Nicaragua: Big Corn Island
Part 1 – The Plane
2:00 pm on February 21st, 2019 while approaching the airport in Managua, Nicaragua the sense of wild adventure stirred in my spirits again. Ready to change gears, I was eager to fly out to the Big Corn Islands. As I stepped into the empty domestic flight terminal that vibe quickly changed. Slightly stunned by the empty room, I approached the desk where the airline staff were and handed them my passport.
The look of confusion filled their faces, and after an awkward moment they delivered the news that explained why the terminal was empty. My flight left February 20th at 2:00 pm, I was a day late. Dumbfounded, I stood there for a moment to assess my options. As I gazed around the room, the flight screen caught my attention; a flight was departing at 2:30 pm that day for Big Corn Island. Speaking broken Spanish, I created a possibility with the airline, “How much would it cost to get on that flight?” I said, as I pointed to the screen. The man shook his head, then shrugged. I insisted that they consider the possibility of letting me on that flight. Some time passed, then his superior arrived and started a lively conversation. As the moments passed, the tension rose.
It was 2:13 pm, 17 minutes until the flight would depart, when they turned to me with an offer. $40 transaction fee and a $20 cash tip. I immediately agreed, because Managua was no place for tourists to visit. They rushed me to the airline office, then back to the domestic departure terminal, and finally through security.
Now it was 2:27 pm. 3 minutes to spare. I walked out onto the runway and saw the loaded propeller plane. There was 1 open seat. I sat down and we took off.
This was my first experience in a propeller plane. The ride was quite the adventure as the turbulence jolted the plane like a roller coaster. Only a thousand meters from the ground, the sights were incredible. Happily airborne, I sat there and observed the rivers intertwine with the dense jungle all the way to the Carribean.
The plane began to descend at the coastline, pit stop. A few passengers got off the plane and others filled their seats. We took off again straight over the Carribean. After some time spent cruising through turbulent clouds and open ocean scenery, the plane began to descend.
I spent the night testing data connections while watching scuba diving videos on YouTube. Sunrose, and I walked across the street to the dive shop to negotiate a fair price. The life of working remotely, eating locally, and scuba diving began.
Part 2 – The Island
9 days passed on the island. Isolated from the distractions of the modern world, I flowed through work and had great focus when necessary. Meanwhile, I enjoyed local coconut bread daily and indulging in conch curries. Eating what the locals eat is always an aim while traveling, especially when the abundant seafloor is only steps from the door. Most days flowed in this manner; wakeup, dive, eat, work, sleep – repeat.
Immersing myself into a supernatural environment to start each day was surreal. I continuously pondered how this was possible. Decades ago, only the wealthiest and most adventurous executives of widely successful companies could conceive the lifestyle I was living daily, not to mention the mere act of scuba diving.
It had been 3 years since I last scuba dived, so luckily it was just the divemaster and I for the first few days. As the moments passed underwater, the incredible feeling of breathing saturated my body. Having access to technology that enables humans to breathe underwater, and experience moving a 3D-being substantially liberated from gravity’s force is special. Stacking those feelings with the visual sensation of seeing eagle rays, reef sharks, and large schools of fish while consciously focusing on breathing created a difficult experience to totally appreciate.
… then again simply breathing in… and out… on earth is a difficult experience to totally appreciate… (<<< read that again)
What I just shared is vital to acknowledge. The gratitude I have for my situation is largely inexpressible; futhermore, our reality doesn’t exist without highs and lows.
Part 3 – The Lesson
One night while walking to town, a homeless man approached me. He followed me for awhile, in and out of stores and streets shouting words I couldn’t understand. After our initial interaction, I ignored him and hoped he’d leave. Then as I began to leave town on the dimly lit quiet road, the man continued to scream. I turned around, locked eyes with him, and asked again, “How can I help you?”.
We were unable to communicate verbally, but in that moment a profound feeling dawned over me as our gazes deepened. He just wanted to be heard… people just want to be heard; especially the lonely folk who are homeless, lost, and hungry. So I sat down on the beach with him and offer my coconut bread while we watched the sunset together. He began to smile.
People aren’t out to hurt, even those who want to beg, steal, and cheat. People desire to be heard, acknowledged, and loved. Their souls are suffering. By approaching this man with an open demeanor, and kindness in my heart this realization settled with me.
Be kind to each other and our planet. Give more than is taken. These simple lessons are easily overlooked by the busy lives many people choose.
In consequence, we expose ourselves to unconsciously lose our human spirit because we’re too absorbed in the noise to even hear it.
Keep it kaizen.