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maderas-crew-3-x-noaviso, i don’t know what it is about this time of year, but i’ve been feeling really emo lately. like, dress in all black and listen to dashboard confessional on repeat kind of emo (hi, high school self). the holidays are over, my birthday has come and gone, and suddenly it’s a year until i’m 30 and i’m feeling all sorts of unsatisfied.

and rather than addressing those issues head on like a grown up should, i’m contemplating how to get the hell out of dodge, stat. i’m craving a beach vacation, a place where i can unplug my devices and recharge my mind and maybe, just maybe, write something more creative than the pharmaceutical bullshit i write day in and day out. i want to dig my toes into the sand and look up at the exploding stars come nightfall, and i want to drink lots of rum and cokes in between.

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and by that, i mean i want to go back to nicaragua. my trip to nica in december of 2013 was one of the best weeks of my life, hands down. and certainly, a lot of the pure bliss i felt while in san juan del sur (a beautiful seaside village known for its surf scene) was due to the fact that i was spending my days with two of the most wonderful, enlightening, beautiful human beings i know – but some of it was due to just how far AWAY i felt from my everyday life, and therefore, my everyday brain.

sadly, my dear friend martha no longer lives in SJDS, but that’s alright, because i’ve got my sights set on a new location: maderas village, a “idyllic boutique resort just off the beaten path in the pacific coastal hills” of nica. playa maderas is about 20 minutes from downtown san juan del sur, and martha and i actually spent a day there during my visit, watching the surfers ride the waves, making friends while drinking beers at makeshift tables, and laying in hammocks, watching droplets of salt water dry on our skin.

i stumbled upon maderas village on instagram, of all places, and fell head over heels. just looking at their feed makes my shoulders sit a little lower, makes my teeth clench a little less. you can practically feel the relaxation oozing out of their images.

so, in lieu of an actual getaway (though i truly do hope to make it back to nica, and specifically, to maderas village, soon), let’s enjoy some eye candy.

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Imagehave i mentioned that i’m not exactly the outdoorsy type? if i haven’t, now you know. this pin rings quite true to me. i’m not a fan of camping. i hate the scratchy feel of sleeping bags. i don’t enjoy a good hike. and yet, “hiking” (if you could even really call it that) was exactly what i found myself doing on my penultimate day in nicaragua. see, martha had mentioned that the view from the jesus christ statue that overlooks san juan del sur was out of this world. we couldn’t miss it. it had to be seen before i departed and flew back to new york. but the only way to get there was to walk up – and i mean up. 

up a series of ridiculously steep streets (my calves have never burned so intensely), and then up about 50-100 even steeper steps. when martha first mentioned the hike, i waved it off, and i’ll let you in on a little secret as to why it’s not just that i don’t like hiking, it’s that i’m afraid i can’t do it. afraid my body can’t handle it. afraid that i’m too overweight, too out of shape to conquer the heat and the hills. so when martha first mentioned the statue, but said it was ‘quite the hike,’ i said i’d think about it.

and then there we were, on my second to last day, trying to squeeze every bit of amazing out of our vacation, and she brought it up again. and this time, i couldn’t back out. so i told myself (and she reminded me) that we could take breaks if we needed to. we’d just walk slowly.

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so off we set, walking along the beach, over a miniature foot bridge, and into the residential streets beyond the bars and the hostels and the little shops in town. before long, those residential streets turned into steep as hell hills, and my legs began to burn. i felt sweat trickling down the small of my back, pooling in my sports bra, dripping down my hairline. i looked over, and both martha and sara were sweating too. that made me feel a bit better. i wasn’t the only one who thought it was practically sauna-like in the sunshine. every moment i felt like i needed to stop, i heard my soul cycle instructor’s voice in my head telling me, that moment when you feel like giving up? that’s not the end. that’s just the beginning. 

after about 45 minutes of walking, we were almost there. we stopped to take a picture by an insanely gorgeous view. and then we kept walking. soon i saw the steps – on such a steep incline that i had a moment of sudden paralysis (what if i fell off?!) – we were so close. at the end of those steps was the statue, and a view of san juan and all that surrounds it. Image$10 later and a GIANT downed water bottle later, we were there. and though my heart was pounding and my skin was sticky with perspiration, i didn’t feel sweaty. i didn’t feel out of shape. i didn’t feel anything but proud. because i had done it. i’d walked, then climbed, all the way from the edge of the beach in that image, to the giant statue that looked over it. little old out of shape, overweight me had done it.

Imageand as i stood there looking over the edge to the town below, i had a thought: maybe little old me wasn’t so out of shape anymore. maybe all those spinning classes have given my heart and my legs an edge. maybe i’m finally turning into a person who doesn’t have to turn things down for fear that she can’t keep up.  Image

on the walk down, i turned to martha, and i said,  i think i’m having a bit of an epiphany. i was so worried about doing this, so afraid i couldn’t do it. but i could. my body could. my body does so much for me. it can do so many things. it’s so strong, so powerful, so amazing. and yet all i do is complain about how it looks. 

it sounds silly, doesn’t it? ridiculous, even. but body acceptance, for me, is a huge thing. and i don’t think i’m there yet, but climbing that mini mountain was yet another step on my journey to acceptance. and that was a beautiful thing.

martha, in all her infinite wisdom, simply wrapped me in a big hug, and said, i’m so happy you’re having this moment.

and you know what i thought? that despite the fact that i was sweaty, and looked like an overheated piglet, so was i.

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oh, what a week it’s been. the first week back from vacation is always quite rough, isn’t it? this week certainly was for me. after getting in super late sunday night, i was a total zombie at work on monday. note to self: always give yourself an extra vacation day to recoup, do laundry, go grocery shopping, become a human again, etc. i spent tues-friday trying to get my life back in order, and getting back into the swing of my schedule: bar method in the mornings, a tues night soul cycle class with my favorite instructor, isabel, marathons of chicago fire, shrimp pasta with fresh basil and tomato. you know the drill. i read a quiz in this month’s self magazine that was all about whether you were an adventurous type or a homebody. not that i really needed a quiz to tell me which type i was, but guess what, folks? i’m a creative of habit. even self thinks so. which explains why, despite the absolutely incredible time i had on my trip to nicaragua, i am thrilled to be back home and back in the habit.

on the docket for this weekend:

a friday night friend soul cycle/dinner date with my girl katie, who i haven’t seen in far too long, and whose southern accent i miss dearly; saturday morning bar method then brunch at lafayette with my friend sara, and a sunday afternoon lunch and last minute christmas shopping with my ladies kara and sophie. and of course, my requisite sunday night soul class, where i tap it back and get my groove on for the week ahead.

in the meantime, i’ll leave you with the things i loved this week:

this holiday candle has been making my apartment smell amazing for the past few weeks. it smells like christmas in a candle, all pine and yummy spices and the scent of snow. get it, trust me.

* this roundup of blair eadie’s 2013 outfits offers some serious sartorial inspiration. blair’s style is a bit more overdone than my personal taste, but i still get inspired by her unique, feminine fashion choices.

* i bought a few of these notepads for my girlfriends for the holidays, and i can’t wait to gift them. everyone loves a cute notepad, right? ain’t nothing like staying organized in style!

* my mom got me this new, holiday-appropriate deborah lippman polish for hanukkah, and i can’t get enough of it. it’s the perfect shimmery forest green.

* do you read love taza? it’s one of my favorite blogs. naomi is a great writer, and her photos of her beautiful family are always such a nice dose of inspiration. she recently went blonde, and i can’t get enough. it’s making me want to go platinum.

* speaking of inspirational, here are 10 ways to dazzle in a meeting, courtesy of the everygirl.

* i’m reading lean in. love sandberg or hate her, agree or disagree with her, it’s a really interesting read. suffice it to say it’s making me feel angry, passionate, emotional, and totally fired up all at once.

 

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i’ve talked a lot on this blog about my homebody nature – how i’d rather stay in than go out, how i crave and thrive on routine, how i prefer things to be planned out, so i know what to expect and when. i’m not, most would say, the most adventurous of ladies. in fact, that last sentence was the understatement of the century. adventure isn’t really my jam. routine, i get. routine, i know. but spontaneity scares the shit out of me. i’d love to be one of those chill, go with the flow girls. god, i wish i was. but i know i am not, and likely, will never be.

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my friend martha, though? she’s one of those girls through and through. she is one of the most open, adventurous, down ass chicks (really, that’s the only way to describe her) i have ever met in my entire life. she is spontaneity at its best, always up for a new challenge, a new place, a new food or person. she’s a free spirit, and i mean that as the ultimate compliment: she goes where her heart takes her, and for this, i admire her greatly.

most recently, her heart took her to san juan del sur, a beautiful little beach down on the southwest coast of nicaragua. see, martha got burnt out at her job as a nurse in boston. and unlike most of us, who would suck that unhappiness up until it ate us alive, she got out. and then she said to herself, what should i do next? what will make me happy? what will make me feel full? and a chance to do some health research in nicaragua came up. so she took it. and she leapt, eyes open, into the unknown.

pretty incredible, right? when she told me her plans, i too was feeling a bit burnt out at my job. i hadn’t had a real vacation in years, and i thought to myself, i should go to nicaragua and visit her. except her plans were up in the air, and i couldn’t book dates until the semi last minute, and i wouldn’t be able to stay with her, which would mean booking a hotel on my own, and traveling alone, and all of a sudden, it didn’t seem like such a great idea.

because it was scary, and new, and different. and adventurous.

and then i did it anyway. because it was all those things, and i needed to push myself out of my comfort zone. so i booked my ticket on the blind faith that even if i was traveling alone, and even if i was staying alone, martha would be there – and during the times that she wasn’t, i would be alone, and that would be a good thing. i would explore. i would practice my spanish. i would volunteer. i would just be.

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as it turned out, while i did stay alone for 2 nights, i spent another two in a beautiful house (see below) with martha and her dear friend sara, who is one of the most fabulous ladies i’ve ever had the pleasure of spending time with.

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and then we spent another two nights in a fancy schmancy resort that was uber lux, but also uber filled with insects. but hey, i can’t balk at that view. who could?

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it was a week filled with some serious girl talk, some crazy dancing times, a lot of rum and cokes, and enough beach and pool time for me to a) come back looking “seriously relaxed” and “very tan” – two phrases that are never, ever, associated with me.

i have a good deal of stories to tell about my week in nica, but i’ll do you the favor of spreading those out a bit, so you’re not reading 9 million words at once. in the meantime, though, here are a few other pictures. i tell you, the sunsets there…i’ve never seen anything like them.

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