A Travellerspoint blog

Feeling Alive!

semi-overcast 71 °F

This life i`m living I can hardly believe. I never imagined that traveling to another country alone could stretch my ideas of the world around me this much, and how I feel that I fit within it. When I first was taken to La Flor, shown what my responsibilities were going to be, the communication barriers with the armed guards of the reserve, the responsibility of taking travelers out there alone and being responsible for the information given, and the responsibility of the opportunity to make an impact on the way other people viewed wildlife really blew my mind. I was unsure of my capabilities and worried that my fear of the unknown would hinder how much good I could do in this new situation.
I became so overwhelmed within the first few days of all the newness of my life down here, and the pressure to speak Spanish immediately, I reached a mental place of:: ok. I`m here in Nicaragua, I`m alone, I want and need to learn Spanish, I need to re-accustom to dorm life, l need to work on my skills..and IT IS OK! The fact of the matter is that i`m trying, and I decided that I was just going to let go of all this worry and fear..and just TRY. So at the beginning of this past week it finally came time for me to take my first group of backpackers out to la flor refuge to view the large arrival of Olive Ridleys..or as it is called in spanish, arribadas. As we bumbled down the dark uneven forest road, it was just me and the driver in the cab with all the people in the back of the open truck. I opted for conversation, but I was quickly told with a smile, tiene que hablar sólo en el español. So we started laughing as I attempted to speak about things back home in very broken Spanish, but I could tell that the forced situation was making my brain try harder then it has before in a Spanish conversation. We reached the refuge, it`s pitch black, and as everyone unloaded I ran up to the dimly lit compound where all the army guys were hanging around in hammocks and I went to the office to pay the entrance fee. There are moths flying around and cockroaches crawling on the floor as he makes the receipt as I try to look confident and smile. All set to go I went back down the hill, grabbed my group and with red lights we walked down the forest path and onto the beach.

…..:::My breath was taken away:::….

We all stopped in our tracks at the sheer number of Olive Ridleys that were on the beach..there were so many thousands of turtles there wasn`t a place to step. As lightning flashed it gave us a glimpse for only a second the magnitude of what we were witnessing. I had everyone follow me in a line as we twisted around the maze of nesting turtles who were crawling over each other and rudely interrupting each other in their egg laying process. We crowded around a mother who and just started blindly yet ever so carefully digging her nest with her back flippers..it`s amazing how precise each movement is. I was so amazed at the sheer number of turtles that we were nestled on the beach with and also the amount of information that was coming out of my mouth. All the worry and fear of my capability was gone, and I was just in a full state of LIFE. After watching a few nesting mama turtles we tiptoed our way to the beach and turned off our lights, and stood in silence, hearing only the sound of the waves and thousands of flippers coming onto shore in the dark of night. There was a sky full of stars more complex then any I have ever seen, thanks to the lack of street lights and night life. It couldn`t have been a more perfect moment. I have since this night taken another group of travelers out to La Flor, and again I was just blown away at the sheer numbers of the arribada.

My two days off I traveled to the island of Ometepe.

Talk about heaven on earth. I met a group of Israelies my first week here and they were all headed to the island around the same time I had two days off. So I worked it out and left with them on the 8am Chicken Bus (the local bus..the cost is aprox 50 cents.) We next took la lancha, which is a very small cargo boat, which daily brings supplies to the island. After more time on another chicken bus and a taxi ride we arrived at Morgans Farm, a hostel situated right on the lake shore. The volcano is in view from the top of our treehouse, and nothing but jungle and the lake as far as we could see. The water was at least 80 degrees…I found myself floating in the water, drifting into a dream land as I watched butterflies, parrots and beautiful Magpie Jays fill the sky above me along with the volcano, Conception, making its presence high in the clouds. We rented bikes from a small family that charged 20 cordobas an hour, which is less than 1 dollar..and flew down farm roads with our hands in the air, not able to wipe the smiles off our faces. We reached Ojo de Agua..a freshwater spring that has been turned into a natural pool for people to swim in.. there are little fishies everywhere, the jungle crowded in, I couldn`t believe how crystal clear the water was. M.a.g.i.c.

Dinner on the lake, playing Israeli card games and drinking too many 1 dollar beers, was pure bliss. Life can be simple if you let it be, if you allow yourself to take chances and see how situations play out. I made amazing friends and grew close to a group of people whose culture and language are SO different from my own, but the beauty of sharing that place together..all strangers but now friends..really changed something inside of my heart. I`m learning to trust again, to explore my heart and the world around me, leaving old worries behind me and remembering that THIS IS LIFE. Those petty worries we carry around our neck everyday mean nothing in the grand scheme of life. I feel so blessed to be here, to watch my heart open more and more to others around me, to nature and unforeseen challenges in a country so foreign from my own.

I love Nicaragua.

Posted by aliciabev 15:00 Archived in Niger Comments (3)


storm 89 °F

SO, this is my second time trying to write a new blog, the power goes out for a few seconds every day, a few times a day here so there is always a chance you messages will be lost!

Before I go on, please excuse any bad spelling, grammar or punctuation..I am bad at it to begin with and this is an international keyboard so it is difficult to type at times.

OK, So much has happened I hardly know where to begin. I arrived on saturday in the afternoon, hot, sweaty and very tired from being awake for over 24 hours *soon to be 48 hours* I was shown around the hostel which is so beautiful, tile floors, everything is made of local wood and hand carved..the downstairs has a reception *which i will be working at times* and there are 3 dorm rooms on the first floor. there is a jardin with beautiful plants and a mango tree that grows thru the second level onto the roof! There is a spiral staircase to reach the second story, which is where i am living...I will be moving into the only dorm that has air con in a week so i am very excited about that!! :) There is also a rooftop bar with a view of the bay and the jungles that surround san juan. There is a beautiful teal colored church that stands out amongst all the other colorful buildings, parrots are everywhere, smiles, laughter, children running around, the bells of ice cream stands on wheels that people wander the streets with..it's lovely. After a brief intro i had a moment to myself and walked down to the water, which takes 2 minutes to reach.

I was overcome by EVRYTHING at that moment, happiness, tears of joy and an anxiousness of all that will happen over the next three months of my life here in San Juan del Sur. I came back to the hostel and we ate some dinner..then loaded up on the transport *a big 4x4 with the bed of the truck set up with long benches facing out to the side..fits about 17 people. It took about an hour to drive out there to the La Flor Refuge, not because it is very far, but because the roads are crazy!! the water from the mountains rushes down everyday so we had to cross small rivers and flooded areas, all while being surrounded by the lush green jungle. I was starting to reach a point of falling asleep, even on the bumply rumbly ride. I met an aussie couple however that really calmed my mood and the overwhelming feeling that was starting to come over me. Leave it to some Aussies, they always make me feel more at home where ever I am :)

So this is the part where i started to freak out a bit. We get to the refuge and i was aware that It was poorly funded and a little run down, but that was just the beginnging. There are about 7 army guys that live and work there on the refuge, all of which carry ak47's with them at all times. It's dark, it's the first time I have been there, and i'm running on ZERO sleep. The other volunteer that has been here for the last 6 months was giving me the run down on how to give the turtle tours to all the clients who had signed up for the night, preparing me to take it over in just like 4 days. ALONE. ok. so we had to go into the office and give the guard the entrance fee for each person, deal with receipts and what not, all in spanish. None of the men speak any enligsh at all..and this i was not made aware of.

Feeling uneasy but along for the ride, we made our way through the jungle to the beach and started looking for olive ridley turtles. We had the opportunity to see 2 nesting turtles, and watch her lay her eggs. At that moment I started to feel in my element and started sharing some of my experiences and knowledge about turtles and I felt better. But when i turned around, the guys with guns kinda stole that away from me. I know they are there to make sure no poachers come out of the jungle to snatch eggs or possibly steal peoples bags on the beach, but because of the language barrier and the fact that my first time meeting them was in the dark, i was nervous to say the least.

the the next day the owners of Casa Oro took me back to La Flor during the day and I was introduced to all the men working there and they were made aware that this gringo girl didn't speak spanish, so some compromise was going to have to be made. I will be taking people out on my own by the end of the week!! WHOO!

Last night we went out for the first time and i learned all about the palces to go, and the ones not to go to, where to watch out for drug dealers and different things around town..haha, it's amazing, Jude *the other volunteer* has been SO WONDERFUL teaching me all the in's and out's of the town..all in such a matter of fact tone, it still blows my mind what is common around here in Nica. I am on a very steep learning curve, i hope i can keep up!

Today I learned all about the surf shop and how to organize the transports and the rentals, meeting a million different people, i feel like such an ass for not knowing how to speak spanish, i'm so jealous when i see Jude laugh and make jokes with the other people that work here, It looks like they are having so much fun, and at the moment, all i can do is try not to look as dumb as i am and just SMILEEE :) I have to have patience, but i really do want to attempt to learn, but i'm getting the feeling i'm not going to have a choice. I'm pretty much the only person that speaks english, so the next few days before Jude goes back to Canada, i have to learn EVERYTING!

ok, i feel that this is getting long, but I am meeting amazing people, exploring the town and the grocery, watching street parades and walking barefoot everywhere i go. It's lovely. Miss and love you all. i'll try and write soon!! besos!

Posted by aliciabev 14:09 Archived in Nicaragua Comments (5)

A series of moments becomes life changing


Hello family and friends!

I decided to join the world of bloggers and start my own: sharing my joys, troubles and victories on my 3 month adventure in Nicaragua!

Late last semester I finally reached a point where I knew in my heart I needed a break from school and the rut I found myself stuck in up in Humboldt. So not knowing what lay around the next bend, I made the scary decision to not sign up for classes for the Fall 2011 semester. I had only just started looking at workaway opportunities and had no responses yet if a job might be available. I was also letting an opportunity pass to study abroad in England with some of the coolest wildlifers in my department at Humboldt. I was terrified but hopeful that something would work out. I packed my car with everything I owned and left the redwoods. I felt a strange raw vulnerable feeling as I drove south, but I needed to believe it was the right risk to take.

A few weeks after being home in San Diego and working as much as possible, I heard back from families in Greece and Nicaragua, offering me a job working at their hostels. I started to see my dreams turn into reality. After penny pinching and saving all summer (I didn't drive to the beach once the first month I was home!) dealing with unforeseen expenses (traffic ticket, smog check, the usual etc.) fighting a lot of nervousness and short fingernails, I actually saved enough to buy a ticket to Managua, Nicaragua.

Whoop!! I did it!! I took the risk and now I'm actually getting the opportunity to throw 3 months to the wind and see where it takes me. I feel blessed. For those of you who don't know the particulars, I will be working at Casa Oro in San Juan Del Sur. I am the new activities coordinator, putting together social events at the hostel for all the backpackers (BBQ's, Open mic nights, games etc.) I'll also be setting up travelers on tours which I get to be apart of, Canopy tours, horseback riding, trips to the La Flor wildlife refuge, surfing trips etc.

THE MOST EXCITING of all these amazing things I get to be apart of:

Nightly excursions to the beach to observe the Olive Ridley sea turtles nesting on the beach by the hundreds. I will be giving a short presentation each night before we go out (depending on the moon and tides) to a small group of backpackers staying at the hostel..then searching the beach for these prehistoric creatures! I am beyond excited to share my passion for conservation of sea life and the ocean...and to maybe turn on the wonder in someone else’s heart for how freaking amazing nature is.

I leave on September 8th and won't be returning to American soil till December! If I come back at all that is ;) If it weren't for Advanced Scuba and my friends in Humboldt, I prob wouldn't come back!

Till my next post from the jungle laden country of Nicaragua..adios!

Posted by aliciabev 10:43 Archived in USA Tagged nicaragua Comments (0)

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