I mulled over my peanut buttered bagel. This trip had been so enlightening, inspiring, and nurturing; I had never met such a spectacular group of women. Everyday was such a great experience, even eating breakfast seemed like an adventure. It was hard to believe we were sharing our last meal in paradise.
Holly sat across from me. I asked her if she had a favorite memory from the retreat.
She sat there chewing and thinking. She swallowed and replied, “Horseback riding was definitely one of my favorite moments. Another was you paddling out the back yesterday. I’m still stoked for you.”
I grinned. I was still stoked too (Warning: Stoked feelings may have a tendency to last for days to weeks at a time).
The other women chattered about their plans from here and passed around contact information. Before we knew it, Holly was ushering those of us who had flights to catch down to the truck.
We said our goodbyes and took one or two jumping photos for the road.
Holly packed us up into her Toyota.
“You know, I packed way more clothes than I ever wore,” I said as I handed Holly my bag.
“Yeah,” she laughed, “That happens to everyone. They think they’re going to need so many clothes, and then they just end up running around in their bikini all week.” I laughed too, realizing that’s practically what we all did. I was going to miss not having to change outfits.
Holly drove us up the road to meet Omar, who would be taking us the three and a half hour journey to Managua. Along the way we discussed Holly’s travel schedule, things we would miss about Nica (such as the food and the waves) and things we were excited to have back (such as our pets and clean hair).
Omar met us at the El Coco Loco sign and transferred all of our bags. Holly wished us the best and gave us sturdy hugs. She waved goodbye and went on her way to surf one of her secret spots and then search for reliable internet. We wished her best in her venture and parted ways.
As I watched this brilliantly strong woman drive away, I was sad to see her go. Our Nicaraguan adventures were officially over, but I knew this wasn’t going to be the last time I saw her.
Omar let us plug in Andrea’s iPod for the trip back. We enjoyed the cattle traffic jams and jammed out to some of our favorite boy bands from the nineties. Along the way, Omar would serve as an excellent impromptu tour guide and point out the sights through Chinandega and Leon.
I was content to let my thoughts get lost in the music, choosing instead to devote my energy to drinking in the scenery. I counted the carts on the side of the road and sighed into my smiles as I thought back on our Nicaraguan adventures.
At some point we would all doze off, letting the fatigue from our adventures finally overtake our will power. We inhaled the carbon dioxide fumes from the cars ahead of us and sank into the bliss of the moment.
The three and a half hours went by quickly and we gave our thanks and goodbyes to Omar at the terminal.
Andrea, Jen and I spent the next few hours at the airport. My flight departed sooner than theirs so I was the first to say goodbye and buckle up for the flight home.
At some point on my flight from Managua to Houston, I would fly over the Gulf of Mexico’s Barrier Reef. I marveled at the view.
Not long after putting away my camera, I would fly over a rainbow. I laughed at the thought knowing Dorothy would be jealous.
I arrived back into Vegas just before the stroke of midnight, thus ending the magical spell and turning me back into a pumpkin.
Even though I was driving through the familiar setting of the neon lights and dry heat, I felt changed; like a canvas that finally felt the weight of paint.
I was carrying eight women in my heart and picturing paradise.
I may have made it safely back to Vegas but my spirit was walking along a beach in Nicaragua, sharing a bond and happiness with my fellow travelers.
I could feel a stirring in my soul. This journey had awakened something dormant deep within me.
I knew my story and travels were just beginning.