I’m sitting at Hotel Brio, looking out upon my favorite horizon.
Yes sirebob, I am back in Nicaragua. I begin my position as a guide tomorrow, when 22 high school students stumble out of the Managua airport into the muggy landscape of Nicaragua, through which, accompanied by 3 other capable leaders, I will guide them.
The folks who are organizing and funding this trip allowed me to come down a few days early, and thus I siezed the opportunity to return to my favorite small fishing village and say ‘ello and ‘surprise!’ to all my friends I left less than two months ago. I emailed Juan and Rob to ask if I could stop by for a few days, and they generously offered me a spot in a volunteer room bunk, my home in the days of yore.
So, I arrived on Tuesday afternoon after an all-night flight from Los Angeles and found Gigante to be humid, green, and teeming with life. Tuesday was Juan’s birthday, and I arrived just in time for a big birthday celebration, cheerful and happy and full of people I had missed.
However, as I contemplate the horizon and sit under the fan, I realize…It’s bizarre to be back here and not working. I woke up Wednesday, had a leisurely breakfast, and thought: huh. What next? What does one do in Gigante on vacation? And, then I realized how awesome Gigante is when you´re on vacation. I wandered around town and waved at students who thought I was long gone. Thursday morning, I went on an epic walk along the beach (eight miles, three hours, and one sunburn). I explored farther north along the coast than I had ever ventured before. I hit the northerly edge of the Colorado beach and decided to push around the perverbial riverbend, and thus clambered over some boulders, pranced along a flat rock plateau under a sharp clif, and arrived at a really, truly deserted beach, a quick arc of white sand sloping up to a dune, and I claimed it for my own.
It seems that I’ve gone soft in the 2 months I’ve lived at home. When I arrived in August, I spent my first two weeks doing nothing but itching and slapping, as my skin turned into one swollen, red mosquito bite (or rather, amaglamted into one from thousands of little ones). But, after a few weeks of this, the skin toughens up. It gets used to the buggers, to the point that I never really noticed them. Uh. Not so. I’m covered in welts and I can´t seem to stop itching. Additionally, although I’m constantly freezing at home, I have lost my tolerance for heat, and therefore am constantly sweating here. Most likely, my body will acclimate to it’s happy-Nica state in a couple of weeks, right before it’s time to leave again. My mushroom fungus was in remission in the States, but I´m just awaiting for it to sprout up again in all its white spotted glory.
Also, it appears, I´m no longer Nica-tan. The first thing Juan and Isolina said to me was: you’re so white! (rather excited about the fact) while the first thing a surfer friend said was, man… you got pale. Ha. Well, yes, as a matter of fact, I am a shade or four lighter than when I left, which is incidentally what happens when you don’t live by the beach and in your swimsuit. But, Isolina did say I looked much better ‘so very white’, so apparently life indoors agrees with me.
On my meander through town, I found Ernesto, one of my favorite English students who works at a gringo-owned surf camp (as if there is any other kind), and had a nice chat with him. We caught up on the usual: life, work, family (his wife is preggers, very exciting) and of course, English (he´s going to be taking Saturday classes in Rivas, also very exciting). He asked me about my family and my writing, etc., questioning about things he knows I´m passionate about. And then I asked him how things were at his church, since I happen to know that it is a big part of his life.
¨It´s good,¨he says. ¨Very good. We´re busy. We´re planning an Evangelical mission for the people of Gigante.¨
Ernesto is an Evangelical Christain, and a very devout one at that.
¨Oh yeah? That´s great, Ernesto,¨I said, expecting to move on.
¨Yes. So that we can save their souls,¨he said simply. I nodded. And then, ¨Do you know where you´re going when you die, Megan?¨
And thus began our hour long conversation about religion, standing on a muddy path under bowing green trees, in Gigante. And, of course, when I say conversation, I mean that Ernesto preached and I listened, and when I say preached, I mean he tried to convert me so that I would not go to the firey depths of hell because, as he said, that´s where I´ll end up. Although I don´t know exactly what I believe in, I know that I don´t believe, with every fiber of my being, in Ernesto´s brand of religon. However, I really like Ernesto, and I think he has a great energy about him, so I listened and nodded, detaching myself from my mind and place, and just enjoying his passion and his very ernest attempt to save my soul. From the point of view of the monkey barking in the tree above us, it was probably a very funny scene. Ernesto concluded with,
¨And my duty is to tell you of the word of God, and even if you don´t believe it or follow it right now, you can´t plead ignorance. The day of ignorance has past. When you arrive at the gates of Heaven and God asks you why you didn´t follow his word, you can´t say that you didn´t know about it. Because God will say: I sent Ernesto to tell you about it.¨
And then he asked me what time it was, and being four o´clock on the dot, he gave me a hug goodbye. Time to go surfing! he said, and jogged away, pulling up his sagging board shorts as he ran.
And I wandering along the sparkling blue beach, panted up the hill to Brio, perched, as always, over the little town of Gigante, and watched the sun dive through beefy clouds into the ocean.