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Sunday, May 10, 2009

Final Nica Post

As of right now, Cameron and I have made it back to the states! We are waiting to get on a plane to Las Vegas here in the near future. Our last day in Nicaragua was an interesting one, we woke up on Saturday morning and started our journey back to Managua. There were tons of cops on the road and we didn't really know why. Cameron thought that maybe they were looking for someone specific. Then, we got pulled over, I was a little nervous, but the cop just looked at Cameron license and let us go. We didn't think much of it, then about ten minutes later, we got pulled over again. Like our first experience with Nica cops, Cameron pretended to only speak english. The cop tried to tell us that Cameron drove over the yellow line a little bit and that was a 400 cord fine. Cameron gave him money so he would let us go and we were on our way. We were a little annoyed that we kept getting pulled over for really no reason. After another few minutes we got pulled over again, for the third time!! By now, Cameron was super annoyed about it all and I just kept hoping that we could just make it to Managua and return our car so that this would stop happening. The third cop was a little harder to pay off but eventually Cameron gave him the money. We were about to start going but then he saw our camera and thought we were recording him, the cop sorta freaked out. Cameron tried to explain that it was just a camera and we showed him pictures of our trip and of random stuff that just happened to be on our camera. Finally, he was convinced and let us go. We made it back to our hotel without any other run-ins with the police.

Back in Managua we ate dinner at TGI Fridays which was like a taste of home! Cameron even remembered a couple of the waiters that worked there when he was on his mission. After dinner we headed back to the hotel went for a swim and headed to bed. We woke up early and were at the airport at 5 AM! We got to fly first class to Atlanta and it was great!

Overall we had a wonderful trip! It was so great for me to see the people that Cameron was able to introduce to the Gospel. I'm so grateful that I was able to marry someone who gave everything they had while he was on his mission! We are truly blessed to have a home that has air conditioning, to have a running toilet, to have hot water, and many other things that we take for granted every single day. Our trip was fun and exciting and full of many memories, we can't wait till we can return!!


PS Happy Mother's Day! Cameron and I both got another mom this past year and we are very blessed to them both in our lives! Thank you for all you do for us! We love and appreciate it!

Friday, May 8, 2009

Still alive and well!

For the past two days Cameron and I have basically just been vegging out. Yesterday we woke up early, rented a surf board for Cam-dog, and headed to the beach. I was a little nervous because we were going to the same beach Cameron went to with Cannon a couple years ago, and it was full of vagos (streets kids) who tried to rob them. Our new friend we met at the surf shop, Marlin, told us that they had cleaned up the beach and there were hardly any vagos now. We followed the owner of the surf shop to the beach, he was taking a group of people out there already. Marlin rode in our car because there wasn't enough room in the other car. Marlin was way cool, he had a spirit about him. The nica's have trouble saying my name, and they usually think I'm saying Katherine instead of Cassidy. Cameron decided that from here on out he would introduce me as Fatima. Marlin was the first person he tried the new name out on. Marlin, was surprised that Fatima was my name but he continued to call me that for the rest of the day. The next day, Cameron went to rent a boogy board and Marlin was working, he said hello and remembered both of our names, Cameron and Fatima.


Cameron and our new friend Marlin




Unloading the surf boards at Remanso Beach.





Cameron and his surf board, he wouldn't smile and look at the camera, because you can only have "action shots."




Here is the random helicopter we saw on our way to the beach.




The next day, we woke up and decided to drive to Coco beach. This beach was much farther away and we had to drive on a dirt road with lots of pot holes but, it was worth it! We were the only people on the whole beach, it was crazy! We played in the water for a while and hung out.

The white sand beach that we had all to ourselves.



At dinner, we went to a pizza place and ordered a BBQ chicken pizza, it had too many onions and I thought the chicken tasted weird. So I had pizza crust with BBQ sauce for dinner. For the record, I only hold my fork like that if I have to cut...


We ended that night with a walk on the beach during a lightening storm. Cameron was sad that it didn't rain, but hey, we still have tomorrow.


Ok I guess this is really how we finished the night....

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Nicaragua- Freakin' Nica's

Turns out the Benson's just had bad luck with bugs and the bedspread, we didn't wake up with any strange bites! This morning was nice and relaxing, we woke up, had breakfast, and made our way to the Isletas (the little islands). We took a boat out and around these islands in Lake Nicaragua. There are about 1200 people who live on the islands, each island is big enough for about one house. It was so pretty, and so green!! We stopped at a restaurant to have a drink, it was very refreshing! Then we made our way back to Granada.

This is Mombacho, the volcano.






On our tour of the Isletas, we visited monkey island. Our guide told us that if we had food the monkeys would have come on the boat with us.





Just being silly.




More of the islands.




After the isletas, we were headed for San Juan Del Sur. As we left we accidentally were going the wrong way on some oneway street. A police man stopped us and in perfect spanish Cameron asked for directions Then the police man asked for our documents, as Cameron was getting the car registration out of the glove compartment he said, "Oh crap, I don't speak spanish." Cops in Nicaragua have a history of pulling over gringos (white folks/Americans) and asking for their drivers license then not giving it back until the driver pays the cop. For the next 15 minutes, Cameron pretended to not speak Spanish, the cop continued to ask for the drivers license and Cameron continued to ask for directions as well as attempt to give the guy 100 Cords. Then finally Cameron pulled out his license and the guy took it to look at it. The cop told us he was going to get someone to fine us for driving the wrong way on the oneway street. Cameron continued to play dumb and took his license back. The whole time the cop was talking to us I was just trying not to laugh, it was so funny. Eventually, the cop got frustrated with Cameron took the money and let us go. Cameron asked if we could take a photo, he agreed but only if he could get his gun. As he ran to get it, I was a little nervous that he was just going to shoot us! But he didn't and we ended up with a sweet picutre and a funny story!!



We were finally off to San Juan Del Sur, the drive was pretty neat we passed sugar cane and banana tree fields. We were also able to get a pretty good photo of Ometepe, the island in Lake Nicaragua with two volcanoes!



We arrived at our amazing hotel, and it turns out that the American guy who owns it is doing renovations and it's actually closed. But, he's such a nice guy that he let us stay there anyways! We had the whole place to ourselves it was the coolest thing ever!



Here is the photo of the Cemetary across from our hotel. Mom, I took this for you! HAHA It's pretty crazy, they don't bury people here, they just build a cement block around the casket.




We drove down to the bay to play on the beach and have dinner. It was fun and nice to just sit and relax for a while. We had dinner at El Globo, Cameron ordered Lobster and I had the best friend chicken I've ever had in my whole life!! We liked it so much so mich even go back tomorrow! We were able to watch the sun set over the ocean which is always beautiful.




After dinner our plan was to head back to our private hotel and swim! We as we drive down the street we notice a bunch of cars parked outside our hotel and wondered what was going on. There were all these nicas on the inside of the fence like guards. We see Mike, the owner, outside and ask him what's up. It turns out these people took over his property illegally and paid off a judge to sign some paper that says they can kick him off the property. It was pretty messed up! Since we had already checked in our bags were all inside our room with the most important thing, our passports!! Cameron walked over to see if he can talk the nicas into letting us go grab our stuff and leave. I was super nervous that they were going to go through our suitcases and find our passports and we wouldn't be able to get back into America. I said a little prayer and with the Lord's help Cameron was able to retrieve our bags. We are so lucky that the situation didn't turn into something much much worse!! I guess that's one of the reasons that there aren't a lot of nice resorts here because people can just pay off the judge and kick the owners off the property.

Cameron and drove back into town and checked out a bunch of different hotels. We found one, it's definitely not as nice but it works, I'm just glad we are safe!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Nicaragua Day 3

Today was a super busy day like the last two, but still it was so much fun!! Last night we stayed in a really fachento (classy/fancy) hotel, The Real Intercontinental. It was crazy!! This morning we had an amazing breakfast consisting of Gallopinto and scrambled eggs, and lots of fruit! The pineapple here is so good, I feel like I'm in heaven!! HAHA :) Today wasn't the same without Saia and Line, and we miss them and hope that there journey home was pleasant!

First, we went to La Fuente, this is where Cameron lived for six months and Cameron and his companion Justin Su'a were the first missionaries to live in this area. Part of the area was Reparto Schick/18 de Mayo, this is the most dangerous neighborhood in the whole country! Don't worry mom, we didn't go in!

Here is the house Cameron lived in with both Su'a and Jared Benson.



It was the worst house Cameron lived in during his whole mission, rats used to crawl in through the slats in the window. The family that lived in the house next door loved when the missionaries lived here. We got the chance to visit with them and once again they were so excited to see Elder Cook.

Here is El Don, his poor wife is dying with cancer and she is super sick so we weren't able to visit with her.



Next we went to La Union to try to find crespas, with no luck! Sorry Benson!

We made our way to Jinotepe, it was a pretty drive and you could feel the temperature drop the higher we got, it was very fresca! Cameron served as a Zone Leader in Jinotepe with Elder Hirshi. We visited a family that owns a bakery by the church, they were very friendly and excited to see Cameron. Next we visited the Cortez family that Cameron and Hirshi baptized. When Cameron was on his mission he gave Ms. Cortez a hymnal and she told Cameron that while she was at church on Sunday she read the message that he wrote in there and it made her think of how blessed she was that the elders stopped by her house to teach her and her family.

Here is Ms. Cortez and her kids. Cameron baptized both the daughter and the mom, the boy was too young at the time. The other photo is the family's backyard, notice the chickens, they aren't pets...



We walked around the market in Jinotepe it was crazy.



The members were so excited when the church in Jinotepe was finally built, they no longer had to hold church in a member's house. Here is the back patio, this guy didn't want to sell his house so they just built around it!



Next we were on the road to, Catarina. Catarina is in the more artsy part of Nicaruagua. We were able to sit and look out at the Lagoon, there were some Nica's playing music in the background, we ate a churro, and fed some random dogs that wouldn't leave us alone. It was very romantic! HAHA

The beautiful view!


The dogs we fed. The dogs here are gross and dirty, yet I still want to pet them every time I see them!! Cameron doesn't let me, just in case they have a disease or something...




Here is a video of the Nica's and they're music.

video


Next we went to Masaya, this was Cameron's very first area and he can't really remember the people so we didn't visit anyone here. We went to the market and bought some really neat paintings and a vase. We paid a guy to watch a car and then another guy followed us in the market like we needed help, it was kind of annoying. When we were finished shopping, he asked for a tip, Cameron gave him 20 cords and the guys said that it wasn't enough so Cameron took it back, the guy was kinda mad, but really we didn't need his help so whatever I guess.

There was a funeral while we were there. They put the body in this carriage and walk around town, family and friends of the passed on person follow the cart as sort of a memorial to the person. It's kinda wierd but still a cool thing to see!!



We happened to drive by this Nursing home. I guess this is where I would work if we lived here.




Next, we made the drive to Granada which is where we are staying the night. The next part of our trip we will be doing more touristy stuff, but it should still be fun and we are super excited! Tonight we walked around Central Park and looked at the old architecture. Granada was settled by Spaniards so the buildings are really cool and usually painted bright colors. We ate dinner at a little Italian restaurant, it wasn't true Italian, it was more Latino Italian but it was still good!

Here is Cameron next to Granada's Cathedral.




Here is the courtyard of one of the hotels. The hotel is built around the garden, the hotel used to be someone's house, I want a garden like this in my house some day!!




Tomorrow should be another exciting day in our Nica adventure! I'll try to update everyone!!
Oh and it turns out that we are staying in the same hotel that the Benson's stayed at when Jared sat on the bedspread and got those crazy bug bites, Cameron and I both sat on the bedspread... lets hope we don't get any crazy bug bites!!

Monday, May 4, 2009

NICARAGUA!!

WOW!! We actually made it to the beautiful land of Nicaragua!! It has been an exciting journey so far! We left St. George at 3:30AM on Saturday and drove to Las Vegas. After boarding our plane we flew to Atlanta where we met up with Saia and Line Hafoka. The boys were so excited!!

Waiting in the airport.



We were flying stand-by and lucky for us, all four of us got to fly first class!! It was so cool and a great way to start off our adventure!! After arriving in Nicaragua they checked everyone for Swine flu and we all passed! We waited at the airport for Hermana Flor to pick us up. Driving back to her house was crazy!! They have stop lights and lanes but it seems like they are optional. Also, the locals honk there horns every chance they get, either to say "hey I'm not stopping at this red light," or to let you know they're getting close to you and then again when they pass someone, or to see if you need a taxi. They mostly just honk a lot.


This is us at the airport and the porch at Hermana Flor's house where we stayed.


In the morning we woke up and took a taxi and a bus to Leon where we went to church. It was so neat to see the members who knew Cameron. They were all so excited to see him, they even called him fat! HAHA it was funny. After church, we went to Chichigalpa where Cameron and Saia lived in the same house. We were able to make it to meet up with the Quinantilla family before they left church. This was the sweetest family they have 5 kids who were so polite and sweet to all of us! They even took us to lunch which was greatly appreciated by us!

Cameron and with the Quinantilla's. This is there little boy, he is six and is an entertainer!


Cameron and I with President Quintantillo and his wife at lunch.


We fit 12 people in this car to go to lunch!!


"Adios!!"



After we finished eating, we went to visit some families that Cameron baptized. They lived in one of the poorest areas in the country. It was very humbling to see how these people lived. We are so lucky to have the things that we tend to take for granted at home When we finally found Elba and Malin Luz's house they were so excited to see "Elder Cook." I am so grateful that Cameron was able to teach the gospel to so many people, you can tell how much they love it!

The Luz's and all their kids!!



Cameron and Saia's house in Chichigalpa.



After driving back to Leon we split up from the Hafoka's to go visit some families. Cameron and I walked around Leon the night life here is so different than in the States. Everyone just opens there front doors and sits outside and visits. I loved it, I wish it was like that at home! After our little walk we went to Johanna's house, Cameron ate at her house often as a missionary. She made us the typical Nicaraguan dish Gallopinto (rice and beans) with scrambled eggs and it was actually pretty good!

Cameron with Johanna and her three kids.



Our Hotel in Leon, Los Balcones.



The Cathedral in Leon. It's the biggest Cathedral in all of the Americas.




This is the creepy Jesus statue inside the Cathedral



On Monday, we made the trip from Leon to Esteli. On the way we saw lots of farms, the cows don't even look like cows because they are so emaciated, I felt sad for them! The road was crazy, there were these huge pot holes and kids would fill them with dirt and stand on the side of the road expecting to get get money for their work. The bus/van that we rode in didn't really have enough room for the four of us but that never stops the nicas!!

Cameron and I aren't sitting on the actual car seats we are sitting in these homemade chairs that are balanced in the aisle. It was pretty crazy!




While in Esteli, we ate quesillo! It's a soft corn tortilla filled with onions, cream, and cheese. Cameron was super excited to eat these!!



So far we have had a wonderful trip! I'm super excited to see what the rest of the week brings! I will try to post again tomorrow! Goodnight and we send our love!

Oh yeah, Heather we found ceresas and we got come for you!!