Thursday, March 29, 2012

My MisAdventures in the Third World

That's right. As in Nicaragua.

Last year, I was frustrated. I saw all my best friends taking these amazing yearly trips with their significant others-- Guatemala, Turks and Caicos, Bali...and I was mega jealous. I looove to travel, I finally have the means to do it, and I was sick of waiting for a dude to do it with. Then, S-bomb (fka "Tita Sue") popped up last summer and said, "Yo. Wanna go to surf and yoga camp in Nicaragua next spring?" 
Me: "Yep."
Done and done.
Our awesome friend Ruth had put together the whole thing and, when I'm not in charge, I just go with it. Plus, due to my hectic schedule I just hadn't bothered to do any research other than looking at the packing list [and then forgetting half of it]. I hurtled myself on a plane a few weeks ago and off I went to Managua. With a raging sinus infection, I might add. [Bonus!]
I got off into 90 degree weather feeling kinda crappy but was greeted by my nice driver.  I got into his car and asked "¿Cuantos minutos al Coco Loco?" (how many minutes to hotel Coco Loco?) His answer: "Dos horas y media." 
Umm...2.5 hours??? 
¡Dios mio!
This is where some research would have prepped me for that. Oopsie.
But I slept most of the way there and enjoyed the ride.  I got there at sunset, just in time for the rest of the girls to greet me. I was a day late because I had stayed to go to a wedding with you-know-who. [Good idea at the time.]
Anyway- 
S-bomb was there to show me our cabin and the lay of the land.  It was far more rustic than I had anticipated, however, as I adapted, I realized it was a very NICE rustic. Extremely well taken care of, with sprawling grounds and gorgeous views of the ocean.
The biggest shock: 
The outhouse.

But wait- let's back that booty up a sec.
El Coco Loco is a beautiful and unique  
place that is eco-friendly. Which is very intelligent in a country where the power just randomly goes out for a few hours every now and again. Now, I've used an outdoor toilet before. However not one that has no water and doesn't flush. Nope, this baby is straight up COMPOST. 
Yes, kind of a shock at first (once again, lack of research + idiocy on my part). Until you later realize it's the least smelly bathroom you've ever used! 
And how brilliant to feel like your waste is not going to waste! [hee hee]. Plus the staff and people that run the joint are just top-notch. Lovely people who aren't just beach bums-- no no, my friends. This lot is extra-amazing and not just because they're all pretty easy on the ojos. But they are committed to giving back to the community.  Not only can they drive down the dirt road and address all the local neighbors (and their roosters) by name, but they have done amazing things like BUILD A SCHOOL and give the area children a place to play and learn 2x a week, all through their Waves Of Hope program.  Totally awesome. Completely inspiring.
Speaking of inspiring, did I mention that I SURFED??!?! 
Talk about things I filed in the "probably never able to do" category! But when you have an incredible teacher and support crew, I guess anything is possible. 
Enter: Holly Beck
Surf instructor extraordinaire, Holly, is the one who puts the whole enchilada together. Her surf and yoga retreats, Suave Dulce, offer women (and the occasional dude) a unique adventure that allows you to take whatever you want from the experience. Holly is not only funny and California chillaxed, but her calm-yet-thorough style of teaching is undoubtedly what got all of us first-timers (like moi!) up on our boards and actually riding waves. And the chicks who had surfed before saw noticeable changes and improvements in their skills. How could you not from someone who not only teaches but stands on the beach jumping up and down cheering for you when you get up?  I mean really, what could be better than that kind of positive reinforcement?!  Plus, wouldn't you want to take lessons from someone who can do this:
She's got many "circus tricks" as she calls them, but this one was pretty epic to watch. Especially when you're out there trying to figure out how to simply STAND up on the surfboard without breaking your entire body. 
And, even though Holly does pretty much all activities with the amigas, as she refers to us, it's not all fun and games. She takes her role as teacher quite seriously. How so? The first day out, I noticed a video camera set up on the beach. I assumed maybe they took some footage of some good waves for us [assuming we caught them!] and that was part of the whole package. Turns out, Holly  tapes us surfing every day, combs through ALL the video, and then reviews it with each of us individually almost every day at breakfast, so we can see what we're doing wrong, right and areas for improvement. What an amazing tool! That bit of extra effort and care was such an unexpected bonus and greatly appreciated by all. 
Look, Mom! I'm SURFING!
It's Holly, her attitude, the entire vibe of all the staff at El Coco Loco, (shout out to Jamie!) that made this experience so completely unique and wonderful. Oh, and did I mention crazily, epically, FUN?? 
Holly rooting me on as I ride a "giant" in.



Sonny, yours truly, and Holly 








Even our daily yoga class, atop a lofted, breezy cabana with views of the serene ocean just felt like blissful relaxation, as opposed to "exercise." It also helps to have an incredibly rad yoga teacher, like Cydney Gurvich.


Me n' fave Brit chick, Jinx
If you need further proof, see my all-time fave pic from the trip. That's Holly on the right-- perfect herkie and all. Hollaaahh!
Did I mention that the trip also included a little thing called VOLCANO BOARDING
Apparently, it's #2 on CNN's "bucket list." You basically hike your ass up a 1,000ft volcano, Cierra Negro, whilst carrying your board [think: sled]. Once at the top, dressed like a crazy, shrouded Hazmat scientist, you proceed to sled down. 
Me n' the amigas at the base...
before we knew what we were in for.
Sunday driver.
For some, as fast as possible.  A dude at the bottom is actually holding a radar gun so you can know how fast you're going. The record is 87mph. I somehow got stuck and went a whopping 10mph. [Ugh]. However the ever-adventurous Holly Beck has made several attempts to break the record. Unfortunately, she ended up breaking her ankle instead. 

This is some serious stuff people!
But what an awesome experience. What a view. What a rush. Well, for some people who went more than 10 mph.[Still bitter]. 
The magical week of what I began referring to as "Adult summer camp" was rounded out by getting to ride horses on the beach at sunset. And, even though I'm from Texas and have ridden many a horse, I've never gotten to RUN on a horse. 
Oh man, what a rush! 
Holly said to wear long socks. I took that memo.
It's windy as a mofo!

Pic by Cydney Gurvich
Me & Crazy Eyes Killer
Here I am with my horse. I named him Crazy Eyes Killer. He did not like me. At. All.


So I could keep going on and on about this uniquely special experience, but really--y'all should just go there and experience it for yourselves. I'll leave you with some more pics and a supa' awesome {video} that Holly put together. Too bad vanity has prevented me from posting on Facebook, but I'll let you guys in!

Sonny and her "sturdy" board


The inimitable Holly Beck

Another bit of Cydney's magic!

With mejor amiga, Sue. And, killer dogs.

Amazing French resto, Al Cielo.

Me n' mini Ruth! ummm- Who's pale?

My awesome surf amigas and Coco Loco staff!

Ahhh...Pura Nica!



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