As every fellow traveler knows when the parental units or unit join up on an adventure it’s like Christmas. Goodbye 22 people rooms with their everlasting cloud of mildew and hello luxury hotel! No more snoring bed neighbors and poop paper trash cans, oh no we are on the up and up people! About three weeks ago my mom packed a giant suitcase full of reinforcements, all the crap Eli and I had forgotten, and headed out on what we are calling her “relief mission”. From the Blue Mountains of Nicaragua Eli and I bumped along for 8 hours until we arrived at the beach town of San Juan Del Sur where my mom and I would be taking Spanish classes while Eli lounged on the beach and drank cocktails, manly ones of course. After traveling together for two and a half months Eli and I would be separating for the first time! Our travels had weaved us so close together that my mom pretty much had to rip our psyches apart and drag me in the opposite direction. What waited for us down the road was our home for the week with the loveliest, for the most part, family ever and Jeffery.
Our home was two stories with Yammy and Juan (our home stay parents?) living downstairs and our rooms upstairs with Jeffery. Our floor was open with a balcony and rocking chairs handmade by Juan, he built the house as well, with six doors leading to different rooms. My mom’s and I’s rooms contained a bed, dresser type thing, and a bathroom. Now I’m sure you are all wondering who exactly this Jeffery I keep mentioning is. I still struggle with words when trying to describe him but I will do my best. Here goes nothing. First his nickname is “Jeffery gringo” because my mom’s teacher’s name was Jeffery as well “Jeffery Nica”. He is also a 50 something year old gym rat, with long bleached blond hair I might add, who had come to Nicaragua three years ago to learn Spanish and never left. Hey, I can’t blame him I would stay if I could! Anyway back to Jeffery. He was a kind man who talked like a valley girl on steroids and would constantly toss a wink into the conversation for good measure. Just imagine if Slater from Saved by the Bell washed up on the beach of San Juan Del Sur 30 years later with blond hair. THAT IS HIM. I’m so happy that I have finally found a perfect way to discribe Jeffery, with a little help from Eli. *squeals and claps hands together*
So, we shared close quaters with a 50 year old Slater and every moment was as interesting as the last. For a week we lived with Yammy and Juan, their son Marcelo, their grandson Cristian (they watched him during the day), and Jeffery. Yammy made us home cooked Nicaragua meals three times a day served along with the most delicious home made juice (my favorite part). We are while we watched Cristian throw fits and debated how we should react. Now, I don’t want to talk bad about a child because in the end he was only three but he was quite the handfull. He barely spoke and would crash around the house screaming and begging until he got his way. Though he was a little tyrant he did have his moments – he loved to sit with my mom and I during our meals, making sure he ate just like us which meant wanting a knife, not just any knife either the exact one that I was using, and would shower us, well mostly me ;), with hugs.
In the morning we would wake up bright and early, eat breakfast and walk a block and a half to our brightly colored Spanish school. We took Spanish classes at Veronica’s Spanish School and they were interesting, fun, and down right awesome. Now, I feel like I have to explain my love/hate relationship with Spanish to justify how great these classes were. I’ve taken Spanish all my life, I even have a degree in it, but I have always ricocheted between so badly wanting to learn the language and absolutely despising it. We have a bittersweet relationship, Spanish and I, and I think this is because it is so difficult for me. My teacher Cony was so kind and helpful and we had a blast together. My biggest problem is my grammar, which I told her and she later agreed on, and my classes were catered to what I needed to work on. Another thing that seriously grinds my gears about learning Spanish in an academic setting in the US is they barely teach how to have a casual conversations. Yes I have read all of Hornan Cortez’s but I couldn’t ask you how your day was or tell you about my past travel stories. I was limited to child’s speak and though I not perfect Cony helped me a lot. We went over grammar, learned new vocab, and then would spend the rest of class chatting about everyday things like the story of how Halloween came about or what we were doing after class. Not only was my teacher amazing but every one of the other teachers were kind, welcoming, and tons of fun as well!
Along with classes every day we would have an activity after school and Eli got to come to them, yay! Two days we went to beaches out of town (where my mom unknowingly became the babysitter of a five and three year old), one evening we walked to the statue of Jesus to watch the sunset, and my personal favorite had a cooking class. In our clase de cocina we learned how to make Tacos Nicas which are different than Mexican tacos, and which I might like more *shh*, and passion fruit juice. We then literally gorged ourselves. We made way too many tacos and they were way too good to let go to waste. It was a feast. I then cried a little inside and prayed for quick disgestion because cena, dinner at home, was in 45 minutes. Someone most of heard me because I shoveled that in as well.
After a week of book learning, eating, and sunning we said goodbye to our beloved teachers and home stay family, packed our bags and headed to Granada. Our second trip to Granada was quiet the different experience. No more two stars hostels for us! No buddy, we were staying at a beautiful hotel right in front of Central Park, with a lovely pool, air conditioning, and big fluffy beds. We could even flush the toilet paper! Can you say luxuryyyyyy! Our first night we didn’t do much. Eli took his first hot shower in too long while I messed up the covers and rolled around in them. In the morning and had breakfast served to us FROM SILVER PLATERS! Can this get any more luxurious? I think not. Around mid morning and with full bellies we headed into town to browse the different tour options and pick our activities for the weekend. We booked a kayaking tour of La Isletas for the next morning and hopped on a white carriage with pretty, but more importantly healthy, horses for our city tour. This is by far one of the most fun tours I have done and it was even better because none of us had any expectations. We trotted all over the city, to the oldest church and house, learned about how the pirate William Walker (Jenna are you reading this?!) had been spiteful and burned Granada to the ground before leaving (the church being the only thing left standing), we went to the chocomuseo where our guide poured us gracious amounts of different kinds of chocolate liqueur (40% each!) and we all left a little happier and our wallets a little lighter. We then went to the Poet’s park and learned about Nicaragua’s famous poets and the history of the civil war. Our final stop was a cigar making shop were I got to hand roll a cigar as a present for my Dad, how cool is that?!, and we smoked a baby cigar that was rolled for us. Honestly, I don’t know why people smoke cigars. They taste disgusting and nasty stuff gets in your teeth. Anyways! It was a great way to spend a Saturday in Granada and I would highly recommend it! The tour was through Leo Tours. We spent the rest of the day being lazy, drinking cocktails, and lounging in our fancy pool.
Sunday we woke up bright and early for our kayaking tour. After another fancy (I’m going to be using fancy a lot of discribe our time at the hotel, as I’m sure you can already tell) breakfast we slathered on the sunscreen and headed for our kayaking tour. Once arriving at the lake we put on our life jacket and picked our of kayaks. My mom in a single and Eli and I in a double. I know how this works it’s all fun and games until two hours later your arms are burning and you want to cry. I was avoiding this situation with my backup plan, Eli *insert evil laugh here*. We spent four hours gliding through Las Isletas with Miguel, our guide, pointing out the most expensive houses and showing us exotic plants. We stopped for a little lunch and refreshments at a really beautiful island restaurant and then headed over to monkey island where a family of five monkeys live. Apparently they used to live with their owners an island over but they started biting people so they put them on the island. Now they live there and receive snack from tourists in boats. A little strange… We couldn’t get too close because we were in kayaks and they are know to jump in boats to get food which is fine but a kayak is a whole other story. We saw three of the five monkeys: the baby, Michael Jackson who apparently is really mean and steals people’s things and bites them, and Pancho. Pancho was the oldest and nicest of the monkeys, well we’ve been told, and Miguel paddled over to the rock to give him some love and hold his hand. Lastly we paddled to an old fort that was used to keep watch for pirates. At this point my mom’s arms were really tired, which was weird because I wasn’t sore at all *evil smile*, and she abandoned ship to switch with Eli. We quickly figured out that the two person kayak wasn’t so easy with Eli gone and switched back. Our paddle back was against the wind and I tried to encourage us by singing pirate songs but since I only know the lines “yo ho yo ho a pirate’s life for me” and “drink up me’heartys yo ho” (thank you Pirates of the Carribean ride) I quickly gave up. After the tour we spent the rest of the day, you guessed it being fancy at our pool.
Our final day in Granda was my favorite because we went back to the school that Eli and I had volunteered at. I couldn’t wait to show my mom where we had worked and for her to meet the amazing kids. We got there before class was over and once the bell rang and the kids saw us they rushed out and gave us giant group hugs. We laughed, played, and introduced them to my mom. They showed us their new Legos that they had gotten and Julian, the little boy who hasnt had the best situation in life and spaces out during school, told Eli that he had been practicing his reading like he promised him. Heart melting. It was an amazing afternoon and we left with happy hearts. It was a great way to end an awesome and fun visit with my mom.
I just want to say thanks again to my mommy for always taking care of me, making sure I have it all together, and if/when I don’t bringing backup! It was a really fun and freshing week.
Thanks for taking the time to read!
You can check out my post about us volunteering here!
P.S. Don’t forget to follow my adventures on Instagram!