And suddenly I’m gone.
8 months in Nicaragua, and I say goodbye to the Pacific and Brio and Gigante and my friends. Mostly I say goodbye to palm fronds bobbing in the wind; dirt roads; clouds; my runs and the random smells and cows and chickens and the old lady that always waves and smiles at me when I walk to the beach.
See, it’s already so far away. Gigante exists so completely and thoroughly that when you’re there, you can’t fathom any other way, any other place where it isn’t sunny and where the Pacific doesn’t sparkle ahead; any other day except how the days are there; any people except the people there.
And here I am, in Antigua, Guatemala, in another world. A 55 minute flight out of Managua, I breeze through customs and meet at just the right moment a nice fellow from New York. We share a cab to Antigua, and suddenly instead of seeing banana trees and feeling warm breezes, it’s cold and misty and I’m peering out the window at a cathedral lit by yellow lights above a cobblestone road and snuggling into a bed with blankets.
I’m living a different day now, sitting in a generically funky coffee shop that could easily be in Boulder, drinking amazing coffee and typing away and watching so many people come and go. Antigua is SO touristy, but… I’m totally enchanted. It’s adorable and cloudy, cool, colorful, and it is all the things I want right now. Hot shower and new people to meet and stores called “The cookie shop”. Writing in a coffee shop—isn’t this the day I pictured for myself so many months ago, planning an escape from the States to write.
It’s fun and I’m loving it today, but man is Antigua overpriced. I assume the prices are in cordobas, and then I remember they aren’t, and so I find myself converting quetzals to cordobas to dollars and really have no clue how much things are. (I love their currency name—quetzals. That’s a strong name for a currency. Got some oomph.) I ordered carrot and ginger soup and a spinach salad for dinner, had a brownie for dessert (um, yay) and just realized how much money that was. Oops.
I taught my last two WOO English classes on Monday and Tuesday. I spent hours planning the perfect last lesson, which obviously did not result in a perfect lesson but was nonetheless fun. The last lesson? Karaoke! “The Yellow Submarine” to be exact. (note to self: when planning a Karaoke lesson to be taught to two classes back to back, remember to chose a song that you yourself can stand listening to twelve times in two days. Yellow Submarine that is not.) I started off the lesson asking if they knew who the Beatles were. Nope. Ok. They’re a band from England. Do they sing in English, one asked me. Yes, I said, because they’re from England. And then I realized what I should have covered on the first day in class: the countries in the world that speak English as a first language. The United States they got, as well as Enland. But… then I prompted them for other countries and man did some wild guesses start coming out. Brazil? No. Ecuador? No! They speak Spanish in Ecuador. New York? New York isn’t a country. Oh. Miami? Miami isn’t a country either. They hadn’t the foggiest idea. Interesting insight into the Nicaragua educational system, quite apart from English… We had a rousing time singing “Yellow Submarine”, and then I allowed them to request one more song to sing. Unequivocally chosen by everyone: “My Heart Will Go On”. And thus did I find myself belting Celine Dion with 15 high school students in Nicaragua. A last sunset walk on the beach, several (several) beers with Juan and Nestor and a few others, and then my last chicken bus ride: to the airport, hot, windy, colorful, punctuated by volcanos and cloud, beautiful.
I wrote a ‘to-do before leaving Gigante’ list and on it said ‘closure—blog’. I don’t really know what that means, but I think it means a reflection upon a very interesting chunk in my life. I don’t know how to do that right now, but I do know it’ll come. As a response, or in light of, the video I posted of the a fisherman reflecting on the good life: I think the good life has something to do with a day that allows for an awareness of the sun’s rising and setting, of it’s movement through the sky meaning something (instead of the digital clicking of time). I’m aware of the luxury of having a day where you can plan around the sunset, where you can say at 5 p.m.—I’m done. I’m done and it’s time to go running, time to go swimming, time to be aware of time because in an hour it will be dark and we won’t be in this day anymore. There is a way to live life in a town of 500 people, and I want to hold on to some of this way. There is a lack of options. I’m acutely aware of that here in Antigua where there are a ridiculous, a hilarious, amount of options. (I must have gone into 15 tour operators today.) So, life is simple and stark and very much outside. Cold showers and no makeup and a comfort with myself that comes from lack of mirrors. I became one with the bugs (speaking of which: I made it out of Nicaragua without getting stung by a scorpion! Heyoooo). I want to hold on to it, to the landscape and the equilibrium of twelve hour days and nights, and even it’s already slipping as I realized it’s already 7 o’clock, the sun has set, and I didn’t notice it.
“But we come into the world with a ball of yarn to weave the fabric of our lives. One cannot know exactly what the tapestry will look like, but at a certain moment one can look back and say: Of course! It couldn’t have been any other way! That shiny thread, that stitching couldn’t have led anywhere else!”
-Giocconda Belli, The Country Under My Skin
Now that’s a woman with pride for her country. Makes me proud to be a woman, and proud to have lived in Nicaragua, makes me appreciate the beauty of an under-appreciated country. And also the under-appreciated beauty of how live moves us about.