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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.