On the heels of a low-key and sad September, October was like a fresh spring wind rolling through Managua.
Literally and figuratively, given that we finally had some steady rain and cooler temps, and that personally I started to feel better and get out and about more.
And it also brought the beginning of my farewell tour of Nicaragua. That’s right. I know some of you have been wondering what’s next and where I’ll be heading, and I can finally confirm:
I am heading back to Canada at the end of November to take a one year contract with a mixed-model (social) housing organization in Calgary. I am thrilled for the chance to catch my breath, spend time with friends and family, and make new plans! I’ll be working as their Communications and Engagement Specialist and am walking into what sounds like an incredibly upbeat and hard-working office environment. I can’t wait! I’ve already started reading up and collaborating with the team there so that I can hit the ground running as soon as I arrive. Next chapter, here I come!
I got in some seriously quality time with many of my friends. We drank, we ate, we chatted feminism and politics and business and next steps and everything under the sun, and we just spent time appreciating the fact that expat friendships bond you in a unique way and one not to be taken lightly. Or maybe that was just me 😉
My Nicaraguan niece turned 6 this month so naturally, we celebrated her with presents, food, and a giant piñata. Nicaraguan birthdays are always a good chance for some simple fun and catching up with family and neighbours.
I spent the weekend in Jinotega visiting friends for the last time before I leave. And as much as it was sad, it was also fun and perfect and full of love and laughs.
I had an absolute adventure trying to get out to see all of my friends in the rural areas without access to a vehicle, getting off the bus in the wrong spot, grabbing rides in the back of trucks, breakfasting with strangers, bumping into people I haven’t seen since I moved to Managua, and getting a sunburn while walking for hours on end.
The fun of the unexpected way the day unfolded reminded me why I had fallen in love with Nicaragua in the first place – there’s such an impulsiveness to hopping onto the back of a stranger’s motorbike and trusting your neighbours to see you to the next place safely – and that brings a lot of joy.
(Note to self: There might be something to allowing vulnerability into your life at times. To be explored more thoroughly later 😉 )
One of my favourite anecdotes from the day is when the last family I was visiting mentioned some of their baby chicks had been going missing. When I naively asked if they knew who might be doing it – was it a group of young kids just messing around? – they were a bit sheepish and also aghast. No, they assured me, none of their neighbours would do that. So it must have been a spirit or ghost.
A spirit. Or a ghost. I could tell they weren’t totally sure they believed that, but the sense of community is so strong that they would rather believe a spirit was stealing away their chickens than consider the possibility that it was one of their neighbours. Isn’t that incredible?
Aguizotes is a festival that occurs every October in Nicaragua and is something like a celebration or appreciation of the saints and spirits of the deceased. I linked to this article on facebook so I won’t regurgitate it here, but it was quite the intense experience.
My friend and I donned scary masks of our own and set out into the crowd – a parade of fire and dancing, costumes and masks, young and old. It was fun and also a bit intense at times – I got groped and pushed around enough that at some points I legitimately feared I would fall and be crushed. Or worse, hurt someone with the very big horns on my mask.
Fortunately that did not happen, and aside from the groping and taking more photos with strangers in one night than I have the rest of my life combined, it was pretty chill and very entertaining.
The three amazing photos you see above (and the feature photo on the post) were taken and edited by my good friend, who gave me permission (heck! he upright offered them up because he’s that awesome!) to use them on the blog. You can check out more of his photos from the event as well as many more beautiful shots at Futografía.
As per the above news, my goodbye tour has begun in earnest, and as much as these things are fun and positive and lovely, they are also hard and sad and heartbreaking. As is my wont (just jokes, guys, I don’t normally do this), I will express my bittersweet and complex emotions with a line from the Beatles, in honour of this awesome mural in Jinotega:
“Though I know I’ll never lose affection / For people and things that went before / I know I’ll often stop and think about them / In my life I love you more”
In other words, I wanna go and I don’t wanna go and it’s all so hard, ahhh!
Around the Interwebs
Succulent nails!? I love me some succulents but this makes me feel the way nails on a chalkboard feel. It’s awful. And weirdly photogenic.
I stumbled upon this awesome article about a male Canadian Air Force pilot/fashion blogger (not sure yet if he is married but I’m on it, you guys) who lives with a 10 piece wardrobe IN CANADA. He does it, so you can too. If you want to, that is. Check it out for some man-minimalist inspiration!
If you haven’t seen VICELAND’s series with Gloria Steinem that explores the lives of vulnerable women around the world, do yourself the favour and do it now. Each episode is around twenty eye-opening minutes.
Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman – My first Gaiman, and I’ve come to understand that a) it will not be the last and b) it will not be the best. It’s clear he is an author I must read more of because even though this story was not my kind of story, it was written and executed in a wonderful way.
The story is the tale of a magical underground world full of dark characters all facing their respective demons, in a manner of speaking. It’s dark and uncomfortable but not in a gory or sickening way. I wasn’t afraid to keep reading, which is important, as I am a baby of the largest proportions.
Outlander by Diana Gabaldon – This was a re-read for me and honestly came on the heels of me watching the first two seasons of the series based on the novels. Guys, I’m obsessed. There’s adventure and passion and betrayal and history and basically everything you could want from a book or television series. And did I mention, it largely takes place in Scotland? YA. I’ll take that scenery any damned day of the week, thank you!
The Rundown – September 2016
Travel Jobs: International Volunteer Coordinator
Photo Essay: Beautiful Faces of Nicaragua
How to Make the Perfect Care Package
The Budget Backpacker’s Guide to Nicaragua: 14 Day Itinerary
most liked instagram
An incredible Managuan sunset, captured right from my front patio.
coming in november
I mean, aside from saying goodbye to my beloved second home of Nicaragua and hello again to my forever home of Canada? I’m hoping to visit my fave Nica spot once more, there are elections in Nicaragua this month, and there’s some talk of finding some thermal springs outside of Managua. See you in a month!