I landed in Managua airport, Nicaragua on Jan 3rd 2016 and the first thing I saw on the two hour journey to the small beach town – San Juan del Sur, was a man walking along the street wearing a simple loin cloth that covered absolutely nothing when the wind blew. After hours of plane rides, knowing only 5 words of Spanish and being totally petrified it was a sight that kicked in the ‘flight’ instinct.
Dinner time at my host families house that night was the second scariest moment of the day as they kept repeating something at me as I stared back at them blankly. Until my host brothers wife, in the most London accent imaginable, turned to me and said “they’re asking if you want the chicken or the fish.” From that moment Naomi and I became best buddies (I meet her and my host brother Carlos in her native London as we’re both back here), and drank Rum by the beach (Flor de Caña) almost daily.
Sunday Funday was the big thing to do in San Juan. The unspoken rule was: don’t bring ANYTHING. Not your sunglasses, phone or even your flip flops. It’s a hilarious pool party crawl with alcohol, good music and lots of glitter. You lose the people you start off with, make new friends, lose them, and end up getting a piggy back to the Jeep heading back into town off some random lovely Aussie fellow. You’ll dance, probably get chucked into a pool somewhere, end up drunkenly munching a burrito around 8pm and smile constantly.
In my second week of Spanish school I became friends with two American guys (Ben and Joe), who were travelling to ‘the treehouse in the jungle’ up in Granada for the weekend and invited me to tag along. Petrified of getting around alone (how am I supposed to catch a bus to a place I don’t know with a language I don’t speak) but eager for an adventure I agreed to go with them. To get to Granada we had to take a Chicken Bus, an old American style bus which is never considered full. The boys warned me it would get hot and crowded and that ending up with an armpit in my face was a real possibility. I was so excited (and the boys had snacks), that a near miss with a lorry had me laughing my head off instead of feeling concerned. I thought the Chicken Bus was the best thing ever, and it cost us about USD 2!
If I thought men in loin cloths or Sunday Funday’s were insane – they didn’t hold a candle to the Treehouse in the Jungle. There was a Hula Hoop, a firemans pole, a dart board challenge, hammocks, a DJ, suspension bridge to a chill out zone mid Jungle, Howler Monkeys and a lot of alcohol. Additionally you could also tell the bar stuff you ‘wanna get weird’ and be taken to a room with a choice of a kazillion weird outfits (my buddy went for a pink shimmery mermaid costume – as you do). Whatever you do, don’t request a Chuck Norris shot, or do, just make sure someone is filming.
Possibly my favourite picture of my weekend in the Treehouse is this one. Too many of us were chilling out on a large hammock and suffice to say we broke it. Crash landing on the deck I REALLY hurt my back. You know the type of pain where you think to yourself ‘I’m too old to cry’ but the tears spring up anyway. The bar staff rushed me to the bar – any shots I wanted, on them. Then this Canadian guy came and gave me a hug from behind, my mate Ben (in the mermaid costume) started wiping away my tears, and at some stage I’d entrusted my phone to the care of a random Scotsman I’d met that day and he decided to take a selfie and capture the scene.
After all the partying (I swear I was going to Spanish school in this time), I decided on a change of scene for a few weeks and headed to the Carribean side of Nicaragua – to the Corn Islands with two of my favourites from Spanish school, one of whom was Swiss (as if I travelled halfway around the world to meet a Londoner and a Swiss!) and continued on to Peru with.
The snorkeling was great fun but of course I decided the one place I didn’t need sun cream was my back. Worst sun burn ever.