There’s something about going to a place where you can totally become disconnected with reality. No rush hour traffic, no TV, no alarm clock. Nicaragua is such a place — well, so I thought, until I realized I was sitting in the middle of nowhere Skyping with my mom.
Baron Knowlton, Pete Mendia, Shawn Hardin, Austin Borlas, Blake Burns, Nic Lugo, and myself set off to Nicaragua to “disconnect” ourselves into some solid barrels. We checked the forecast at the airport and saw two major storms moving towards South America, and everyone started to get excited because we all knew that meant pumping swell for Central America.
We arrived in Managua super early in the morning and jumped into our taxi for the painstaking three-hour trek to our remote destination. We were packed in like a bunch of sardines, with all seven of our boardbags thrown on top of our sardine can. I was shoved in the very back with the luggage, and I felt a little nervous about the ride. And then I kicked a 12-pack of empty beer bottles under my seat. We weaved in and out of traffic with one little beep of the horn, just to let the other drivers know we were passing them since there were no red lights or stop signs. Once we got close to our hideaway, the roads turned from brick to mud, and the sun started to come up with all of the cows, horses, and locals emerging from their shacks.
We saw big yellow school buses stopping on the side of the road everywhere, but the only thing was that they weren’t picking up children — they were picking up people for work. I admired the simple way of life here, but at the same time I didn’t take for granted what I have back home. As I was admiring the beauty of my surroundings, I heard Blake scream. Apparently he was videoing out the window of the taxi and one of the tires flung a concoction of mud and fresh cow poo into his face. Classic Blake Burns move.
We stepped out of our taxi to find the waves solid and the winds offshore. The guys scrambled to grab their boards and baggies while Nic and I grabbed our camera gear and headed to the beach. The volcanic sand shimmered like phosphorescence under my feet, and I took in a big gulp of fresh air and started scoping out where I was going to set up. This was my first trip strictly taking photos and I was super excited about it. With the early morning lighting, I started getting the feeling that this was going to be an awesome trip.
Our retreat was a very mellow one. We were about 30 or 40 minutes away from the nearest town. Every morning consisted of fresh banana smoothies and pancakes, while at night everyone would gather at the eating area to check out our photos from that day, shoot some e-mails, and of course update our Facebook statuses. After a few Toñas and bellies full of pinto gallo, everyone would be ready for bed. Baron would tuck us in every night with classic surf stories of his and Pete's travels together; my face still hurts from laughing so hard. Baron is a great storyteller, and he was also our very own meteorologist on the trip. He always kept us informed of the systems surrounding us and he would occasionally pull a Jim Cantore and bolt down to the beach during a torrential downpour and disappear into the abyss. He would always come back with a big smile on his face saying he just got the gnarliest barrel.
Speaking of gnarly barrels, every guy on the trip got their fair share of them by the time the trip was over. This was the first time all of us (except for Austin) had been to this part of Nicaragua, so everyone was tripping on how good the wave was. It was really hard for any of us to want to leave — Pete and Baron even tried to change their tickets so they could stay longer, but the flights were full until the end of the month. Everyone was really somber on the ride back to the airport. I managed to almost lose my passport while popping a squat on the side of the road while Blake held my hand so I wouldn’t slide down the side of a muddy hill — sorry ladies, there are no bathrooms to stop at in Nica. I had to yell some Spanglish at the taxi driver to turn around and go back so I could look for it. That was pretty funny when I think about it, but it wouldn't have been so funny if I hadn’t found my passport face up in the grass. I guess that would have been one way to extend my surf trip.
Back to reality after our three-hour taxi ride and another two-hour redeye flight, we were driving on I-95 with the sun just starting to come up. Traffic was the usual, with horns honking and people swerving, making me think that maybe we weren't so disconnected after all.