“Love is what is left when you’ve let go of the things you love,”-Swami Jnaneshvara
Tranquilo, tranquilo. Tranquila, tranquila. Toda la gente dice esta palabra cada día.
It has become my motto, my word that when I hear it, I become calm and more at ease. It’s used to describe the people, the style of life, the country as a whole here.
Somehow it’s already our fifth week. I just bought my bus ticket to Costa Rica, and it leaves next Friday. Next Friday?! That’s 9 days away. I can’t believe it. Time has moved so fast here, yet also so slow.
Two weekends ago we visited the coffee region, Matagalpa, and got to see a lot of the plantation. It had been raining and continued to rain, and it was the second greenest place I have ever had the pleasure to walk around. Did you know coffee plants take 3 years to fully mature? I can’t even begin to explain how fresh the coffee we drank on the plantation was, plus I don’t really want to. I realize it’s been a while since I last wrote, but I don’t really want to sit here and type out everything I have been doing because quite frankly, I don’t care to reflect on the past. This trip has made me realize how much I value living in the present and how beautifully simple that concept is.
But this past weekend is something to report on. We left Friday for Ometepe after the earthquake, which maybe you heard about, maybe you didn’t. The epicentre was about 40km away in Chinandega and it was a 6.1. I’ve never really experienced an earthquake before, at least not while I’ve been awake. We were all sitting at salsa night when my chair began to move in a circular motion. At first I thought someone was shaking the table, or the crowd had really started to sway their hips, or hell, maybe I was way drunker than I thought I was. But as the movement continued, I looked at Haley and she just goes, “Como se dice “earthquake” in español?!” with her eyes wide. Then I started laughing. We were in the middle of an earthquake in Nicaragua. F*ck. An earthquake! I looked up and we were sitting outside in between two roofs that came together, and my first thought was something is going to slide off that roof onto our heads. Then, f*ck, the volcanoes are about to erupt. Then, holy shit could there be a tsunami? We’re only like 20km from the coast! Before I had time to voice any of my real concerns, the shaking stopped. Our whole group didn’t really know how to react, but the people around us were acting like they hadn’t felt a darn thing. So we laughed it off…until the aftershock came. Even that was short though, so we continued to dance the night away. Haley, Lucas, Madison and me walked home at about 1:30am, eating gallo pinto and fried maduros off of the biggest and greenest of leaves, made by the lovely ladies on the corner by the Catedral. Questionable? Maybe. But better than Taco Monte’s? For sure.
We woke up to a message from Aly saying that her bank information had been stolen and she couldn’t come on the trip anymore. Because we knew Ometepe was likely going to be one of the coolest places yet, plus we love her, we managed to coax her into coming with promises of covering her expenses if she really did run out of money. When we got to San Jorge, the port before the ferry ride to the island, there was a lancha ready to leave in 15 minutes. It was cheaper than the ferry and why not take the local way, right? Mehh…a lancha is a wooden, smaller version of a ferry, and this one happened to be occupied by a lot of raw chicken. And humans. We packed together in our noob-ish orange life vests, Callie literally standing in said bag of raw chicken. The contents of my stomach rolled and churned-salsa night was getting to me, plus the entire roll of cookies I had eaten that day (rookie fat kid move)-for the entire hour and a half. This is also the moment when Haley realized she left her phone on the shuttle we had taken to get to San Jorge. Panic. Esta bien, however, because they were a private shuttle company who told her they would take it to the office in León and she could pick it up when we got home.
Another shuttle was waiting at the port and we quickly made some friends, two from Vermont (one a retired D1 ski racer-small world), one from México, and one from Germany. When we told them we were staying at Little Morgan’s, a hostel on the other side of the island recommended by our friend Andrew, they thought why not? And jumped in with us. This hostel was the coolest accommodation ever. They had dogs, cats, pigs, chickens, ducks, everything was made of wood, including a three story tree house that topped out with whittled-out stools and a hammock, organic toilets, outdoor showers, stone paths through the jungle, and a handful of scorpions. And beautiful people, guests and hosts alike. Buffalo rules were in effect, along with others that required push-ups as a consequence, by the end of the night I had done 50. That morning I woke up at 5:30 to meditate on the rocky point as some of the group left to hike one of the volcanoes. I only brought chacos for this outing and an 8 hour scramble through the jungle wasn’t something they could handle. The rest of us strolled down the road and beach to a local comedor to eat the best Nica Breakfast ever and continue to Ojo del Agua, a natural spring that they have kind of developed into a swimming pool, but more natural. There was a rope swing and a slackline over the water, and the bottom was sandy and rocky.
(If you don’t know, Nica Breakfast=gallo pinto, toast or fried plantains, eggs either scrambled or fried, and a piece of queso seco, normally fried. And I luh it. I could eat it for every meal. No joke.)
At Ojo del Agua, we made friends with un chico who was making coco locos, a coconut filled with rum and other deliciousness. There were mango trees growing nearby, and he brought us an endless supply of fresh mangoes while we waited out the rain. Back at the hostel, Courtney, Weston, Madison, Haley, and I had plans to go onto San Juan del Sur for Sunday Funday the next day. But upon our arrival, Weston had some news. His wallet was at the bottom of the lake, in the crater of the volcano. So his money for the next day was toast. San Juan del Sur count: 5 down to 4. Emma also lost her raincoat. In the grand scheme of things, that’s the least of the problems, but still. After we had been hanging out in the tree house for a while, we went down by the bar and decided to settle up with the hostel right then instead of the morning before leaving at 7:30am. This was when Madison realized she couldn’t find her bag, which also had her wallet. We think she left it on the second floor of the tree house, but we searched the whole property and it straight up vanished. San Juan del Sur count: 4 down to 3. Scratch that. None of us would go, because the universe was obviously sending us signs that this whole trip was cursed, and we decided that if we went, one of us would get drugged at Sunday Funday or worse. It just wasn’t meant to be. So a slightly defeated crew dragged out feet back across the lake Sunday and squished into taxis back to León. Here Haley and I figured since class for us was already moved around, why not use our free Monday and go to the beach? We stayed at Big Foot, a hostel right on the beach, drank wine under the moonlight, and tried to figure out what the heck happened this weekend and why we all felt so weird about it. We concluded that simply, there is no explanation besides some bad vibes and an island curse.
I am happy to report that after a day spent doing absolutely nothing besides swimming in the ocean and soaking up the sun, this week has been painless compared to the weekend. Besides the fact Haley now has strep throat and I apparently also have some weird throat thing that isn’t strep but happens after I eat-but alas, this blog post has been the most rambling piece of junk and I don’t feel like explaining out doctor visits. All I can say is this life is crazy folks, get it while you can.
“Practice the divine play, experience full intimacy and contact with the moment, and then let go so the next thing can come,”-Deborah Adele