Friday afternoon we drove to Dallas. As soon as we neared the DFW metro area, the sky fell with rain so hard — and being rush hour — Google Maps redirected us three times due to all the wrecks. We made it to the north remote parking lot at DFW Airport, only finding a parking spot 57 rows from the bus pick-up station. We gathered our backpacks (I only allowed each person to pack one backpack, so we wouldn’t have to deal with checked bags — plus traveling light is so much easier) and speed walked to the station. We were drenched and a bit cold, but happy to be so close to our adventure.
Anthony’s sister, Lillian, got us a room at the DFW Airport Hilton since we had a super-early morning flight out on Saturday morning. She came out to visit with us for a little while before we hit the sack early with a 4 AM wake up call.
The flight to Houston then onto Managua, Nicaragua, was non-eventful. Madison enjoyed her first plane ride ever. We clamored over each other to look at the window as we approached the Managua airport. “Is that a volcano?” “Look at the water!” “Do you see those mountains and all the green?!?”
Customs in Managua was so easy — we were through the line in no time — and we got her first stamps in our new passports. We found our driver holding a sign “VALLEY” and exited the building toward our van. As soon as my body hit the hot, humid Nicaraguan air, I gasped. It literally felt like I’d been hit upside the head with a hot oven. Holy moly — it was so hot and humid — like a really bad Arkansas August afternoon. Thankfully our van had AC and wifi (for a moment at least). We texted our people back home that we landed safely and were headed to Granada.
Soon after exiting the airport parking lot, our driver got stopped by the local police for speeding. I doubt he was speeding since we had just turned the corner, but this is Nicaragua. We were too giddy to be there to get nervous. A few moments later, our driver returned and said “no problem”. Not sure if he had to pay a bribe, not a ticket or what, but then we were off to Granada. The drive took about 30 or so minutes through green, lush landscape. I soaked in the sights of a new-to-me country. I hope the girls were doing the same. We had arrived.
We stayed at the Hotel Plaza Colon, a beautifully-restored colonial hotel right on the main square in Granada. This hotel is gorgeous. Our room was on the second floor with two comfortable queen size beds, a large walk-in closet and a nice-sized bathroom with hot water and a huge shower. There was air conditioning!
We walked down the main entertainment street of Granada. Nicaragua was playing soccer on every TV and occasionally a big cheer would erupt. We were so hungry, so we ducked into a pizza place that I read about on Trip Advisor, Pan De Vida. We ate our pizza and drank fresh squeezed passionfruit juice. We wondered around town a bit, then went back to the hotel to cool off in the pool. This pool became a daily point of refreshment from the hot Nicaraguan sun.
That evening we walked a few blocks over to Spanglish Craft Cocktail Bar for dinner. We sat out on the front patio and enjoyed the view. I had a mango mojito.
For food, we shared a couple of tapas (smoked ham croquettes and pulled pork on toasted plantains) and a fried Oreo and ice cream dessert.