I’m sitting under a rock cliff, shaded from the sun and ten feet away from the crashing ocean waves. They’re loud and uneven, rolling in and away at odd intervals, breaking into and against each other; different from the beach to my left. Birds bob up and down on the waves, before they crest and break, and look a little bit like mini surfers. A wave comes, builds, about to break, and the little bird looks like its going to suddenly flop on its belly, starting paddling and ride the wave until it hits the rocks.
It’s nice and breezy here, a comfortable temperature, unlike the rest of Gigante—mostly the Brio common room in the afternoon when it demonstrates what happens to the temperature when sun pours into a sheltered space. It’s summer, alright, sweltering heat and bright, bright, squinting afternoons. The landscape, colors, features, smells, are markedly different than when I left two months ago. Fierce and whipping winds have replaced the torrential downpours, dust replacing mud. It’s beautiful, but it’s a different beauty, stark perhaps, or maybe the opposite, muted in dust. It’s still green, but the green is only an interruption in a mostly brown horizon (except, of course, for that bright blue ocean horizon that never changes and never gets old). Brio’s new deck is complete, so I can now sit at one of the plastic tables, eat my breakfast of gallo pinto and huevos revueltos, and stare at this lovely horizon mid-shovel. (Or better yet, catch the night breeze and stare at the stars.)
I’ve been sitting here for a couple of hours writing, and my butt has long since fallen asleep. Although it’s the perfect shady hideout to write undisturbed, the rock below me is rather knobby and a bit intrusive. My spot is uninterrupted for the most part—two Nicaraguans just came around the corner from Amarillo (my usual beach), passing over this rock jetty to the next one over. I got a nod and a machete-wave hello, although I probably look really very strange: a gringa typing away on her laptop, perched on a rock, in a bright pink sundress. (A later note: six surfers just walked by and actually gave me a stranger look than the Nicas. ‘Picking up wi-fi out here?’ they all asked. ‘Umm… nooo. Just getting away, writing,’ I said. ‘Oh.’ Huh. Odd look. They continued on their way.)
My hiding out here is part of my attempt to carve out something; something about my time here that is mine and tangible and something that I won’t have time for in any phase of my life. I’m feeling discombobulated and floating, disconnected in changes, so right here I’m trying to anchor. Sitting on a rock by the beach for as long as I want to, for as long as I can stand and as long as I can write and write (or until my computer dies or my butt gives out). In any case, it’s my first attempt to have a part of my day that is exclusively for writing, away from Brio and on my own. (I’m taking the sage advice of my father who said, when I complained about my lagging and lolling days without structure—‘people look their whole lives
Besides just the summer landscape, Gigante has definitely changed since my departure. A beachfront hostel opened, and now there are gringos wandering around every which way. It’s exciting in the sense that there’s a lot more activity going on; several of the new comers arrived right after I left and are staying for several months. There are some cool projects in the works: one couple is here working on a road a bit up the coast, and one chick is here teaching daily yoga classes by the beach for three dollars, so you know, I’m going to have to find time for some sunset yoga.
I’ve been saying since I got here that little Gigante is going to change, is going to be hit by tourism, is going to, going to…But, it was always future tense, a vague and indistinct time ahead when things would just be different (not thinking about the phases of becoming different). Granted—the majority of the time that I’ve lived here has been in the off-season, when Gigante normally is sleepy and unvisited, so I’ve been a bit spoiled in that regard. I expected surf season to arrive in May and with it, lots of gringos, but it’s not yet May and things are hoping, changed in two short months (or two long months?).
At the same time, sometime and somehow among all these new faces, the people dynamic changed, and I’m not quite sure yet where I fit into it all. It’s hard to believe I’ve been here two weeks. What have I done? I feel a bit as though I’ve been waiting and meandering around, although I’m not sure that’s the case. I’ve been busy arranging things, attempting to turn my various hypotheticals into reality. Although, there has been a good amount of waiting, so apparently Nicaragua has not yet taught me all there is to know about that thing called patience.
My tasks ahead of me are: maintain the content for a website of Rob’s, called Surf Nica, and hopefully building it so it’s a portal to all things ‘surf Nicaragua’. However, Brio’s internet has been on the fritz for the past week, coming and going in little hissy fits, so, as you can imagine, this makes website work something like impossible. I bought a website book, to become literate in CSS (which stands for Cascading Style Sheets, I just recently discovered) and HTML (HyperText Markup Language, another recent addition). I had hoped to finish it by now, but much of the book’s content requires sheet practice online and again we return to the aforementioned…
Kimery, the woman who owns the Expedition School in Austin was here for several days; I’m now certified in CPR and First Aid training, as well as certified to teach the very same CPR class. We’re waiting on paperwork to go through with the Red Cross in Washington and also Costa Rcia before I can actually teach the class and hang out official certifications, but it’s an exciting start. She brought down two manekins, so Brio now has on the premises the head and chest of a plastic man as well as a plastic baby—both of which have inflatable lungs to practice rescue breaths on. Woohoo. I also have all the course books. I’m hoping this weekend to give a practice class to the folks at Brio and the Brio boat captains, so that they’ll have all this important life saving information. I’m a little nervous about it, since I’ve never given the class in English, much less Spanish, and thus do I have some (vocabulary) preparation to do (for example, how do you say bag valve mask in Spanish? Automated external defibrillator? I don’t know).
Last night, I started up my adult English class again, inviting Juan, Jackie, Ernesto and Evelio, the four students who remain of the fifteen or so that rotated in and out on my last visit here. I’m offering two nights a week of class—Tuesday/Thursday—for the moment, until I see how much time I’m going to have. I got a little burnt out of lesson planning 5 days/week, especially with attendance as it was, so I’m going for quality over quantity this time around. I called Evelio on his cell phone to inform him about classes beginning de nuevo, and he was really very excited, but he did not attend either of the two sessions this week… Ernesto, on the other hand, a energetic dude who works for the gringo surf camp down by the beach, was downright ecstatic when I told him I was starting English again. It’s always nice to see a student (well, anyone for that matter) pump their hands up in the air and yell yippee for English.
I saw Leana, my favorite (shhhh) and the cutest student ever, when I was walking to the beach last week. She ran over and was very excited to learn that I was back and town and wanted to know if class was starting again—and can we start this afternoon? Unfortunately, given my frustrations with the English classes of yore (in which over 2 hours and 2 classes, I had a total of five students), the Brio-based 5 days a week English classes shall not continue as they had been. In lieu of my day classes with the kiddos, I’m hopefully going to be working with an NGO started by Adam, a friend and former Peace Corps volunteer who lives in Gigante. Called Olas de Optimismo (Waves of Optimism), the main function of the organization is providing transportation for Gigante high-schoolers to and from their school in Tola (otherwise a prohibitively long walk/bike-ride that makes regular attendance difficult) and a Saturday class for older kids. In exchange for this subsidized transportation, the kids have to attend afternoon sessions with WOO—which is where I come in. Again on the waiting—I’ve been hanging on to find out exactly how I fit in with these afternoon sessions, but the idea is to continue teaching English and also perhaps throwing in a ‘homework help’ hour in there. We’re supposed to meet tomorrow to figure out logistics and start next week with actual course work. All of my former dedicated students (those still coming to class in December) are enrolled in WOO, as well as many of the not-so-dedicated, so hopefully folding my classes into WOO’s activities will provide some structure to that which was not-so-structured. In any case, it’s great (and convenient) that many of my students are enrolled in this program, and the overlap works well with my goal of providing some sustainability to my classes. But, again, it’s a bit of a waiting/guessing game at this point, to see how it’ll go.
Saturday night, in honor of el día de amistad y amor—as they call it here, to my delight—Juan drove the Brio crew up to Tola for a party. There was a pretty good live band, with a singer/comedian MC’ing the evening, serenading us with rhythmic Spanish vocals and hosting various competitions (a dance off, a sing off, etc.). Basically, I just danced all night, with Juan and Nestor, but mostly by myself, making up my own meringue and salsa and non-descript Latin dance moves. The highlight of my evening: one of Juan’s friends, a fellow who tends the bar at a resort up the coast and a really nice dude, exclaimed in utter surprise: “You dance like a Latina!”
I think the birds have their own way of surfing the waves. A single-file line of five flies along the top of a cresting wave, whisking the tips of their wing feathers—or so it seems—along the water. The line of shade providing by the clif overhand is slowly encroaching towards my feet, the sun threatening to invade with its brightness. Additionally, my bum and feet are now together in their inability to circulate blood, so I’m going to get up, dust myself off, and walk barefoot along the beach back to Gigante, and then up the sweltering dusty road to Brio.
(I amuse myself with the photo booth function on my mac: a beach self-portrait.)