Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to Mangua

Trip Start May 10, 2009
Trip End Sep 03, 2009

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Flag of Nicaragua  ,
Saturday, May 30, 2009

...announced the air stewardess amongst the applause that erupted in the cabin as the plane's wheels kissed Nicaraguan soil.  I looked around at all the beaming faces around me, trying to recall the last time I had heard applause when landing somewhere.  Knowing that people were happy to be returning (I presume?) to this country diffused a bit of my anxiety.  As I exited the plane into the Aeropuerto Internacional Augusto C. Sandino, the cool caress of air conditioning greeted me, which was a wonderful welcome, considering that the temperature is about 31 degrees Celsius (87.8F).  Before we could proceed to customs, each of the passengers had to have their temperature checked via a heat sensor - now THAT is worthy of applause... when I flew into the U.S., there were no such precautions taken.  Along with our immigration and customs forms, we also had to fill in a health declaration sheet as well.  I filled them out in Spanish :D As I walked into the baggage claim area, I found that the entire left wall was made of glass, where crowds of people waiting to receive the passangers.  They were all intently peering through the glass, presumably to see if they could spot the person they were waiting for.  Of course, the baggage carts were right in front of the glass - I wasn't sure if they were actually staring at me, but I became acutely aware self-conscious, and I hurriedly pulled out a cart and scurried back to the baggage claim belt.
      Once I had collected my belongings (thank goodness none of it got lost!!), I wheeled my cart outside - I soon found Eliseo, one of the site coordinators for this FSD program, waiting with a crumpled sign bearing the letters "FSD" on one side of a manila envelope.  He was waiting with his family - and when I introduced myself, he gave me a warm smile and handshake.  Apparently, they had been waiting since 11:15!!!! O_O I felt supremely awful - but it turns out that they read my itinerary wrong (11:15 is when I arrived in Miami...). eek. but oh well.  Now I had a two-hour car ride to our orientation site to look forward to...
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