Alas, it’s been 11 days since I’ve arrived and though I’m still adjusting, I’m beginning to get into the routine of things: Wake up, sign in the clients, hike up a volcano, run down, repeat, eat lunch, clean, coffee shop reading, an occasional Spanish class, siesta, prep for the next day, lounge in the hammock, drink a beer.
The other day I went to the beach with some of the kids at one of the projects we support — Las Chavaladas. All boys — some addicted to drugs, some just in difficult living situations.
But other than minor excursions out (to the beach, to a bar, an occasional salsa night), I’ve been opting to stay home and rest on my days off. My body is sore, scabbed, tanned, worked out. A nap is the best thing in the world.
This is a good thing. It’s a really good thing.
I’m beginning to realize how much I enjoy living in the physical world. For once, my job requires me to be out and away from the computer. Also, internet is slow here and I don’t have a phone. My hours are spent doing things with my body. We cook and clean, get into rickety trucks or hitchhike, and hike. Yeah it’s grueling and painful and I still feel like I can’t keep up… but everyday I’m in awe at the fact that I’m here doing such a surreal thing with my life.
I can feel my body getting stronger. Few things phase me now.
Tell me to climb through a barbed wire fence and ward the running farm dogs off with a stick? Okay.
Hitchhike on that random pickup truck? Sure thing.
Lead a hike with a machete and whack away stubborn branches? Just doing my job.
Time slows down here. I don’t plan past the next day. I find myself in the company of travelers from around the world on a daily basis.
It’s a bit odd, I’ll admit, being on the other side of the tourism industry. With the exception of the Los Angeles Chinese food scene… usually I’m the tourist — the curious visitor, the person forking over the money. At Quetzaltrekkers, I’m the guide, the leader, the person giving the tourist the experience.
Ironic, isn’t it?
I also find it amazing that I’m even here. A little over a year ago, I had a full-time job, I was living in Studio City and was devouring travelogues like Wild by Cheryl Strayed and Eat, Pray, Love a la Elizabeth Gilbert.
Back then, I had never hiked more than five miles a week and I would never have imagined myself to be in Nicaragua. But I remember admiring their courageousness and envying their travels.
And since then, since I’ve embarked on all these trips…I’ve most definitely eaten, prayed, loved, hiked, dived, gotten hurt physically and emotionally, and undergone a lot of edits as a person. This will continue. I know it will. I no longer envy Strayed or Gilbert; my reality is far more interesting.
Do I know what the fuck I’m doing?