Test of Faith

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!

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16 Responses to Test of Faith

  1. Kevin McRoberts says:

    Holly, you are an inspiration to so many of us who wish we had the courage to take on what you have done. The pursuit of your dream is admirable. The feeling of accomplishment when it is complete will be the best reward. We wish you well and manageable obstacles from Redondo Beach. Hang in there, there will be a pot of gold at the end of your rainbow! Peace, KM

  2. Anonymous says:

    I’m thinking with all of your positive energy..you WILL get thru all of this! You are such a role model for so many ppl…Telling us your true struggles has to be a Test Of Faith! But that is just my thoughts…

  3. you’ve got it in the bag….passing ton’s of positive energy southward…

  4. You’ve got it in the baG! sending tons of positive energy SOUTHWARD!!!

  5. lumal says:

    U know who set ME straight on what a good person U r and how proud he was 2 have U associated w/ the company he founded. I told him U were on TOP of all these things I do & how U tie in 2 the BRAND. I hope THEY pay U what U want, they R getting A great deal , glad 2 watch U evolve. 15 minutes OF fame is NOT enough 4 U. KUDOS great render..

  6. jcat says:

    Sounds dreadful and wonderful all balled into one. Reminds me of a book. Don’t stop the Carnival by Herman Wouk. Read it if you get a chance. But the real reason I’m even doing this is to say that this piece, in my humble opinion is the best bit of writing I’ve read of yours. It stands to reason that the struggles are working in your favor on this count. I think that is positive ,right.

  7. Dan says:

    Best of luck to ya girl, I’m sure it will all work out just fine in the end. Besides, it’s not like you’re missing the So Cal traffic, poor air quality, overcrowded waves, jerks aplenty, and all those other things that come with having 15 million people in your backyard. Keep a good head, a strong heart, and full stoke, and we’ll see ya smiling on the other side.

  8. Jorge says:

    … in a not too distant future you will look back to all this and realize it all made you grow, mature and indeed , tested your faith. I wish I was not so far, I’d be happy to help with the leaking roof, with Spanish (one of my mother tongues) and maybe kick some of the not so helpful ‘gringo-abusers’. Hang in there Holly and thank you for sharing so candidly your world … and puppy and bf will surely been soon @ full speed 🙂 … sending you all my energy and warm wishes …

  9. Anonymous says:

    You can do it. If you wanted easy you would have stayed on the beach when you were a kid and watched the boys surf and stayed in Cali. Easy is boring. You don’t seem boring. Many people would say they want the kind of life you lead, few could actually do it. Autonomy is a lot of work.

    Oh, always tell a mechanic you want the broken parts back. They can’t sell you back your own part when they have to return it to you. Learned that the hard way too.

  10. “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.” Great blog and I just love the honesty of your opening as quoted above! It reminded me that the things we really want as well as the dreams take hard work. Even still while setbacks may happen in rapid succession we are reminded about who we really are when the tough gets going! It sounds like you have realized this already. I am quite sure that you are a hero not only to your dog but also your boyfriend. So don’t be discouraged and take pleasure in the simple beauty that is around you. Thanks for the inspiration!

  11. lu says:

    Everything will come well… if it’s not a challenge we tend not to give the desearved value. So wen all is finished you will be pleased and stronger!!!

    😉 (sorry my bad english)

  12. Jeff says:

    you’re one of a kind. you’ll make it easily 😉

  13. Rick Hendley says:

    To Holly Beck,
    It appears you have created a huge portfolio of photos & writings from your journies that you could generate income from (if you are not already). I am sure there are alot of websites, magazines, greeting card companies, etc. that may be interested in paying you for the sole right to use some or all of them. JOURNEY ON!!!

  14. Chris says:

    As adventurous as you are it sounds like you might not be into this lifestyle as much as you thought. I am not trying to poke fun, just asking because these challenges are all part of living simply. Frankly, I am jealous of your commitment to building a house, living off the grid, surfing a lot, etc but broken down 4runners and dark drives home are going to be the norm. Imagine if the dog was sick and you, nor anyone you know had a car or was able to afford the vet bill. Those are true hardships.

  15. C-Dub says:

    Sounds like a true test, worth taking. If it was easy anyone could do it. You are doing what some of us only dream about, you are living your dream.

    Keep the faith, all of us back in the world take joy in seeing you move forward.

  16. Mitch says:

    Holly, I happened up your blog, and was really impressed reading about your adventure. Good luck with everything! It seems that you’ve had a few obstacles lately, but glad to see that you are still staying positive!

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