When you plan something for a long time, when it ceases to be your reality, it is expected that you will experience somewhat of a come down, an anti-climax and general feeling that perhaps, the best time of your life has just passed you by.
Another Christmas and New Year have come and gone, and it seems natural to pause and contemplate what the previous year held for you. For me, it held years of planning and dreams coming to fruition. It felt like a slice of beauty, served on a beautiful, ornate plate that had a few chips but those chips were part of what made the plate ,and everything on it, more endearing. A year ago, AT and I were in Nicaragua, we had just parted ways, after spending almost a month, with some of the most inspiring people we would meet on the trip. The sadness of leaving them – not knowing when, or even if, we would indeed see one another again, was exceeded by our eagerness to get to the universally loved Nicaragua.
Our time in Nicaragua was splattered with so much natural beauty, sunshine, colour, wildlife, food, architecture and rum. Oh, the rum. If I was able to endorse a product, it would be Flor de Caña, Nicaragua’s most famous export. The sunsets we watched over the tranquil beach town of San Juan del Sur were some of the most remarkable I have ever witnessed. The wash of blue, the reflection of the fishing boats swaying ever so slightly in the calm, mirror-like waters, the children kicking a soccer ball on the beach, the happy travellers sitting along the concrete boardwalk sipping Toña and holding 50c tacos that dripped down their elbows with nothing but happiness visibly emanating from their faces, AT and I sitting atop one of the best positioned bars in the world, watching the bright orange ball descend from the sky and slip quietly below the Pacific; ordering a half-sized bottle of Flor de Caña, happily handed to us by locals served with a small bottle of unrefrigerated soda water, ice and freshly cut lime splayed around a small white saucer. It is those moments that I hold close; the tranquility, the calmness I felt from within, the inner-peace that so many seek, and rarely find.
I recall our days spent in Granada walking along the river, watching baseball games and hearing the excited exclamations in Spanish of the children’s teammates; wandering the streets with Hemingway in my back pocket – the product of stumbling across one of the best English book stores we visited and feeling so excited that I had so much literary choice in front of me; quizzically admiring the contrast of the brilliant blue sky, the white-washed buildings and the warm light flooding the sides of churches; peering inside abandoned buildings and old bell-towers; looking around my ankles to find glitter swirling around my feet; the market bursting with colours foreign to my colour wheel, scents that were so pungent they stole my desire to inhale; laying in a hammock and reading and writing after enjoying the distinctly flavoured Nicaraguan coffee; the delicious, sweet stewed bananas, discovering gallo pinto and admiring the simplicity and inexplicable allure of the famous staple. We spent 10 days in Nicaragua, nowhere near as long as we wanted, but they were 10 of the most tranquil days I have had the pleasure of experiencing, I couldn’t have conjured similar in my imagination if I had tried.
Since arriving back in Sydney, I continue to nostalgically contemplate where we were on the exact same date last year. I’ve concluded that playing this “This Time Last Year We Were…” game is a form of denial. Denial that it is all over, and now feels like a snapshot of someone else’s life; like a movie played in fast-forward. Cliché, no? But strangely, I seek this melancholy, I continually go down a dangerous path of trying to re-live the memories that are ever-so precious to me now. In fact, they are what I take solace in.
Pieces of my heart (I’m full of clichés today) have been left splintered along Central and South American coastlines and landscapes. Explaining the infinite beauty and melancholy of our trip is a difficult thing, words do not seem to adequately convey the enormity and unescapable imprint it has left upon me – and it is not often I find that words escape me. To others, our small selection of pictures displayed on our social media outlets are the remainders of the trip, but if you are to look closely, you will that find I am a changed person; I have acquired much, much more than a pretty set of stolen moments captured on camera.