Ohhh Nicaragua. Mi querida. Te extraño demasiado y sólo ha pasado una semana. Extraño la gente, la vida, el ambiente.
I left Nicaragua last Friday on a bus bound for San José with Haley and Courtney. I was ridiculously excited. I was ready to leave. Start something new. The last weekend in León I found myself spending a night alone at the Surfing Turtle Lodge on the beach, a fantastic little hostel that doubles as a sea turtle sanctuary. It is completely off the grid for energy, using solar power and producing all their own food. I took the boat across the inlet alone, followed by a horse cart ride through the jungle. I had no idea where I was going, but apparently this was the process to get to the surfing turtle. I spent the rest of the day on the beach reading Into Thin Air and before I new it, I realized I was actually surrounded by people I knew from life in León. And Ometepe, which is crazy because who would have thought that I would ever see the people we met at Little Morgan’s again without planning it. I’m convinced that island has the weirdest juju ever, because in addition to seeing the Dutch girls from the hostel, at the Costa Rican border we also found Little Morgan’s inhabitants, Drea and Curtis, and then on the bus from Puerto Viejo back to San José, we saw Ashley and Greg, more LM’s homies. This world is so small. Then me and my socially awkward self said f*ck it, I need to make friends, so I did. By the end of the night I was playing the most goofy game of telephone charades with everyone in the hostel. The next morning saw a calming yoga class in a studio on the beach and then I was joined by the rest of my MSU Nica Fam. We left the lodge together with a kind of weird feeling because we were legitimately sailing off into our last week together in Nica. The time had gone so fast, but also so slow.
The next four days saw the International Day of Yoga, where Aly, Madison, Haley and I were a team, Callie’s 21st birthday, our last meeting, last dinner, and one heck of a last salsa night. And tears.
Friday morning Julio walked us to the corner of Hotel Europa at 6:30am where the taxi was going to pick us up. The three of us just kind of sat there in silence, watching the day grow louder and brighter as the rest of León readied themselves for another typical Friday. I’m not sure if I’ll ever understand how I held back my tears as we got into that taxi and hugged Julio goodbye. In fact now that I type it out I don’t think I’ve cried one time since leaving Nicaragua, but writing this down makes tears swell in my eyes. Not going to lie, I’m afraid that when I finally do let it all out, I won’t be able to stop.
Courtney, Haley and I spent two and a half magical days in the town of Puerto Viejo, the most rasta and reggae influenced town I have ever laid eyes on. The people were happy, the water was bright green and blue, and the streets were quiet. I strolled around Sunday morning at 7am and there were hardly any people out yet. The ocean was still audible as I chose backstreet after backstreet.
In retrospect I could have spent this whole week there and been perfectly content, but deep down I knew I wanted to move on to Nosara, to maximize my time there before my yoga teacher training starts on the 3rd. Life is all about choices, and my decision to move on from that town has left me sad. Arriving in Playa Guiones was weird, to say the very least. IT’S ALL AMERICANS HERE PEOPLE. The Tico’s don’t attempt to speak to you in Spanish. The Americans don’t bother to ask if you speak English, instead throwing English words at you haphazardly. I stepped off the bus, still groggy from my 4am wake-up and walked down the most built up street in Guiones, sprinkled with bagel shops and cafés, yoga clothing stores and massage studios. Signs read, “Nosara Yoga Institute,” “Souvenirs,” “Tennis,” and “Organic.” A man called down to me from the second floor of a massage studio, “You lost?”
“No sé,” I replied.
“What are you looking for?”
“Un hostal? Necesito uno que es barrato.”
“See that footpath? Follow it and keep walking down the road until you see the ‘4 You’ hostel. Everything down this road is going to be $100+ a night.”
“Gracias!” I called back to him, and set off through the jungle. When I popped out the other side, there were workers working on a new mansion and they all looked directly at me and greeted me with “Buenas!” “Buenas,” I replied with a smile. On the main road, a man with white hair riding an ATV looked at me with my bags on my back and said, “Welcome to Guiones!”
Where the f*ck am I.
I finally stumbled across 4 You, and was greeted by a Swiss man who is basically Seb’s twin, my coach from when I lived in Chamonix. In a heavy French accent he showed me around the most gorgeous and modern hostel I’ve ever seen and took me to meet his wife Carole, a spunky Swiss who was ready to collect my money for the night’s stay. She told me welcome and my confused brain answered with, “Merci, gracias,” and then, “Thanks.” Again, where am I?
I realize I’m starting to make this place seem awful. Or great, depending on who you are I suppose. But then I met Laura, another hostel guest who is from New York but has been traveling throughout Latin America for the past year and a half. She speaks Portuguese and Spanish, and shares my frustration of the yuppie, bougie feeling of this place. And the prices. I paid the equivalent of $6 for a jar of peanut butter here. And $10 for a yoga class. I realize Nicaragua is cheaper BUT for comparison a jar of peanut butter in Nicaragua was $3 and an entire MONTH of yoga was $18. Can someone tell me why Americans have to impose their ridiculous prices and yuppie organic shit on a sleepy beach town with fantastic waves, build the nicest houses I’ve seen in 7 weeks in private subdivisions, and then hardly speak any Spanish? I hate it. I hate it. I hate it. And for anyone reading this, yes I’m aware that in some way it helps the greater economy of the area, but to me it feels like colonization all over again. The cheap labor jobs are all filled by tico’s while the yoga instructors and second home owners get to prance around in their yoga tights with their açaí bowls in hand. It’s f*cked.
I miss being called a chela everyday. I miss hearing “tranquilo” passed between friends or vendors on the streets, I miss chasing the sound of “PICOOOOOOO!” every morning. I am trying to accept that here and now, this is my reality. A reality that to most people seems so normal, so fabulous. And just when I decided to start to accept it, accept it, mind you, not be comfortable with it, I found my nica’s. Last night at ladies’ night after being utterly unimpressed by the crowd, I was approached by Juan Carlos. He introduced me to his cousin Jorge who was wearing a shirt that read, “Diacachimba!” Diacachimba, my fair people, is the Nicaragua-specific way of saying “F*cking awesome!”
“Eres Nicaragüense?!” I basically shouted at Jorge.
“Sí, somos de Managua originalmente, pero ahora vivimos en Garza(a beach down the way),” Juan Carlos replied.
BOOM. Night made. I spent the next two hours dancing and talking with them, my Spanish skills still just as good as when I left Nicaragua. And that folks, is the happiest thought and feeling I have felt since leaving Nicaragua.
Thanks for reading my slightly rant-y, mezcla de pensamientos. I promise I’m not crazy yet.