September 27, 2015: Traveling to Nicaragua

This is it, our big day.  We are moving down to Nicaragua for the season.  This is our third time “relocating” to a new country this year.  Each time is a new adventure.  We have gotten used to this enough that we really did not feel very much sense of urgency in getting ready or anything.  It seemed pretty casual until around noon when suddenly things started coming down to the wire and we actually had to have things done like, immediately.

We had a last minute packing panic as Dominica realized that one of the suitcases was coming in at 82.5 lbs, rather a bit over the 50 lbs limit set by the airlines.  So she had to repack, in a panic, and we had to make the decision to take an additional suitcase – which was already packed in the storage unit.  So we loaded up the Spark (that is the only car that we have now) and I ran to the storage unit, dropped off everything that we had left to drop off, took everything out of the suitcase that we needed and put it into a box, grabbed the now empty suitcase and ran back to the house.

It was just barely in time that Dominica was able to get everything packed so that we were able to leave for the airport on time.  Francesca came over and picked us up.  Even her truck was pretty full with all of our luggage.  We have nine pieces of luggage this time.

We had some issues due to changes in how the toll roads in Houston work making it difficult for us to get to the airport.  This is something that we are not going to miss!

We got the airport with tons of time.  We did not want to have any airport complications so had allowed ourselves three hours.  This gave us plenty of time to get some food and just relax at the gate knowing that we had everything covered.  We got pretzels and cookies while we waited for the flight.  Luciana would be talking about how good the cookies were from this airport for weeks.

No issues getting onto our flight.  We have a direct flight from Houston to Managua on United which is very nice, just barely over three hours.  That we can handle.

On this flight Luciana sat against the window seat on the right hand side of the airplane, Liesl in the middle and me on the aisle.  As always, Dominica was on the other side of the aisle.  This was not a good setup, I need to be between the girls or it turns into fighting.  We will not have the two of them together again.

The flight was short and no problems at all.  We landed at the very small airport in Managua and could feel the heat and humidity as we left the plane.  This is a hot country.

Getting into the airport we were greeted by an undeniable sense of being in a different part of the world than we have yet had a chance to visit.  Technically Panama is Central America, but it is really just a technicality.  Panama has always been associated with South America since the very first Spanish explorers visited there.  In recent history it never joined the Central American countries and has always been associated with Columbia to the south.  The culture and history of Panama is South American, not Central American.

Nicaragua is, without a doubt, Central America.  Even just the airport makes you feel like you are in a different part of the world.  We have never been to an airport that felt so run down.  People were all very friendly and things were handled efficiently.  Getting through the airport and through customs and immigration was easy.  This is also the first time that we had to pay to enter a country.  Ten dollars American per person to come into the country.  Don’t forget to have cash with you when you fly!

We got our luggage quickly and were immediately met by our ride as we left the airport.  That was super easy.  However we were told that we were going to be met by a minivan as we had coordinated that ahead of time due to the amount of luggage that we had, but what met us was a very small Toyota Corolla.  Thank goodness it was not a Yaris.  But we were not prepared to be in such a small car.

It took several people a lot of effort to get us into that little car.  We were really, really lucky that our luggage, and us, all fit.  Three adults, two kids and nine massive pieces of luggage in a subcompact!

The drive from Managua to Granada takes a little over an hour.  The airport is east of the city so we drove northeast to Tipitapa and then down through Masaya to Granada.  We had a nice ride but it was dark so there was very little to get to see.  Our driver spoke a little English so we were able to learn a little bit about the country on the drive.

It was clear on our drive south but our driver said that it was raining in Granada.  We did not see the rain ourselves until we had gotten into the city and then it was pouring.  A true Central American tropical storm, which was neat but tonight was probably not the best timing for it.  It was so much rain that the person who was going to show the house to us decided not to come out and instead the taxi drove us to her house, she gave us the keys and we went on our way.

We got into the house on the northwest side of Granada not too far from the tourist district and unloaded the car in the intense rain.  We are very excited to be in our new house.

We quickly explored and the house is amazing.  It is an ancient colonial house, very classic.  The rain was pouring in to the pool in the middle of the house which was really cool.  The house is all open to the outside, which we knew and were expecting, but actually experiencing it was something.  This is going to be an incredibly unique living experience for us.  Like nothing we have ever tried to do before.  It is going to be nothing but fresh air for us for the next season.

We did pretty little tonight.  It was getting late and we were tired.  We looked around the house, carried our luggage upstairs, checked out the bedrooms and saved most everything for tomorrow.  Both bedrooms have tons and tons of space and each has its own full bathroom which is great.  There is nothing on the second floor except for the bedrooms.

The girls already love the house and their room, especially.  We are all excited to be here but need our sleep.