So my first week in Nica has pretty much just been an adjustment week. Further proving to myself 2 weeks is not nearly long enough.
I have discovered I think what I wanted was vacation, but I defaulted to travel because that's what I love (not to mention I can do it more affordably). Unfortunately, it's hard to truly slow my mind down because there’s so much to go do, see and plan. Who knows the next time I’ll be here so I start to feel like I have to get as much in as I can.
I was looking to just sit and be by myself with my thoughts.
This trip has not ended up that way. But I finally feel like I’ve found my rhythm and happy medium….and now I only have 1 week left. How quickly the days have gone.
With only 1 week more I want it to be great and deciding what to do and where to go has been a challenge.
There I go again, talking about the future and not focusing on the present. It’s something I’m working on.
But before I focus on the present, lets go back.
The beginning of my trip.
I arrived in Managua at night, which is supposedly not the safest time to be traveling the city alone. Before I left I had arranged a stay through Couchsurfing, and my host said he would pick me up from the airport. The plane was a bit early and customs were a breeze so I knew he probably wouldn’t be there yet. Forty-five minutes later I was having a little bit of a freak out. Talking myself out of panic I kept reminding myself "I am resourceful, I will figure it out either way, I am intelligent, I know how to do this," but being in a new place can be intimidating.
Every taxi driver at the terminal had asked me if I needed a ride and after telling them each “no, gracias” one finally offered his phone to me. Most people in Nicaragua don't speak any English so this was the first of many broken spanish, wild gesturing exchanges. I called my host Charlie and thank goodness he was on his way! Relief washed over me, what was I getting all worked up over?
Fifteen minutes later Charlie arrives and we begin our drive. As we drive into the darkness to who knows where the fact that I know nothing about this guy begins to set in. I ask a lot of questions to get a feel for the situation. Our conversation comes easy, although my mind is still slightly uneasy. I fake confidence. Then about 25 minutes into our journey he says “Sorry I didn’t say this sooner but my girlfriend has people staying with us so you are actually going to stay with my friends.” Ummm, okay well I guess I have to just go with the flow. No real red flags had been raised yet anyway.
We finally pull up to a gated house, walk up to the intercom and get buzzed in. Sort of intimidating, it felt a bit like the beginning of a dark scary movie. Then Charlie says “I hope you like dogs because they have a few.” Well you can imagine all the things racing through my mind. The dogs are big, real big, up to my waist big. I follow him in and he introduces me to his buddies. There are 3 of them, and they are all high, but thankfully they all look normal and not at all intimidating.
The house is pretty amazing actually. Art lined entire walls. Dozens of beautiful paintings from all over the world. The room I stayed in had 2 walls of floor to ceiling book shelves filled with books. There was so much to look at.
Well, someone likes the arts that’s a good sign. I guess.
I get to put my stuff down and then join others. They all look around my age, late twenties or so. After some small talk they ask if I want to go with them to grab some drinks. Alone, with strangers, in a foreign country, drunk…doesn’t sound smart. I don't think my father would approve. ;) Plus after 12 hours I’m beat. So I bow out. I think I will be asleep as soon as my head hits the pillow, but I am mistaken. There’s no fan, only an open window letting in the loud barking of several dogs with a slight breeze. It’s hot, and I’m sticky. My mind still won’t relax, the worrier part of me keeps me slightly on edge. So I lay there, getting eaten by mozzie’s and trying to focus on my breath.
After over 2 hours I finally made it to sleep. In the light of day everything is a little less unnerving. One of the guys from the night before is up and getting ready for work. I awkwardly take out my breakfast and make my way to the kitchen. Before he's off I do find out his work involves green energy.
He went off to work and I was alone, not sure what to do with myself. There was wifi, so I tried to figure out my next move. How would I get to the bus, where would I go?
Finally another person woke up, which I found out was the first guys brother. Then the house started to get alive and busy. House cleaner and maintenance workers started to show up. As my other host sat down to eat his breakfast of Chips Ahoy (which made me cringe inside) we started talking. He offered to take me to the bus station when he went into town. I was thankful because we were nowhere near the city and I had no idea what I was going to do.
We spent the next hour and a half discussing happiness, culture, life, balance and our lives. I found out the house was his parents and they were out of town, they traveled a lot. He had a sister that lived in Miami, and although he had visited, the U.S. didn’t really appeal to him. Too much stress, and a life lived in a rush was not his jam.
After a pleasant car ride we arrived at the hectic bus station and he helped me get my enormous pack on. I thanked him and we hugged. A genuine hug, not like one of those ‘I feel like this is polite’ hugs. A hug that had meaning, that honored the connection we had made in this one morning.
I woke up feeling awkward, out of place and alone and I left Managua feeling like I had made a new friend. I had connected with a new human being in a completely different country in the weirdest of conditions.
This is what happens when you travel. When you take a risk. People can surprise you. You make new friends, learn something new and experience life in a new way.
Who knows if life will ever cause our paths to cross again. Either way I am glad we met, am so grateful for the hospitality and kindness. There are good people everywhere but we won’t ever find them if we stay fenced in by our comfort zone.
My first night may have seemed a bit sketchy at first, and perhaps was risky. But each one of the people I met was kind, helpful, and friendly. It was a good start to my trip. So I continued on to the next part of my journey full of gratitude, joy and hope.
I will have more pictures to come, but uploading here takes forever. So it will have to wait.
Have you ever Couchsurfed? What was your experience like?
Next part of the journey coming soon!