Tuesday, April 6, 2010

My Time Nicaragua


I woke up before the alarm went off. Twice. Excited by the prospect of leaving Maine and my desperately small college behind in search of waves and 70 degree nights on the Nicaraguan coast, I forgot to brush my teeth as I grabbed my backpack and checked for the essentials: passport, wallet and camera. Like an overexcited 11 year old coming home from his first sleepover, I fell asleep in the passenger seat of Dan's Highlander somewhere north of Portland on our drive towards Logan Airport. Just in case our excitement hadn't fully manifested in my near sleepless night filled with fantasies of playing in the surf and eating fish, we arrived at the airport four hours early.

Traveling with only our backpacks and boards, we passed through customs in Managua without a question about our destination or return flight. After a two and a half hour cab ride on dirt roads through Nicaraguan pastures and farmland, we got our first glimpse of the arid shoreline and heard the first clap of swell rolling in across the Pacific. For the next week and a half, two of my closest friends (my sixth-grade locker partner Will and my college roommate Dan) and I played like lost boys.

Disconnected from computers, cell phones, and work, we wandered the beaches of Nicaragua. At high tide we surfed. During the heat of the day we hid in hammocks in the shade. When our restlessness got the better of us, we scrambled to the thundering waves of the sea across the beach's sweltering sand only to return to the protection of our hammocks after force-filtering a few gallons of salt water through our sinuses. Hundreds of miles away from the nearest umbrella-protected drink, we ate our fill of fish and beans and rice. We talked with Ex-pats and Euros over the cheap national beer about books, life and waves as stars rose, uninfected by light pollution.

Cows roamed the beaches, running from whitewater and picking at pieces of washed-up debris in search of food.

To quote Johnny Utah, "Nice Point break. Long Workable Rides."

Dan watching the waves close out at high tide.

The trustful watchdog.

Some deceased mollusk.

Will points to a set of waves pitching upwards like frost heaves on a New England country road.

Twenty years of civil wars and numerous campaigns for land reform left the coast line peppered with vacant houses and undeveloped stretches of land. For better or worse, the turbulent political and economic climate in Nicaragua has kept development of the coastline to a bare minimum.

In the distance white spray marks the peeling of waves on the reef.

A Nica line fisherman.

Our arrows in their quiver.

Two lost boys walking down the beach towards a reef break.
My hair got lighter and my skin darkened as the salt, sand and sun penetrated everything I had. Adhering to the, "No News is Good news" ethos, I went incommunicado.

Barefoot, we ran down the beaches excited by the sound of waves and motivated by the heat of the sand.
A horse at sunset.

As the sun set, Will and I walked out on a point to watch waves crash in. Scrambling around tidepools we edged our way farther out on the rocks. In the distance, Dan hooted as he dropped in on a waist-high wave.

"I caught my first tube today, sir" Will yelled back at Dan as he bent over and fingered a flat stone out of a crack. With a deft flick of the wrist, he skipped the stone across the tide pool towards the sinking sun. I was on vacation.

41 comments:

Skip said...

Bravo! Well done!

Foster Huntington said...

Thanks for the kind words skip,
foster

bferry said...

excellent stuff, foster. this makes me wish i could pack up and get away somewhere near the ocean. soon, i hope. thanks for sharing.

Foster Huntington said...

Brian,
thanks for the kind words. your compliments mean a lot to me. go escape, you wont regret it,
foster

jeremy said...

beautiful photos. wow, i gotta head out there

hearblack. said...

your photos always have a nice raw look... i like them, especially these because they remind me of hawaii (our home) ..

/nate

S.M. Shewan said...

Gorgeous. It makes me reconsider what my old lady and I have planned for our honeymoon this summer.

Foster Huntington said...

S.M. Shewan,
do it, you wont regret it. thanks for the kind words,
foster

Chris M said...

Looks amazing. Were the cows wild?

Foster Huntington said...

hearblack,
i am glad my photos remind you of your home. nicaragua is an amazing place and would be hard to make look bad,
foster

Foster Huntington said...

Chris,
from what i could tell, the cows werent wild they just had the freedom to roam around in search of food,
foster

Rick said...

Great post Foster. I spent 10 days in Belize a couple of weeks ago. A lot of your thoughts reflected the exact way I felt. Central America is an amazing place.

Foster Huntington said...

Rick,
what did you do in beliz? i hear it is supposed to be an amazing place. thanks for the complement,
foster

Cam said...

After graduating from Waterloo, also small town university I did Costa Rica the same way, not a resort to be found. The time spent on this post was well worth it.

Jimmy said...

I was actually co-leading a trip for the university I work for. We spent a few days out on Hunting Caye, visited a chocolate plantation, stayed in a Mayan village, and finished up with a few days out in the middle of the rain forest at a research center the university sponsors. Everything was incredibly pristine and everyone was very kind and generous.

Jimmy said...

Sorry I didn't sign in with my first comment...This is Rick.

Foster Huntington said...

Cam,
staying away from resorts is the best. the last thing i want to do on vocation is go somewhere where the kind of people i want to escape from congregate. how long were you in Costa? thanks for the kind words,
foster

Foster Huntington said...

Rick,
that sounds like an awesome trip. what was hunting caye like? it looks amazing from what i can see on google. i would love to explore their coast line,
foster

Cam said...

12 Days but too short.

Now the hard part begins, good luck on the job hunt although I suspect it won't be that tough/

Foster Huntington said...

Cam,
i felt like i could have stayed in Nicaragua for months. thanks for the good wishes about finding a job. I lucked out and got a job offer at the end of last summer so i have been riding out the storm since,
foster

brohammas said...

great pics, great writing, great trip.
Since you brought up Johnny Utah, from one of my favorite childhood movies (only because Anthony Keidis had a line in it)...
Any chance you could teach a Utah snowboarder who will be passing through Maine how to surf?

II hear echos of Anthony... "that would be a waste of time."

amanda said...

foster this is so well-written! i was very impressed! good story telling skills.

Foster Huntington said...

Brohammas,
i am glad you picked up one the point break reference. i love that fight scene. so epic. with regards to surfing in maine. this time of year the waves are supper inconsistent. it can be great for a few days and then flat as an artificial lake for a few weeks. when are you heading up this way? thanks for the kind words,
foster

Foster Huntington said...

Ammanda,
thanks for the kind words. more so than anything, my blog has forced me to write and i am really glad that it speaks to you.
foster

Anonymous said...

Being Nicaraguan this stuff is rad. I only hope you got to spend some time in San Juan del Sur, away from the tourists.

Foster Huntington said...

I didnt spend anytime in San Juan Del sur. from the looks of it sounded to gringo for my liking,
foster

Megan said...

Whoa, these photos are incredible! I also love the stories you tell with your captions.

manifolddestiny said...

Just stuck a new pin in my "places I've been/places I want to go" map

dale dagger said...

Recognized the exact spot from the first photo

Did you surf the high tide left off that rock outcropping you featured so prominently?
One of my favorite get aways.

Going to San Juan del Sur to get away from tourists would be like going to the beach to get away from wandering cows.

Now you have to figure out how to live six months a year in America and six in Nicaragua

Jimmy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jimmy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jimmy said...

Hunting Caye was surreal. For three days we just snorkeled, walked the tide pools, and ate grilled barracuda. It's a marine reserve so very few tourist come out. The reef there is amazing. I want to take a kayak and travel between cayes the next time I go down.

Foster Huntington said...

Manifolddestiny,
you wont regret giving Nicaragua a visit. its wild and beautiful,
foster

Foster Huntington said...

Dale,
i didnt surf the left there that much. i surfed the right and then the reef off in the distance. I will definitely be back, it was amazing,
foster

Foster Huntington said...

Manifolddestiny,
you wont regret giving Nicaragua a visit. its wild and beautiful,
foster

Foster Huntington said...

Jimmy,
i really want to go to corn island off the east coast of nicaragua. it was a pirate hide out during the days of buccaneering on the Caribbean. sounds similar to Hunting Caye.
foster

brohammas said...

I'll hit Maine in August. I am working my way up the east coast. Just finished the Carolinas and am now heading up NY State.

Foster Huntington said...

Unfortunetly I will be long gone from Maine by august and the waves will be flat as a floor. With that said, you will love Maine,
foster

Anonymous said...

I really loved to see your well composed and beautiful pics from Nica. Where did you stay? I used to live there in the early nineties, in Managua, but I/we went often to the pretty Pacific beaches.

Foster Huntington said...

I stayed new Popoyo on the pacific coast. its an unbelievable place, i will certainly be back to nicaragua.
foster

Brandon said...

I was going to comment on this before and totally forgot about it until i saw this again on The Madbury Club.
Looks like you a marvelous time. I have roots set in Nicaragua and though i've visited many beaches there in my childhood I can't recognize this one. Where exactly was it? Maybe one day in the near future i will return.