Note to Self 1. Don’t Make Knee Jerk Decisions

Making dumb decisions

Note to Self 1.

Don’t Make Knee Jerk Decisions when you are hot, tired and Dehydrated.

To anyone else on the planet that would be a very simple common sense piece of advice but then you have had a stressful week, common sense goes out of the window.

started with a journey through El Salvador from Santa Ana at the top of the country to the bottom, then three hours bumbling along the border of Honduras, to arrive at the Nicaraguan border. Then an hour’s bus ride to the hotel in Leon Nicaragua’s second largest city.

One of the things I hadn’t taken into account was the fact I have been in a hot , sticky tropical climate climate since early May. The term “land of eternal spring” has been used since the 1500s to describe Guatemala’s pleasant weather and verdant landscapes that never have a true winter. It was a bit of a shock to be hit by temperatures of 42/43 degrees.

The temperature change was made worse by the fact that for the first eight days the hotel had no water all for at least ten hours, not funny in that heat. The hotel manager told me that it was the whole of the city affected.

I did have a look at the official water supply page but it didn’t have any info. Not entirely surprising in Central America most services are hit and miss in all four countries.

However by the fifth day I found out that the water was in fact switched off by the hotel. That was because last Saturday I was hot tired and dehydrated and told them I needed a shower now, and they went and turned the water tank on. How do I know this – well the water tank was next to my room and I saw it. It still remains to be seen why anyone would turn the water off everyday. I was the on;y person in the hotel which only had about 8 rooms, but it cant have been a cost exercise. or can it?

Note to Self 2.

Don’t Book Too long a stay in a new country

You have been traveling alone in Central America for 21 months , at what point will you learn don’t book 8 day stays in a new place. Especially a place you didn’t research and only knew the name of!

So my first hotel didn’t have water, my second didn’t have Internet or gas in the kitchen. i was staying in a self contained flat next to someone else’s house in Managua the capital. They had Internet and I couldn’t work out why I hadn’t . This is occasionally an ongoing problem in Central America. I think some networks block my VPN.

The family were very kind and took me to the local supermarket, where i bought fruit and salads for three days, which was supposed to be the length of my stay.The house was a fifteen minute drive from the nearest supermarket. At 9.30 pm I decided to abandon ship and booked a shuttle from the Managua to Granada.

Normally shuttles in Central America pick you up from your hotel and drop you off at your hotel . Because I booked it so late they didn’t confirm it immediately. However I noticed that the pick up point was a gas station in the center.

So as I had no Internet I asked the family to book a taxi for the next morning. They replied that they were going to a shopping center next to the gas station and they would take me. Win , win I think. Fortunately, I didn’t have a crystal ball to know how stressful that would be.

Note to Self 3

The Kindness of Strangers isn’t always what it is cracked up to be.

So the next morning we get to the forecourt of the gas station and the elderly husband tells me that the buses go to Grenada from two blocks away. I explain that I am not waiting for a public bus I am waiting for a shuttle. Somehow that got lost in translation. Maybe he had never taken a shuttle , they are substantially more expensive than public transport.

Anyway I explain that this was where the bus driver wanted to drop me off the day before. I asked him to take me to my accommodation and he did. So the husband hails every rickety bus going past and I say to him I am fine I can wait for my shuttle on my own.

Note to Self 4

A Smart phone is no use in dumb hands

I have the least mobile phone on the continent, but even though I had it, it was no help. I hadn’t downloaded my ticket which would have demonstrated I was waiting for a shuttle. In about twenty shuttle journies I had never been asked for a ticket and for the first time ever I had never downloaded it. I could download it now but I hadn’t the faintest idea where it went on my mobile and by now i was too stressed to think.

Unbeknown to me he had taken this task as his personal responsibility to get me onto a bus. He hails this bus which are just basically beaten up white vans in Nicaragua. They stop for about half a second and basically all passengers embark and disembark by jumping on and off a moving bus. Before I could stop him he had grabbed my technology rucksack and thrown it on the bus. Leaving me holding three days worth of groceries and a rucksack.

I knew instantly he had put me on a public bus. So there I am on the the first of three steps of a very fast moving bus, hurtling through traffic trying not to fall back with the weight of my rucksack. Before I could regain my balance (bear in mind I was born in 1955 I am not as young, as I used to be) the ticket seller grabs my bag with my money and technology and whisks it down to the front of the bus. Okay it was only a 25 person bus but 8 seats in front seems a long way when the cargo is that precious.

So eventually I right myself and haul myself in the bus and then the devastating realisation hits me .I have about only got about 200 Cordobas, the local currency. I grant you it sounds a lot but in reality it is about $4.00 US. The rest of my money is in dollars which can be sent freely virtually anywhere. ANYWHERE, I am guessing apart from local transport.

So there is me sat on this bus trying to hold my rucksack upright and stop a bag of bag of tomatoes and oranges etc rolling down the bus. Wondering why I am clutching fruit and vegetables for grim death, when my money I cant see.

I am desperately trying not to remember the tales I have been told of never travel on a local bus when you have luggage. Apparently it is dangerous because of local thieves and pickpockets. Now where was my money, think for the first time in fifty years of traveling I was separated from my money.

Note to Self 5.

Dont travel with no local money EVER.



So there I am trying not to think that I might not have enough money for this journey. The young guy who is the ticket collector eventually makes his way down the bus and I ask him if I can pay in dollars. He looks at me as though I am an idiot Gringo and says no!!!!!!!!!!!!i am not taking the moral high ground here, I am not an American, but I was in a stupid situation.

So I told him my money was in the front of the bus. My theory was if I didn’t have enough money then at least I would be at my destination when I disembarked.

Then of course, it occurred to me that I didn’t even know where the bus was going as there was no destination on the front. By this time I am feeling distinctly stressed. i can feel my tissues, ligaments and everything else holding onto stress.

Deep breathes normally calm me, but I couldn’t get past the rapid painful gasps on this occassion as I grabbed a few rolling tomatoes. My brain was in a complete fog and had just reached total shut down. Nothing for it but sit back and hope this bus was going where I wanted to go, although it did occur to me I had no idea how long the journey should take and wouldn’t recognise the city of Granada if it got up and bit me.

Eventually after a tortuous hour I saw a roadsign that said Granada 15 kilometres. I still hadn’t paid but we stopped at a shopping mall and I took the opportunity to race down the bus and grab my technology bag.

Fortunately when I got to what seemed a main street I asked a lady on the bus if this was the center of Granada and she said yes. The ticket boy was bearing down on me, he looked menacing, even though I knew that was my guilt not his demeanor. I doubt he would have doen anything even if I hadnt got enough money. These boys are paid about $1.50 and they cant possibly live on that. he had bigger fish to fry then an incompetant tourist. Anyway he told me the fare was 100 Cordobas.

So that about $2.40 for a journey that took over an hour. i had arrived in Granada but I was not out of the woods yet. I had to wait for a taxi to see if I had enough money to get to my hotel. I waited with baited breathe. The taxi driver said he had seen my hotel but couldnt remeber exactly where it was but the street was short. He also said the fare was 45 Cordobas. A result, that left me with 50 to spare.

Anyway he went around the block three times and we couldn’t find it. I could bet direction on Google maps as it wouldn’t open. I had used Whatsapp to send myself the address and I had a second travel app which finally opened. So on the fourth trip we found it.

The journey would have taken abut an hour and fifteen minutes in a shuttle but it took me well over two hours. However I got here safely even if my stress levels will take a week to come down. My eyeballs feel as though they will either implode or explode.

Note to Self 6

Don’t believe what you See or Hear Judge for Yourself

This was my first public transport in Nicaragua, it wasn’t unsafe from the point of view of theft at all. However the standard of driving was horrendous, but then it is on shuttles.

As Scarlet O’hara once said tomorrow is another day and I am going nowhere, I have gas, water and Internet, tomorrow is a celebration and a writing day hopefully. Today was all part of life’s rich patterns.

On the plus side the volcano Mombacho is only about two miles from my hotel and I can see it from my bedroom window. Granada is on Lake Nicaragua and is famous for a cluster of 365 tiny islands dotted across the Lake . Formed thousands of years ago by the volcanic explosions of Mombacho, these pristine islets showcase Nicaragua’s raw natural beauty.

Most islands are blanketed in lush vegetation and exotic wildlife. As your boat navigates through this oceanic archipelago, you can see vibrant tropical birds perched along the shores. So that will be something to do next week.

Note to Self 7

Trust the process

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