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Monday, July 9, 2018

7.9.18 Nica Swan Song at Playa Colorado

The doggo and I beat feet to the beach.  He took his time sniffing stuff, getting one last inhalation of the path to the water.  I let him dally on the sand when I paddled out.

It wasn't too crowded.  I think a lot of people were lulled by the late arrival of this swell.  According to magicseaweed we were to get a pulse in the morning with constant reinforcers all day with the swell peaking today.  Yesterday was a complete bust.  I waited until the afternoon to go and it was so gutless I didn't bother to paddle out at the swell magnet that is Panga Drops.  

 There was way more energy in the water noticeable upon my first southward gaze into the Pacific.

I caught a left pretty quickly and got covered up completely, too completely.  I kicked my board in front of me to lessen the chances of trauma.

I immediately began getting attacked by the baby jellyfish, including a particularly painful string of them wrapping around my forearm.  It felt as though a low voltage charge had coursed through my extremity.  Painful, but not as bad as the Pangas "Just Get Welts" sesh a couple of months ago.

A light squall showered us and a rainbow formed.  I gazed at it while two surfers were particularly close to one another framed by the rainbow and thought what a cute gay surfers couple's pic that would make. 

I caught a right that lined up ok.  Had I not been dropping in blind from the wind and the glare I might have noticed it was going to tube.  I pumped and snapstalled but did so too high/late and as I crouched down I got pitched.

My last wave was a really late small right.  I had paralysis of analysis and ended up crabgrabbing as the wave unloaded its Napoleonic fury on my head.

The dog had been barking it up for a while and I had stuff I needed to button up so I went in.
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We moved to Nicaragua because at the time of planning it checked so many of our boxes
  1. Warm water and good surf within walking distance
  2. Decent school with US accreditation nearby
  3. Established community with little kids running around
  4. Relatively cheap
  5. Safe. From October 2015 (when I started planning the move) to April 2018 it was considered the safest country in Central America by far (yes including Costa Rica, which is dealing with a terrible rise in crime and corruption) 
  6. Striking distance to US
The school thing turned out to be a bust as we got insider info while here that it wasn't up to snuff.  So even if this political strife hadn't happened Raquel had decreed we would stay here through Lucia's first grade year at the latest.

Point Five is the biggest catalyst for the move, obviously.  If we were staying now the next few months would be the time to put money down on a lot or home.  We pulled out of our lot purchase and ended up eating the deposit (though we are supposed to get half of it back...).

Everything else was pretty sweet.  The waves weren't as good as I'd hoped, meaning the close-out/too-fast-too-make situation didn't sort itself out for as much of the season I was here.

Ironically, had the political issue not ignited I'm pretty sure the crowds might have turned me off and possibly away (as they did in California). 

The biggest bummer about being here, and one of which we were aware before the move, was getting supplies.  Each trip to the grocery store was a three-hour endeavor pre-roadblocks.  Roundtrip driving alone was 100 minutes and waiting in line was twenty on a decent day.  Going to Managua for (Pricesmart, VERY similar to Costco) shopping and to get our investment property check was a seven-hour grind.  I insisted on doing both Rivas and Managua trips on my own because our youngest has a penchant for puking when in a car for more than a half-hour.  I got it down so I would only have to go to Rivas every twenty or so days and Managua every forty-ish days.

So we move on from the Nica dream to our next station in life, El Salvador.  8065 days will have elapsed since I left El Salvador as a full-time resident to return as one.  I have been back to visit nineteen times in the interim, so I have a feeling as to what to expect.

A few of the differences between El Salvador and Nicaragua:

  • In El Salvador, we will live in the San Salvador metro area (I consider Santa Tecla to be part of it because of the sprawl).  Everything will be more convenient (hospital, grocery stores, doctors, schools; hell I'll even be able to go to a full gym again) with one tiny exception:  The beach will be a little less than an hour away. 
  • This convenience comes at a price.  Where we had been living for the last eight months was in very rural Nicaragua.  We will be in very urban surroundings of San Salvador.  Nicaragua has six times the land area and fewer people total than El Salvador. 
  • When it comes to infrastructure, we will be in the lap of luxury relative to Nica.  The power and internet will go out much less often and the roads are actually asphalted and maintained there.
  • The biggest bummer we'll encounter is the muro-to-muro lifestyle.  Everyone there lives behind walls and you go from your set of walls to others'.  We can mitigate this somewhat by living in a complex with a bunch of kids so we'll see how that works out.
  • Surf-wise, there will be a lot more variety than here (point breaks galore, beach breaks, rivermouths and so on all bigger than in Nica for some reason) but with no offshore it's pretty much an early morning only situation.  The nice thing is they're doubling the capacity of the road to the beach so no more chewing on diesel exhaust on the way back up the hill.
  • We'll have blood relatives there and the can of worms that goes with that... 😆  I also have life-long friends I've known, in some cases, since preschool.
  • No more worrying about obtaining residency!  I am a full citizen with all of the benefits that entails and can stay as long as I'd like.  Here in Nica we had to leave every ninety days to get our passports stamped with new visas.  In ES, I'll have to get the girls legal but that will be a lot easier than having to get the four of us residency.
In CA, I was burned out on working but I must say I'm getting the bug to start producing hard again.  Once Chucho dies we will likely be leaving El Salvador unless we fall in love with it.

When I was living there, I couldn't wait to get out.  This was pre-internet, pre-driver's license, pre-surfing, so my entertainment options were extremely limited.  I was also in a dysfunctional situation at home which was a constant bummer and the pervading vibe was emotional instability.

Conclusion to the Opie chronicles

The van I drove down was nicknamed Opie due to its license plate having OP as the first two letters.  I bought it and drove Chucho and a fair amount of stuff down from Colorado, with the intention of giving it away (because it was too old to be imported).

I asked around on the expat groups and the first person to respond was a woman from Dallas who does a lot of charitable work in Astillero (where some people take pangas to surf up north).

Your Faithful Surf Blogger and Da Astillero Boyz in November


I received a message this morning saying how much the van has helped the community as well as a pic of Opie in action!

"I want to share with you how much this van is helping many in the community. The baseball team has been able to transport the team 2 weeks in a row! Olinyer takes care of it and the surf team has used it to feed the elderly in nursing homes etc. we are very grateful thank you and your wife for this gift."

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