Between Two Lungs

It’s starting to back up.  I can’t write fast enough or convert the experiences into stories.  My brain is trying to capture, retain, recode.  My senses are overloaded.  Flooded.  Too much is coming in too fast.

Jiquillio came and went and the highlight was the fire-spinning on the beach.  Or was it the fact that I taught my first ever yoga class to six traveling strangers who, lo and behold, came back the next day with three friends and a ten-dollar donation?  Or perhaps it was the house for rent that mysteriously fell into our laps the day we were to depart for Playa Assaradores with no place to stay.

In a dusty trailer ride bumping through a small and simple agricultural village, I am blown away by the the road; the unplanned and the coincidental.

Nicaragua is poor.  If there is a short end of the stick, the Nicaraguans are picking their teeth with it.  Costa Rica has the all-inclusives and the tourists, El Salvador has the American dollar and a recent visit from Barack Obama and Mexico has the drug pipe-line into the States.  Nicaragua, hay nada.  And it is just stunning in its simplicity.

What more do you need when you have a couple of thatched palapas on a large piece of beach-front property next to an estuary where the salt flats are full and the fish are always biting?  There’s time to cruise around on bikes, play in the waves and take a snooze in a hammock.  Perpetual summertime and man, the livin’s easy.  The people are happy.  Even the cows look sleek and shiny, free to roam; cruising the beach all day, munching on sea grass.  Definitely not the gluttonous, over-fed beasts we’re used to.

I have to admit there is a part of me that feels like I should be seeing more of the “sights”, speaking more Spanish and following the circuit instead of hugging the coastline, following the waves and traveling with a group that consists of two Germans, one Swede, one Oregonian and one and a half Canadians.  But how much more local can you get?  We just ordered organic food grown on a farm down the road to be delivered in the morning because that’s when the milk is freshest.  The tortilla cart came ’round at dawn and for $2.00 we bought fifty hand-made corn tortillas.  Our fish we buy from a man’s house, waiting in his living room with his kids, while we weigh out our bounty.

A typical house here consists of an open-aired shack enclosed or partially enclosed by corrugated metal or palm fronds.  It sits on a packed-dirt floor in a packed-dirt yard and I can only imagine what a slippery and muddy ordeal the rainy season brings.  Each morning you rise to the sun and you sweep your dirt.  Even the dirt roads get swept.  Sworls of dust clouds caress the ankles of women hunched over the brooms in the golden first-day light.  So much pride taken into even a dirt floor.  Every yard and field is enclosed in crooked and broken barbed-wire fences.  They give the illusion of security and property delineation, but mostly work great for hanging laundry.  Two forked logs support the cross-beam onto which is looped the pulley system that hand-over-sweaty-hand draws water up from a cement well.  A well that causes much sickness and death in the rainy season.

Upwards of 5-8 people live under one corrugated metal roof, the men often sleeping outside in their hammocks, their machetes lightly resting across their breasts.  During peak sun the family, the cows, the dogs and their puppies, the chickens, the horses and the occasional goat loll about in the shade lazily playing, talking, swinging, dozing, munching, mooing, wrestling, washing, rolling, smiling and pecking the afternoon away.

And as it all whizzes by, the waves and the villages in startling moments of clarity and simultaneously, blurred impressions of beauty, I realize that the countdown has begun.  The end is near.  And as I lay in bed last night listening to the rhythmic crash of the ocean, I am aware of how much I have learned from the sea in these last three months.

I have seen three full-moons and will tally up a fourth by the time I leave.  I have seen too many stunning sunsets to keep counting or to even choose a favourite.  I have become so intuned with tide charts and swell patterns I feel as though perhaps my breath now inflates to the sound of the seas’ frothy sighs.

They say that the trees are the lungs of the Earth, but surely it is the ocean.  The waves a soulful exhalation with a cleansing power that leaves me breathless.  A giant, watery mystery that dances with the moon and in gasping whispers, speaks the language of the stars.  The secrets of the universe must be tucked away in the depths of her trenches, hidden in the folds of her abyss.  She harbors no attachments and truly knows that to all things there is a rise and a fall, an ebb and a flow, a wax and a wane.  An inhale and an exhale.  It is flexible in its fluidity and powerful beyond comprehension.

The ocean has taught me to let go.  Because sooner or later, everything gets washed away.  Nature’s Law.  Undeniable and without question.  The ocean always wins and the current is always stronger.

I have been tossed around in a spin-cycle of whitewater and learned the importance of remaining calm.  In turbulent waters, it is always best to take a deep breath, dive deep and stay loose.

In my life I have always tried to one-up change.  Beat it to the punchline.  Whenever I sensed a shifting of gears I would move, change cities….escape.  I would change my surroundings so that I was distracted enough to drown out the whispers of my heart, the lessons of the Universe, the Grand-Master plan (or whatever you want to call it).  And if I didn’t cross the finish line first, I’d feel downright sore, rejected and hurt when change happened around me.

When I feel scared to go home, when I realize that all of my best and oldest friends have moved away, fallen in love, had babies.  When even the concept of “home” for me is hard to define, I am calmed by the sound of the sea.

For this is life.  And change happens.

And all of those friends that have moved away, fallen in love and had babies are just splinters in a grand, gaping wooden door open wide for more friends, more love and more babies.  (Although, for population control, let’s keep the numbers down to 2.5 per househould, k?)

You can no more staunch the flow of change than you can stem the tides.

Looking out onto a horizon that extends past the realm of my peripheral vision, I realize that I am so small.  A droplet of water in the world’s largest aquarium.  But the ocean is massive and fierce so I am also so much a part of enormous space and movement.  My life on the shore has taught me that.

And now, as I start to make my way back inland, back home, I am taking with me my lessons in fluidity.  And though I know now that I won’t try to fight a strong current or swim upstream, I will say that I hope one day this mighty river might take me back out to sea.

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