At some point in any love, religion, or great pursuit your faith is tested. It’s not as easy as it once seemed, promises aren’t kept, passion fades over time revealing annoying habits and bad morning breath. My paradise is still defined as a small house off the grid, barefoot walking distance to a thumping beach break, with four dogs that eagerly wait for the echoing sound of surfboard wax application and leap with excitement to chase each other down the path and through the shorebreak.
Time does bring comfort. My Spanish is better now, my backside tube riding more confident. Last year’s tomato garden yielded tiny sprouts that never reached maturity while this year’s boasts at least ten healthy plants, and while I don’t want to jinx myself, there looks to be a delicious crop of organic tomatoes on the way. I even have a planter box of spinach that has so far resisted the hot weather, constant rain, and swarming bugs.
But this year more than last, the challenges have been many. Starting in mid April the rainy season began will all the energy saved up during last year’s oppressive drought. People, animals, and trees prayed for rain. The heavens answered by opening for weeks on end, flooding roads, soaking through roofs, and washing away recently planted crops. We lost five papaya trees that were just starting to bear fruit, and before we fixed it there were so many leaks in our roof there was no way to position the bed in the small house so that it stayed dry. The rivers rushed sand, wood, and other unidentifiable detritus to the sea, and the brown water and strange green foam made surfing at some spots a health risk. Too much sand built up enormous sandbars damaging the quality of waves at my favorite beachbreak, hopefully just temporarily.
Weather and waves aside, nearby personalities became daily stressors. My boyfriend got sick with a fever that lasted ten days, so I stepped up and took over the 45 min (each way) drive to town to suck our daily limit out of the ATM to pay for cement, blocks, bricks, workers, and palm fronds (that are laid out all over our lot but won’t dry because the rain doesn’t stop). Our heavy delivery truck made the already muddy puddle-filled road nearly impassible, so I’ve gotta pull money out for the repair of that too. The internet access I relied upon at the hotel next door suddenly skyrocketed in price, but only for me.
When the 4runner we call “the beast” started making a loud clicking sound when turning in 4 wheel drive, we took it to our mechanic who replaced the CV joint. Three months ago I had had the whole front suspension re-done which cost me $1,000 in parts. It’d broken down 2 hours away so I had to use a different mechanic from the one I trust. He seemed like a good guy, came highly recommended from several other gringos, and gave me a Nicaraguan nickname. But when our regular mechanic looked at the list of parts that we had paid to have replaced, he told me none were new. He thought the other guy had just had us buy new parts, but only fixed the rubber and cleaned up our old parts, essentially totally screwing us. I called the guy. He said he was honest and it was just that the salt air and mud by the beach make the parts age quickly. Probably true, but not true enough.
On top of the town runs and car dramas there are the dishes, the laundry, and the house cleaning all handled by hand, by me, local style. It’s probably a good thing the waves haven’t been epic because I haven’t had time. We have solar panels so the lights are on past dark, which is easier than this time last year, but the well still needs to be pumped for water for all that washing, and showering, and toilet flushing. At least with all this rain, drawing water takes less energy since it’s closer to the surface. I’m looking for the bright sides.
Then one of the dogs got sick. I didn’t even know dogs could get fevers until I noticed that her head and belly were clearly hotter than those of the others and some research online revealed that anything over 106 in dogs is a sign of something very serious. The vets at the local town gave us penicillin and parasite killing pills. Two days later, after no improvement, we carried her to the car and made the three hour drive to Managua to a real vet who gave her a couple of shots and set us at ease. While my sick boyfriend and sick dog comforted eachother in the backseat, I drove three hours home in the dark, in the rain, struggling to see unmarked turns and people and horses in the road, completely exhausted from all of the above.
My boyfriend went back to California yesterday. Back to work to earn more money to pay for this house we’re building, the road we’ve been assigned to fix, the car parts we didn’t receive, and all of the daily dramas that arise that can only be solved with money. I’m still here for another month at least to finish nursing our dog back to health, oversee the final steps in the construction of the first floor of the house (they pour concrete for the ceiling of the first floor / floor of the second today), and making sure the super muddy road becomes passable by a small car in 2-wheel drive. It’s not easy, but I’ll admit that I sort of love it. I grew up amongst so much drama that I love the challenge. On top of everything else, seven friends arrive today, so I’ll be adding surf tour guide to my list of “things to do” for the next ten days.
Wish me luck, and send me positive energy. I’ll need it!