As I sit here in the colorful, quiet courtyard of a hostel in Granada, Nicaragua, I can’t help but reminisce about the island life I left only days ago. I could easily write a book about my last 3+ months spent on Utila. Easily. I could breakdown each person in the “family” and tell you what they brought to the table and why it was so valuable. I could ramble on a bit more about diving. I could introduce the locals to you, character by character. I could tell you about the heaps of Australian lingo I’ve been surrounded by all day, every day. Oops, I just let some of it slip out, didn’t I? I could attempt to describe some of the craziest nights out, all of which end with a sun rise. And the massive SunJam party? Yeah, I could give that one a go too. Then there’s the romantic element. I could actually write a book on that part alone. The truth is though, no matter how many writing exercises I did, or how many travel-related books and blogs I read– I would never do the last 3 months justice. Sure, it’s Utila. Its slogan is: A drinking island with a diving problem. No, really. It is. It’s party central. It’s dive central. And as I’ve said before, I did a LOT of that party thing. But for me, this summer has been about much more than just the late nights. The people I crossed paths with here have rocked my world. Most of them, I will undoubtedly see again. I’ve already seen quite a few since my short time here in Nicaragua. The group dynamic in Utila was one of a kind. It was real. It was easy. It was fun. Come to think of it, all off this is exactly why I couldn’t ever write a book. I would just never be able to put that kind of fun into words. I didn’t know this when I left home, but my experience in Utila was exactly what I needed and more. I will miss the cheap pastelitos and baleadas, the diving, the UWV staff, the bars, the weather, the fact that I didn’t have to wear shoes (ever) and so much more. Most of all though, I will miss the people who made this summer what it was: perfect. I am so thankful for everyone who played a role in this movie. I can confidently say Utila will never be the same.
All of that being said, I am absolutely thrilled to be writing from another country right now. I am surrounded by nothing but the Spanish language, terrible street smells, loads of taxis, unnecessarily loud street music, cafes, afternoon rain storms and people from opposite ends of the world. It is so good to be back in the real Central America. I finally made it here last Tuesday night after a ferry from Utila to the mainland, a 4 hour bus ride to San Pedro Sula (Honduras), a night in a nearby hostel, a 13 hour bus ride the following morning and one final taxi to the hostel in Managua where friends awaited my arrival. It was a long, slightly frustrating journey, but it was so worth it. As you can imagine, not speaking Spanish fluently (yet) makes transiting here a bit of a challenge. Yes, you get ripped off. Yes, people laugh at you occasionally. No, locals don’t speak English here. You have to learn. You have to adapt (yes, I’m talking to you, America). Confidence is everything when you travel. Thanks to my years of restaurant work in the U.S. and previous travels to Central America, I’ve picked up on a bit of Spanish over time. It’s enough to get from A to B, but it is certainly not easy. Seeing as I still have quite a long way to go, Spanish lessons are at the top of my list. I am not intimidated or stressed. I am simply excited to learn.
So, here’s my current status update, if you will: I leave today for Leon, which is a bit further North. Although I’m backtracking a bit, it’s not a complete waste of money. The cost to get from city to city in Nicaragua is about $1 USD. Seriously. In addition, I didn’t get to see Leon because my friends had already conquered it once I met them in Managua. Now, I get my shot at it. This means one thing: Volcano boarding. Pictures to follow, obviously. Perhaps my favorite reason for going to Leon though, is the person I’ll be seeing upon arrival. Yep. I met someone in Utila and we are meeting again to do some traveling together. There will be 4 of us hitting the road in all, and I think I can speak for the whole group when I say that we are freaking stoked to be traveling again. After a while, I think the island life made us all crave more movement….more people…….more culture. So, here we go. The backpacks are full (very full), the cameras are charged and the passports are out. It’s time for a constant change of scenery. I will post new photos and stories as soon as I’ve hit a few spots in this beautiful country.
On a final note, Amelia had a big week in the world of blogging. Last Friday, Alex & Ani (a killer jewelry company based out of Rhode Island), featured my story on their blog. It was both fun and successful, racking up quite a few reads and Facebook shares. As if that wasn’t enough of a blog boost, an amazing friend of mine decided to feature me via an inspirational piece on her long running fashion blog. I was incredibly flattered by the kind words she wrote. Overwhelmed, actually. Take a look at ’em if you have a few minutes. And ladies, follow Lauren’s blog. It won’t let you down. She combines her incredible knowledge about fashion with her one of a kind sense of humor to form such an easy read. It’s priceless.
I’m out of here….for now. We’ll talk again from somewhere else in Nicaragua. Enjoy the photos and blogs, amigos! Love to all. X