I leave in less than a month. Back to Denver. I realize a month is still a lot of time - hell, most people don't get to spend one month doing what I've been doing let alone five months. Even still Alan's imminent departure has put it in the forefront of my brain: I have to go back. And I don't know how to or what to do and, quite honestly, why I should.
Not entirely true, I know why I do have to go back: Money. My house. My dogs. Some people I dearly love and care for that I want to see. My health has taken a bitch slapping here and I need to go back to the States where I eat a little better, am not constantly surrounded by people who chain smoke and hence have me chain smoking.
Don't get me wrong - I love Nicaragua. Giacomo Belli described Nicaragua as 'The Country Under My Skin' in her book with the same title and Nicaragua is under my skin, it's where I feel at home, it's where I know how to navigate the universe a little better than maybe I do in Denver, language barrier and all. And I love Granada. Calle Santa Lucia has been my home for more of the past year than any place else. That said, I don't want to spend the rest of my life here.
Before I decided to come back here I did plan on leaving the country again for a period of time. My initial plan was to go to Cambodia and Southeast Asia for a while. But I loved the work I did here, loved the project, and have a weird phobia of a meaningless life. So I came back. And I have worked hard. And I am proud, so proud, of the work that's been done and the amazing people I work with. But I have no intention of settling here permanently, though it would be easy to do so given the resources.
The world is a big place. There's a lot of other places - and a lot of other projects - I'd like to work on. Occasionally I have to be a grown up and make some money. And I don't want to spend the rest of my life a transient - one place to the next. I always want to travel but I need to set up a homebase some place, somewhere that when I come home actually feels like home. Where will that be? I don't know. But I do know it won't be Granada. And I need to figure it all out.
I'm not convinced I know how to do that - figure it all out.
In a month I have to get back on a plane. I know when I get on the plane it's going to feel like I just left yesterday but when I get off the plane my life is going to be completely different than it was when I left. I left in the middle of winter, owning a car, having some relationships I don't have any more. Even with my good friends in States there's a crevasse of time and space that we've sort of been yelling across for the past few months.
The people who know me in the States who have come to see me in Nica have made the same comments - you seem lighter here, easier, more in your element. I don't know how much of that has to do with Nicaragua itself. I have a weird skill, an odd tic - I am the most in my element when I am the farthest away from what is comfortable. I'm quite sure that if you put me in Phnom Penh or Estonia or Senegal I would seem more in my element than I do in Colorado. Unfortunately, however, this is not a terribly marketable skill.
I don't know how to re-adjust to the US. The thought of chain stores, super highways, convenience stores - just seems so damn complicated. I don't drive a car here. I ride a bike or I walk. And I won't even get into the work issue. Here I work hard and I do dirtier, harder work than I would in the States. But I keep odd hours, have no real 'boss' - you can't really count Donna as a boss. The thought of a desk tying me down eight hours a day is completely incomprehensible. As is the thought of going back into an American animal shelter - with all their funding and equipment - to work.
Think about it for a second, though - I have been gone for five months. I have not really used American currency, been in a big box store, done all the things we do every single day in the States. I kiss people on the cheek when I meet them here. I am used to being called 'La Finn' or 'Feen'. I buy most of my food from neighbors who cook it in their houses or on the street. Enormous amounts of my time are spent living outside of my comfort zone.* I am constantly surrounded by noise and friends and stimulation. Not artifical stimulation - not TV or radio or what have you - but actual stimulation - people in the streets, endless parades, loud music, sidewalk parties. My life is lived primarily outside. My living room where I work on my computer, watch the BBC, eat, is an outdoor courtyard. For the most part if I'm inside I'm doing stuff in the clinic or sleeping. The only time I wear actual shoes is to work and I hate wearing shoes. I cannot imagine the silence, the sterility, the formality of the States again.
Though with a little over three weeks remaining, it might be a good time to start worrying about it.
And Then The Remedy: Into The Ocean
Coming back? Todo es bien. Having no clue what to do next? Todo es bien. Everything is okay. The ocean, like an old friend, is here. And I'll be back at least twice before I have to leave. And on top of this being the easiest beach to ride, it also has a lot of good memories for me. After a while I take a nap on my board. I wake up, go in the water again. In the trees near the beach the howler monkeys are hooting bloody murder at each other. The Pepsi from the bar at the beach is too sweet but they don't have diet. Todo es bien.