Alternative Spring Break is an exciting opportunity for you to participate in a week-long, hands-on service learning experience! You might choose to join a team that is teaching children at the Hope of a Child Orphanage in the Dominican Republic, providing medical clinics to under-serviced communities in Costa Rica, or helping to support programs for at-risk populations in our own community of London, Ontario… it's completely up to you!
One final online ‘hola’ from Jeff before we head home to London via Houstonagua tomorrow morning.
For our last day in Nicaragua, we were back in clinic for a half day session and we saw as many patients in three hours as we have previous days in double the time. The afternoon was spent presenting our most interesting cases of the week to Dr. Cerrato and in the evening we closed with dinner and a salsa lesson from a guy who could have won Dancing with the Stars with Miss Piggy.
Every one of us has learned so much here from Louis, Dr. Cerrato and Carla and we are all eager to share this knowledge with our family, friends, teachers and colleagues when we return home.
Before I forget, I want to thank everyone from around the world who, has checked out the blog and the photos on the Flickr site since we left last Friday.
And I’d like to especially thank the parents, boyfriends, girlfriends, wives and children (Hi Jen, Clark and Anika!) who shared their loved ones with the ASB team for the past eight days and allowed us to experience an adventure that was one so full of learning, service, compassion and friendship. And a little zip-lining too.
I’ll never forget the look on Lauren’s face when she saw the young woman with AIDS at the hospital the day after she met her in her home.
And Sara’s experience as a repeat ASBer and camp counselor extraordinaire, she knew the ins and outs of this wild ride we were on while the rest of us tried to figure it out.
And Sabrina’s dominance of the Spanish language and how she became our one-stop Berlitz translation guide.
And Janina’s phone call from her mom.
And Brynn’s excitement on the bus ride home after she and the other female members of our team were swarmed by dozens of school girls seeking hugs, pencils, stickers, bubbles and what seemed like hundreds of photos following our clinic at Guancastio.
And Aaren’s two big thumbs up when sailing down the final zip-line of the Mambacho Canopy Tour.
And Slick Willy’s, well I don’t know what it is, but he’s got it in spades. And diamonds. And hearts. And clubs.
And Carly’s face Saturday morning when she was sitting at the breakfast table with the colour back in her cheeks and the smile right where it belongs.
And Erin’s knowledge of nursing as she guided me and so many others through vital sign readings and needles in the classroom, in the clinic and in the field.
And Alex’s remarkable composure in the airport when we landed in Nicaragua – 10 minutes with this young man our first day here and I knew our team was going to be alright.
And Yuri’s sheer strength, not only pulling down zip-line cables others were jumping to reach but as a person, whose kindhearted demeanor gives new meaning to the term “gentle giant.”
And Aleshia’s head whipping around for a story on a bus about a child she saw in the field, a woman she met in the clinic or to give a shout out to a friend when one was due.
And Liz’s pages and pages and pages and pages of journaling. If anyone wants to know what really happened in Nicaragua get a hold of this future doctor’s journal.
To the young men of Habitacion #8, who let an old man raise the average age of the room by a good half-decade.
I’ll never forget Ryan’s internal alarm clock, used not only to get him up for his morning runs but to keep the rest of us on schedule, and more importantly, at breakfast.
And Vivek’s depth, not only in the pitch of his voice but in the strength of his words and the passion of his conviction.
And Matt’s mattness. He’s the total package. It’s not easy holding the title of “Student Leader” on a team full of students. But the way he carried himself these past eight days, it was easy for all of us – and that includes me and Cat – to look to him for guidance, direction and leadership. Dr. Cerrato told me Matt was going to be a brilliant doctor one day. And I couldn’t agree more.
And finally, Cat. After watching her in action this week, she could have been a doctor. Or a politician. Or an analyst/therapist. Or a stand-up comic. But she’s the Coordinator, Student Engagement Programs at Western’s Centre for New Students. And the students, both current and future, at The University of Western Ontario are lucky to have her.
The next time you hear from us, we’ll be back home in London.
It’s been quite an adventure. And we have BEEN the change.
Thanks for joining us along the way and I encourage all of you to be the change.
Jeff here tonight. And to our new joiners, mucho gusto.
It was another awesome day in Nicaragua today as we set up shop at a grade school in Guancastio. And once again we served more than 30 patients. We also lost 5-1 in a soccer game against 50 or so students, but the score was hardly the thing.
At night, we headed out with Louis, Dr. Cerrato and the rest of the ISL staffers for a bus tour of Managua and finished up with a stop at the mall for dinner in the food court. And yes, some, including Catherine, ate McDonald’s.
Back at Hotel El Raizon, reflection was short but meaningful as we shared some highlights of the ASB experience as our week, rapidly, comes to a close.
Our team has become a well-oiled medical machine over the last seven days and I realized today many of you haven’t met all of our players.
As a quick fix, here’s a few ‘did you knows’ about everyone here and what we’ve been loving about our adventure with 48 hours to go.
Aleshia Denny, 3rd Year, Honours Health Science (Spec. in Rural Health)
Highlights: giving my first needle, learning how to suture on chicken (we named our Frankenchicken), interacting with Nicaraguans of all ages in rural settings, putting smiles on peoples faces
Liz Montgomery, 3rd Year, Honours Spec. Microbiology and Immunology
Highlights: stitching a chicken, stabbing Yuri, giving a tetanus shot in the community, seeing the woman with AIDS we treated in the clinic in the hospital the next day following our team’s diagnosis
Brynn Milenkoff, 4th Year, Honours Health Science
Highlights: Vitamin B12 injections, zip-lining Superman-style, stitching chickens, solving interesting cases at the clinic
Sabrina Thomson, 3rd Year, Bachelors of Science (Nursing)
Highlights: I had an awesome time zip-lining (especially going upside down), giving Vitamin B12 shots on each other (and getting one in each arm), connecting with the ISL organizers and staff
Aaren Grigg, 3rd Year, Honours Spec. Medical Science
Highlights: enjoyed interacting with people in the community, giving a tetanus shot to a man named Julio, giving high fives to children at the public school, waking up at 6 a.m. to the rooster
Wilfrid Chan (“Slick Willy”), 3rd Year, Medical Science, Honours Spec. Pharmacology and Toxicology
Highlights: meeting people from all walks of life, playing with the animals at the hotel, giving a tetanus shot, taking blood pressure
Lauren Mayo, 1st Year, Social Science
Highlights: playing paper, rock, scissors with laughing kids, seeing a patient I treated in the community seek medical help at the hospital the next day, zip-lining upside down
Yuri Koumpan, 2nd Year, Health Sciences
Highlights: giving shots, checking blood pressure, practicing suturing, zip-lining, early morning adventures through Nicaraguan “outback”
Vivek John, 1st Year, Medical Science
Highlights: rushing through the canopy at break-neck speeds, suturing a chicken breast and injecting Jeff with vitamins and having neither patient complain, walking on paths around the hotel, exploring the Nicaraguan countryside from the base of a volcano to a Nicaraguan neighbourhood, meeting great people along the way
Carly Stoneman, 2nd Year, Medical Sciences
Highlights: giving my first tetanus shot, talking to Nicaraguans and listening to all of their stories, being outside all day
Alex Lim, 3rd Year, Cell Biology/Developmental Biology
Highlights: zip-lining, 24/7 fresh air, formulating diagnoses, meeting/talking to the nice/friendly Nicaraguans
Erin Low, 3rd Year, Nursing
Highlights: conquering my fear of heights with zip-lining, being able to further my skills and provide care to those who might not otherwise get it
Ryan Rawski, Completed 3rd Year Medical Sciences, currently interning with Glaxos Smith Kline
Highlights: Lectures by Dr. Cerrato, the first day when we finally learned just how hands-on this experience was, early morning runs, playing soccer with school children
Janina Mailloux, 2nd Year, Honours Spec. Medical Sciences
Highlights: zip-lining, learning how to suture, giving each other needles, meeting the local children at the clinic
Sara Densmore, 3rd Year, Kinesiology and Religious Studies
Highlights: adventures (zip-lining, long walks), interaction with the patients, the medical stuff we learn, gaining knowledge, getting to practice sutures and injections
Matt Quinn, 3rd Year, Medical Physics
Highlights: going door to door and meeting Nicaraguan families, playing soccer with school children, taking a double dose of Vitamin B12
Catherine Mulvihill, Coordinator, Student Engagement Programs, Centre for New Students
Highlights: taking vitals, practicing administering shots on each other, learning about Nicaraguan history and politics
Jeff Renaud, Senior Media Relations Officer, Communications & Public Affairs
Highlights: making friends from Nicaragua and Canada, solving cases with Dr. Cerrato, reflection, drinking some of the best coffee on the planet, bringing the manzanas
To everyone back home, hola! It’s Matt again, here to fill you all in on the events of the day. And what a day it was. When it wasn’t adrenaline running through our veins, it was the vitamin B12 that we, the members of ASB Nicaragua, were happily injecting into each other. But I’m getting ahead of myself, and probably scaring a few parents while I’m at it.
Today was a day-off from clinic to experience a little of what the country has to offer. First up was a zip-lining tour of rainforest canopy on the slopes of Nicaragua’s Mombacho Volcano. The 18 of us, along with Karla from ISL, were equipped with harnesses and helmets and were in no time at all flying through the air above (and, occasionally, through) the trees. Our guides were more than happy to send us suspended from cables from tree to tree in various positions including backwards and upside down (Jeff passed on this one: “No thanks, I have children.”)
With our feet firmly planted on the ground, we made our way to a coffee farm (Café las flores) nestled into the side of the volcano where we sampled some Nicaraguan blend and stocked up on some of the finest coffee beans to bring back home. Trust us, it’s better than Starbucks.
Back on the bus, we made our way to the city of Masaya where we tucked into lunch. Afterwards, we broke off into smaller groups and were unleashed on a local market to explore the wares the locals were peddling. Our bartering skills were put to the test, as was our ability to souvenir shop in Spanish.
Once we had returned to the Hotel El Raizon, which is beginning to feel more and more like home, we rested and washed up. We then gathered for yet another seminar from the wise Dr. Cerrato. Except this time, we weren’t learning about pharmacy for tropical medicine or the different stitches one can perform on a chicken breast. Giving injections was the topic of the lesson, and the test subjects: ourselves.
After a brief demonstration on Karla, Dr. Cerrato let us take over. Armed with syringes and alcohol swabs, we began carefully giving each other shots of vitamin B12. Not surprisingly, a few of us were not as eager to be the first thing their teammates injected and opted to bail out of the receiving experience (Note: our nursing students tell us that they learned to give shots using oranges). Sabrina, Aleshia, and I offered both arms to the cause to ensure everyone had a chance to break skin with a needle. Even as I type now, I am uncomfortably aware of tenderness in both of my deltoid muscles.
We then gathered around Louis as he gave us a crash course in Nicaraguan history, while Dr. Cerrato contributed some insights into the medical system in the country.
A little past 7 p.m., we headed to the dining area for dinner, where we enjoyed rice, backed potatoes, and chicken fajitas. While we are beginning to feel a little riced-out, we were all glad to know that our suture patients from yesterday were put to good use.
Depending on when you are joining us, buenos días ,buenas tardes or buenas noches. Jeff here, once again.
Thanks in large part to Ryan’s internal alarm clock, Habitacion #8 (my room that I share with Ryan, Matt and Vivek) was up and raring to go at 6:30 a.m. Wednesday morning.
Pretty impressive considering six hours earlier we were knee deep in debate about morals, the legal system and the ramifications of having to choose between your lawn and your children when deciding to use pesticides.
Each night we close our ASB programming with ‘Reflection,’ a two-hour long session from 8 to 10 p.m. where the team writes in their personal journals and we gather again to reflect on our experience through a series of activities and discussions.
Tuesday night’s session led to some heated debates and Reflection carried on well past the official close at 10 p.m.
But six hours later, donning our purple scrubs once again, we were back on the bus heading to Nindiri District for another day of clinic with Dr. Cerrato. The original plan was for the team to move on to a new site but a last minute decision saw the team back in the school at San Joaquin. (Team reports from the clinic are below.)
I wasn’t on the bus for the full ride today because Yuri, Erin, Carly, Sabrina and I were dropped at the regional health clinic in Los Altos. We set out in the back of a pickup truck to the village with Violetta, the nurse practitioner, another nurse, Milta, her son Marco and our translator, Pavel.
Our first stop of the day was to a four-room school where we presented basic health tips to students from Kindergarten to Grade 3. The kids were a lot of fun and I think, no I know, they got a big kick out of their special visitors this day.
One boy decked out in a Spider-man shirt was especially cool as my son Clark is also a big Spidey fan. I couldn’t resist flinging some webs his way.
From the school, we split up into two groups with Sabrina joining Milta and Marco for one set of house visits while the rest of us went with Pavel and Violetta.
The Nicaraguan government is currently conducting a census of all its citizens so our group assisted with the ones for this region. Violetta asked a series of questions and we also had to survey homes for potable water and electricity.
Most of the ones we visited had dirt floors and aluminum roofs, both of which were also recorded in the medical history.
While our most severe case was an elderly man with high blood pressure, Erin and Carly did get to administer tetanus shots while Yuri and I checked blood pressures. (Fear not, my big medical breakthrough comes up later in the blog.)
Once our rounds were complete, we journeyed down to a laguna (lake) situated at the bottom of a series of steps that make the walkway down UC Hill look like a speed bump. It was well worth it because even though the view from on high was amazing, walking down (and up) the stone staircase was an adventure I’ll not soon forget.
A little winded, we enjoyed a chicken dish and some ice cream before we headed back to the clinic to be picked up by the bus. After a tour of the clinic, and back with the full team, we also visited the local hospital (that services 15 communities and more than 300,000 people) before heading back to Hotel El Raizon.
One woman spotted in the hospital was the one the field team saw the day before with HIV/AIDS. She was instructed to go to the hospital right away but many in the region, due to cost and stigma, would not necessarily listen to the nurse. The fact she was there, smiling at the students, was a cause for tears of joy.
After washing up from an already heavy day of activities, we gathered in the classroom for what many had been waiting for all week – suture practice.
And no, we didn’t line up and take turns jabbing each other with fish-hooked needles. Although, considering the confidence with the team, they probably would have been game.
Speaking of game, game was actually our patient for the exercise – chicken breast to be exact.
With the team lined up on both sides of a series of picnic tables, we made eight severely ‘injured’ chicken breasts look as a good as new with a precision that made Dr. Cerrato very proud of his students.
And while I went a tad shallow on my first attempt and a tad wide on my second, I was pretty proud too.
This was no simple task. Can you imagine finding a needle in a chicken breast?
Check out my handiwork here http://www.flickr.com/photos/atwestern/3292215496/
Things I learned today
Wilfrid, my partner and cheerleader during Chicken Stitch 2009, shared this from his Chinese upbringing: “Tough teachers, make good students.” (Although I know he was just looking for an excuse to yell at me while I was sewing up a chicken breast.)
Reports from the Clinic
Team 1: Sara, Janina, Alex
fungal infection, gastritis, eye glasses, viral cough, scabies, headaches, osteoarthritis
Team 2: Matt, Aleshia, Wilfrid and Liz
diabetes, allergies, urinary tract infection, parasites, acid reflux, possible case of prostate cancer, fungal infection
Team 3: Cat, Brynn, Ryan, Lauren
congestive heart failure, sexually transmitted disease, yeast infection, urinary tract infection, gingivitis, parasites, fungal infection, flu, intermittent semi-paralysis, osteoarthritis, pre-menopausal, headaches, dizziness
Hola. It’s me again, Jeff.
A friend back home following along with our adventure via the ASB (Alternative Spring Blog) sent me an email today saying he was loving the posts and loving the pictures but he wanted to know what we were actually doing here.
Not literally because he knew that answer – but philosophically. What would make someone participate in service learning?
So before I tell you about our first clinic day in the village of San Joaquin, which was totally awesome by the by, I want to share two quotes by two men who are far greater than I.
The first comes from Gandhi, who said, “You may never know what results come from your action. But if you do nothing, there will be no results.”
And while I’d never mess with the Mahatma, I’m a sportsman so a baseball quote actually works better for me.
Jackie Robinson, the first black man to play professional baseball, said, “Life is not a spectator sport. If you’re going to spend your whole life in the grandstand just watching what goes on, in my opinion you’re escaping your life.”
So what are we doing here? We’re getting in the game, friends.
And today in the clinic, it felt like we were in the freaking World Series.
First thing Tuesday morning, after a breakfast of pancakes and de-icing fluid, we headed out in our purple scrubs to Nindiri District for clinic with Dr. Cerrato. But before we arrived in the village of San Joaquin we dropped five students (Aleshia, Aaren, Liz, Wilfrid and Lauren) at the regional health clinic in Los Altos as the intrepid troop was doing home visits with a nurse practitioner. (I am doing similar rounds tomorrow with four new students so I will post on that experience Wednesday night.)
As we watched our five friends roll out of the regional health clinic parking lot in the back of a pickup truck, the rest of us traveled 30 kilometres east of Los Altos to the village of San Joaquin.
And while today our building is a clinic, tomorrow it will be a brand new school, delayed opening by one week not due to us but because of some last minutes renovations that weren’t quite complete. (Over the next few days, our team will travel to different communities in the region to offer additional free, one-day medical clinics.)
Setting up shop literally within minutes, Carly and Sara were running a lean mean Shoppers Drug Mart for the locals of San Joaquin in one classroom while the rest of us were seated in another classroom waiting for our first patients of the day.
Split into three smaller groups, our role was to collect a medical history of the patient through a series of questions and check his or her vitals, including blood pressure, temperature and in some cases, urine samples. And while we were each assisted by a translator, many tried to ask our own questions in Spanish.
I tried. Once.
Instead of asking the kindest, gentlest 76-year old man (who was in because of his aching knees following surgery) how many years (años) old he was; I asked him how many anuses (anos) he had. Those ‘n’s with the squiggles, you see, are very important.
Thankfully, in this case, humour – along with some Ibuprofen – truly was the best medicine.
And while we weren’t filling out prescriptions, we certainly played a role in what was prescribed to each patient. After we completed a history and vitals – as a whole, our 11-person team completed 30 today – we called over Dr. Cerrato to share our differentials. He asked some tough questions and moms and dads out there following along, you should be very proud of your sons and daughters because they had not all, but MOST of the answers.
Dr. Cerrato is a wonderful man and any Canadian would consider him or herself lucky to have them for their family physician. As our host Louis noted, he is very patient with his patients. And his students too, evidently.
He is no Dr. House, but I don’t know that I have experienced a rush quite like the one I got today bouncing possible ailments off him with my colleagues Brynn, Janina and Ryan. All we were missing was the cane, the wipe board and the miserable personality.
In Nicaragua, and especially in this district, many locals would not receive heath care if not for programs like ours. Getting transportation to the regional health clinic for x-rays or the hospital for the physiotherapy costs too much and is not an option for many. Those treated by Dr. Cerrato today were treated for free and received their medications, again, at no cost.
Below, I’ll list the different groups from the day and what they saw in clinic but before I sign off, I want to return to the words of Ghandi.
“If you do nothing, there will be no results.”
Man, did we do something today. And it was awesome.
And to you Mr. Robinson, we certainly got in the game.
Team 1: Matt, Erin, Alex
child with thrush, urinary tract infections, child with knee injury, child with parasites, eye glasses, hypertension, gastritis, viral infection
Team 2: Cat, Sabrina, Yuri, Vivek
urinary tract infection, possible kidney stones, cold, gastritis, headaches, migraines, diarrhea caused by worms, burning eyes, back pain, vision problems
Team 3: Jeff, Janina, Brynn, Ryan
colitis, high blood pressure, fungal infection, urinary tract infections, vision problems, diabetes, fever, sore throats, replacement knee surgery
Field Team: Aaren, Lauren, Wilfrid, Aleshia, Liz
herpes, parasites, possible pregnancy, AIDS, osteoporosis, malnutrition, alcoholism, gastritis, developmental disability
For a new perspective on ASB Nicaragua, this entry is coming to you from the Student Team Leader. My name is Matt Quinn and I am the final member of the leadership team.
Our first full day in the country started early with 7 a.m. breakfast consisting of scrambled eggs, beans, rice and fruit. Those who could fit a shower in the morning schedule were probably a little shocked to discover that the Hotel El Raizon has only one temperature of water, and it isn’t warm. Not to complain, of course, except maybe one of us who was unlucky enough to reach the bottom of the water tank mid-shampoo.
At 8 a.m., we gathered for a seminar led by Dr. Cerrato on basic examination skills. After sitting through the good doctor’s words of wisdom, everyone was eager to take blood pressures and test urine (their own). By noon, we had all mastered the sphygmomanometer (instrument to measure blood pressure) and were ready for lunch.
Our fourth meal in the country confirmed what many had begun to suspect – in Nicaragua, people like to eat. Not that the team was upset, it’s just that after consuming three generous scoops of rice, it can be difficult to find the energy to stumble back to the classroom (if our shaded patio surrounded by palm trees and parrots can be called a classroom).
Once lunch had finished, and after convincing a few reluctant team members to leave their hammocks, we began making our way through a booklet on pharmacy, again guided by Dr. Cerrato. This was followed by Louis coaching us through some basic Spanish that we will likely encounter starting tomorrow when we will first visit the clinic.
Once the afternoon’s seminar was wrapped up, the dangers of giving acetaminophen to a diabetic was among the last things on most people’s minds. Some of us were a little overwhelmed with the threat of the language barrier, while others were feeling a nervous and intimidated with the idea of the complete faith that the locals will be putting into us in the upcoming days.
The group headed to a nearby Papa John’s Pizza for dinner (think Wharncliffe and Oxford with a Latin American flair). Most of us survived without incident; however one of us did end up with chicken gizzard.
Apparently, “pepperoni pizza” can get lost in translation.
Stand out lessons of the day:
1) Shower early, or don’t shower at all.
2) Wear shoes when trekking through volcanic ash.
3) Watch out for ‘titiles’ at Papa John’s. See chicken gizzard story above.
Welcome to the first of the ‘guest blogs’ from Jeff’s teammates. I am Catherine Mulvihill and I have the fortune of being the co-trip leader for this experience, and I am happy to share an update with any of you reading from back home.
After a solid sleep in Houston, the group made its way back to the airport in the hopes that the plane’s engine would not require a jump-start and we would be back on track.
We arrived in Managua after a reasonable 2hr 40min flight. As if some greater force is at work, our problem solving skills were put to the test yet again when a team member’s wallet was lost on the plane. While we could not recover the wallet, the team’s spirits were high since we were finally in Nicaragua.
Some of the local residents were a touch confused by our beloved, but often misunderstood, team slogan “Bringing the Manzanas.” The shirts resulted in one man quietly repeating “manzanas… manzanas… manazanas…”, as if it would soon click.
For the non-Spanish speaking audience, ‘manzanas’ is Spanish for apples and by bringing some to Nicaragua, we’re keeping the doctors away.
Once we all gathered outside, Louis, our group leader for the week, had the bus come by to get us. Laughs were heard from everyone as we watched an old yellow school bus with “SHEKINAH” painted in bright red across the front.
The bus took us just south of Managua to Hotel El Raizon, our home for the week. Divided into four rooms, our group got settled, had some lunch and mingled with the resident parrots, chickens and the cute puppy, who bites anything and everything within her reach.
In the afternoon, we were introduced to Louis’ assistant, Karla, and the Doctor who will be traveling with us this week. After dividing into groups and learning about different tropical diseases, we took turns presenting each one to the rest of the group. Since we arrived a day late, our medical Spanish lessons, pharmacy seminar and community health seminar were pushed to Monday.
We learned that we will be both working in the clinic in Nindiri and visiting locals’ homes to speak with them about community health. While the group seems excited to get out to the clinic, we all agree that we have much to learn.
In the spirit of Jeff’s desire to report on daily lessons, I will contribute to the list:
- I learned that the local restaurants enjoy eighties and nineties easy rock
- I learned that some of the sayings we take for granted do not always translate well
- I learned that vocal chickens can really disrupt a group presentation
All the best from Central America!
When we set out from Saugeen-Maitland Hall at 1 a.m. Saturday morning, the last thing I thought I would be doing before I went to bed on Day 1 of our Nicaraguan adventure was sitting down for a full rack of ribs at a Chili’s in Houston, Texas.
Hola. I’m Jeff Renaud, one of the team leaders for Western’s Alternative Spring Break to Managua, Nicaragua.
Joined by 17 of my new best friends, the team of Western students and staff is heading to Managua for an eight-day service learning experience working in a medical clinic/triage unit.
And while I’d love to delve into the fine art of suturing or the ins and outs of tooth-pulling, so far all I’ve learned is that you can add an extra half rack of ribs to any entrée at Chili’s including a full rack of ribs for a very reasonable $6.29.
After a somewhat uneventful bus ride to Detroit, Michigan – complete with a painless border crossing and a passport check by a woman who looked like she could easily playing in the WNBA – the first length of our trip went off without a hitch.
Seated on a plane and waiting for liftoff within an hour of arriving at Detroit Metro, we ended up delayed due to poor weather and wait for it, a dead battery.
I didn’t know that was even possible. So I guess I learned two things today. You can add a half rack of ribs to any entrée at Chili’s for $6.29 and pilots flying for Continental should keep their CAA card handy.
Wait a second. I guess there’s a third thing. I also learned de-icing (to some pilots anyways) smells like maple syrup. But as someone who loves the sweet nectar of the gods, I would have to disagree.
And apparently, digress. At 8:05 a.m., nearly two hours later than expected, we were in the air but the delay caused us to miss our connecting flight out of George Bush International Airport in Houston, Texas to Managua.
With no seats left on the next flight out to Managua Saturday, we were left with the lone option of a night in the Lone Star State.
Thanks to a fine negotiation by co-leader Catherine Mulvihill (not to mention the passing of a Valentine’s heart-shaped lollipop); Vince at the Continental service center set us up with nine rooms at the Baymont Inn.
Of course, there was the ‘slight’ misstep of our delivery at the wrong Baymont Inn, our return to Terminal C and a half-hour wait for a second shuttle bus, but who’s counting?
By 4:30 p.m., now showered, bathed, napped and groomed, we headed out for the first cultural experience of our adventure – dinner at Chili’s.
Our shuttle driver, sweet Willy, dropped us at the bastion of Americana and an hour and a half later we had added an extra half rack of ribs to everything from boneless spicy chicken wings to the Molten Lava Chocolate Cake.
With a 9 a.m. departure flight scheduled from Houstonagua, we kept the evening activities pretty light. Huddled in a room, we watched the three-point and slam dunk contests from the NBA all-star game in Phoenix.
And thanks to NBA star Al Harrington, I learned one more thing. You don’t need money to play basketball. You just need shoes.
What I’ve Learned So Far…
1. You can add an extra half rack of ribs to any entrée at Chili’s for $6.29
2. Plane batteries can die
3. De-icing wings smells like maple syrup
4. You don’t need money to play basketball. You just need shoes.
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