Single mom surfing in Nicaragua PART 2 – the surf, making friends, being the only guest with a child and watching other moms

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What a trip to celebrate 7 years of surfing! I love that the older I get, the more surfing hours I collect. In my first two surf sessions in San Juan del Sur, I was in the water for 4 hours! Then I was back at my usual 1-2 hours surfing. I surfed at 3 different spots: Remanso, Madera and Hermosa, all around San Juan del Sur. And out of 20 days there, I managed surfing 17. Nice for a single mom traveling with a 4-year old. We can make stuff we love happen, that´s for sure.

I feel in such a good surfing shape now. People told me that Madera was too fast for longboarding and when I went there it was quite big, but I wasn´t intimidated, I paddled out and caught the best wave of my vacation – big, fast and I was super focused. I felt so proud of myself and it was a boost in my confidence about my surfing skills. It made me look good among those short boarders, it´s not easy to paddle out on a strong beach break with a 9 feet board.

I surfed many days in Remanso, Madera and only at the end I discovered the perfection of Hermosa beach. Not only big and mellow waves, but also a long beach where you can find a spot to surf by yourself and forget about the crowd.

For those good surf spots, you have to take a car or a organized shuttle that costs US$5.00 (boy, didn´t depending on the services suck?) or US$10.00 for Hermosa, and then you stay on the beach for about 4-5 hours. The beaches are flooded with these shuttles and beginners surfers really get in the way, since most instructors there teach no priority and safety rules. I had to turn in so many good waves because there was someone cutting in front of me. It really seems like a miracle how come there are not many incidents in the water with people colliding more often.

Too bad the last days were filled with jelly fish. The first time I felt them, it wasn´t so bad but it was quite bothering, but when I looked to my sides and saw all those dudes and dudettes taking it I figured I could take that t00 – pure peer pressure. The last 2 days the jelly fish were bigger and scaring people out of the water, me included. The very last day was a waste, so many people burned that I just couldn´t take the risk (even though these crazy Brazilians were saying how it was worth it to have those marks on their necks, arms, sholders and legs).

Making friends on the road

I met basically 20-something surfers. San Juan del Sur is a party town (but aren´t all the tourist towns filled with backpackers?). Sometimes, I have to say, it was very lonely for me. I was basically the only one with a child around the party people. It was very different being with the 20-something crowd now that I surround myself with mom-friends in my everyday life.

I was always the only one with a child in all our shuttles to the beach.

Too bad I only met these 2 single moms traveling with 2 children each only in my last day. They were renting a house with a swimming pool and we would have had a blast together, I´m sure.

I went out for pizza one night with a  hostel crowd (10 of us, 8 men, 2 women and Luísa). We sat at a large table. Luísa slept next to me on the bench, which was nice, since we were there for 3 hours. Those guys could poor some wine, beers, rum and coke. Luísa peed herself next to me and all I could do was take her shorts off. Nobody noticed. They barely noticed there was a child among us and when we jumped into the car, at midnight, they put the music at max volume (for a few seconds, until they realized the sleeping child). This is what hanging out with 20-something guys was like for one night.

My best friend on this trip was John. He is an experienced surfer who doesn´t drink. For that party town, he was a unique presence. It was easy to hang out with someone who could have fun with both Luísa and me and talk about our surfing routines. A real surfer addict and a poet, he sends this emails to his group of friends that´s pure surf art.

Here John´s sharing his cashew nuts with Luísa, before he took off to surf up north in the country.

Being at a guest house with a little one

Our place, behind the rasta-surf car, where we had a room for US$6.00 a night.

Luckily we got to this place that had the 2-year old boy living in it, otherwise I think I´d feel a lot more disconnected. Still, the boy would usually wake up at 8 am (he went to bed late) and Luísa and I woke up at our usual 6 am. Luísa would be up and ready to play as usual and some mornings were especially hard for me to keep her quiet and I got impatient and frustrated. But with some thought I was back at the loving mom, I would take her out soon if needed and understand that she has that need to play and explore the new house and the new objects, the new doors and the turtles she found there.

Sometimes I just wanted to go home earlier. It´s tough being woken up at 6am and have to immediately get up and make sure the other people can keep sleeping. It was hard to convince her to start our bed time routine at around 7:30pm when the house was busy. But once she gave in, she would sleep soon.  Sometimes it was hard to discipline Luísa in a total different environment with different people coming and going, different practice among the house´s child and not a steady time to eat. Well, honestly, it´s hard for me to discipline her anywhere.

We kept our sleeping habits almost intact (she sleeping between 8 and 9pm, me half an hour after that), but the food was out of control in the beginning. So I guess sometimes she was probably moody because of too much junk food and sugar (partly done with me, partly offered by the gentle people around). And half way through the trip I was much more conscious of what she was ingesting and making sure she had her healthy meals and snacks in place (talk about lots of bananas).

The freaking TV

Luísa wanted to watch TV all the time. She did when she was being taken care by the boy´s babysitter. It was driving me nuts. She would wake up and want to watch TV first thing in the morning. The only way to persuade her was taking her out, but I gave in many times too thinking that this was temporary. I can´t understand what parents that leave the TV on so much and in the prime place of the house have in mind.

Most restaurants in town had the freaking TV on. Many times there was a Mexican soap opera on and the dialogues are so harsh, the sexy characters abound and the music clips are also violent and too sexy for any child to watch. The family of the guest house was typically putting the boy to watch TV the more possible and they would watch the news (in Nicaragua they seem to always have news about accidents and people killing each other with machetes with full close ups of the wounds and bodies for long) and boxing (the most popular sport in that country).

Even Dora the Explorer was too silly when I took a look at it. Why are all these cartoons stressing on teaching kids about squares, triangles and the like? I guess many parents find it very educative.

Watching other moms

I love watching the dynamics between other moms and their children. For instance, the mom that watched Luísa a few times for me was a surfer until she got pregnant. Then she quit because of being with her now 2-year old boy all of the time. I offered myself to trade board and kids with her, but she didn´t take it. Another day I asked if she had family living close and she said she did, but she wouldn’t trust anyone to be with her boy, not even her mom. And there I was, leaving Luísa with a perfect stranger, the opposites we find on the road and in life…

Another time I saw a mom with twin girls the same age as Luísa. She was with her husband or boyfriend, I don´t know, so a bit of help there. But it made me feel a lot of gratitude for having just one. It made me wonder how having twins would have changed everything for me, traveling alone and all. The twins seemed sweet and easy and they were playing with each other a lot, which is a great help, but none the less, it made me feel super comfortable in my position: single mom of just one. No whining about the difficulties of being on my own, it´s rather easy to move around with one, pay for two seats on buses and airplanes, share a plate and a bed if necessary and find a friend to take care of one. Nothing compared to having twins, or to having more than one.

My mind was  already blown away about twins when I learned about them running in opposite directions at a playground. Moms of twins or simply moms of more than one will always have my help whenever I can do it.

I didn´t have the chance to connect with many parents. I was around the young surfer´s crowd, always the only one with a child in tow when we took the shuttle to the surf breaks. It was all good, I spent a lot of time with Luísa, just the two of us, the way having her out of the kindergarten was supposed to be like.

I did receive some invitations for dinner and I had to tell the people I couldn´t, their dinner time was Luísa´s bed time and so I could only hang out in the day, pretty much like home.

I also received an invitation for a surf trip up north in the country, where a contest was going to happen. It would be for a weekend. But I preferred to stay in town, where I had the beach and Luísa´s needs pretty figured out. I thought I wouldn´t get any surfing done for a weekend away, having to find new people to watch Luísa and needing her consentment to do so. But it was nice to belong to the surf circles, and get surf invitations like that.

Now we are back to Puerto Viejo, where the Caribbean sea looks just like what the Caribbean sea is supposed to look like: FLAT. I miss the waves already, but I´m committed to have Luísa take advantage of a full year in this great Waldorf kindergarten we have here. We have friends and we live simple. I don´t know if I´ll see another swell hitting this coast before we live by the end of the year. In the meantime, it´s a lot of biking and swimming instead.

By the way, I´m extending my initial 6 months stay here, the biggest reasons are the awesome school and waiting for Luísa to be fluent both in English and Spanish, which she is doing really good at. Then it will be up to me to practice the languages back home, we´ll see how that goes.

This article was originally posted on Tripping Mom by Marilia Di Cesare on August 22, 2011. Republished with authorization. Click here for all other posts.

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