The journey that had taken me four hours when I went to get Nisha four days earlier. It only took two hours this time around. Somehow, I managed to remember every single corner I had stopped and asked for directions on and just rolled through. It was almost as if stalling wasn’t even a question anymore. So much can change in such a short amount of time.
Since I already had the car, I figured I might as well go check out O Parks and Wildlife Reserve before committing to volunteer for a month. I didn’t have internet or a map, but knew the town was small so I figured I’d just be able to ask around and find it.
I drove 30km down the dirt road and somewhere along the way I decided to pick up a group of 10 schoolchildren who were trekking back home. Walking, it takes them 35 minutes each way in the blazing sun, just to go to school. They told me about how they really liked the sea and living by the ocean as we were all admiring the beauty of the drive together. One little boy, probably around seven years old also told me that this road is really dangerous to be caught on at night, especially for foreigners. He exclaimed to me that there’s robbers and gangs out on the prowl at night, looking for victims. I had an idea it wouldn’t be the best place to be when it was dark, it was really odd to hear it from a seven-year old though. I thought kids didn’t have to think about that kind of stuff.
I made to Ostional and asked around in the pueblo about O Parks and Wildlife Reserve and no one had heard of it, they told me to turn around and go to La Flor. I kept going forward though, to encounter a military checkpoint. I told them I was trying to find O and they also had no idea what I was talking about and said I had to turn around and go back to Playa Coco. The sun was starting to set now, so I went back stopped at La Flor where no one had heard of O either, so I kept going back to Playa Coco and pulled up to a hostel. Unfortunately they were full and had never heard of O either. So, I went to another hostel where I found a guy cleaning his moto with the glowing sunset in the backdrop, it was beautiful. He told me the hostel was actually closed, so I went and found the owner at his house. Turns out he had heard of O and tried to find it himself unsuccessfully. It was getting dark and I was scared of driving back to San Juan at night. Luckily, he was kind of enough to give me a room and some dinner and open up Lug’s Place for little old me. I sat and watched the rest of the sunset with the guard, admiring all the colors. It was just the two of us and Mother Nature.
It felt good to be really alone for some time after being at the ranch and then moving around a lot with Nisha, time to process and collect myself, but i was still never really alone. I hung out with the owner for a while and we had a wonderful conversation about Nicaragua, tourism and sustainability. I love getting perspective from people that are actually doing it, it’s more real than what you read online.
The next day I spent quality solo time on the beach, caught some internet, looked at the map of where O was and decided to try to find the place again. I got past the checkpoint and found the place 2km down, unfortunately the gate was closed. The sun was setting and the view from atop the cliff was incredible. You could see the ocean and the surrounding cliffs, you could even see Costa Rica.
I came back to Coco and spent another night at Lug’s on the beach by myself. I went to the little pueblito near Coco looking for some dinner, the best I could find was Manchu Wok instand noodles, globalization at it’s finest. I went out trying to look for turtles that night unsuccessfully, but had a really great time with the guys that were trying to find eggs. Unfortunately Playa Coco is not protected and there’s all these people who come to find turtle eggs so they can take them to Managua and sell them. It’s a tough life out here when that becomes your only source of income.
The next morning, I finally got in touch with Kevin via phone and headed back over to O to meet him and his vision. We chatted for a few hours about what he’s doing and why he’s doing it. Kevin has tons of great ideas and a really cool story. He’s a retired 9/11 FDNY firefighter and he’s spending his retirement income having fun and saving the world at the same time. He’s built all these mountain biking trails, a fruit tree orchard, the longest zip line in Nicaragua and he’s got tons of fascinating ideas that could turn this place into a real attraction and destination that is sought out. I see a lot of potential here and I’m excited to spend time with Kevin trying to see if there’s a way I can help him move forward.
I feel so blessed to have the right skillset to be doing this kind of stuff. I’ve got a practical and analytic business mind, with an idealist idea of a self sufficient world without borders. I think I’m going to learn a lot here and I know I’ve got a ton to offer. Sometimes the best things are the toughest to find.