Playa Hermosa, San Juan Del Sur, Nicaragua

The ocean. In its vastness I stretch out on my hammock and gaze as far as the eye can see. I turn my head in one direction and then the other, and breathe in its presence. Powerful yet tranquil, grand yet humble. It knows what it is, and it does it because of the moon and the clouds. It cycles through life and death with each crashing wave, each wave a contribution to the next wave and the wave after. It flows without fear of what’s to come, it knows that each end is a new beginning.

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Photo by @rogerdale_xx

I look back at myself and realize my life is the same way. It’s because of the sun that I’m alive. I flow through life, with rocks and stones in the midst of my path and I push through them, churning up the sand, flowing into new beginnings. Some days I have a bad wave, maybe not good enough for surfing that day, but I keep going, keep flowing because I know that another day will bring another wave, better than the day before.

Hermosa, a word in Spanish used to describe physical beauty, can also be used to describe beauty in a figurative sense. Although this beach is indeed hermosa, all beaches have that quality. I’ve learned it’s not so much about the physical appearance of the beach you’re standing in front of, it’s more so how it makes you feel that contributes to the value it has in your heart. I’m sure we’ve all experienced that, whether you’re on a beach in Nicaragua, or Galveston Island. That anticipation builds up inside of you as you’re driving or walking towards the shore, where land meets the sea. It’s always a moment of awe, being in the presence of a vast body of water. It marks an end, and the start of a beginning. I believe we as humans tune into that sense of wonderment unconsciously, maybe that’s why we are drawn to the ocean. Maybe it represents something bigger in our lives, bigger than our mind can even register. In the presence of a formidable beauty such as the ocean, our mind has a chance to stop the thoughts, and allow the feeling, our body sensations to set in and enjoy being in the power of the present moment.

This is all insight I’ve gained after over a week of living beach side. IN A BUS. Who would of thought that a bus and all the unknowns that come along with it could bring me to this point of growth and inner peace I experience now. It was not all that pretty in the beginning. Long story short, multiple logistical issues caused the bus to be parked in front of a bar on the beach in San Juan Del Sur for seven days, leaving the four of us living inside the bus on the street, essentially. And the beach in SJDS is not the nicest of beaches at first glance. It’s basically a bay, masses of land jetting out of either side creating a cove-like shape, and a marina where many boats such as fishing boats, yachts and catamarans anchor down. There’s a stream from the town that runs into the beach, sometimes causing city-goers to wade in the water if it’s been raining. When the water of the stream is in full force it causes the beach water to turn a murky brown color.

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Our 40-foot living arrangement. #bunkabus

So you can imagine getting the news that we were stuck in this spot for a week, using the bar’s bathroom and outdoor shower on the side of the road in a bustling town in Nicaragua, was not the most pleasant experience. I fought it, had a bad attitude at first, spent the first couple of days feeling bad for myself. I denied the circumstance, instead of flowing with the storm life provided for me at that moment. Bunk mate, Roger, and I fled the scene mid week just to get out of the loud and smelly town, and rode in the back of a surf truck 30 minutes South to Playa Hermosa, where the feature photo was taken by Roger. It was a nice breath of fresh air to be out of the town, but anxiety built up inside of me the second we arrived back to the trash ridden streets and drunken tourists stumbling around the bus.

I kept letting the days pass, filling them with aimless Wifi usage and spending way too much money at the American-priced yet adorable local coffee shop, El Gato Negro. I finished reading a 400 page book in two days and failed at finding a replacement, rummaging through the book exchanges at hostels, unsuccessfully. Once I reached the point of full dread over the fact of where I was, and suffering from parasites in the midst of all this, I did the only thing I knew left to do…write. I wrote down every horrible feeling until there was nothing else I could say about how much I disliked the situation I was in. The venting session lasted until the last page of my travel journal, forcing me to gaze up from the perch of my hammock.

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View from the bus.

The sun was setting, and the way the colors of orange and pink and purple were reflecting on the water grabbed all the attention of my heart. I turned to look behind me and saw the trash on the streets and the locals creating a mass of aggravating noise due to construction. I listened back to the sound of crashing waves, and a group of children playing a game of soccer in the sand, smiling, laughing. In this moment I realized that there was beauty in all things. I’ve been told that my entire life, the phrase played over and over like a broken record, but in that moment I truly understood and felt gratitude. It’s so easy to just look at the bad things, and on the surface that’s how they appear. But amongst a bad situation, I had a choice to either sit in my suffering, or create an opportunity for growth, choose the road less traveled, and make the most of my situation. And c’mon, I was in Nicaragua, at one of the most well-known surf towns, for pete’s sake! Life could always be worse.

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Sunset at the beach in San Juan Del Sur.

I enjoyed the sunset that evening, grabbing a snack as if I were in the front row at the movies. The following day would be the last day in this place, logistics finally underway and plans to move the bus to Popoyo (more on that to come), so I vowed that I would make the most of my last day, and enjoy SJDS for what it is. So I did. The following afternoon I pulled a lounge chair in the sand to the water’s edge, listened to music, journaled, made a papaya bowl, worked on my tan. It hadn’t rained for a few days at this point, so the water returned to a nice shade of blue.

A day full of peaceful reflection led me to the grand idea of celebrating my last sunset in SJDS from the water on a stand up paddle board. I rented the SUP board they kept at the bar just as the color in the sky began to transform, and paddled out. Sure the sunset was great, but what I least expected was to turn around and see the town in a whole new light. The experience of this entire week came in full circle. The city was still the same city, but I viewed it differently now, visually due to my location and the way the warm hues of the setting sun colored the buildings, but more so figuratively in my mindset.

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Paddling into the sunset in San Juan Del Sur.

Amongst the negatives in life, such as the situation out of my control in this particular scenario, there’s always beauty, something to appreciate and be grateful for. My impression of this town is no longer soured, instead it will always  be ingrained in my memory as a place of growth for me. When the going gets rough it’s easy to complain, but it’s more meaningful and makes life sweeter if you can find the beauty, in whatever situation you’re in.

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