Valentine’s Day began shortly after midnight on the 14th when my love Rob Reid picked me up at the airport after a long trek back from Managua, Nicaragua. Early the morning before, I’d had the good sense to swim in Laguna de Apoyo, before ten hours in the air and finally un abrazo grande (big hug) in the welcoming arms of my favorite husband. Since Valentine’s Day fell on a second Wednesday, I slept a few hours and then joined my creativity circle—The Jewels—for our monthly rendezvous. Ordinarily this might have exhausted me. Instead I had enjoyed ten days away and each day I had carved out time by myself to draw, meditate and reflect—a strategy I’d learned as part of this very trio. Being with these two good friends on my first day home seemed like an extension of my trip, the perfect antidote to re-entry jet-lag and a way to let the beauty of liminal space carry on.
And this trip…why so special?…why so necessary?
Some background: Three years ago my Dad died. Then my dog died. Then I published my book, Bridging Languages, Cultures and My Life, essentially about my five years traveling back and forth to Nicaragua and learning Spanish in middle age. It’s also about being at home…and learning to take this feeling of contentment and basic pleasure with me wherever I go. My creativity practices help in this quest. In fact they are life-giving.
I have marveled at others who travel around the world, moving seemingly effortlessly across borders, between languages, back-and-forth, to family, to work. People who stay well and don’t seem to stress much about it.
I realize, bless Pat, after ten days in Nicaragua, finally back there with Marlene and her beautiful family, that I am one of those people. And as an educator, I was lucky to be in Matagalpa for the first day of the children’s school year. The younger ones in my household were school-aged—one started preschool, one his first year of secondary school and another started her final year. Talk about a fun evening to be welcomed into the conversation of my Nicaraguan family.
After Marlene’s I added two days for intentional reflection at La Abuela’s, a Nicaraguan-owned refuge and cabins. It’s situated in an ecological reserve beside a gorgeous lake in a volcano’s crater. Here was a place I could swim in what Nicaraguans call agua dulce—fresh warm water that has the slightest hint of salt, not enough to taste or sting my eyes but enough to hold me up while I floated and pondered my very good fortune.
Most of this trip I studied at the Spanish school, Escuela Colibrí, newly located on the side of Cerro Apante in the mountain town of Matagalpa. In fact, they set up the homestay so that my Spanish learning continued 24/7. More to follow about Colibrí in subsequent posts. For assistance with other travel around the country, I used and highly recommend Matagalpa Tours, a sister business of the school.
Now that I am reassured I can stay healthy and have a blast, I am tempted to sign up quickly for the longest stretch a “tourist” can manage. This is definitely what my Spanish needs so I can be fluent.
What is the secret for me? Yes, drinking filtered water and washing my hands helps. And now there’s even wi-fi at Marlene’s and La Abuela’s cabins so it’s possible to stay somewhat connected, if desired. This helps too. But mostly it’s about laughing and dancing every chance I get. I also finally know how important it is for me to carve out quiet, alone time every day. My intention was clear and I re-visited it every day. These drawings are the result: