In Memory of Talei Jones

Two weeks after saying goodbye to the inspirational women on our retreat, we were struck with tragedy. Talei Jones, my bunkmate and fellow adventurer, had been killed in a horrific car accident in Jamaica.

Photo by Andrea Preziotti

We were all stunned by the abrupt end to her beautiful, compassionate, and young life. I think it impacted each of us deeply. When you spend that much time with such a small group of women, you can’t help but leave tightly bonded to each other. Having her taken from this world was like fraying the ends of our collective fabric. We would never be complete without her, though we would always carry her memory in our spirits. She was a part of us. Continue reading

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New Eyes and Bare Feet

It all seems like a vivid dream.

I can fully remember the experience of being on a Nicaraguan beach. I remember how the ridges of the sea shells felt against the bottom of my feet but I can’t seem to get back there again. Like those sweet dreams that are interrupted by screaming alarm clocks; you can’t return to the same magical land no matter how many times you reposition your pillow.

Photo by Andrea Preziotti

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Heading Home Somewhere Over a Rainbow

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.

Photo by Andrea Preziotti

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One Last Sunrise

I opened my eyes as the first beam of light peered in through the curtains. It was around five in the morning; the stillness of the day was only broken by the breaking dawn and a the sound of a lazy rooster.

Talei was still sleeping. I noiselessly crept out from my mosquito net and grabbed my camera. My ninja skills were surprising, and I actually didn’t make too much noise until I opened the cabana door. With a giant creak of the hinges, Talei rolled over. Mentally apologizing, I slipped out and flip-flopped down the shell-strewn path.

Photo by Andrea Preziotti

I made my way to Andrea’s cabana. She was already awake and just finishing her packing. Waving a hello to Jen, I waited for Andrea to finish. We headed down to the garden gate and out to the beach. Continue reading

Cerro Negro Part 1: A dune buggy, lightning storm, and thoughts of eminent doom

Today was the day we were going volcano boarding (more accurately, volcano tobogganing). This was the event that had sold me on Holly’s retreat and I was so ready to go. How often do you get to hike up and then board down the world’s most active cinder cone volcano? My point exactly.

Photo by Andrea Preziotti

We had taken off around noon that day to drive out to Leon. Holly had business to take care of in Chinandega so she would not be joining us. As we left El Coco Loco, she would wave goodbye and shout to us, “Remember, slow and steady wins the race!” Holly had changed her tune since she wiped out on the side Cerro Negro on her last trip and busted her ankle. I wasn’t planning on breaking any speed records that day, especially riding down a 45 degree slope, but I was stoked nonetheless. Continue reading

Pounding hooves and heart beats

It was lunchtime at El Coco Loco when Bodhi arrived. He had come up to the restaurant to let Jamie know that he was here to drop off the horses. We were going to ride along the beach later that day and he was providing the livestock. Holly wasn’t there; she had taken some of the more experienced girls out to an advanced surf spot. I was the only one at the table so I introduced myself. Bodhi sat down and we lunched together.

Bodhi was from California but had been in Nicaragua for five years chasing adventure and love. He happened into the horse business and was now providing all the horses for Holly’s retreats. He inquired about my riding background and guaranteed me that I would enjoy today, claiming his horses were mild-tempered, responsive, and above all, fast. When we finished lunch, he asked if I wanted to go down and check out the horses. I agreed and followed him down to the meadow where they were tied.

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Waves of Hope

We had just returned to El Coco Loco after a great morning of surf. Lunch was going to be served in awhile but because I am an impatient and bottomless pit of hunger, I brought my chocolate covered almonds with me to snack on (or gorge, rather).

When I sat down and began my feast, I found my eyes met by those of a very curious little boy sitting across the table.

His name was Christian. He was one of the local villagers who lived not far from El Coco Loco.

I was surprised and intrigued by him. Underweight and bearing the brunt of many scars, he had an air of optimism and happiness. He seemed at ease around Holly and the El Coco Loco staff but he eyed me with skepticism. I felt like an animal at a zoo and as he determined whether I was friend or foe. I decided not to make any sudden movements and smiled at him. I said hello and he looked pensive. I wasn’t helping the situation so I decided to act natural (which ended up being unbelievably unnatural) and went back to eating my chocolate covered almonds. Continue reading

A Piece of Paris in Nicaragua

Tonight was the night for sun dresses and washed hair (we were dressed to the nines by Nicaragua standards). We were going out to dinner, or rather, up the hill to the “French guys’ place.” The actual name of the restaurant was Al Cielo, but we all kind of preferred calling it the prior.

We had to take two trucks. Some of the more adventurous girls would ride in the back of Jamie’s truck, bearing the elements and branches in the face on the bumpy dirt road.

Photo by Emily Rieman

Photo by Emily Rieman

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The Adventures of the Four-Legged Surfer

It began with me paddling out with Helina. She was going to help me catch a wave in.

And while we weren’t having any trouble getting through the whitewash, there was one problem… Something was following us (insert Jaws music here).

Good thing for us, it was only our El Coco Loco beach companion, Rocco. And while it was no scene from Shark Night 3D, he would not leave the back of my board. Rocco frantically swam to stay with us as we paddled into the waves. Helina and I joked about him wanting to catch a ride himself. That’s when we looked at each other and concocted a plan.

He willingly let Helina pick him up and position him while I held the board steady. He was all set to catch a wave in. It was genius.

We just didn’t think it through. Continue reading