Waiting: Sunday, early morning breakfast, a swim at the pool, a phone call then another. I am leaving messages in the ether, speaking unspoken languages to their ears, fragmented speech. It is a game, a language game where several unlucky attempts to reach a bi-lingual speaker at El Coco Loco results in telephone commedia. It takes a few tries before I realize that the concierge can help and yet even that proves difficult. And so I begin the art of letting go, releasing control and allowing life to unfurl itself.
The sky is a crystalline blue, the clouds still cloaking the nearby volcanoes. The sun is strong and as I lather on the SPF 50 can feel the heat passing through to my heart. I love the feel of the sun on my skin, and sometimes I crave it, even though I know the dangers all too well. A woman further down in the chaise line-up, compliments my swimsuit and smiles she too is wearing Title9 in a very similar pattern. Synchronicity, Nica is filled with the magic of it.
A lap, a nap, my eyes flutter to catch elephants charging horses, laying their heads on downy pillows.
Cloud watching is one of my favorite pastimes and reminds me of afternoons spent as a child at Owl’s HeadPark in Bay Ridge, stretched out on plaid blankets feeding our imaginations with the sky. As adults so much of our time is spent inside staring at screens, is it any wonder that we’ve forgotten how to see the world around us as multi-dimensional? A few years back friends and I went apple picking, it was a gorgeous day in early fall where the heat of summer lingered. We spent the day in an orchard, marveling at the changing colors of the trees and after a full day we made it back to The Swiss Miss’ apartment in midtown, drunk on sunshine and fresh air. Glass of wine in hand, we lazed about the couch and the floor cloud-watching from the east-ward window: such a blissful memory
The van is gunmetal gray with a fire breathing decal across the windshield, a burka-sized peephole for drivers Omar & Luiz to view the road. The rain starts almost immediately, a thunderous downpour as we make our way to the airport. I ask Luiz if it the rain is this heavy at el coco loco. Lluvia is the word for rain, he says, my words lost in translation.
Omar and I are at a gas station, while Luiz is at Managua airport rounding up the other women participating in the Surfing Retreat. Omar, a native of Chinandega, has an insatiable curiosity and as we lie in wait he is bubbling over with 20 questions. I feel like Elizabeth Gilbert surrounded by Wayans in Bali: Are you married? How old are you? Do you have a boyfriend? What year was it the last time you had one? Where did he live? We share stories in Spanglish, learning each other’s lives.
There are 6 of us in varying stages of exhaustion in the back seat of the van as Luiz and Omar drive us west toward the Pacific Coast, Bob Marley videos playing for our entertainment. The conversation flows in and out like the tide. Almost every time zone is represented with travelers from California, Nevada, Indiana and New York.
Our passage to El Coco Loco is mostly highway until we get closer to Chinandega and then it is anyone’s guess where we are and where we are going. I feel like Alex Rover relying on GPS coordinates to find her way. The storms have hit the surrounding areas making for a bumpy way inland to the sea. A tree is down on the main road, so Omar & Luiz take us through the backroads to the estuary where we meet Holly and her fleet of muddy 4WDs. We exchange vehicles and drive across the estuary, a herd of cows leading the way. By the time we make it to the ecolodge, the sky is streaked with dark blue clouds and a golden sunset.
Volunteers sit on the verandah of the lodge typing away on their macs. We are paired into cabana mates, given a tour of the compound and walked through the basics of using a compost bathroom. Each cabana with its cathedral like ceilings made of pine, palm and guava leaves has 2-3 beds shrouded in a mosquito net, a night table and a mirror.
This is day one.