NICA BLOG: After a long day, we're in Central America!
By SCOTT WARD
MANAGUA, Nicaragua -- Northern Colorado Volleyball is on the ground here in Nicaragua and we're all ready for what the next week has in store.
A pair of two-and-a-half hour flights brought us from DIA this morning to International Airport of Managua, via Houston International Airport, and our 28 person travel party touched down in Central America around 9 p.m. local time, which conveniently is the same as Mountain time.
After a quick run through customs and a near-emergency averted with assistant coach Tom Hunter's portable video camera -- Hunter thought it had fallen from his bag on the airplane and was struggling to find anyone who could speak English to relay his predicament before finding the camera in his bag -- we all met our tour guide Brooke Rundle and made our way to our hotel for the night, which was literally just across the parking lot from the airport.
We all put our luggage in a flatbed truck -- I'm honestly not sure it or the driver's connection to the hotel … -- and then we walked across the airport parking lot into the busy lobby of the Best Western Hotel Las Mercedes.
Northern Colorado Volleyball spent a lot of time during its stay in Central America assisting with the Casa Llanta Fund. To learn more about this program or to provide a 100 percent donation, click here.
After filling out information sheets with our names, birthdates and passport numbers for the hotel's front desk, we got our room keys and had a quick information session with Rundle on the do's and don'ts of Nicaragua.
I'm sure we'll learn of these soon, but here's a quick recap of Rundle's bullet points:
1. Bottled water and sun screen are our biggest friends in this climate. A lot of both will make all of our stays here this week much more enjoyable.
2. We'll likely be confronted by children begging for money on this trip -- I hate using "begging", but I'm not sure how else to describe them -- and Rundle said we should avoid giving them anything as often times they are sent out by their parents who may or may not use the money for legit causes.
As we were waiting for Rundle to arrive, assistant coaches John Forster and Hunter and I were approached by two boys, probably around 10, and it was incredibly tough to shoo them on their way. One wasn't wearing shoes, and the other was trying his best to procure Forster's water bottle.
If the scene is an indication of things to come while we're here, we're all in for a bit of enlightenment.
3. Bottled water and sun screen are our biggest friends in this climate. A lot of both will make all of our stays here this week much more enjoyable.
4. Rice and beans is a daily staple in Central America, and Nicaragua is no different. And Rundle said it's not just an everyday thing; it's also served three times a day. She says it's really good, so we'll see tomorrow, as I'm sure it will be available on our breakfast buffet.
5. Nicaragua is a country known for its delays, so we're all going to have to get used to a "hurry up and wait" approach. With a travel party our size, punctuality will be important, but it will also be important to be flexible and know that we need to be on time, so that we can wait on time.
6. Bottled water and sun screen are our biggest friends in this climate. A lot of both will make all of our stays here this week much more enjoyable.
7. The three cities we'll stay in during this trip couldn't be more different. Managua is the capital city of Nicaragua and is very industrious and a little bit run down. San Juan del Sur, where we'll be for three nights, is a beach community that caters to tourists. Granada, our home for two nights, is colonial.
8. Bottled water and sun screen are our biggest friends in this climate. A lot of both will make all of our stays here this week much more enjoyable.
After our meeting in the lobby we all dispersed throughout the hotel and found our rooms, which are small (think dorm room with a bathroom attached) but clean and have individual air conditioners. They should provide a perfect place to recuperate from the long day and get ready to tackle this interesting country tomorrow.
We're set for an 8 a.m. team breakfast in the morning and then a road trip to San Juan del Sur, with a stop along the way in scenic Catarina before having lunch around 2 p.m. and then getting ready for our first match of the trip against the Nicaraguan national team.
Tomorrow's match will be played outside, on a paved surface, and we're told a D.J. will likely be playing during the match. The energy should be amazing!