Thursday, June 11, 2009

I Don’t Know Where I’m Gonna Go When the Volcano Blows

I finally know what Jimmy Buffett meant when he sang this song and I had this catchy little tune in my head as I peered over the rim of an active volcano on the first day of my Nicaraguan vacation adventure.

Vulcan Masaya is a short distance from the Managua airport and you can drive your car right to the top of an active volcano! There are warning signs telling you to back your car in just in case you have to leave in a hurry. Other warnings include getting under your car if rocks start spewing….somehow I don’t really think that would help much. But it was an impressive site and almost overwhelming as I breathed in the noxious gases from the volcano.

The volcano was nice little side trip but we only stayed an hour which is much longer than the 20 minutes recommended on the warning signs. Hey what can I say …we are adventurous.

Stay tuned for more adventures including finding Jesus and an interesting massage.

Cat “Hot Lava Momma” Cathy

Monday, June 8, 2009

COPS Managua

Relieved we were allowed to enter the country we got our rental car and happily headed toward Granada with a poorly hand drawn map and my navigation system with extremely limited Nicaragua data. It was clear very quickly that this is a very poor country with lots of people walking or riding bicycles with not one or two but THREE people on one bicycle! It was not even an hour since I was reluctantly allowed into the country that our next big adventure happened…A police traffic stop.

Apparently we missed a school zone and we were pulled over for speeding. I say ‘apparently’ since I’m still not sure. As mentioned previous we don’t speak much Spanish and the cops didn’t speak any English. A male cop stopped us who looked pretty young and harmless except for the big gun he was carrying. For some reason he decided to send the female cop over to deal with us. (As a side note I was impressed to see a female cop and it’s good to know women have career opportunities there). We assumed she was sent over since she spoke English but no such luck. We struggled to understand what was going on but I didn’t feel too scared since she was very nice and polite.

Finally we realized she wanted to keep my boyfriend’s driver’s license and have us drive to a bank and pay a fine and bring the receipt back to get the license. Now we had already spent all morning in airports getting here and we had no clue where ‘el banco’ was so we started to get a little stressed. So what could we do but ‘bribe’ the cops. Actually we just gave them the fine amount of 300 Córdobas (about $15). I was afraid she would think we were trying to bribe her and we would end up in a Nicaraguan jail! Luckily she accepted the money and let us on our way. I really think she did us a favor since we seemed like your typical clueless tourists and she was tired of dealing with us.

So although it was a bit scary at first we were yet again on our way. This time to something totally safe like the rim of an active volcano!

Cat “Bad Boys Bad Boys What Ya Gonna Do” Cathy

Friday, June 5, 2009

Threat to the Third World

My boyfriend treats me to only the best the third world has to offer and our latest adventure vacation to Nicaragua was the most exciting and adventurous vacation to date! If you grew up in the 80’s like me the only thing you associate with Nicaragua is a long civil war with Contras and Sandinistas. So I was originally shocked when my boyfriend suggested this country as a place to vacation. But in time I realized that it would be a big adventure and was relatively safe these days.

I got off the airport in Managua to be greeted by a heat sensing camera and people wearing surgical face masks. It's important to note here that I have a bit of a sinus problem. I’m not sure why and I just call it ‘part of my charm’. But in a third world country so worried about swine flu that they are using a heat camera my little annoyance almost turned into a vacation stopper!

I sniffled (something I’m known to do) as the customs agent was looking at my passport. Apparently this is a good sign of swine flu so I was quickly escorted to a back room by a ‘doctor’ for probing and other scientific experimentation. This was a bit scary since I was in a foreign land and no hablo español. Somehow we managed to decipher that they thought I was sick and wanted to take my temperature. So the nice ‘doctor’ put a thermometer under my armpit. I was thankful my temperature was normal and a bit grossed out when the ‘doctor’ promptly put the thermometer back in the case…no cleaning…no sanitizing.

But I was allowed to enter Nicaragua and our adventure began. Stay tuned for our next adventure – bribing the Nicaraguan cops!

Cat “a sniffle a day keeps the doctor away” Cathy