For me, it started by rising early and making my way across the street from my room to my niece Sarah's (and Baldo's) Hostel to find a cup of coffee. After rumaging around for a few I found all the necessary components and coffee was a brewin'!
After a couple of hours folks started to mill about, and Sam and Suchil showed up having been out early walking the town. Guess I wasn't the only one up early.
Baldo needed to take the dog for a walk, so Tolga, Adri and I joined joined him to the the overlook at the top of the hill behind their place.
|And yes, the hill is as steep as it looks...|
|And yes, the view was worth the climb...|
|Baldo and Tolga|
|A look through the trees to the bay below.|
Finding our way back to the hostel, it was time to head out on the various excursions. There was some initial disappointment because the excursion to zip line from the rim of a local volcano wasn't going to happen. A cruise ship had docked and all the zip lining was completely booked.
Some opted for horseback riding, and others decided to head to the beach for a surf lesson from Baldo. Baldo, you'll remember is Sarah's husband. He is also a retired professional surfer and current coach and competition event coordinator. My plan included the beach, less the surf lessons.
Baldo tells us this beach is just down the road a few minutes. He didn't tell us it was an extreme 4x4 adventure just to get there :-) Need to remember our version of "good road" is quite different! In any case, after a dozen or so river crossings and some hill climbing that seemed straight up and down we emerged to cast our eyes on this...
|The shadowy mountain range on the far right is Costa Rica. Of course my first thought was how long it would take to swim it :-)|
|I'm told the waves weren't great for surfing, but I had a blast body surfing and just generally acting like a kid!|
|Cassandra got up!|
|Way to go Travis!|
|Even Adri :-)|
|Nephew John-Mark had obviously done this before.|
|And Dan the Man can do more than dance!|
|For a couple bucks you can get yourself a coconut drink, and when done they'll take a macheti to it so you can eat as well.|
Frankly, I could spend a week on a beach like that, but we only had about two hours. But after an awesome 2 hours, it was time to rush back to the hostel, clean up, check out and pile one last time onto the bus for a trek to "Messiah Volcan". But not before a stop at the market in Messiah.
The bus stopped outside the main square at the market and everyone was given emphatic instructions that we needed to be back on the bus in precisely 35 minutes. "And this is not Nica time people!" Well, we almost made it. I raced in and managed to find Christmas gifts for those back home and back to the bus in time. The last few straggles showed up and it was time to go. Time to hit the road for the Volcano! A phone call was necessary to let the park guards know we were coming and request a favor, which was granted - they'd stay late just for us. Cool!
We arrived at the base of the volcano and our guide jumped on our bus and we drove up to the parking lot. Everyone is instructed to back into their parking spot - just in case we needed to make a hasty exit (yes, they are predicting an eruption sometime between 2 months and 2 years from now).
|A cross was first planted on this site in the 1540's. Unfortunately the story told is of a religious group (I won't call them Christian) actually sacrificed virgin's to the volcano and taught that the caves here were an entrance to Hell.|
|This was so awe inspiring, it cannot be described. The smell of sulfur was overwhelming - truly hard to breath.|
|When asked about how to know if an eruption was imminent our guide says "a good early sign would be rocks falling on your head" :-)|
|Watching the sunset through the sulfur fog was eerie.|
And that's about it folks. We hiked down as it started to get dark and a bit rainy. From there we drove to Managua and dropped the team off at a hotel for the night. I stayed with my niece Windy for the night.
December 23rd: The following morning it was off to the airport for the flight home. While the morning of the return flight wasn't without drama and some excitement, everyone made it to the airport and successfully boarded for home.
My first TV watching in about nine days came in the Miami airport during my layover and the first thing I see is a bunch of people in a mall getting trampled as they fought for Air Jordan shoes. I found it repulsive. Welcome back to the home of the free and the pursuit of happiness.
In that moment what I'd been feeling for days came to the forefront of my consciousness - we have as much to learn from the the people of Nicaragua as we have to teach.
What a trip. What an adventure.
So much to process.
Next time I'll try to articulate, finally, the answer to the question "and what are you doing there?"
Press on friends.