As the name of my blog would suggest, I literally just do not know how to sit still and relax. Every time I rest my backpack down and my feet up, I’m thinking about whether or not I’ve made the right decision; whether or not I should be exploring a different place; whether or not the place I am currently at is going to offer me what I’m trying to gain from being away in which ever corner of the world I find myself.
This time was no different. I arrived in Popoyo, and thought “shit”. Not because it lacked beauty, but because I guess if I’m being completely honest, there was nothing there. Nothing to distract my overcreative and overreactive brain from itself. I realised that it was going to be me, my brain, and not much else for the duration of my stay. Yes, I’ve been traveling alone since day one, however there’s always been people there to me, to talk with and to keep myself busy. Now I was in a place where it was just my thoughts and I.
So instantly the negative thoughts began, and I was already planning to go somewhere else. I thought Gigante was quiet, but Popoyo was another level. It’s worth pointing out that it is currently low season at the moment in Nicaragua, and that other times it may well be busier, however for now it was just myself and another couple, who seemed to want to keep themselves to themselves, staying at the basic but pleasant, Sunset Villas.
I went to my dorm, where I was the only one, and took a nap, before waking up to eat my freshly caught fish, and watch the most incredible sunset over a vastly empty and beautiful beach. I took this in, and had a word with myself in that moment. A word with myself about how it’s time to learn to switch off. Time to learn to live in the moment. Time to learn it’s ok just to not plan my next movements for the following 24 hours, and time to give that overactive, overthinking brain of mine a bit of a holiday.
Im so glad I made that decision, as I spent three nights being able to sort of touch base with myself again. A huge reason for me getting away was to continue my studies online in aromatherapy, and during my trip to Popyo, I picked up my pen and papers for the first time since being away and did just that. I’d take my breaks sunbathing, before coming back in to the sheltered area, sitting underneath structures, thatched with palm leaves, and read and write whilst listening to the waves crash down just meters from where I sat.
I’d wake up early before the sun was too strong, and managed to do a personal first; running on the beach. Everytime I’d been walking on the beach, my feet would sink so far into the sand, it was a struggle in itself to get from A to B slowly, never mind running. However, I’d seen a change in myself since being away, and having this as an incentive to spur me on further, I forced myself to get up and run. And I tell you; it wasn’t even THAT bad. I didn’t last for ages, but I got myself out of bed and did it, which was an achievement in itself.
On the Monday, I saw there was a yoga class along the beach, at a place called (appropriately enough) Popoyo Yoga. I went along and attended the 09.30AM class, feeling much more comfortable in a Downward Dog, than the whole running thing.
It was myself and two other Western women in the class, one of which being the instructor. I’ve practiced yoga all over the world, in all places and with all sorts of people. The place where I’ve practiced most has been the UK, so I kind of felt that was the most likely place I’d encounter stereotypical white girl yogis. No, no. This tiny little beach of Popoyo, on a random stretch of coastline on the West side of Nicaragua was where I experienced my biggest and most cringe worthy white girl moment to date.
Eyes closed, beginning of yoga practice. In a medatative position; hands rested on knees, palms facing upwards to receive. It was Canadain Thanksgiving. We were instructed, in soothing tones, to dedicate this practice to something we are thankful for. To give praise and thanks to something that brings us joy and happiness. I let my mind wander; thinking about the things I’m thankful for. To be lucky enough to be in Nicaragua? To have a boyfriend who I literally think is bloody beautiful? That I’m happy and healthy and blessed with a good life? As I drift off my attention comes back to the instructor’s soft and spiritual voice, and if I’m not mistaken, uttering the words “For me, I am thankful to Starbucks for their Chai Tea Latte. And I look forward to having this again when I return to Canada”. And in this very moment, right there, eyes closed, pretending to meditate, inhaling wafts of sea breeze and incense, I acknowledge that it doesn’t matter if I’m practicing yoga in Nicaragua or Clapham High Street. I’m embarrassingly white girl, and always will be.
After my time here, I felt that I’d relaxed my body and mind enough to be ready for the next stage of my journey, so I got a cheap taxi to take me from Popoyo to the port of San Jorge, where I caught a ferry to the island of Ometepe.
Ometepe is an island that is formed of two volcanoes; Conception (1,610 M) and Maderas (1,394 M), in Lake Nicaragua, and about a 1 hour ferry ride from San Jorge.
The volcanoes, especially Conception, loom over the surrounding areas of Rivas and Tola, constantly surrounded by a thick cloud of smoke. The volcanoes are still considered to be very active, and as recently as 2010 there was an extremely violent eruption, resulting in an order from the Nicaraguan Government to evacuate the island. However, very few residents listened to this order, instead deciding to stay. This may be due to the fact that the volcanic ash makes the soil of the island extremely fertile, and with a huge part of the islands economy being based in agriculture and livestock, you can see why people wanted to stay.
It is clear as soon as you step onto Ometepe that the rich soil is unlike most, purely based on the flora that’s flourishing from any direction you turn. I can honestly say I’ve never seen such amazing colours; bright greens and intense blues, pinks and reds of the flowers. Even if you’re not big on hiking volcanoes and long walks (which is what many visit the island for) just to come and observe your immediate surroundings is worth the rickety ferry ride and endless bugs and mosquitoes alone.
I stayed at a hostel recommended to me, called Little Morgan’s. It was situated in the small town of Santa Cruz (a lot smaller than the Santa Cruz I’d previously visited in California) and down a steep driveway running through a couple of fields. I checked in, took note of the fact that I was in the jungle, staying in a building made entirely of wood (which was an extremely impressive piece of architecture) and that in hot season (thank God it’s currently rainy season, even though it barely rains) you can easily see up to 50 tarantulas here a week. I laid my head down, flicked two cockroaches from my pillow, and slept.
I got up at 6am the following to day to walk to a hostel up the side of the smaller volcano to participate in the 7AM yoga class. By the time I reached the yoga platform, in the middle of the jungle, my thighs were on fire and my bum cheeks felt an intense sensation of sore, having not known such movement for a good few years. I did a yoga lesson, funnily enough, with the ex lover of Xian, from the Yogic Ashram I stayed in, and the farther of her two boys. To cut things short, he was pretty much as out of his tree as the people at the Ashram who were making digeridoos out of bamboo. He started telling me how my star sign aligned with his and I was the sun to his moon, meaning we were a match. Sensing his tantric lines that he undoubtebly uses on all of the girls, and thinking I much prefer my nice fella who doesn’t choose to wear a scrunchy and feathers in his hair, I smiled and continued the yoga practice, thinking I’d choose to channel my yogic energy to a Starbucks latte rather than someone who feels that lines from Game of Thrones are going to wash as spiritual karmic rubbish.
After another night in the beautiful hostel, myself and another girl I’d met, Sarah, caught the 11AM ferry back to San Jorge, where we shared a taxi to a place called Laguna Apoyo.
I knew I’d wanted to visit, having been sat down on the toilet somewhere having a wee, only to look up at the back of the bathroom door to see the words graffitied “Visit Laguna Apoyo ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️”.
“Well,” I’d thought to myself. “Amongst all the declarations of love etched onto the door, and numbers to call for good times guaranteed, someone’s gone out of their way to leave a five star review. I’d better check it out.”
So I now find myself sat in the sunshine writing this, having had a deep and peaceful nights sleep on the edge of yet another volcano (this time on the inside) this one having had erupted around 23,000 years ago, forming a crator in which sits a lagoon, 200 metres deep, and surrounded by the tall green hills of the former volcano. I thought I was purely a beach bum, however I’m getting increasingly sold on the idea of volcanoes.