Thursday, September 14, 2006

A Series of Mishaps

September 3, 2006

Enroute to Nicaragua, I had a short stop in the U.S. There, I got caught in tropical storm Ernesto. I saw the mean, powerful grey waves build up their strength before crashing into shore, spreading spray over the spectators. The greyness was absolute, spreading out to the horizon and then across the sky, a gravid sign of the storm to come. We decided to escape the rainy afternoon by heading to the movies (I thought Little Miss Sunshine would brighten things up). Upon emerging from the movie theater, we found the island strip of Jersey shore we were on flooded.

We ended up driving along roads that were like lakes. From the car window, I watched pedestrians cross the street in water up to their knees, travel in blow-up plastic boats, look outside front doors as the water crept up around their houses, and stand on dry patches snapping photos of the driving through the floods. It was quite scary to think of the car stalling in the deep water, to be stuck on a small strip of land as the water continued to rise. I thought of how terrifying it must have been for those standing on their rooftops during Hurricane Katrina, watching the waters rise toward them.

Luckily, we got out OK, and I got to Nicaragua. The view from the plane upon landing was enticing. From the order, pools, red roofs, and waterways I saw upon takeoff from Miami, Nicaragua provided a contrast of dense greenery under a soup of clouds. The remote, scattered homes seemed rare among the immense, vast swathes of green. It looked dark, empty and wild, brightened by the rainbow that descended vertically from the clouds toward the land.

We flew over a dark body of water, Lake Xolotlan, and then an attractive city on the lakeside – Managua. As a lover of lakes, I think I’ll be happy here. Managua is right on one lake, and only 30 minutes from another large, reputedly beautiful lake. And Managua, at least from the air, looked much more attractive than my guidebook led to me believe. A few singular peaks, which reminded me of Osh’s Souleymane mountain, rise in the mist behind the city. I noticed red and gray roofs, a traffic circle, and lots of rigs. At 6:53 we landed on the bright green runway, dense trees nearby.

But no one was there to meet me at the airport, as had been planned. And on a Sunday night, I didn’t know who to call nor where to go. So I found myself alone in a foreign country with no money, no contacts and no ideas of where to go.

I ended up taking the easiest option, by walking across the street to the Best Western. I’ll spend the night here and hope the logistics can be ironed out when offices open for work again tomorrow.

This is the nicest Best Western I’ve ever been to and is a very pleasant place to spend my first evening in Nicaragua. The hallways are outdoors and the rooms are like small cabins. It feels light, clean, colorful and tropical. If only I wasn’t alone…

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