Ruby Slipper

I had a delicious filling breakfast at the Ruby Slipper yesterday. Not because it was voted “Best Breakfast/Brunch Spot” 3 years in a row, but because it’s located right across the street from where I’m staying. 😉

I had the ‘Eggs Blackstone’, consisting of “applewood-smoked bacon, grilled tomato served over a buttermilk biscuit, topped with 2 poached eggs, finished with hollandaise”. I asked them to skip the tomato (which they did- lots of places still leave it and the juices ruin my meal- I love catsup but can’t stand tomatoes!).

It was hard to make up my mind. Their menu offered lots of choices that all sounded delicious. I was headed to the Workboat Show so skipped the ‘award winning bloody mary’s’ too (tho I don’t like tomato juice either, the mimosas looked just as good).

 I sat at the bar, since even tho it was pouring rain, the outside tables were all taken. The place was packed. I still got served quickly tho. My breakfast was nice and hot, coffee too. They skimped a little on the hollandaise sauce, but the biscuits were very large (and fresh home made).

I’m running late this morning, I’ve got to pick up a car and head over to HOS. I’m hoping to get a job interview. So will probably skip breakfast today, but I think I will stop in again tomorrow for another specialty and try a mimosa. 🙂

PS- these photos are all from my iPod, it’s so bad compared to my regular cameras. 🙁

Stronger

I’ve spent the last week, plus so far this week, getting by on less than 4 hours of sleep per night. I was in the “Train the Trainer” course last week and then taught Basic Fire Fighting this week. It’s been killing me! I spent most of the weekend catching up on sleep. Not much time to spend on blogging or anything else.

Tomorrow I have the day off and will try to catch up on sleeping again since I am leaving early Thursday morning for the TBEX in Huntsville, AL. I doubt I will get much sleep while I’m there either.

I’m looking forward to finding ways to improve my blog, meeting interesting people, and exploring the area around Huntsville. Are any of you going to be there? Anybody know of ‘don’t miss’ things to do/see in Huntsville?

Got in Late

Today was another busy day. I made it to Costa Rica yesterday in time to start the blogging workshop I’ve been so excited about. We had our first class session yesterday and had a chance to meet everyone.

This morning we all left our hotel at 0700 for a day at the Rincon de la Vieja National Park. It took a couple of hours to get there and another couple to get back to our hotel. We spent all day there so I didn’t get a chance to get any photos online yet.

I got all mixed up when we got there. I thought we were going to take a ‘short walk’ through the forest to a waterfall for photos and then a horseback ride. Well, I took a walk, but it was NOT a short one!

Somehow I got off ahead of everyone else, thinking they were all ahead of me! I kept on walking and walking, thinking ‘damn! how the HELL did they all get so far ahead of me??’.

It was a really beautiful walk. It was really breezy up there (up the slopes of the volcano) and so it was pretty cool. Lots of interesting plant life. Huge trees with buttress roots and all kinds of bugs (but no mosquitos- too windy). 🙂

I didn’t see many animals (maybe because I was making too much noise huffing and puffing up the slopes?). The others saw some monkeys.

I did see some gorgeous big metallic blue butterflies, blue dragonflies and lots of other butterflies. Also some pretty birds and some big lizards (I think collared lizards but they ran away before I could tell for sure).

I saw a couple of pretty waterfalls, a few fumaroles (hot, steamy, sulfer-smelling volcanic vents) and a bunch of bubbling mud pots. After seeing 3-4 of them, I quit turning off the trail to check them out. The photos I took didn’t seem to do them justice. Plus, I was starting to worry about the others I was with worrying about me. I was trying to hurry up and get back to the beginning of the trail.

Every time I saw someone on the trail I asked ‘how much further is it to the exit?’, they would say ‘not far’, something like 300 meters. So, I kept on going. The longest 300 meters I’ve ever walked!

I did finally make it to the end of the trail. Thank goodness it was a loop! Seems like I didn’t hold them up too long after all. Glad of that, since we still had lunch waiting and the promised horseback riding after that. 🙂

Just In Time

I left Granada this morning on the Ticabus (there is alsoTransnica) and arrived in Costa Rica just in time to start my blogging workshop this afternoon. 🙂

I really didn’t think it would take SO long to drive such a short distance! The bus left Granada right on time at 0700 sharp! We got to the border around 0830 and didn’t get through there til almost 1100!

We all piled off the bus and hung around waiting for ????? (they did make announcements in Spanish but I am not at that level yet). No one was allowed back on the bus. It was hot, but thank goodness we had a nice breeze and the clouds helped a lot. There were all kinds of locals hanging around.

They had food and drinks: regular little roadside restaurants with tables in the shade set up selling bar-b-que chicken and plaintain chips. Cold water, fruit juices and sodas. Lots of people wandering around to change money, sell you sim cards for your phones, guys selling leather shoes and trinkets, gum and cigarettes (individually), hammocks, women selling sweets and cashew nuts.

After about an hour and a half, a little Nicaraguan lady came out of the station with our passports. She called our names one by one and we were allowed to collect our passports and re-enter the bus. We drove about 300 meters and had to go through the whole rigamarole again on the Costa Rican side of the border (tho it went much faster there). I’m sure glad we didn’t have to wait for the dozens of trucks!

They dropped me off around noon at the Ticabus station in Liberia where I tried to find another bus to my final destination. The bus from Granada just goes direct to San Jose. The ticket costs the same $29 whether you want to get off in Liberia or go all the way to San Jose.

I probably could have found something to get me a little closer to the beach, but since I was cutting it so close to the time the class started, I just took a cab.

There are shuttle buses that run from the airport to the resorts, but it would have cost me $10-15 to get to the airport and then another $20-25 from there. Considering the extra time, I figured it was worth it to just take the cab straight from the bus station for $40 direct to the hotel. My driver Angel was fast and spoke enough English to make the trip even more interesting. 😉

More manana!

What’s it Like In Granada

I’ve been here (Granada, Nicaragua) since Tuesday afternoon and I’ve been busy since I got here. Granada has about 125,000 people living here, but it really doesn’t feel at all like a big city.

I’ve been walking back and forth between my homestay and the school a couple of times a day, to and from the Central Park and/or the lake and it just feels like a sleepy little small town in a lot of ways.

Maybe it’s the horses? They still use horses here for a lot of work. I see them all over town, including in the lot next door. I haven’t taken a city tour in a horse cart yet, but I probably will before I leave. People say it’s a nice way to see the city. I see the locals riding around town in them too. Granada is ‘famous’ for its horse carts. They even erected a statue of one at the entrance to the city. 🙂

Maybe its the drummers I hear practicing every night? I followed my ears to the local Red Cross (next to the Iglesia Guadelupe). They’ve been diligently practicing for their ‘fiesta patronal’ coming up August 15 (in honor of the ‘Virgen de la Asuncion’. It looks to be a hell of a party! I watched the band practice their music while the dancing girls accompanied. The guys continued their basketball games undisturbed.

Iglesia de Guadelupe

Iglesia de Guadelupe

Maybe it’s how the pace of life seems so relaxed? The people here seem to take things as they come. I don’t see people rushing around to do anything. I see them sitting outside their doorways relaxing or talking (might be because the AC is too expensive and it’s HOT and humid here). People come out at night to hang out in the parks or play in the streets (there’s not much traffic).

what a nice change! even the cops are just chillin'

what a nice change! even the cops are just chillin’

All in all, it seems like a pretty decent city to spend some time. Maybe I’ll come back. 🙂

Nicaragua Here I Come!

I finally got my vacation! I’ve been asking about it since April. I had to work 2 months straight to ensure I had the dates I needed off so I could attend a blogging workshop in Costa Rico. It was really just pure luck that it worked out that I could do that.  My boss told me a while ago that I could have that week off, but who wants to travel so far just to spend a week in class? Not me!

So, I got home from the ship late Friday night after 2+ days of traveling from Luanda, Angola. I spent all weekend trying to catch up on rest and mail. Monday was spent running errands and returning phone calls. Tuesday morning, I set the alarm for 0300 so I could make the 0845 flight to Managua. Even then, I almost didn’t make it!

Arrival in Managua was a nice change. Quiet and simple. No long lines or huge hassles. Ricardo, my driver, was waiting for me right outside. I had arranged this through my chosen school, Nicaragua Mia.

Nicaragua has dozens of Spanish language schools. They’re all very affordable and they all seemed to offer pretty much the same deal. I wanted to get out of Managua right away and thought Granada sounded good, so I picked a school there. Nicaragua Mia got the nod since they answered my email immediately and I was setting all this up last minute.

Ricardo took me directly to the school where I could finalize my choices for the week (how many hours of classes, any afternoon activities, etc). Then he took me to the home of my local host, Maria Elena. She was very nice and welcoming. She showed me my room and asked me what I wanted for dinner (in Spanish).

view from my balcony

view from my balcony

I decided to take a walk after getting settled in. Lake Nicaragua is just a few blocks down the street, so I walked over there. There’s a nice park and malecon along the lakeshore. People were hanging out over refrescos and helados (ice creams). I wandered around til it started getting dark and then headed back to my room.

Lake Nicaragua

Lake Nicaragua

When I managed to find my way back to the house, it was already dark and Maria Elena had dinner waiting for me. We had dinner together of pollo, pinto gallo, and verdes (chicken, rice & beans, and vegetables).

I was still dead tired from the last few hectic days, so I hit the sack by 10:00. School starts at 08:00 and breakfast here is at 07:30. I hope I can catch up on some sleep soon! I really hate to be falling asleep when there are so many interesting adventures awaiting. 🙂

my room en la casa de Maria Elena

my room en la casa de Maria Elena

 

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Green

Cee always has such fun photo challenges on her blog. I always like to try to participate when I can. It’s hard to do when I’m out here. I don’t have a lot of free time and the internet is not always available when I do have a little time to get online.

This week, her Fun Foto Challenge subject is: ‘lime or bright green’. I found a few decent photos with nice, bright greens in them. These were all from a trip I took to Indonesia a couple of years ago.

Check out those green, green rice fields!

I spent some time in Bali and then went over to Sulawesi in search of a sailing ship. That didn’t quite work out, but it was a fantastic trip. I loved every minute of it. I’m not sure why, but the local people loved having their picture taken with me. 😉