Nicaraguan Spring 2019

 

Hi Guys, I figure I’ll give you little introduction for those of you who don’t know me personally =) My name is Katie. I am lover or life. I am a Yogini, both a practitioner of Yogic lifestyle as well as an instructor of yoga and peace practices. 

Loosely translated, Yoga in its literal meaning from Sanskrit is “yoke”, which means, joined, connected, or unified. This idea of unity, is one of the main principles that drives my life. I believe we are one, one humanity, we are all the same despite religion, skin color, or physical demographic. In this belief I am guided to choose love over fear over and over and over again. I am a human being, and so are you, and this sameness unifies us far more than any perceived separateness. I have found in this inclusion of all beings (trees, plants, fishes, etc,) it becomes easy to love.  In addition to my yoga practice and the beautiful tools & philosophies of love and harmony it continues to teach me, travel and the eye opening, humbling, widening of perspective that I receive from my experiences abroad are another of the greatest teachers. Travel, for me is a source of inspiration, knowledge and joy. Travel is a place to nurture my adventuresome spirit and grow to believe in myself. Finally I love the ocean, and this magic mother Earth. This planet that we live on is the greatest nurturer and teacher of all. We can learn all things from her, as I believe are are her. We are stardust. Little insignificant moments in time, trying to make the best of this human experience.

Now with all that being said, let’s head back to my recent trip to Nicaragua. I feel this wonderful country to partly be a second home to me, and one day in the near future I will be lucky enough to call it home. I own property there and am in the beginning stages of building a dream, Surf House Nicaragua. This space will be eco, bohemian surf and yoga bungalows. It will be an extension of my heart and soul, a place where people can come and share in my joys, feel loved, and cared for. It will be a space to heal and play and be inspired and fill your cup with goodness of life. I’m excited to be a part of the community in Asseradores.  I love the people and the land and the waves of Nicaragua. I also really LOVE to surf. Like as much as I love to breathe. The ocean is my first home. About a year about I had a gnarly fall, blew out my knee, snapped and displaced both bones in my arm and smashed all the cartilage in my wrist. The accident resulted in two major surgeries and I am still healing my knee. I’m in physical therapy (which is amazing) twice a week, and although it’s continually getting better I am still a few months away from what will be considered physically 100% (the mental aspect of this healing process I will save for another day.) Any who, typically my journeys to Central America, or anywhere, are wave focused, in a healthy body. SO this most recent trip was a challenge for me to find these same joys, by doing new things, in a place where I’ve always done the same things. Challenge accepted. This last trip, although wonderful, was not nearly as exciting or “soul fulfilling” as the ones previous.  But I’ learning that’s sometimes what life is all about. Taking the moments that aren’t drenched in sparkles and finding the spots where they shine.  The trip however was exactly what it needed to be, a learning experience full of smiles and fun. This blog is mostly about that. The places I visited, and perhaps a bit of tourism plug, in the sense that I want people to know how absolutely fantastic I find Nicaragua to be despite what our government says. 

Here it goes.

The land of 1000 smiles. People there are so friendly, and so kind, and in many of the communities I visited have a genuine interest in taking care of one another. Just about everywhere I went I found myself greeted with smiles and waves, from the Abuelo sitting a chair in front of his house, to the playful curious children dancing and laughing in the street. I was hard pressed to pass anyone with out some kind of genuine greeting. 

Last year beginning in April 2018, Nicaragua did experience conflict and  violence that lasted for several months, and although during these times parts of the country were unsafe due to riots and roadblocks, the conflict in general was different than what we saw on tv, and certainly no a civil war. The conflict was a result of the people, mostly university students, coming to a peaceful protest in the streets. They were protesting for their basic human rights, social security rights, and rights to be respected by their government. The violence that resulted was armed militias and the military attempting to silence thousands of citizens who were standing up for their democratic right. During the time of these conflicts, there was indeed  horrific violence but  these things currently have passed. And the people, for the most part, (with the exceptions of over fifty thousand who are no longer employed by the tourism industry) return to daily life with hope for a fair election and future. Unfortunately, many of the institutions built around tourism’s and job creating industries lay dormant. Non of this however stops the people from smiling and greeting you as you pass in the street. In my opinion, and statistics may agree, Nicaragua is no more of a dangerous place than the wrong part of LA or NewYork on a late night.

It’s unfortunate that we have government policies in place that continue to lead people to believe it is a dangerous place to visit.

After my most recent trip it’s become apparent that the country is safe as ever and we can and should return, to surf waves, go on tours, enjoy the majestic abundant natural resources and provide well deserving people with means of economy.

I started my my most recent journey in Costa Rica enjoying friends and the Pura Vida vibe. What a wonderful life to have so many places to call home, and people to wrap you up in love. That’s one of the most magic parts about travel, as you move about the planet, widen your circle, and weave more webs, the connections and friendships we make don’t ever go away, they just expand.

After my love fest in lush Costa Rica its off to Nicaragua I go,  as usual I had a smooth border crossing. When crossing, remember you have to play to play and visit the ticket office for an $8 or so exit fee, then you walk. I stood in line for maybe 10 minutes, had my passport stamped and passed through the gate. Once in Nicaragua, my driver picked me up and the border and we were off! Depending on your budget and how you like to travel, their public bus system, though slow, hot, sticky and crowded is an option. The ride is always long than expected, but the bus terminals are vibrant and bursting with sights and sounds. I have used this option in the past, and it is a lovely cultural adventure. Lately however, finances allowing, I’ve opted for rental cars, which are quite affordable, or drivers. Drivers being the most expensive option, but if you are on a long one way adventure or you are headed to a specific destination I’d highly recommend finding a trust worthy company. I love cruising in the safety and comfort of a nice vehicle. Driving through the beautiful country side as a passenger, taking in the massive volcanos and rolling hills, maybe even sipping on, as my friend Chung loves to say a  “super toña fria”, (a really cold beer) is not a bad way to move about.

Once in Nicaragua, I first stopped at the central coast, Puerto Sandino, specifically La Barra Surf Resort. I know many people opt for the party vibes of San Juan Del Surf, and the tropical hills or Maderas Village. I have been here several times, and to the Popoyo area as well, and those places, as different in what they have to offer are, do not speak to me as much as the Central to North Part of Nicaragua. Popoyo, Santana and Colorado’s  are also popular tourist destinations ,the waves heavy barreling beach breaks, and perfect for some. In these places there is more to do and definitely more of a “touristy” vibes, which is rad and exactly what some people are in search of, I’m just not one of those people. As I travel I often seek out more secluded or less “touched” communities. The picturesque cliffs, of Puerto Sandino, that at times evoke the mystique of Baja that so many of us southern Californias have come to love, alway offer me the most profound heart opening space, and the greatest uncrowded waves. The town of Miramar is quaint a fishing village. One road runs through town and an afternoon adventures finds muddy pigs, roosters and turkeys, as well as friendly children roaming the streets. Many of the houses and structures that line the street, also sit on the shoreline. Some are abandoned and others have been nicely and recently renovated to beautiful homes with a million dollar view.  There are several pathways where the fisherman roll out their boats to the ocean, and if you wander just 50 feet west down one of these you find yourself greeted by vast, sprawling, majestic black sand beaches. Everyday to the movement of sunrise and set, the fisherman navigate the breaking waves to head our for their nightly fish, and return when the sun returns early in the morning hours. They provide money and food, for their families and the community. It is  powerful & humbling to watch these men, maneuver the oceans coasts with such patience and mastery. 

Now if your hunting waves, there are a few options for surf accommodations perched along these pristine tropical cliffs, but in my humble option, La Barra Surf Camp is unarguably the best. MiraMar Surf camp, owned and operated by a few Brazilians has a variety of rates, and sits on the main point at MiraMar. PSSR sits a little further south down the beach and provides cozy accommodations in front of a rampy beach break. Sirena surf lodge, is absolutely the best option for travelers seeking killer waves but on a budget. 

This leads us back to La Barra Surf Resort. Their rooms and property, recently remodeled, are impeccable. Their location offers a breathtaking view of three (+) of the main waves here. You can stand next to the sparkly pool, or in their air conditioned bar, or under a palapa, and see the rights peeling of the newly constructed jetty, the point at miramar, the sexy playful left of chicken bowls, as well as the beach break to the south. Typically being considered the land of the lefts, this newly constructed jetty to the north offers and right that barrels with uniformity just like the rest of the waves in this area. La Barra’s property actually peeks right into the barrel of the perfect peeling wave of chicken bowls. One of my favorite waves here. It is epic, to sit cliff side and watch the tide change, the wave start to turn on, and if you’re surfed out, or enjoying rum or margarita land, you can to relax, into bliss and with a birds eye view watch your friends get shacked over and over again. Or you can grab your board and go out there and join them! There is also a river mouth that pumps waves that is about a 5 minute boat ride away. Having the choice is what makes it so extra great. Here, at La Barra Surf Resort, you are treated like a queen or king. No need ever goes unmet, they offer tours of Leon, fishing adventures and service second to none. I always leave here feeling stoked and can’t wait to return. There is something to be said about the way people make you feel and the energy Alonso and his crew provide is absolutely wonderful.

It’s always time well spent at La Barra and then time to move on. North, sleepy villages, secluded beaches, and empty lineups are calling my name. A girlfriend of mine has flown in from Cali, we say our goodbyes to the crew at La Barra,  hop in the car – and on the road we go. The skies darken, and being rainy season we are greated by massive, juicy tropical rain drops, slapping the windows with a beautiful rhythmic song. Hot rain showers have a magical way of stirring me, and I’m so grateful to share this experience with my friend Kyla who is taking it all in for the first time. We stop at the gas station for the obligatory cold Toña, an ATM, and my personal favorite snack from this part of the world Sal y Limon plántanos.

TOñaCAr

After a quick 2 hours we are into area that has my heart Asseradores. It’s sweetly tucked by the beach about 30 minutes out side of the nearest city of Chinandega.  The lush trees, endless rolling hills and vast farmlands are so beautiful. There is dynamic stillness about these agricultural driven farming towns. My eyes and spirit light up as we roll past rows and rows of Maracuya. Passion fruit!! Ah my mouth is salivating. Sugar cane’s stand tall and assertive and the pastures for grazing cows shine with the richest and most vibrant shades of green. Rainy season is alive. 

For this trip North,  we choose to stay at Chancletas. In the past I’ve stayed at a handful of other accommodations, but for this trip Chancletas seemed to be the best option. I’ve got 3 friends from costa rica and said girlfriend from Cali joining me.  In addition to having an all inclusive resort style package, Chancletas rents out houses that have been built on their property. As far as location is concerned, if you are looking to charge out to the boom as much as possible and get tasty poundy barrels, Chancletas is the place for you. It is located directly on the beach in front of the main wave at The Boom. Having rented a house we were a few hundred yards walk from the beach, which wouldn’t have been SO bad, except we tagged Nicaragua right about the first week into rainy season and the misquotes were extra savage. Point being, bug spray =) I don’t love it, especially because I try to live as plastic free and natural as possible. I make my own bug spray out of Doterra Essential oils mixed with alcohol or an Avocado oil style base, and for me this works pretty well. The vibe at Chancletas is mellow, their staff is friendly but also relaxed. It’s a great place if you are looking for privacy or have a large group where you all want to be together, but still have your own space. If you choose the all inclusive package meals are provided, but we got a super sweet option of hiring a cook for the week! She was amazing. She cooked us three incredible meals a day and kept our house and rooms sparkly clean. She could prepare a fish with mastery of top chefs, and make a drool worthy chicken soup from scratch. We did have to bring our own food in from town which is about 30 minutes away so if you don’t plan on having a car, I’d recommend taking advantage of the all inclusive package that also provides transportation to and from the resort. Another great thing about surf trips, or trips in general, are photographs. If you are going to get the waves of your life definitely want pics. So again, the all inclusive package come with a photographer, but we hired, and perhaps long term adopted a local photographer names Marvin. He’s a hard working humble dude who helped us find our way to boats, and waves, and happily and smiling joined us anywhere we wanted to go. You can find him on instagram @oviedo_marvin1790. ( Chancletas can be found @Chancletasbeachresort, La Barra @casa_la_barra_surf_resort, and me if you want more of my shenanigans @mermaid_gypsy_ )

Knowing surfing wasn’t going to be huge part of my trip, and having a healthy appetite for Nicaragua rum, as well as more cultural knowledge, (so I can, in turn, one day be the hostess with the most-ess int his area) I planned us a trip to Flor De Caña rum factory. Hehehe. Maybe one of my fave days of the adventure. The factory is Located in town called Chichigalpa. It’s about a 1.5 hour drive from Asseradores where Chancletas is, and a rad way to spend the day if the waves aren’t working. It’s modest $10 for entry and the tour lasts about 2 hours. You get to see the whole process of where rum comes from, how it is made, watch the barrels being pounded into form, smell the massive warehouse of rum in the fermentation process, and naturally no rum tour would be complete with a visit to the Family’s tasting room accompanied by a few samples of their finest rum. A really impressive part of this massive company, as one of the largest exporters of rum in the world, is the their dedication to environmental and social responsibility. Their commitment to recycling, producing as little waste as possible, and taking care of their community around them was a powerful take away form me. I also left with a bottle of rum and super geeky floppy beach hat, I can be  a sucker for some gift shop finds. I also had the pleasure of catching my first proper wave in over 10 months with my girl Kyla Party waves and cheering for me the whole time. No matter where you go or what you do in life, outfit your self with a tribe of loving supportive people who are there for you in both the good times and bad. Kyla, sweet girl, I love you. Thank you for the endless laughter and kindness you have shared with me at home and abroad. I look forward to more adventures of every kind, and days sharing waves and stoke that linger long after the session ends. Not just in Nicaragua, but everywhere.

Although Nicaragua is a country with economic struggles, and to be blunt many are financially poor, the people are rich with spirit. The conflicts with the government over the last year really crippled their growing tourism economy. One special part about Northern Nicaragua is their massive emphasis on agriculture. I am a big fan of tourism and the way it can drive economy, but to see a part of this country, that is very self sufficient on the land and what its own natural resources can provide was both humbling and refreshing. Maybe it’s a selfish way of thinking, that my dollar, is not something they need, but I felt a bit relieved when my chauffeur told me that the people of the north were not hit as hard by the convict because their main source of industry and income is agriculture, not tourism. This is not to say the people of this country don’t face challenges many of us living privileged lives know anything about, but what is remarkable to me, is a general sense of nurturing and caring for one another, and an ability to laugh and smile regardless of life circumstance.  This is another reason I find the North of Nicaragua SO beautiful. The generous, abundant spirit of the people and how the countryside is decorated by sprawling farm lands and pastures. Knowing that Nicaragua has been labeled as an unsafe place to visit I’d like to reiterate the comfort and enjoyment I had on my recent trip. In this current moment, moving through the country was easy and effortless, (they do have a major election in the end of 2020 that may possible cause shift in political climate). With that being said however, and the not happening for over a year,  I would absolutely recommend Nicaragua as a safe and wonderful country to travel to, for surfing, for culture, for nature, or all of the above. 

Love and Light from me to you, Namaste

Katie Mermaid.

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Yoga-Life-Water-Love

Yoga- Life- Water- Love

My heart is bursting with gratitude. Like the way lava lurches from within a volcano and devours everything in its path. Completely consuming and changing life as it moves towards the sea – love flows from me in this very same way. It is subtle, but it is a mighty an undeniable force to any who witnesses it’s movement. The seeds you cultivate and water in your life become the jungle that grows around you. Its simple in theory but life brings all kinds of challenges, and my yoga practice has taught me that that practice is indeed the reward, and we are undoubtedly mirrors of those around us. 

No matter the day I am having- time with self, in yoga practice, in meditation, silently dancing with the great expanse of everything, always resets my heart and mind. Yesterday, after a morning of great coffee talk, and inspiring creative brainstorming, I headed off to serve tables (and share smiles) at the restaurant. Days of waiting on people hand and foot can be rewarding but also an “energy suck” and after such a super charged AM of “big dream” stuff, that became a day of “work” I was feeling depleted, a bit unrewarded and in need of tapping back into  the sweet vast source self. The 5:30 pm class at YO (Yoga Oceanside) with amazing teacher the amazing teacher, and friend, Rick Worthington always ends in happy fuzzy yoga bliss. Come join us if you are in town! http://www.Yogaoceanside.com =)

So.

I am a woman with dreams and ambition. My wild heart calls me to rouge parts of the world, and although it may not be the most “safe or secure” path of life, I can not turn off the call of the winds that lure me to Nicaraguan Tropical Paradise. Its a simple life I crave, but in creating this vision, first I get to put in a lot of work. I am building Surf House Nicaragua http://www.surfhousenicaragua.com (check it out, just a basic page now, but so much more to come)  through this Boutique Surf style Accommodation I am creating   a community to spread the seeds of love (from my tribe here in oceanside) to people and travelers across the globe. 

For now, and a temporary now, I’m living in my hometown Oceanside, CA. I work at the   a super fun spot called Local Tap House (which I do love) but it’s not my passion or how I want to live my life long term. I am also blessed enough to teach yoga and give reiki in the amazing Yoga Oceanside yoga studio. 

 

For the last few days my friend Caroline has been in town visiting me.  She is a boss babe, full of fire, passion, ideas and an work ethic second to none. Her thought process I so different than mine and she only challenges me to think about things from a different avenue than my natural thought process; not to change my way of thinking, but to simply expand my mind to consider other possibilities.

In our relationship, being the yoga teacher and energy healer, I am the “yogini” but her ability to understand this power of mind makes her a yogini in so many ways she doesn’t even know. One of my favorite yoga quotes that I teach often in class  is this “As the mind so the man – if you believe you are bound you are bound, if you believe you are free you are free” Its a quote from Patajanli’s Yoga Sutras a book loaded with all kind of amazing esoteric wisdoms. Its a great read even if you don’t have a physical asana practice i’d recommend gibing it a read.

 My point to this story is I have gotten comfortable, “bound” perhaps, to limiting thought and beliefs about how and when I can make my dreams happen- and as I write and reflect I’m becoming aware that maybe thats  the reason I’ve been feeling stuck. I’ve adopted a routine for the first time in my  life, and it’s a beautiful routine, but Im  now feeling it’s time to shake it up.  In life we go back and forth from protection mode to growth mode. From times of getting grounded and rooted, (feeling safe and secure) to times of radical growth and change. When I returned home from living in Costa Rica, a year ago today, I was in big need of this nurturing, I had massive emotional healing to do and was in need of finding stability and happiness within in myself. So this “groove” here been 100% necessary and everything I’ve needed for the past 12 months but its not the place I can stay if I want to live the biggest, and most vibrant version of my life. It’s perfect for right now, but that’s no excuse to get complacent. If you have dreams, that have found their way in to the back ground maybe it’s time to shift all your energy into these dreams, manifest them and create and work them into fruition. Or maybe for you its time to slow it down a bit and continue to water them and wait for them to grow- either way having awareness around this cycle and process makes you a powerful being. 

This awareness leads me to a  big lesson that continues to present its self to me in big and small ways. Im a believer that is that life is about learning to wait. This “wait” I’m refering to is not sitting back and doing nothing. It’s embracing the pause or grounding phase of life that has to happen in order for things to grow.  When we slow down long enough and listen to the space between what we thing we know, that is where the answers are revealed. Jimi Hendrix said “knowledge speaks but wisdom listens.”  To me this quote implies that to arrive at wisdom we need to slow down, turn off our own ideas and truly hear whats being said by those around us, and to our self within.

Turing my attention to my root chakra has been not so glamorous, but where I lacked in “glamor” it has made up for in power, and connection to source. Growing deeps roots creates the foundation for a sustainable and fulfilling life. As I started writing this last night I  realized that today is my year anniversary from moving home from Costa Rica. (a place where I was lusciously, flippantly and superfluously living in my heart space, which is a good place to be as long as proper roots have been grown, which they hadn’t which is maybe why the tree fell (me) the way it did- but it was what was needed to happen for the seeds to spread and grow as they have… Ah, the joys of trusting and surrendering, embracing what comes our way as opposed to what we think we know or want. Ive said it many time but heart break is a fucker. But I am only greatful for the deeply satisfying lessons I have learned  as a result. As I reflect on how much my heart  has softened, but also my soul empowered, and the growth that I have traversed in the last year, it’s incredible. We as human beings are capable of great feats, physical, emotional, mental, spiritual. Everything I wanted to happen continues to. Maybe not the exact way I’ve imagined, and not to say Ive gotten everything I “wanted”. But life unfolds everything we need. When you are able to get specific about what you want and let go of how it comes about, it always, always always comes. This is where he power of a yoga practice becomes the best tool. I can only speak from my own experience but my yoga practice is the reward. Despite the ups and downs this last year has contained my Yoga practice has given me tools  to know that everything is not just okay, but perfect, even when its not. Life isn’t happening to me its happening for me. And although the jungles and in a bikini is where I want to be, and where I will be, through a devoted practice I have arrived in a place of the sweetest contentment within myself regardless of life’s external circumstances. Not to mention, a life here in San Diego cocooned by so much sweet sweet love is blissful. To keep it all in perspective if surfing in a wet suit is the worst part of my its really not so bad hey?

Life is cyclical indeed. So this positive, unattached, loving, humble, vulnerable, open free life style and mindset  does not deny or negate that bad things can and do happen, it’s just a shield, or tool, to constantly remind me to stay in the present, to let go, to trust and surrender to forces beyond my control. It is a knowing that  sun sets, and it gets dark, but then the sun rises and it is light again (not to mention the magic of the moon while the sun is away). This way of living to protects me from unnecessary struggle that could lead to drowning in the same currents that float and pull me safety. We can let go or be dragged. We can work hard for what we want, as I have, but in this hard work and of following my dreams am in constant flux, remembering to stay fluid, and let things happen as they should- finding a perfect balance between working your ass off, and going with the flow. (Of being in that place right where the tide changes, it goes from a dead low beings to push in, the winds switch offshore, and what looked like shitting conditions, transform into an epic session of pumping waves.) Sorry… haha, couldn’t got a whole explanation of life and love without some kind of ocean reference, default I suppose of being a mermaid =) Anywho, Letting go of what we think we know, and accepting what is, this is  Aparigraha. Aparigraha is a yoga philosophy that teaches abundance and recognizing the blessings off all things the come our way. Embracing its wisdom has saved me many many headaches, and soothed many heartaches in reassuring me that despite external circumstances that everything is going to be fine, and in clinging to an outcome I desire and not accepting what is only causes more suffering.

As Im nearing the completion of my 31st trip around the sun I feel so grateful, so empowered and so excited to share with you the secret powers of a yoga practice that I have been fortunate enough to receive. None of these wisdoms are my own.  Im am however a believer in myself. My wild passion and free spirit are viscously infectious, and as I get to know myself more everyday I I feel more honored to share my stories and my sparkle with you. 

I’ve got a few poetry books I hope to be publishing soon full of inspiration and yogic wisdoms and short prose about nature, travel, and love. Some beach cleans ups in the works and if you follow me and my merbabes at the _mermaidmafia_  on intsagram and FB we are always filling your days with positive ideas about how to live a more mindful eco conscious life.  Also always promoting, check out Avasol. They are skin safe, reef safe sun protection product and Avasol is a company I endorse who heartily.

As for my big dream, my big vision – Surf House Nicaragua is reaching its dawn. Its a bit scary, but I’m stoked for the adventure into business ownership and the opportunity to create something that has a positive lasting impact. Any one who has ever watched the sunrise knows what a moment of great magic this is. 

In addition to building an epic space to host travelers and share my love of yoga and surf, In the next year I will also be hosting a Yoga and Surf and Volunteer adventure to a tropical Latin paradise not far from here… Hope you can join me =) =)

I am a woman on fire, inspired, in love with my self, with life and engaged in this magic mystery as it unfolding all around. I can only thank the people closest to me who continually uplift me, guide me, love the heck out of me, remind the importance of following your dreams and teach me to live a full vibrant life.

So many blessings and so much love-

The mermaid.