Arriving in Nicaragua towards the latter end of a fourteen hour bus journey, having made three border crossings in one day, I was understandably weary and ready for a rest! However, that wasn’t to be the case as plans had been made, and I was duly informed that I was to go on the hostel’s infamous Volcano boarding tour the following morning at 8am. Instantaneously glad that I had US currency in my pocket, having not had the chance as yet to withdraw any local money, I stumbled toward the bar and ordered myself a beer.
The following morning my alarm didn’t sound (probably because in my tired haze I had forgotten to set it) and I jolted myself awake just ten minutes before the tour left, quickly throwing some clothes on and trying to make sure I had the required equipment for the day. Everyone piled into the hostel’s troop carrier, and soon the suburban streets of Leon were long behind and we were making our way along dusty tracks, passing horses carting people and farm produce, making our way towards Cerro Negro which is one of the most active cinder cone volcanoes in the world.
The sun was intense and our hike up to the top was not made any easier from carrying our volcano boards, the wind picking them up like sails. Carry them bottom side down, we were instructed as otherwise the glue holding the all important slide panel would become unstuck, and that would mean we would go nowhere fast.
Our guide Oscar inspired us with tales of all the crazies who had gone before us, including the Aussie who invented the sport (who also happens to own the Bigfoot hostel) along with others who had ridden bicycles down the volcanic slope only to have them disintegrate on impact at the bottom and wind up in hospital with every bone in their body broken.
Stopping at the crater rim for obligatory photo poses, the guide stooped down to uncover something with his hands. Pulling up a plastic bag, he them surprised us with baked potatoes which had cleverly been left there the previous day – the volcanic heat had baked them through, and they were tasty (particularly so after missing breakfast in my hurry!)
Pulling on the orange “safety” suit, I sincerely hoped everything was going to work out just fine… I’ll admit the piece of wood I was holding in my hand made me a little nervous. Brakes? “Just use your feet, but don’t dig them in if you are going fast, you’ll break your legs” we were told. Great. Just great. So why am I doing this again? I wondered as I sat down making sure I was centred on the board. I leaned all the way back as I shot off down the slope, careering down whichever way the board felt it wanted to go, faster and faster until I was seriously worried that crashing was going to cause serious injury.
Coming down on to the final stretch, I saw someone in the track below me and sat up to slow down in an attempt avoid crashing, only to find myself out of control and rolling off across the volcanic rock, arms held up over my head to protect my face as I finally came to a stop. Shaking, and in mild pain, I looked myself over for injuries to find that I’d broken a couple of nails, and torn most of the skin off my right forearm. It could be worse, I told myself as I climbed back onto the truck and held a cold Brahva (beer) against my arm to try to stop the stinging. I was told my speed was 89km/h, a mere 2km/h off the all time record for a female – and my first thought was, I could totally have gone faster!
Arriving back at the hostel, the fastest man and women of the day have two “privileges” to attend to. Firstly, publicly shaming the slowest people of the day with a nice ice cold esky bath, and secondly a free entry in the Lava Shot challenge and the chance to earn Bigfoot hostel legend status. Three shot glasses were lined up in front of me, two singles and a double, each containing ghost chilli infused tequila (?). The rules were simple. Fifteen second between each shot, and a thirty second countdown after the last shot. No drinking anything until time is up, no kissing, and no throwing up to win. Completing the challenge, the worst part was actually how quickly one gets messed up by drinking that much so quickly! I definitely earned that “free” shirt.
When I decided to start writing a blog one of the things that stopped me from beginning straight away was choosing the right name. I spent a lot of time and energy stressing about what would be cool, catchy and convey exactly what I was all about.
But then I just took action. I sat down and stared writing.
I went on wordpress one day, all of a sudden I had a name for my blog and I was away. I realised that it didnt matter, I just needed something on the table (well maybe not quite anything), and that I could always refine and imrpove from there.
I also struggled with what content I’d like to talk about. Should I post on travel? Challenges? Random thoughts and things that I notice along the way? Is it going to be a mish mash of things that whir through my mind? Probably!
However now that I have gained some momentum, sharing my thoughts is not as hard as i’d thought it was going to be, and the simple act of writing provides clarity and organisation.
Coming from a person who felt so overwhelmed that she never really had the time to sit down and think, to a girl who sets aside time everyday for conscious thought, is amazing.
That first step is the hardest and now that I have begun my journey I can see more clearly that it was simply indecision that was holding me back and making my mind feel like chicken soup.
So don’t worry about what anyone else thinks, just set time aside to sit down and write, and do it for you 🙂
So here I am – a happy solo female traveller going with the flow for the first time in my life – but more to the point how did I get here? And where in the world exactly is Carmen Sandiago?
For so long I was going about my life doing exactly what “society” expected me to do – go to school, get a university education which leads to a good career, follow hobbies, play sport and make friends.
Always above average at everything I tried, but never exemplary, I always felt something was lacking. In any case I never really felt like I fit in, a bit like a square peg in a round hole.
My time at university was great but the endless stream of social events and waterski trips to organise just masked the fact that underneath it all, I hadn’t yet found what I was seeking – what exactly is it that I want to do with my time in this life?
Through primary school my two best friends had always known what they wanted to be when they “grew up” – a chef and a hairdresser. Sure enough, thats the path that life has carved for them, and on the surface, they seem happy.
I however, never felt like I had a natural calling…
As a bit of a multitasker took to being experienced in just about anything – since variety keeps me interested. This has meant though that I have not followed any one true passion enough to become a master in it, whatever that may actually mean!
Underneath the cover of having a decent career, many friends and plenty of hobbies, I was becoming more and more unhappy about the fact that I wasn’t sure that I was following the right path and achieving everything I was capable of… the self doubt and insecurity would set in and my mind would tell me all the reasons why I wasn’t able to do it rather than believing that I could.
My worst enemy was in my own mind…
The fear of making the wrong decision has kept me hostage for such a long time, and it has only been recently that I have finally realised that any decision is a good decision. More on that later!
Publishing this blog post is the first step towards ending my constant procrastination and indecision, finally holding myself accountable and realising that putting something on the table is better than nothing at all, even if it is not perfect the first time.
I’m aiming to update my blog every fortnight with my progress, stories and anything else helpful that I come across along the way – hopefully you can read along and enjoy the ride!
Adios for now
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