Arriving at 3AM is perhaps not the best way to begin a home stay with a family, but greeted with smiles and yawns at Casa Susana, we grabbed our bags, walked into our host family’s house, and our trip to Nicaragua officially started. Ryan, the boys, and I were all eager to learn Spanish and starting our trip to Nicaragua with a two week language course in San Juan Del Sur (SJDS) helped make the following nine weeks in Central America a fantastic experience for the whole family. It was very reassuring and convenient to have four people collaborating together when trying to bargain with a taxi driver, order food, rent surfboards, pay a bill, or just simply trying to chat up with anyone interested in having a conversation with us. While we certainly made the most progress learning Spanish while taking the course, I am happy to say we continued to learn and build off of our foundation throughout the rest of our trip. What made that possible was the the continual positive enthusiasm and energy we received from the Nicaraguans who just seemed so appreciative and happy that we were giving it a go speaking their language. Grant and Ethan were especially willing to jump into conversations with fellow children, grandparents and anyone in between. The warm reception from all the Nicaraguans we met as well as being willing to make mistakes (or maybe just being completely ignorant of our mistakes) helped us make continued progress and feel like we were a part of the community.
Dripping with sweat, covered with an interesting mix of sand adhered to sticky SPF, and combatting the gale force winds, I did wonder what we had gotten ourselves into and how I was personally going to survive the next three and a half weeks. It would take us a good 45 minutes to get to the break, and then you actually have to also figure out how to surf at a new break. Is it best to surf at high, low, incoming or outgoing tide? When are the least amount of people on the break? Does swell direction make a difference? Invariably, the sun would be going down by the time we started our walk home which most likely meant we would be walking home in the complete dark….