Hello dear readers -- I have just returned from a brief but lovely trip to San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua and am a bit sunburnt, a lot exhausted, and quite content. Our five-day Nicaraguan vacation consisted of the following elements, in no particular order: surfing, eating whole fried fish, swatting away mosquitos, being woken at odd hours by howler monkeys, boogie boarding, getting sunburnt, swatting away moths, being startled by praying mantises while eating, swatting away wasps, and swilling rum.
All in all, it was a good trip and it helped me come to terms with something about myself that I've been denying for a long time: I don't just dislike bugs, I HATE bugs. Before this trip, if one had asked me if I were an insectophobe, I probably would have said something to the effect of, "oh, bugs are all God's creatures and they serve a purpose and really I just don't like fluttery things but the rest are okay." This would be a lie. I mean, yes, bugs are God's creatures, but they are by far God's creepiest creatures, and it seems to me that many of them only serve the purpose of being gross. And now I can admit that I don't just dislike fluttery things like moths and butterflies - I also dislike crawly things and hoppy things and all things that wear their skeletons on the outside of their bodies.
I came to this important realization because our first three nights in Nicaragua were spent at an eco lodge called Buena Vista Surf Club, which consists of a series of treehouse-like bungalows set in the middle of a forest overlooking a pristine beach. Lovely and romantic during daylight. Horrible at night. As soon as the lights went out, our bungalow transformed, for me, anyway, into a dark, noisy, buggy hell. I would shoot upright in the middle of the night, convinced that a tarantula had laid eggs in my hair or that a praying mantis had taken up residence in my ear. I was almost right some of the time - all manner of bugs found ways of creeping past our mosquito nets and bedding down with us, with alarming results. The creep factor was compounded by the fact that our neighbors were a particularly vocal family of howler monkeys who, by the way, don't so much howl as groan and grunt, creating a noise somewhere between an angry warthog and a freight train. It's pretty unsettling.
But, despite the bugs and the lack of hot water and air conditioning, I'd still recommend the BVSC - it was a really neat place. Check out their site: http://www.buenavistasurfclub.com/ It's run by a cool Dutch couple who serve breakfast and dinner to the guests every day, family-style, which means you get to meet a lot of interesting people and eat home-cooked food. Despite the occasional uninvited dinner guest (I'm looking at you, horrible huge dragonfly), it's a really great experience.
Now, regarding surfing: I don't love it. Al and I originally took this vacation because we both wanted to try surfing, but as soon as I dragged my board down to the beach and practiced "popping up" onto it on the sand, I knew that surfing would not be for me. This suspicion was confirmed after about 20 minutes of flailing in the water and reconfirmed when, after said flailing, I accidentally stepped on a sting-ray's tail. As visions of Steve Irwin flashed through my head, I got the hell out of the water and, after collecting myself, figured I'd return to my old love, boogie-boarding. Let's face it, it's pretty hard not to love boogie-boarding. It requires no balance, no upper body strength, and no skills other than being able to lie on one's stomach, which I excel at. So I stuck with boogie-boarding and Al stuck with surfing and it all worked out well for everyone.
And now I'm back to reality, ready to restart my life as a non-surfing, bug-hating, self-actualized person. Thank you, Nicaragua - you've taught me so much.