Sunday, March 13, 2016

Nicaragua: Day 2

Andi and I had one objective on our first full day in Nicaragua: to disconnect and enjoy. Really, it would be challenging to do anything else as the warm ocean breeze and crashing waves signaled the start of a perfect day.

My internal alarm clock is set for 5:45am no matter if I'm on mom-duty or not, so I quietly rolled out of bed as not to wake Andi and tip-toed to my computer waiting on the desk. For the next hour or so, I wrote about our travel adventures and took in the beautiful view around me. I've never seen Andi sleep as much as he has on this trip. I think he might be catching up from months and months of missed time. With nowhere to be, I let him rest and enjoyed the rare peace and quiet.

Around 7:30am, Andi and I got dressed and walked down to Morgan's Rock restaurant for breakfast. Getting there requires descending (in this case) the hillside via many, many sets of stairs. It's not so bad until I remember what comes down must go back up. Achieving my daily Fitbit goal for stairs is no sweat in this place. Our walk to breakfast also takes us over a scenic hanging bridge with views of the Pacific Ocean. There is another route but it requires taking, you guessed it, more stairs.

You'd think we would've encountered the restaurant's breakfast rush, but Andi and I were two of only a few guests there. Solitude is one of the things we've discovered we like most about this hacienda; with 15 bungalows on property, there's hardly anyone else anywhere we want to be. It feels like our own private paradise.

Over breakfast we sipped La Cumplida coffee, grown on La Cumplida Farm. The owner of the Morgan's Rock eco-lodge also owns and operates this coffee plantation in the northern part of Nicaragua. Andi and I each ordered meat and vegetable omelets, served with the typical plate of homemade corn tortillas and rice and beans. We also shared fresh fruit, yogurt and to-die-for lemon muffins. Yum!

After breakfast, Andi and I walked down to the beach where we had the entire stretch of sand to ourselves. Laying on comfortable beach chairs under a thatch of straw seemed like the perfect way to spend our morning, but I was itching for a little adventure. Morgan's Rock offers free kayaks to use in the estuary on property, so Andi and I walked down the beach to check it out. A employee helped us drag a kayak down to the water and together, Andi and I paddled off into unknown territory. No worries about safety though, Andi had to get out and push our kayak a few times to prevent it from dragging on the river bottom.

The landscape was surely beautiful. When our arms grew tired of paddling, we headed back to the beach and parked ourselves under a canopy with overlooking views of the crescent-shaped bay. There we sat, or laid rather, until lunchtime.

In the span of one morning at the beach, I finished a book I've been slowing reading through for several months at home. What a wonderful gift to have the time to sit, relax and read. From my lounge chair, I also watched Andi tackle giant 6-foot waves with a boogie board.

Even under a protective awning, the hot sun was beating down on us so Andi and I decided to walk up to the restaurant for lunch around 1:00pm. He ordered a plate of mixed ceviche served with fried plantains, and I had a tropical tuna salad with fresh fruit and vegetables. It was the perfect light lunch to round out our day in the sun.

While placing our lunch order, Andi asked our waiter how his day was going. "Good," he said, "but tiring." He was working a double-shift that day. Our conversation made me think about how similar people are in all parts of the world. For us, life in Minnesota is stressful and chaotic. We live in a $350,000 house but dream of living in this Nicaraguan paradise. Our waiter works steps from the beautiful Pacific Ocean, but dreams of being somewhere else. The grass is always greener, as they say.

After lunch, Andi and I trekked back to our bungalow for an afternoon siesta. We showered away the sand, Andi napped (again!) and I did more reading and blogging.

Andi and I decided to ring in the evening with a sunset sail, so we arranged to have one of Morgan's Rock boat captains take us out on the water. Harvy, our tour guide, met us in the lobby around 4:30pm and happily greeted us with fresh mojitos to start our adventure. Andi and I then followed him to the end of the beach, all the while wondering how we'd manage to reach the boat anchored in the bay. The waves were at least 6-feet tall. Soon, a dinghy boat putzed toward shore carrying two seamen. They carefully timed the waves as they approached us and once they arrived, we hopped in the small boat and headed off toward the bigger vessel. "Seventy percent chance we're getting wet on this one," I told Andi unassuredly.

Eventually we made it onto the larger boat - surprisingly, our clothes still dry - and headed north to catch the sunset. Our very own private sunset cruise was a great bargain for $55 USD per person! Along the way, Harvy filled our ears with information about his family, the Nicaraguan landscape before us and the yet-to-be-built Nicaraguan Canal (similar to the Panama Canal) slated to plow right through this territory. Together with cocktails in hand and the wind in our hair, we witnessed an amazingly beautiful sunset.

At dusk, we high-tailed it to the bay and did the dinghy-reverse maneuver back onto dry land. No splash landings into the ocean - success! Andi and I thanked Harvy for his wonderful tour guide services and followed the lantern-lit path toward the restaurant for dinner.

This would be our last night at Morgan's Rock in San Juan del Sur. The next morning, we'll move to another bed + breakfast property on a different hillside overlooking the ocean. I feel conflicted, like we just settled in at Morgan's Rock, but as I look over the evening's dinner menu I know Andi and I will soon grow tired of our surroundings. It's better to move on while a feeling of endearment remains.

Andi and I agreed to go halvies on dinner; he ordered the chicken and broccoli lasagna I'd been drooling over but didn't want to order myself for fear of it being too rich and I ordered the safer chicken and mushroom stuffed bell pepper dish. As we shared our plates with one another, we reflected on our wonderful day together. 

The dinner menu was delicious, and the wine and rum tasted even better. Andi decided to up the ante with tres leche cake and pineapple sorbet to top off our evening. We ate every last bite before retiring to our bungalow in the jungle.

An absolutely perfect day in Nicaragua. I'm excited to see what experiences the remainder of this trip has in store for us.

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