Thursday, March 29, 2012

León, Nicaragua - Thursday, March 29, 2012

So, we've been saying that we have been able to cope with the heat, and we have. However, the temperature sure has been turned up a notch or two the past couple of days. The middle of the day is crazy. I can understand why so many foreigners opt for air conditioning. Siestas in the afternoon are almost a necessity because it is too hot to do anything else and the heat is very draining. We have ceiling fans in almost every room and they help considerably.  So far we haven't had any problems with sleeping due to the heat.  We have been introduced to a delicious treat here in Nicaragua - refrescos naturales...
Yes, you are seeing that correctly - Pat is drinking out of a plastic bag. The flavour of this one is calala.  There is a large chunk of ice that keeps it refreshingly cool.  These refrescos come in a variety of flavours such as mandarin, orange, pineapple and mango. The sad part is when most people have finished drinking one of these treats they throw the bag on the ground rather than finding a garbage can.

We have really enjoyed our time in service this week. Pat has conducted two studies now with our neighbour Frank and last night his girlfriend joined in. However, their little girl is quite active and it was decided that Karen would have a separate study with me on Thursday nights and Frank will "babysit". This morning in service we had just finished our territory and were heading home when a young woman approached us and started a conversation in English with us. She is a University student and would like to have a career in translating spanish/english.  She has agreed to have a weekly bible study and I will be meeting with her tomorrow.  We are really feeling encouraged with our progress in the ministry in such a short time.
A sister borrowing my parasol
In order to cope with the constant sun and heat I always have a parasol with me. Umbrellas and parasols are used very often with locals and foreigners alike.

Pat has prepared a public talk - Are you Walking with God - which he will be delivering on April 15th. So, between getting ready for the Memorial, preparing meeting parts, working on territories and preparing for his public talk Pat is one busy man!

We have to go into town this afternoon to pay some bills. I sure hope the bank is busy - that way we can stay in the air conditioning longer.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

León, Nicaragua - Sunday, March 25, 2012

We are really starting to feel at home here - almost part of the neighbourhood.  We still get a few stares, but very few comments anymore. Even with our limited Spanish, we could still understand when people were talking about us - obviously wondering what we are doing walking around in the area - far away from any tourist spots.

One thing that has helped us to fit in with our neighbours is our love of street food. Many of the women in the area make some really good food. Yesterday on our way home from service one of the ladies called us into their yard to see what they were cooking - Cheese soup - Sopa de Queso!

This soup is very filling and for 40 cords very affordable. The ingredients included some plantain, yucca, cabbage, green pepper and cheese of course, in a nice rich broth.  They also added 4 "tortillas" that were filled with cheese. It was absolutely delicious.  

Other nights we have found women selling traditional Nicaraguan food - Gallo Pinto, empanadas, tostones, tacos and grilled meats. It would be possible to never cook any suppers at all because there is always someone cooking up a storm. 

Another thing we are enjoying about Nicaragua is all of the fresh fruit. Right now mangoes are in season and you can get a couple of different varieties. Papayas are also huge - although we have found that it isn't one of our favourites. We have some in the fridge that we will add to some mango and melon and make a smoothie for breakfast.

Service has continued to be a real delight. It continues to amaze me how helpful the local people are. Just like other countries we find that when we call at a home the person we are looking for isn't there. What often happens here is that the person who answers the door will call "Sergio" on the phone so that we can talk to him and so we can deliver our message to them anyhow. This is a new form of "telephone" witnessing.

Earth wide we are getting the same message about expanding our ministry and moving to areas that need help.  In Canada this often means moving to Mexico or the Dominican Republic... but where do people from Mexico go to serve where the need is great??? Why they go to Nicaragua.... On Tuesday night we had a father and daughter visiting from Mexico. They had just spent two months working remote territory on Ometepe Island.  They mentioned what a wonderful time they had.  The daughter is staying on in Nicaragua for another month so hopefully we will hear some of their experiences and be able to pass them along to you.

We are waging war with ants. We have them pretty well conquered in the kitchen, but we still have them in the grass in the front yard. Yes, ants are good for the soil, but these are "fire ants". Well, Pat says they aren't "fire ants" but they sure like to bite me..... We are trying to take a "natural" approach. This involves a number of strategies. First - apparently, they don't like soap. So, we are throwing the dish water on the grass and along the boarders where the ant holes are. Another strategy is using coffee grounds (thanks to my brother Stephen for this idea).  The ants don't seem to be as much as a problem but time will tell. We are trying to prepare a part of the yard to make a garden. So, as we walk on the area more we will find out if the two strategies are working.

Friday, March 23, 2012

There is danger on those rocks!

Yesterday was another hot sunny day and we went to Las Peñitas with some friends from the congregation.  First, we enjoyed a nice relaxing drink at Barco de Oro while Brad, Lydia and Colton ate a yummy fish lunch. Pat and I had foolishly eaten an empañada while we waited for the bus to leave the bus station and were too full to eat anything else. The waves were really strong again today and so we only spent a short time in the water.  The rest of the time we relaxed at Playa Roca and people watched. About 4:30 there was a group of about 10-15 people that decided it was a good idea to sit on these rocks and some others close by:
Anyone who has any experience with the ocean knows how dangerous that can be. Suddenly, a big wave crashed into the group of people and pulled them from off the rocks and then pulled them around in the water. There were quite a few injuries and one poor fellow looked as if his wrist was broken. The owners of Playa Roca helped the injured tourists the best that they could but at least two of them required a visit with a doctor.  What a sad way to end a beautiful day at the beach....

So, an update on our service this week: Pat has started a bible study with our neighbour - Frank. Frank has really helped us with settling into our new place and he and his girlfriend have been very hospitable and given us some tasty Nicaraguan dishes to try. They make some awesome frijoles!  So, it turns out that not just Frank wants to study - so does Karen... So we will be able to study with them together....

Today we were out inviting people to the Memorial and forgot to bring some water with us which is a big no no - we need to keep hydrated. So, you know you are one of the locals when you have no problem buying your water from a street vendor and this is how it comes - the cost is only 1 cordaba.



We also decided to treat ourselves with a snow cone. We have seen these vendors in the park and always wanted to try one.  In their carts they have a large block of ice. They have a utensil that "shaves" the ice and then they put the shaved ice into a cup.  Next they add a topping - we chose Tamarindo.  It was sweet and very yummy!

Monday, March 19, 2012

This and That

Today is Monday, which means cleaning day. Yes, even in paradise you have to do such mundane things as cleaning. One of the chores is laundry - and do we have it easy.  We have one of these:

most women have to use this:

I was hot and tired just taking the laundry out of the machine and putting it on the line. I can't imagine doing a whole families load of laundry with the stone washboard. 

I must admit, I do like how my "dryer" works....

It's amazing how quickly laundry dries down here. This load would be dry before the next load has finished in the washing machine. Also, there is no charge to use it!

So, after we finished cleaning we headed into town - yes, I know, I'm complaining about the heat and there we are heading in to town during the hottest part of the day..... Anyhow, we needed to check out the price for a printer and pick up some shelving for the bathroom. Those two items were very easy to do.  

The other thing we were looking for was some curtains for our bedroom - this proved to be far more challenging. We went into this one store and asked if they had any curtains for the "living room". What they showed me was a package that contained the outer cloth curtain and the inner plastic curtain for a shower. I tried to explain to them that it was for the "baño but they insisted that it was for the sala and the plastic was just for protection. The packaging was in English - so I'm sure I had this one right.  We escaped the store without buy the "curtain" and we down the street to the "second hand" store. We have been in here a few times looking for furniture and thought we would stop in to see if they had a bookcase. Well, the didn't have any bookcases but I did find a pile of lace curtains.  I managed to get four that were the same and they were only $2.00 a panel.  Now I only need to find a curtain rod... where do you think I might find that???

It appears that Pat is loosing weight down here - he had to buy a new belt.  I'm thinking he is using it as an excuse to get a new one - what do you think?

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Day one of Memorial Campaign 2012

Saturday was the first day of the Memorial Campaign for 2012. Our little English Congregation had a good turnout and everyone was eager to get started. Pat has been working hard on preparing some of the territories so that they can be used in the next three weeks. He was busy at the counter signing out territories

In order to beat the heat of the day the service arrangement begins at 8:30 am. There are few cars in the congregation so most groups would either walk or take a bus to the territory. Today we were divided into two groups of six as well as other groups of two that were heading off to do studies.



I enjoyed working with little Natalie and her parents Lenin and Erica. This little cutie will have some competition for attention at the hall because Nathan and Ashley are returning on Sunday and they will be accompanied by their new baby Lily.....

However, I think that this little girl will do ok - she is sooo cute...

Today they were having a service arrangement at 1 pm. We decided not to attend - it is so HOT.... we were out at the 3 pm arrangement yesterday and it was hot, but today??? I think it's even hotter!

I know what you are saying.... this is what you wanted - yeah, but who knew that hot was this HOT..... Thank goodness next week they are starting arrangements at 5 pm... it should have cooled off by then.

Hope you are all having a good start to the campaign....


Friday, March 16, 2012

Do you know what this is?

As I've mentioned before, our house is "open" to the elements. So far it hasn't been a problem. We have figured out that the "prints" on the kitchen wall belong to the young neighbourhood cat.  I'm still trying to befriend it but since Pat doesn't want me to feed it the process is going to be a long slow one. We don't see it very often during the daytime but when we do I talk to it and now it doesn't run away - ok, it runs away but it will think about it first.....

So, this morning when we got up, along with the usual leaves and dirt we found this:

At first glance it appeared to be a piece of wood or dried up leaf, however, when we took a closer look we realized that it was a moth that had flown in and was have a sleep before it moved on. We decided to help it on it's way......


video



I must be starting to have "empty nest syndrome" (no cats, no dogs, no kids) because I keep looking at the little birds in the markets and thinking that it would be nice to have one. It's kind of a strange thing because I've never been too fond of birds. When I mentioned to Pat about getting one he reminded me that we would have to clean out the cage..... that was enough to put me off right there!

But, they are cute.....

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Market Day

Today we went down to the large market by the main bus terminal. This is a much bigger market than the central market that we have been going to.... ok, I have to admit, I've been doing most of my shopping at the Pali Supermarket. One of the main reasons we have been shopping at the Pali is because the prices are listed and so there isn't a "Gringo" surcharge. I found that some of the prices at the central market weren't even all that great. So, when a brother in our congregation said that he goes to the market at the terminal on Thursdays we jumped at the opportunity to go with him. This market is huge and you can buy just about anything you are looking for.






We didn't keep exact track of all of our purchases but here is the cost of some of the items we bought: ($1.00 CDN is approx 23.403 Cordobas)
Large watermelon - 20 cordobas
Avacado - 5 cordobas
3 large Mangoes - 15 cordobas
12 limes - 10 cordobas
9 roma tomatoes - 15 cordobas
4 cucumbers - 20 cordobas

With these prices we'll be shopping at this market more often. And in case you are wondering - no, we didn't buy any meat.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

It's been two weeks - the vacation is over....

Ok - we aren't on vacation, but up until now that's the longest we have spent in Nicaragua at a time. So.... what have we accomplished during the past couple of weeks?

We have set up house which has entailed a lot of back and forth to the city center. We only have a couple of major things left on our list to buy (ironing board, printer, TV table) but are managing quite well without them. However, the printer is a must because Pat has been given the Territory assignment and we will need a printer to print them off.

We have used Skype for the first time. So we can keep in touch the modern way - just give us a call.



Sights like this when we are in service have become normal - almost like seeing a cat or a dog. Also, we are getting used to the constant wind and dust. I said used to - not liking....




We have learned to spy out every last spec of shade that is available and therefore have avoided getting sun burnt even when we have been out walking at noon. The application of sunscreen has become part of the morning routine!

Both of us have had some good calls in service and are looking forward to returning to the individuals and discussing more bible subjects with them.




We have had our first visitors from Canada and are looking forward to seeing many more of you.



We are getting around on the bus system and we even found our way to the coast and enjoyed a wonderful day at the beach.

So far our adjustment seems to have been fairly easy and problem free. Shopping is still a bit of a challenge because when we go to the market we don't blend in and are definitely charged "Gringo" prices. Tomorrow some friends are taking us to a new market (new to us) that has cheaper prices and the produce is fresher. I'm looking forward to seeing a different part of the city.

Life is starting to settle into a routine.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Beach Day!

Thursday was our first beach day since we arrived. As we were getting ready to go out the door, Claro showed up to hook up the TV and internet. We decided to wait until they were finished before we left for the beach - which was about 11:15. Since we were running behind schedule (yeah I know what you are thinking - Schedule for the beach???) we decided to take the bus from our corner into downtown and then take another bus out to Sutiava to catch the bus that goes to the beaches.  What we hadn't considered in regard to the time is that many students would be heading home and that the buses would be packed. Think of sardines and then add another half a can to the lot - that's how many people were squished onto the bus.  Have I mentioned what these buses are like? Most of them are old American school buses that have found a new lease on life down here - transporting far more people than you can imagine. You really have to be comfortable being in close proximity to your neighbour if you take these buses because there really isn't any concept of personal space. But......it was all worth it when you get to the end of the line and this is what you find.....
View from Barca De Oro Hostal

One reason we wanted to visit Las Peñitas today was some friends were visiting Nicaragua from Halifax, Nova Scotia and we knew they would be in town. The plan was to meet them at their hotel and then get some lunch and head to the beach.  However, when we got to the Suyapa Hotel they were out walking. Pat was hungry so we decided to try and find them and also scout out somewhere for lunch. We didn't find Pam and Arnie but we did find Barca De Oro Hostal that had a nice restaurant overlooking the estuary.  We sat down, ordered lunch and started to relax.  It wasn't long and Pam found us and joined us. Lunch was very good and I learned a very valuable lesson - always ask how much the special of the day is. I ordered it - which was shrimp skewers and very yummy - but it was a budget breaking $210 cordabas =  approx. $9.00 CDN

After lunch we changed into our bathing suits and headed down to the waves. The current here is very strong and if you aren't careful you get pulled under and you feel like you've gone through wash cycle of the washing machine. Many people have had the sad experience of standing up with their clothes in disarray.



After a swim we hung out at Playa Roca and enjoyed the view and the company of Pam and Arnie.  Pam had arranged for a horseback ride at 4 pm and right on schedule her stead arrived.



We had a great day at the beach but had to head home. We caught the second to last bus back to León at 5:30. We can't wait to do it all again next week!


Friday, March 9, 2012

We have internet!

On Wednesday we came home from using the internet at a friends house and we found a "group" of people in our yard. It took us a minute, but we realized that they were from Claro and were here to hook up the Cable and internet. It seems that this visit was only for "investigation" of what the place was like and what would be needed for the installation. I think there were 4 Claro employees on site.

Skip ahead to Thursday morning. We were preparing to head to the beach when the friendly Claro team arrived. Again, I would say there were about 4 employees in tow. They quickly set up for the TV and asked where the TV was? We of course don't have one yet so we told them where it "will be" in the future. They asked about the internet and we affirmed that yes, we want internet. "Oh, we don't have a modem. We will have to return in the afternoon". We told them that we wouldn't be home because we were heading to the beach. They said that they would be back the next morning.

Skip ahead now to this morning. We figured that they would show by 10........ 10 came and went. Well, maybe by noon??? No, it was gone 4 o'clock. This time there were 6 Claro employees here to hook us up. There was one who actually spoke a little English, which helped when we got to the complicated parts of the install.... well, really, the install wasn't complicated. It went quite smoothly and we found out that we didn't need to bring the router from Canada. That was a nice bonus - but I wonder what I could have brought in it's place???

So, we are really thankful to our landlord who arrange to have the internet and cable connected for us. I know that many phone calls took place in order for it to happen.

Hopefully, we will be able to update the blog more regularly and of course you can get in touch with us by email.
Thanks for following us on this adventure.
Debbie & Pat

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Night time activities

The 5 days have been a bit of an adjustment for sleeping and not because of the heat.  I think our house has been empty for a while and people have been used to doing whatever and whenever - nothing bad I might add - just life.

The first night in the house I woke up with the noise of someone tapping on the metal gate and calling out to someone in the courtyard/house next door. The poor fellow was told that a new family had moved in and the door was locked. The next night there was a huge cat fight and then later there was the sound of metal tapping on metal.  I assumed it was another one of the students needing to be let in. However, it kept on for at least 1/2 an hour and Pat went out to look but there wasn't anyone there. Apparently, there was someone doing some metal work at about 2 in the morning - it's much cooler then and I'm sure most of the neighbors are used to the noise. It's been a few nights now and I think I am sleeping through most everything. Guess what time the garbage get's put out???? 5 am - yep, you can't put it out the night before because the dogs will get into it, so everyone gets up early and puts the garbage out. I haven't seen one garbage can on the street, although we have seen them in one of the stores.

Dishes

Living Room set
We finally have a table and chair set (plastic like everyone else down here) as well as a living room set. We have been able to eat at home the past 3 days (all meals) and feel like we are really settling in. We bought a washing machine rather than taking our laundry out to a service or using the utility tub with built in scrubber. The young lady next door (who does laundry everyday for her family and the students that room with them) was amazed at the machine. She does everything by hand - I feel lazy in comparison.

I have to tell you about service yesterday. There were only three of us out - Pat, me and a young sister in the congregation. We were asked to go out to Barrio Ruben Dario which hasn't been worked in two years since they did the census.  So.....imagine the biggest dust bowl possible. The wind was whipping the dirt around so that it was hard to even walk.  People must have thought we were crazy! After about an hour we gave up - it was just too difficult.  When we got back into town we decided to walk back to the house rather than take a second bus - we sure got some funny looks. I couldn't wait to jump in the shower.  Now I know what the "dry season" is all about.

Service today was much better. We were taking a census again but close to the Kingdom Hall. Pat found a couple of English speakers and actually was asked to return. Hopefully, it will turn into a regular return visit.

So, tomorrow is our first beach day. We are off to Las Penitas and hope to meet up with some friends who are visiting from Halifax, Canada - Pam and Arnie. Hope to have some pic's from the day... so, stay tuned!

Sunday, March 4, 2012

March 3rd

We slept really well in our new place, but were still up early. We had some coffee and then cut up some fruit for breakfast. Somehow the morning got away from us and by 8:15 we were rushing out the door to get to the service arrangement.  It only took a few minutes and along the way we were met by a sister in our congregation who lives near us. We only spent about an hour in service but we had a nice time taking a census in a small pueblo outside of the city! Again – Spanish was the order of the day since we had to ask at each door if anyone in the household spoke English. Once we were back from service we headed to the Maxi Pali which is like a Walmart. We bought a lot of things for the kitchen which is almost totally in order now. It felt good to come home and make some lunch. They only thing is we ate first and when we returned to clean up the kitchen the ants were already taking the lead….

First day in Leon English service

After an afternoon siesta we cleaned up and headed into town to see if the store that we found with some nice used furniture was open. Unfortunately, it wasn’t so we went for dinner instead. When we returned and entered the kitchen  we saw that – THE CAT CAME BACK – yup – right there on the wall was the cat’s dirty footprints…..I see a consultation with the neighbour looming in the not so distant future.

Well, that pretty much sums up what has been happening. We are still waiting for the cable and internet to be set up and hope to see that happen soon. We are also hoping to have some more furniture in the next day or two so that we aren’t always sitting in the window seats.

One thing that I forgot to write was that at the service arrangement Pat was asked to say the prayer... nothing like having the welcome mat rolled out!

March 2nd

What animal is this?
Today was a big day – moving day in a way. We were ready to roll by 7 am and headed out for breakfast first. When we returned to El Nancite the owner was there and we spoke to him for a while and had a tour of the property. It’s surprising how deep it is. It was a really nice, inexpensive place to stay. We got a taxi to take all of our suitcases to the house. This meant that one of us had to walk because there wasn’t room once all the bags were in! Since it was early and relatively cool I volunteered and met Pat about 15 minutes later – bags all accounted for and we were into our new house. The day was spent finding some of our treasures that had been packed away for a couple of months and I can proudly say that “WE ARE COOKING WITH GAS!” yup! We (with a little help for the neighbour –ok with a LOT of help from the neighbour) called the company to deliver a cylinder of gas. They took our nice brand new one and gave us an older filled one in its place. We swept and washed and set up the bed with the sheets and generally just wore ourselves out. So, after lunch it was siesta time. Later, when I returned to the kitchen I realized by the marks on the wall that we had had a visitor! I of course thought – oh no, we’ve got RATS.  Pat and I looked at the situation and thought that chicken wire might be a solution – but RATS? Do rats jump like that???? When I returned to the living room I saw a cat out of the corner of my eye and then I wondered – could our visitor have been a cat?  We looked at the marks again and dragged our poor neighbour in to show him and we all seem to agree that it is likely the cat.  However much I love cats, I don’t want a stray wandering in and out of my kitchen, especially jumping on the counters. We decided that we would wait and see if the cat would return……

Getting ready for the party

Getting ready for the party
We were invited to a going away party for one of the elders and his wife – they are returning to the US after being here for quite some time. The party was for 6 and we were picked up about 45 minutes early – so we were there really early. There was a good turnout, and just the same as our Spanish congregation back home it was dominated by non-native speakers – so Spanish was the language of the night.  There was music, singing and dancing as well as a few games – all in all a good time. By 8:30 we were ready to call it a night because we were under the wrong impression that there would be some food served and we were starving. No problem – hotdogs were found at the church square.  We were ready to sleep in our own house and our nice new bed – exciting!

Here is the goodbye video for Ben and Alyssa:  http://youtu.be/dAvBLjWmUlw


March 1st

We had a lot to do today and so we were up early, had breakfast and headed to the house to prepare for cleaning. We found out where the Pali grocery store was – which happens to be right around the corner – and headed over to pick up cleaning supplies. We swept out the kitchen and scrubbed out the bathroom and then waited for the appliances to show up. They arrived before 12 and when they brought in the stove they realized that part of the attachment kit (for the propane tank and stove) was missing. They promised to have it delivered later. The rest of the afternoon was spent wandering around town looking for items for the kitchen as well as furniture.  We ate at La Iguana Hostel and called it an early night.
The kitchen is taking shape

 Here is a link to a video of our house  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eNnhBZCCpN8

February 29th....

Friends from breakfast
It was hard to sleep even though we were really tired so we were up early and had a good breakfast at the breakfast buffet. Our driver wasn’t picking us up until 9:30 but we could easily have been on the road an hour earlier. Ernesto was right on time, if not a little early, which got us into Leon before noon. It took us a while to find the Guesthouse El Nancite where we planned to stay. In fact, we asked a Taxi driver and he didn’t know where it was so we stopped at the Hostal Iguana and Pat used the internet to get the location. We checked in and before we knew it we were on our way. A couple in the English congregation had emailed us to say that they were having a yard sale at 1 pm and we wanted to take a look. Since we had been there in the fall we had no trouble finding it again. We were there early, but the sale was in full swing and we didn’t really buy anything that we hadn’t already committed to (toaster oven, hand blender and power regulator). We were able to meet a good number of brothers and sisters there. One couple, Brad and Lydia joined us as we went to check out our new home. We took a good look around and agreed that it was just perfect for us. We have attached a video for you to have a look at it. As we were looking around I noticed that there was a lot of dirt. I mistakenly thought that they hadn’t cleaned it – but now that we have moved in we realized that because it is so windy and the house is open the dirt comes in.  I understand that these winds (which in many ways are good because it is so hot) are normal for this time of year but should die down later. We signed a years lease and agreed that we would move in on March 1st.

After we were finished looking at the house Brad came with us to look at some stores that sell fridges, stoves and beds – you know – the essentials.  We looked at a few and wrote down prices but ended up buy all three at Gallo mas Gallo. The prices didn’t vary too much from one store to the other and we were starting to get tired and needed to make a decision. Along with the items we bought we received the following gifts “transportation to the house, an iron, a little hand food processor and a pressure cooker”. We arranged for them to drop everything off at 11:00 the next morning.  I think they were surprised because the seemed ready to deliver it right then and there.

It was now after 6 and it was time to get something to eat. Brad arranged with Lydia to meet us for pizza and our group of four turned into a group of 7.  The pizza was good but I realized that I hadn’t been drinking enough water – I was starting to get a headache.  We crawled back to the guest house around 9 pm and we got the impression that the attendant thought we must have got lost because we had been gone so long.

February 28th.....

It is now Saturday, March 3rd and we have been here for a number of days. We have accomplished a lot in these past few days. For one thing – we are cooking with gas! Yes, Pat is making coffee right now as I type this out. But…. Let’s start back at the beginning….

Tuesday, February 28th – I left you in Miami. The flight to Managua was uneventful and it seemed that no sooner were we in the air then we were making the landing in Managua. Out itinerary indicated that we would be arriving at 8:30 in the evening, but in reality we arrived at 6:30 and it was only just beginning to get dark. We could see many small fires throughout the countryside where the farmers were burning off the weeds etc.
Gardens at the hotel

The first step we had when we got off the plane was to go through
Pat relaxing at the Hotel
immigration. While we were in line we saw a fellow just on the other side of the officers holding a sign with our name on it – remember – this is a secure area! So, imagine our surprise that this fellow was an employee from the hotel that we had reservations at. We acknowledged him and he waited patiently for us to come through the line. When we had paid our $10.00 (each) entry fee, we followed the hotel employee to pick up our suitcases. The poor fellow – I’m sure he will develop a hernia from lifting all those heavy bags. Once we had them all we had to take them to an area where they are scanned and you hand in your declaration form – so I guess this area is “Customs”. Again, our new friend lifted each of the bags off the cart and put them on the conveyor to be scanned and then on the other side he took them off and put them back on the cart.  Next there is usually a customs officer who will indicate whether or not you need a “secondary inspection”. I didn’t see anyone and in any case we were walking so fast out of that building that I don’t think anyone could have stopped us if they tried.  Since we had so many bags with us we took the hotel shuttle, even though it was literally only across the street. So, I would say that from the time we touched down to the time we were in our room it was only about 45 minutes later. Amazing.

It was really nice to be reunited with all of our bags. However, we noticed that the duct tape that we had put around them had been discreetly cut…… upon opening the bags that read “ NOTICE OF BAGGAGE INSPECTION”. I’m sure they were wondering what all the metal was in the bags…….and all they discovered were pots, pans and cutlery.

It had been a long day so we decided on a light supper and a drink and then early to bed.

Pictures to follow....