It is amazing how something less than a centimeter big can cause so much damage. We arrived in Nicaragua a healthy ten days before the ALAS Latin Tour event. After unloading our gear into the small room on the beach in Las Penitas, we set off to check the waves, hoping a surf would wash off the long travel day. Spotting a few fun ones we ran back to the room to suit up. That's when we noticed a small flying creature hovering around. With night coming and fifteen geckos living on the ceiling, we figured the mosquito would be a goner. We headed out for our sunset session and two days later discovered just how wrong we were. Who knew that single pesky mosquito could give two people dengue?
Gary got it first, woke up feeling battered and woozy, He tried to tell me how sick he felt but I wouldn't hear it. "Your just tired from the travel day, Cowboy up. Let's surf!"
He took a deep breath, most likely cursed under it, and we headed to the beach.
The waves were incredibly fun- peaky beach break with no one out. I didn't notice that Gary was severely teetering side to side by the time we got back to the room.
The next morning I woke up feeling like someone beat me with an electrified baseball bat. My fever was so hot that I swear I could see my cells evaporate. I was moaning on the bed in a puddle of sweat and he crouched over me laughing. "Cowgirl up - lets surf!' he cackled. Feeling too sick to respond with words I threw him the a menacing look, wishing I had enough strength to whack him with my pillow.
A few days of tormented bed rest passed, where we'd meekly venture out of the room into the blaring sun and shuffle quickly back to bed. There we could be found laying prone in a swirling pool of dread and sweat.
Dengue is a mean mean sickness. I have never felt anything so debilitating before. Thankfully, keeping in excellent health can expedite your recovery rate and we were both able to crawl out of bed on the fourth day and get back in the water.
The contest flew by in the blink of an eye and next thing I knew I was standing on a stage in torrential downpour being handed a trophy for first place. A few days after the event, when my health returned to full normal, a little excitement crept in. I won! I finally realized. I was so ecstatic I did an awkward little dance that I'm glad no one caught on camera.
We said adios to the fun beach town, and headed to a spot that offered faster, more challenging waves. The first bit of time the waves were amazing, but the crowd was less so. Having heaps of people in the line up made it tough to get waves; even if you were aggressive, you'd paddle into one and have three people in the way of the takeoff or pushing the section over.
Regardless, we had some fun sessions and to our delight, Alan Saulo surfed with us for a couple weeks - which was pretty much like having a live surf video to watch all day. He is an incredible surfer with a full bag of tricks. We also had the honor of meeting his friends Alex Chacon, Araia Asensio and Daniel Ellwanger of Salty Conscience project. Alex is also a super amazing surfer, Araia an incredible visionary, and Daniel a talented artist. Check out their project here!
Our time in Nicaragua was incredibly eye opening. Living the simple life, occasionally without things like running water and electricity can really make you appreciate how easy things are most of the time. Seeing how the locals can live with dirt floors and plastic walls; many of them have so little and yet they still find a way to smile at you and help you out if you need anything. Most of the locals attend church to sing and give thanks everyday- imagine the scene in the Grinch who Stole Christmas when the people of Whooville gathered round holding hands and singing songs in joy even though all of their Christmas delights had been stolen. That is what the village feels like. Alive with a special joy and a strong reminder that moments not things, are what happiness is made of.