Learnin’ Lessons: Surviving Nicaragua

Lately, it seems almost everyone I know is a bit down. We’re coming off one of the worst winters in history and spring is being a fucking bitch about showing up. Folks I know are broke down, beat down and just plain tired.

Also, I am sick of complaining about shit. Really, I am.

So, I went to Nicaragua about two months back. The memory of it seems very, very distant. In fact, this vacation didn’t take. As in, most vacations I come back restful and happy and I can bask in the post-vacation glow for a month or two until the sun decides to show up. This time it didn’t happen. In fact, I am so stressed out that after a week back, I felt like I hadn’t gone anywhere.

Maybe this post is more for me than you. See, I believe that travel is one of—if not the most—unbelievable way to recharge and reboot. There’s nothing like ripping you out of your comfort zone and boring day-to-day life to really ruminate on what matters. I hate routine. I hate doing the same thing all the time. This makes having a day job really hard. But travel is an excuse to ditch all that…and meet new people and eat new food and see shit that blows your mind.

So, here are a few finer points I learned from my last Nicaragua trip, and while the relaxin’ didn’t take (and I have a feeling that has more to do with NYC than Nicaragua) these lessons did:

1. Sometimes, a dead grandmother can come in really, really handy. Especially if the airlines cancel your flight and you need to skirt the Joe Dirt line to book your rewards travel. I swear, to anyone in my family, you have my blessing to use my impending death as an excuse to get the fuck out of dodge any time.

2. It always amazes me when I look out the plane’s window that my grandparents, just two generations ago, never saw this…and that future generations probably never will due to lack of oil and air travel becoming prohibitively expensive. Take advantage while we still got it, folks.

3. Then there’s that feeling of anticipation—that anything can happen—that adventures (my favorite thing—adventures!) are right around the corner.

4. Then I realized that you can feel that way about your whole life—it’s an adventure largely dictated by you. And your choices.

5. You may be staying in an Oceanside beach bungalow named something fancy like “Costa Dulce,” but you can always rename it for the stray dogs running through your yard: Casa de dog rape.

A sunset. No dog rape.

6. You can kill a blue crab with your flip-flop, but they will always win. And come back. And sometimes you need to let the blue crabs have the fucking bedroom and you take the couch.

7. Gringos need coffee.

8. If you are truly, pathetically addicted to coffee, you will find a way to make it, even if you have half a broken French Press, no filters and can’t figure out how to light the stove.

9. “Survivor Nicaragua” is total bullshit. If you watch that show, that is our beach and jungle where we stayed. And If we ever were to see a boa constrictor, I would’ve had it totally under control.

Our view. Seriously. That's Costa Rica on the other side.

10. Vegetarians taste the best—in oral sex and cannibalism. This is the kind of philosophy that emerges after smoking a lot of free ditch weed and discussing cannibalism at length.

11. If you cut your toe surfing and are bleeding, a shark will probably not attack you.

I am surfing! I am surfing on a baby wave!

12. Sexo de tortuga—or the mating of sea turtles—is pretty awesome to watch. Also the birth of turtles, crawling their little ways out of the sand.

Baby turtles, the result of sexo de tortuga.

13. Watching whales and dolphins play in their natural habitat in the ocean kicks the ass out of seeing them in captivity. Seriously, watch “The Cove,” and ban so-called “sea world” type parks from your life.

14. When buying cookies south of the border, let the person in your group making said cookie-decision purchase take that decision very fucking seriously.

15. “Don’t sponch on me.” Google it.

Sponch! Now with more Sponch.

16. If you borrow a Chevy Astro circa 1991 from your buddy and it starts to billow out steam, yep, you probably blew a radiator hose.

Our awesome guide, Gonzalo, trying to fix our bitchin' van.

17. Children need not be screaming, demanding, entitled pieces of shit. In fact, they can be quite lovely.

18. “Thank you for you.”

19. Learn some Spanish. Or some other language. But leche, bano and pornografia will get you pretty far.

20. Road beers at 10 a.m. are pretty fucking awesome.

When a dude with a machete walks by, you just let him. Good rule for life.

*All pics except surfing one shot by Margaret Hester, who is an awesome photographer. Seriously, hire her.