“First Breakfast at 5:30a.m.”, she said. I know Jackie was talking about the plans for the following morning but I kept looking at the dry erase board for a “just kidding” below the time in which all 15 strangers were going to meet to have breakfast. I just arrived in Nicaragua after a 24 hour travel day and my introverted self was immediately challenged to be social, share a room with a stranger, and be chipper at.... yes, 5:30a.m.
To those of you outgoing morning people... what’s wrong with you? In all fairness, I have never been a morning person. As a kid, my mother would turn the lights on and off over and over before ripping all the covers off of me, all the while singing some annoying good morning song. I would still lie there in a body outline pose until she pulled my arm and dragged me out of the room.
Being the team player that I am, I woke up on time and joined the group for the first breakfast at 5:30a.m. It wasn’t just the first breakfast of the trip, but of the day. Each day, we ate two breakfasts... no complaints there! One before we surfed and another after surf and before yoga. Then it was lunch, another activity, dinner and sleep and then repeat for the next 7 days. A month prior to the trip, I told myself that I would start a workout routine to get in shape before camp but somehow, that never happened. On day 2 and 3, being able to walk normal was an accomplishment since every muscle in my body was sore.
Each morning, we would walk about a mile to a secret surf cove where our assigned boards would be waiting for us. Yes, we were spoiled to have a board on the beach each day for us. Once we were taught a quick lesson of popping up, it was in the water we went. A few ladies paddled out far and immediately popped up and surfed. I was a bit nervous since the last time I stood up on a surfboard was about 10 years ago. I took the first few waves, stood up, and by the end of the day, everyone in the group stood up.
Our second breakfast was a welcome treat after swimming and surfing all morning. Yoga followed breakfast and lunch after yoga. I started to get the hang of the meal, surf, meal, yoga, meal, activity, meal, sleep routine. I have to say that the food at the coco loco resort was the best I’ve ever had on vacation. That evening, we had paddle school in the pool to prepare us for the following day when we would pass the white water to surf the green waves.
To my delight, the schedule allowed us to sleep in until 6:00am the following day. The daily walk on the beach was a welcome warmup before heading out to the waves. I was a bit nervous on the second day but the instructors would have such an upbeat attitude that it was nearly impossible to feel anything but excitement. I got up again on the second day and took the board in a little early so I could swim around with my gopro on a stick and try to capture some photos and videos of my new surfing pals. It only took about an hour for a big wave to forcefully strip my go pro from my hand.
I didn’t have a strap or a floatie attached so my immediate reaction was panic. After an audible underwater "nooooo! Fuuuccc", I swam after the wave with arms stretched out, looking and feeling the waves and on the ocean floor. After a few minutes, I borrowed some goggles to swim around for a few hours, hoping that I would get a glimpse or feeling of it on the ocean floor. No such luck. After my search and an instructor saying, "dude.. it's gone.", I put it behind me and was thankful that it happened towards the beginning of the trip and not the end.
The next morning, I took a drawstring out of my sweat pant waistband and tied it to my wrist and to my go pro session. It was my backup camera that I almost didn’t bring since my trusty gopro 4 has been with me for about a year and didn’t think I would lose it. The session is a two inch cube and I was determined to pick up where I left off. Suddenly, swimming and taking photos with this cube was my priority. I wanted to surf too, but I really enjoyed swimming all day trying to be in the right place at the right time so I was able to get close enough for a photo.
Each evening, a new activity was listed on the board. The second evening was a sunset surf session and then the following days included going out to town for dinner, playing kickball with the local women's team, watching turtles being released to the ocean, volcano boarding, and horseback riding.
Once you spend every meal with the same people and experience activities together, it’s not surprising that everyone become friends. Looking back, I can’t remember the last time I laughed as hard as I did with these ladies. On the third day, an impromptu dance broke out and I quickly realized that the ones hanging out on the side with me were my fellow introverts... team introvert is what we called our group of 5. It was comforting to know that I wasn’t the only quiet one. What I loved about the group of campers is that everyone got along and cheered each other on. Not because you felt you had to, but because you really wanted to.
On the 5th morning, I decided to sleep in and have the second breakfast at 8am. There were a few who went surfing that morning so when I greeted them at the breakfast table, each person seemed a bit too chipper and enthusiastic to see me. Most mornings I headed to the coffee before I said anything to anyone. This particular morning, they all smiled and said “Good Morning, Alison!” together. Thinking I was the bud of the joke or in the twilight zone, I responded with a mumbled good morning greeting. They asked if I was hungry and proceeded to tell me to eat and get a plate. Not suggesting, but telling me to get a plate, as if there wasn’t going to be any food left to eat. Wondering what the hell was wrong with everyone, I glanced at the plates and sitting on the top plate was my go pro on a stick! My response was, Holy...s%^*. Turns out that Tammy saw something sticking out of the rocks at low tide and found my baby and brought her back to me. I couldn’t believe it. It was the start of another good day.
We drove out to spend the day in Leon and then drove to the Cerro Negro volcano to do some volcano boarding. After about 40 minutes of hiking up the volcano, you've arrived at the top of the youngest and most active volcano in the country. The most exciting part of the hike was next. Each one of us had a wooden sled with a metal bottom that we rode down the steep mountain at around 30mph in our bright orange outfits, safety goggles, and bandanas to cover our mouth to prevent rocks from flying in while you’re screaming. This was one of the most unique experiences and a highlight of my trip.
The last surfing day was a bit bittersweet since we all knew that it would be over in the morning. The last sunset ended with horseback riding on the beach or a sunset surf session. After a final supper, we all made plans for the following morning to our final destinations. It was surprising to me how much we all grew to care for each other after just a week. It was a trip I will always remember fondly. Thank you to all of the instructors that made the week so much fun. I would highly recommend one of their surf trips. You can see all they have to offer on the Surf With Amigas website.
After I returned home, I woke up at 5:00a.m and missed seeing my roommate and my new found friends. I already miss them.
Now on to the next adventure!