To finish up my Nicaragua stories, I'll recap our surfing lessons.
None of us have really surfed before and we find a local place to teach us. (which, apparently, is run by guys well known in the area and guys “you don’t wanna mess with” I learn after the trip...) And they round us and a few other people up and toss us in:
The Van That Time Forgot.
I wish I had a picture of how haphazardly we all are inside this thing but here’s another “normal” Nicaraguan car, so you probably get the idea:
You know, no AC, no...real...structure. And the guy closest to the side door gets to hold something like a bungee cord KEEPING THE DOOR CLOSED. And occasionally, we hit a bump, and it DOESN’T stay closed – but it’s all part of the experience, right?
So we jostle our way to the beach and get paired up with an instructor.
And we start on the sand, learning how to Pop Up quickly onto the board, and decide whether we want to stand “regular” or “goofy”. And at some point we learn the local slang similar to our Hawaiian 'Hang Loose', which is, "Diakachimba," and we make the locals laugh with our Spanglish pronunciation of it.
And that’s about it.
We hit the water.
Lesson nearly done.
Oh...kay...guess I’m a...surfer...now? We’ll see how this goes then! Sure don't see any lifeguards either!
So I’m with my instructor, Kervin, and we’re out on the water a tad early in the day and the waves aren’t really hitting yet.
So I lay on the board and wait.
And have I mentioned that I get motion-sickness fairly regularly? I spent much of my youth car-sick. And since then, I’ve gotten nauseous on boats, carnival rides, and on the Metro trains in DC. And, I find out – I get sick while laying on my stomach on a surfboard, awaiting bigger waves too!
So Kervin is trying to make conversation in English – not his native language – with me. And I’m trying not to “feed the fish”, if you know what I mean.
So the “lesson” proceeds like so:
Kervin, smiling, relaxed: “So, you are down here with friends, yeah?”
Me, trying to hold down the avocado/black beans and rice/plantain breakfast I had that morning: “Mmm...mm Hmm....” waves...slosh...ing...
Kervin: "So today my birthday so tonight is birthday party and you should come"
Me, turning green: “Mmm...today is your birthday?.......” WAVES!.... SLOSHING! "...Happy Birthday!...sure!...let me know where the party is...um, I need to use the restroom, k? Be right back..."
And that’s where I proceed to experience the closest thing to projectile vomiting I’ve had in a long time.
In a bathroom one half step up from a port-a-potty.
So I feel LOVELY, but I walk back out and see my poor friend Sarah nearly-dying from the Swine Flu described HERE, with her head down on a picnic table. So I think “I can suck it up and keep surfing.”.
And I do, and it turns out to be really fun. And we even meet THIS GUY who's also surfing there, Jeret "Speedy" Peterson- an olympian, who went on to win a Silver Medal in the 2010 Olympics in Freestyle Skiing for U.S.A.:
Because Nicaragua is cool like that.
And we end the day scrambling back into our van quickly because -it's starting to rain! and our van will Never Make It Back if the sand gets too wet!
And thankfully, we do make it back and we end up going to Kervin's house to celebrate his birthday.
And his "house" is also the surf shop, which is also a Hostel where people just live for weeks on end, hanging out, probably smoking something stronger than cigarettes....playing guitars... and surfing.
So this Party is us, Kervin and his brothers, Kervin's Canadian girlfriend who is also visiting at the same time, Random Surfers that are living in the hostel....
Tio, aka "Uncle" in English, is. a. character.
Tio is drunk as a skunk, sweaty...and shirtless. And Kervin and his brothers keep apologizing for him. But he's pretty funny.
And he wants to dance.
So I dance with him, while giving an "EEEEEEKKK!!!" face to my friends. But we all end up having a great time, and I just remember leaving to Tio lovingly singing a song for us, of which all I could understand was this (my Southern U.S.A. Translation included):
"Adiooooos Amigoooooos!" (Goodbye buddies...)
"Adiooooos a Ustedeeeees" (Goodbye...ya'll....)
And that's kinda the soundtrack I have in my head when I think of that trip: Great people, great adventures, Swine Flu and vomiting...
(Update July 29, 2011: I was horrified to hear this week of the tragic end of Jeret Peterson's life. I'm so sad to hear that and my thoughts and prayers go out to his loved ones. I'm honored to have met him, he was an amazing athelete. That should never be the end for someone.)