One of my first travel experiences has been going to the United Arab Emirates with my father. I was 8. He was there only for few days, to take advantage of much cheaper prices on electronics, and I was the extra body (as there was a limit of electronics PER person). To this day, he jokes that he owes me a big screen television.
We flew to Dubai (or was it Abu-Dhabi?) in the middle of winter. Not Canadian winter. Siberian winter. None of this wimpy -2C weather. We are talking -25C and sunny.
I will never forget the surreal feeling of stepping off the airplane and being dipped into that humid hot air. In the winter!
That first step off a plane when I fly somewhere warm is always magical. Warm air hugs my entire body. Yes, please!
Managua at night
Magic aside, the customs process at the Managua airport is long.
I often forget that time moves more slowly outside of North America. The customs officer seems to have a friendly conversation with each person. The line grows longer. I try to ignore the empty sensation in my stomach.
It is finally my turn – the guard says “please” and “thank you”. He also says “sorry, can I see your passport?”. This guy would make a better Canadian than most Canadian customs officers. I gladly pay the $10 USD entrance fee, and head over to pick up my backpack. The customs process takes so long that the bags are already out, floating on the conveyor. Red Salomon bag is easy to spot.
Last stop – security screening of the baggage – right at the exit, and I am free! Straight ahead – the glass doors leading into Managua, and about fifty men shouting and waving their arms.
Cab drivers. I am sporting a huge goofy smile now. Welcome to Nicaragua. I know that one of them is holding up a sign with my name.
The cab driver’s face looks familiar – it may indeed be the same guy who picked me up last year. I follow him into the parking lot, and he throws my bag onto the backseat, as I crawl into the passenger’s seat at the front.
He blasts the air conditioning at maximum capacity. It’s ironic, really, as I just changed three planes to NOT be cold. This is definitely the same guy as last year.
As he looks away, I discreetly press the button to turn off the air conditioning unit, so the air violently hitting me in the chest is at least room temperature. He notices about ten seconds later, and turns it on – determined to deliver great customer service.
I give up, not wanting to offend.
The ride is silent. What would be strange and almost rude in Canada is completely normal here, and I appreciate the quiet.
Twenty minutes, and we pull up to my final destination for tonight.
Ahhhh, I am here.
Dinner is going to be simple.