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.