why does the sun go swimming?

Another fantastic Pacific sunset. I sat watching, feet propped in one of the red plastic chairs, when Malinda, Juan’s eldest daughter, came and plopped down next to my feet. “What are you doing?” she asked. 

“Watching the sunset,” I said.

She turned and watched with me and then, puzzled, asked, “Why does the sun go into the ocean? Can the sun swim?” 

What a precious five-year-old. Juan’s family is visiting–his wife and two girls (3 and 5). The youngest seems to just now be developing a personality, while the oldest, Malinda is the first Latino kid I’ve really ever bonded with, probably because she’s the first I’ve ever been able to understand. Yesterday, she made me a crown of white flowers that grow in the garden at Brio, and I braided purple ones into her pigtails. (Right now she’s playing with my seed necklace, spelling our names on the table. It’s definitely going to break, but she’s so into it, I don’t feel I should stop her.)

Channeling my dad’s sage words, and feeling privileged to play a small moment in her life, I told her about how it was actually the Earth that was moving. “You see, the Earth rotates away from the sun, so it only looks like the sun is swimming in the ocean,” I said, feeling old and also just how fast the Earth turns and suddenly you’re the one who knows the answers. 

This week has been tranquil, about amazing people I suddenly find myself surrounded by–Juan’s family and new friends I’ve made in town, a group of gringos who run a surf camp and are some of the most welcoming people I’ve met. Last night, they invited me to dinner (actually it was more of an, obviously you’re staying for dinner) for amazing chicken thai pasta and baby green salad. I went surfing with the guys in the afternoon, driving up the coast and tackling what was for me, a brand new wave, which was totally scary and fun and frustrating as I realize firsthand that not all waves break the same (duh) and thus my very limited skills don’t translate beach to beach. Don’t get me wrong… I’m not actually surfing yet. Mostly, I bob around and paddle for waves that I miss. Or I paddle back out and get pummeled by incoming whitewash that my longer board doesn’t dive effortlessly under. I’m still exhausted from the beating, 24 hours later. But, I’m learning, slowly slowly slowly, and I’ve decided it’s more about floating on my board and swimming around and sunsets in the water than actually being a ‘surfer’ (which entails me looking like a complete fool as I flop around, summersault ungracefully and surface to cough up water). It’s a different form of exercise and my arms are getting stronger, and it’s a fun group, so meh. I flip, I flop. 

A group of students from DU came on Monday and Tuesday, which was so much fun and also bizarre, as they blew in from a world I feel far removed from but also still close to. (I graduated college six months ago today. Uuuh weird.) Matthew, the professor who set this whole wacky part of my life in motion by introducing Rob and I via email, led the class and they stayed at Brio for two days. Chatting with him here was surreal, when only yesterday we were in freezing Denver and he floated the hypothetical, impossible idea of moving to Nicaragua by me.  The first day the group arrived, as Ioxlina and Jackie cooked lunch for twelve, I ran back and forth from the kitchen to the bar where the group was camped, a very appropriate physical manifestation of my feelings during their visit. A friend of mine that I’ve known since freshman year was the group’s TA, and like everybody, was great to see and also incredibly out of place in my life here. 

On the note of visitors popping into my very different life here, Brooke and Kate, two of the most rocking travel buddies, are currently on a plane to Managua, and I’m off tomorrow at 5 a.m. to Granada to meet up with them and have a girl-adventure. YAY. I need some girl time in my life, and these girls rock. I’m a little worried because at some point in the next two days, I also have to layout a 16-page paper. That’s right, the Post is back in action, yay round two for me still having a job! So, a bit richer and with a bit less sleep, we shall tackle Nicaragua for the week until we head back to Brio on Saturday and they can meet my Brio family. 

Tonight we are celebrating Jackie’s birthday party. It was actually yesterday, but because the hotel was full of clients, we couldn’t exactly take over the common room. I was originally planning to go to Granada this afternoon but was persuaded to instead leave tomorrow morning at the crack of dawn when Jackie said that I just had to stay for her party. It was super cute. So, I stayed, and Juan is taking me to Tola tomorrow at literally 5 a.m. before he heads to work north up the coast. (I suspect Tola is out the way of his planned trajectory and that he agreed to take me so that I’d stay around Sunday night, so my goodness, these people are fantastic.)

I’m off into the wild blue yonder tomorrow. Thinking safe travel thoughts for mi amigas.

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