Redbull.

The service was impeccable. Every few minutes guys would swoop in and change the little paper around the glass, refill my ice and my liquor.

We left the place around 2am. I took a Taxi since I refused to be driven by people I thought were drunk, I think I insulted them, but I am alive.

---Friday 7/4/08---

Another 4th of July spent out of the country. This year, I had a much better time then the last.

I woke up too late for breakfast at the hotel. When I eventually got up I went to get breakfast and headed for the old neighborhood where I used to live to see some old friends. It was the 15 yr birthday of one of the girls and they were planning a huge party. I spent a few hours talking to them, but they could not dedicate much time to me since they were busy cooking, cleaning, and setting up for the party.

I left to get ready for the wedding.

I was invited by Carmen, a law school classmate to her friend's wedding. The mass was beautiful, I actually forgot how much I like being in a church.

The reception was at the Intercontinental hotel, THE fanciest hotel in the country. Rooms are about $150-$180/night, which is a month's salary for many here. Classy place, open bar, being dressed up: what more could I ask for.

I had a blast. I wish to thank the bride and groom for allowing me crash the party. They were very nice to me when I met them.

Afterwards we went to a pub where they had Guinness. I had some, among other things.

All the wedding pictures are here.

---Saturday 7/5/08---

I woke up at 6:30am, after going to bed at 4am. I had to wake up to see a cousin before she got into work (on a Saturday!). I saw her, took some pictures.

This morning I also decided to head to the cathedral and take some pictures. This building is weird looking thing, with a egg shells shape domes things (see below).


I was a little disappointed with the inside, I guess I expected something more fancy. But I still love the building. I went back to hotel, had breakfast.

Rita was supposed to come by the hotel and send me off but she failed. I am starting to get really annoyed with the opposite sex.

I took a taxi to the airport and here I am.

End of vacation. I guess will end with a pictures I took from the Taxi on my way out of the country. I might write another entry with general reflexions from the trip. USA, here I come (please let me in).

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Lonesome Travels ...

---Monday 6/30/08---

Becky and I left in the morning for Granada and eventually made it to Laguna de Apoyo.

This place is just as beautiful as I remembered. When I get rich, the first piece of real state that I purchase is going to be there. We left for the laguna at 10am and came back at 5pm. I spent a few of hours swimming and on an inner tube, just relaxing. The weather was great. It was cloudy, not too hot with some patches of sunshine just to mix it up. It did not start to rain until we started to leave for Granada.

I love meeting the people from the Monkey Hut, they always have interesting stories. I wish I could have stayed the night there.

We went back to the volunteer house in the evening and waited for a potluck that was supposed to happen, but never did. The other volunteers were planning to order pizza, at which point we decided to go to a restaurant. We went to a place recommended by a friend in Granada. It was a spanish restaurant with a very romantic garden setting, candle light dinner and a man walking around with his guitar serenading the tables (great singer!).

After dinner we decided to go out for a drink and stopped by one of the other volunteer houses to recruit a drinking posse and say goodbye. We ended up going to a nearby bar and had some drinks. The other volunteers were really interesting people. I wish that I had more time to spend with them. We talked about politics, policy, and gender roles.

We left the bar pretty late, back to the volunteer house where I had a most uncomfortable sleep on a tiny couch.

---Tuesday 7/1/08---

After a great breakfast. Becky took some time to do some final shopping for music, crafts, and powdered fresco de Cacao.

We then took the bus back to Managua and the airport. I waited until she checked in and left for my hotel, Maracas Inn. I checked into my room and rested for a bit. I was planning to have dinner with some friends and then spend the night back in my room relaxing. That didn't happen.

Since I could not reach the friends whom I was having dinner with, I made alternate plans. I called an old dear friend from childhood, Rita, and invited her to dinner. She suggested that we go to Las Galerias de Santo Domingo, this is a recently opened mall, a real mall in the American sense. This place was huge! Teenagers sitting around with their laptops, a large arcade room, movie theaters, and fine restaurants. Now keep in mind that while this is common in the U.S., Nicaragua is the second poorest country in Latin America. I was impressed.

Rita and I had dinner at a spanish restaurant where I had some great paella and mediocre sangria. Afterwards she invited me to go out with friends to a club.

The club was packed with teenagers. Although you needed to be 18 yrs old to get in, most times bouncers did not bother to check IDs. I felt old. The place was packed! I mean 400 people in a tiny venue, and half of them smoking. It was horrible. Although we tried to dance, we ended up most of the night just being pressed up against each other because there was no room to dance. Us being the older, boring couple, we left her friends and exited the club.

I went back to my hotel, had a couple of beers and went to sleep.

---Wednesday 7/2/08---

This day was supposed to be much more exciting.

I had a cancellation for lunch with a friend. I spent the afternoon watching Shutter at the movie theater (tickets are $2.50, $1.50 for afternoon matinee!). Bad movie. I then went to the Cancilleria (ministry of foreign relations) to see old friends and had dinner with a friend from there. I was supposed to go see other people later at night, but they also cancelled. I was back in my hotel by 8pm, and asleep by 9. Weird how yesterday was supposed to be relaxing, but ended up being exciting and today which was supposed to be exciting was not.

Thursday should be prove to be fun. Wedding on Friday.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Managua Adventure ....

---Sunday ---

I finally managed to convince Becky to upgrade to a nicer hotel.

I think the fact that when we walked around we were warned three times about getting robbed in that neighborhood helped.

We checked into Hotel Sol y Luna. A MUCH nicer place, and to me worth the extra cash.

We ended up having lunch/breakfast at nearby giraffe themed placed. I kid you not.

We went back to the hotel to kill time. Watched the final minutes of the Euro Cup where Spain defeated Germany.

Afterwards we got dressed and headed for the restaurant.

I took Becky to the Intermezzo del Bosque, a restaurant on the outskirts of the city with breathtaking views of the city and surrounded by nature. The food was excellent, and the cheesecake was delicious.

We went back into the city to the National theater Ruben Dario and the Ballet folkclorico de Tepenáhuatl.

Overall it was a fun evening. Unlike my date, I like dressing up. She'll learn someday.

Tomorrow we head back to Granada, then one last time to Managua on Tuesday when Beck leaves the country. Then phase II of the trip begins: The lone traveller.

After Ometepe...

---Thursday ----
The second part of my trip involved visiting my family in Camopa. Getting from Ometepe to Camoapa turned out to a challenge. This is the trip we ended up taking starting with a 3:30am wake-up call for a 4am bus ride.

One side of the island to other side via bus(2.5 hrs)
Other side of island to San Jorge via boat(1 hr)
San Jorge to Rivas by Taxi (15 mins)
Rivas to Granada by bus (2hrs)
Granada to Managua by bus(1hrs)
Managua to Camoapa by bus (3 hrs)

Total: Over 9 hours

Yes indeed. That was not pleasant. We had to go through Granada to pick up some stuff that I left at the volunteer house. Becky and I also had breakfast in Granada and took some time to see a photo exhibit in the park. We arrived at my grandma's house (although my grandmother passed away it will always be my grandma's house) around 5pm.

We were tired. We had dinner chatted for a bit, walked around the park. We each had a beer and went to sleep around 10pm. We did not wake up the next day until 10am, a well needed night's sleep.

---Friday ----
It was raining for the entire day. This prevented us from going anywhere in the town (not that there was much to see anyways). Throughout the day relatives kept arriving to see me. At some point I think that the house had about 15-18 people who were somehow related to me or knew me from childhood.

Most of this day was spent talking to relatives and taking pictures. At some point I tried to connect to the internet to upload some pictures, but the connection was so slow that it was not really worth waiting.

This day I also decided not to go to the Patent Interview Program at Loyola. I had gotten only one interview which I left was not enough to warrant me spending money to fly to Chicago and stay at an expensive hotel.

At night I invited some family member to have dinner at a restaurant. The food was good but the service was horrendous. I don't think I would come back.

---Saturday ----
I visited my mother's and grandmother's grave early in the morning (during a small window of no rain). We then left for Managua in the 11:45am bus. Three hours we were back in Managua. We checked into a place which was listed in the budget section of a guide book. I did not like this place. The book was wrong: no internet, and not clean.

Nonetheless we made the most of the day. We actually had time to go dress and shoe shopping. Shopping with Becky is ummm.... an experience. We did manage to find a suitable dress and shoes. We also decided to watch a movie: Get Smart or "Super Agente 86." This was such a great movie! It made me laugh through the entire movie. We eventually went back to the hostel and slept.