I am blogging from the comfort of my own bed–partly because there’s no place like one’s home bed and partly because I physically can’t seem to leave it. The journey home from Nicaragua was relatively uneventful but because of my flight times the van, to hotel, to taxi, to airport, to waiting room, to flight, to customs, to waiting room, to flight, to bus, to car, to home process took 28 hours. I’m so exhausted. But wait… I’m sort of skipping ahead, as I left you hanging on Christmas Eve.
Christmas Day was the day I opted out. I woke up early in the morning with stomach issues. “Stomach problems in Central America?” said the email from my Mom, “How unusual.” Right. Not unusual but still not fun especially since I had made some surfing progress Wednesday. I struggled. After all, I’d paid to be at Chicabrava to learn how to surf. Could I really just not go. I tried to eat some breakfast and loaded my board on the truck, but the closer it came to surf’s up the less I wanted to go to the beach. Add to this that I was getting photos texted to me of my beautiful boys on Christmas morning. The first Christmas morning that they’d do without me. I was teary and crampy and exhausted after four straight five-hour beach days. Finally, I told our instructors I was taking the day off. I went back to bed and slept for three hours straight.
When “Friday Fun day” arrived, the stomach issues were a little bit better and I knew it was the last day of my adventure. I had signed up to go for a horseback trail ride at Rancho Chilamate and I was psyched to do something that was in my comfort zone. (You’ve got to click on the link just to see the amazing photos of this place which I don’t have permission to repost. Come right back and I’ll tell you about the ride.)
Okay… so a horseback adventure at Rancho Chilamate is like City Slickers meets Beach-Horse-Cowboy-Romance Novel. You’ve got the image, right? After transport from Chicabrava to the ranch in an open Jeep Wrangler with a horn that sang “La Cucaracha”, I got all cowgirled up. That’s right: jeans, cowgirl top, hat, boots, the whole sha-bang. Then the owner Blue, a savvy Canadian woman entrepreneur with a joyful smile and sparkle in her eyes, took pictures of me with the beautiful ranch building as the back drop. (I’ll get the photos in about a month.)
We mounted and started on a three hour tour that meandered up and down the hills of Nicaragua. Children came out of their homes to greet us as we walked the roads. I waved and shouted “Buenos Dias” and “Feliz Navidad” and was rewarded with their lovely waves and smiles in return. We passed by working fields of sorghum, and shushed through fields of overgrown grains that were taller than eye level even on my trusty and spirited horse, Capitán. Breezes blew in grasses mimicking the waves that I’d spent so much time on but here there was Earth and solidity and comfort. We said hello to grazing cattle and horses, and were awed by the size of old growth trees and the sounds of howler monkeys in the jungle.
We arrived at the beach, had our choice of Toña (beer), soda, or water and then we were let lose to run our horses on the beach. (This is the Beach-Horse-Cowboy-Romance Novel part.) I grew up loving horses. I watched The Black Stallion, read Black Beauty and various other novel series that included horses. I learned to ride in summer camp, taught there when I became a counselor, was on the equestrian club team in college, and leased a horse in Florida when I lived there in my early marriage days. My dream has always been to ride on an empty beach kicking up spray from the surf. The experience did not disappoint.
Capitán knew what the beach meant and he was already prancing as we approached the ocean. I was able to hold him back with a few tight circles as I felt his power gather under me. I had been warned that he’d veer toward the mountain side and away from the sea so I got him in a couple of inches of water before I gave him his head and squeezed his sides with my thighs. We were off! His hooves thundered through the sands and I had to grab onto the back of the saddle to stay upright. I willed my heels down farther to keep my balance and pushed with my hips egging him on. I wheeled him around before the beach ended in a large rock outcropping and got ready for the gallop back. Why had I stop riding and doing things I loved, things that made me–me? I wondered as we cantered and galloped back and forth.
With a grin still permanently fixed on my face, we started the ride back. I was a “plus one” to a group that included a family, and two couples so I enjoyed the company of Cowboy Nick the wrangler that led the tour. (Really sorry, no picture here either. Just imagine the Marlboro Man meets an older Brad Pitt and you’ve got it.) We chatted about my life, his life, New York Ciy, bikes, farming, surfing, the pitfalls of online dating and the amazing work that Rancho Chilamate does in the community. In fact, back in the main hall waiting to be delivered, were the 50-5 gallon buckets for the people of their community that Blue and the staff had stuffed with: machetes, mosquito nets, and other necessities.
It had been an amazing morning.
Back at the ranch… (ha- I’ve always wanted to say that) we had a shot of Flora de Caña (Nicaraguan Rum) and chips and pico de gallo before Cowboy Nick drove me in the Jeep to the beach for my last day of surfing. More tomorrow!