There’s this town in Central America, Nicaragua. It’s small and so filled with life, and by life I mean people living different kinds of it. You have your tourists staying at one of the two high end resorts. The surfers and yogis staying at hostels with access to yoga decks and buses that take you to surfing hot spots in the area. Your ex-pats running away from corporate-run cities in the north who have finally found a home. You have your young non-profit entrepreneurs who love playing with kids and of course, those who were born and raised here. This almost magical land is filled with stories with different perspectives and ideals living together in this town. And they all know each other and never really seem to connect. Like different currents in the ocean with the innate knowledge of where to go and they alone know what direction they are supposed to follow.
You can walk from one side to the other in 30 minutes. From one side of the hills where you have a giant Jesus statue pointing towards the ocean bellow, to the hills with the abandoned light house. And in between you have the beautiful eclectic town of San Juan del Sur. There is one main road here filled with taxis and people and along the side walks you can find me. Me, with my bare feet and oversized T-shirt. My skin dark as it ever has been and bright ocean-bleached hair with yellow highlights bouncing off my shoulders carrying a permanent natural perfume of the salty ocean.
As I walk I stop at a fruit cart to get a cup with sliced green mango with vinegar and salt on my way to the beach to teach kids to surf. It’s a Sunday, the sun is bright and reflecting itself over the smooth waves. The water is cool and I feel this moment as almost spiritual. My friend Elise from New York introduced me to this local group who finds meaning in getting the town’s children into the sport. Some of the kids go to the school where we teach English. I stay in the water, where the waves break, catch a kid coming in surfing the wave, help him turn around and get back in. I take the moment in to look towards what surrounds me. The bay is picturesque. Sail boats in the water beyond the waves, the town filled with short buildings making their way towards the dark green hills. You can see it all from where I stand. Someone jumps on my back and we happily start splashing water. Surf time is over.
For six months, this was my life; teaching English to pre-teens, surfing in the ocean with my kids, visiting an old folks home to give the tenants some company. Watching Game of Thrones on the screen my dad often borrows from the lobby at the hotel he runs. I do Yoga in the hotel’s butterfly garden with Elizabeth who’s originally from Pensilvania. I lie there on my yoga mat as the Howler monkeys above me jump from one three to another. And Kamillo, from Japan, chases butterflies outside with a giant butterfly net, never failing to make me smile.
As the day grows old I visit down town and get an iced Vietnamese coffee from a local surf shop, or go to the french bakery run by a frenchman who will make you a chocolate croissant to order. Or I visit the two-table Thai restaurant or walk over to the walk-through Falafel place owned by our Jehovahs Witness friends. On the days when I really need it, I stop to get some milk coffee in a dark beer bottle with a cartoon Mexican skull printed on it from Dia de los Donuts.
The fruit market is ongoing with people ever buying on a street that has been blocked for this purpose. The men play cards under the blue tarp while the women take care of business. The colorful dresses hang next to dolls and pareos, and besides them, carts with an overload of vibrant colorful fruit; huge dragon fruit a brilliant shade of pink next to guava and oranges and coconuts amongst so much more, and I devour it all.
In town Bastian Vrakken sets up meetings for his program working with kids with disabilities and Jayme Hunter works hard to keep Escuela Adelante running. On the beach Elise plays Volleyball with some strangers she just met. The young french baker plays rugby with the guys before heading over to the bench outside his place to wait for the school bus to drop his little boy off to go home.
At night the smoke from the bbq is all you can smell. And it makes your mouth water. Its not hard to find yourself at a one room restaurant that is also somebody's living room with four tables under red plastic covers, and plastic chairs. TV blasting near the ceiling playing an American film dubbed in Spanish. You get your glass soda bottle with sugar cane based contents and your plate of beef strips, plantain chips and Pico de Gallo, which here means rice, black beans and some veggies mixed together.
In the evenings, as the sun starts to set, I hike all the way up to my fathers house at Pelican Eyes Resort. I go through the hotel to take the stairs that lead me through the undulating hills straight up the four mile trek through the jungle as the Magpies squawk at me for getting too close to their nests, and the lizards stare at me in silence. And I make it home covered in sweat and with soaring muscles ready to take a cool shower.
By the end of the day I take a book from the pile of books I brought with me, and rock back and forth on a chair in the balcony overlooking the town and the unending ocean as the fire flies start to come alive, just as the stars start to show up. Having separated myself from everything that happens down town, I have never felt more isolated, I have never felt more beauty surround me than I do at this moment.
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