I learned several things on my solo trip to Nicaragua both about the country and about myself. I booked this trip as an adventure and to push myself out of my comfort zone of being scared to travel alone. I have never traveled on my own for an extended period of time (just for business) and never to a third-world country. I was really excited for my week away and to dive into what was sure to be an adventure. Monday I reviewed the surf camp and Friday I’ll share my favourite memories but today I thought I’d just share what I learned about the country and about myself.
What I Learned About Nicaragua:
1. Poverty is everywhere. I didn’t research just how poor the country was but definitely had culture shock when I arrived. In the town of Miramar where the surf camp is located the town consisted of one road and residents lived in shacks with dirt floors, zero plumbing, and many roofs were caved in or covered with tarps. The people of Miramar take pride in their appearance and are well-dressed and clean but I can only imagine how they make that happen daily based on their living arrangements. I have so much sand in my scalp from not showering for a week and I barely brushed my hair or put on deodorant! lol… I know I know I’m gross.
2. Animals are everywhere. On the first night I arrived, the surf camp driver picked me up at the airport in Managua and drove me to the camp (over 2 hours away). As I peered out the window into the darkness trying to soak up this new place I gasped as we passed dogs lying on the white lines on the side of the road, random horses in the ditches, and just before the camp a massive herd of cows on the road blocking our path. On our first full day in camp, one of the surf guides took me and two other guests for a walk through town so we could feel more confident with our surroundings. Running wild in the streets or yards were chickens, ducks, pigs, dogs, cats, horses, and cows!
3. The ocean is not friendly here. You have to respect it or it will rock you over and over. You have to study the waves & beach. You have to know when the tide goes out and in. You must check where the rocks are and make sure you keep an eye on the beach to make sure you don’t get caught in a current.
4. The local people are friendly but do not speak any English. Since Nicaragua is not a well-known tourism destination yet the people are not learning English for visitors as in other third-world countries with a larger resort population. I definitely should have stuck to my Spanish studies with the Duolingo app that I started earlier this year as I could not interact with the house staff, the driver, our boat driver, or the people in town other than Hola, Gracias & Bueno Noches/Dias. Interactions were limited and that made me sad. The surf camp employs a family to guard the camp at night. The husband, wife & son sleep on the Rancho (porch by the sea). The son was around 4 years old and so hyper and sweet. I wanted so badly to be able to talk with him. He did teach me what Spider-Man was in Spanish as I pointed to images on his clothing and flip-flops 🙂
What I Learned About Myself:
1. I am not a diva. I can hack it in less-than-perfect conditions and not be bothered. As long as I have my privacy and a comfortable bed to rest in every night I am one happy surf camper.
2. I let fear get the best of me mentally. I get easily overwhelmed with things I can’t do and mentally get frustrated. I am physically fit but surfing is a whole new ballgame. The energy necessary to get yourself and the board through white water waves is exhausting. By the time you get to a position to turn around and surf in I could barely catch my breath. I never felt ready. What I learned is that you can compare surfing to life as they both are never going to be perfect conditions. You are not always going to have the perfect wave or the perfect moment in life. You just have to suck it up and paddle hard and go for it. I spent the majority of the week on my knees or raising one leg up or attempting the stand and wiping out. My record stand was a whole 2 seconds. While I’m strong enough to jump up I had a mental block of fear the whole time. I can’t wait to tackle it and really learn to stand 😉 So where shall I surf next?
3. I crave alone time. As much as I am a social creature I get overwhelmed meeting new people and having to be “on” or socialize all the time. I loved meeting everyone at camp (staff & guests) but it was so visibly apparent when I was socially exhausted. I would get super quiet and head immediately to my room for a recharge. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I loved getting to know everyone at camp this week and chatting but I know myself well enough now that when I’m shutting down it’s best to go grab that personal space.
Stay tuned for my favourite memories Friday!