2006 was Las Vegas and the Grand Canyon . The next year was San Francisco . After that we went to New Orleans . My spring breaks over the previous few years had been amazing. I was so excited when I found out that during our 2009 Spring break, my dad and stepmom were going to take me and my siblings to Nicaragua . I couldn’t wait to visit a completely different world. While all of my other amazing trips were truly life changing, my Central American adventure had the greatest impact on me.
Every day of this trip was packed with countless new experiences including hiking multiple volcanoes with amazing views, taking a boat tour around the many small monkey-filled Nicaraguan islands, having exotic meals, relying on local transportation, and visiting the bustling marketplaces. It was in the marketplaces where we could best observe the local culture. Here we could talk to the people, learn to barter, and see how they lived daily. Despite my only having studied Spanish for a few years, I was able to have many conversations, or at least ask questions when I needed to.
The kind people, the delicious food, the exciting events, and the beautiful sites were perfect, but the best part was the variety of places that we stayed during our trip. My favorite place was at Laguna de Apoyo (http://www.sansimian.com). The laguna was a lake that had formed in a dormant volcano crater. Its celestial beauty made it difficult to believe that many years ago the immaculate blue water and the lush surrounding forest had been a burning mouth, coughing smoke and spitting lava. The volcanic minerals in the water are said to have a healing effect. The natural beauty was not tainted with condos; instead we slept in small thatched huts that made the peaceful experience complete. One simple addition to the hut was my favorite part: the bathroom was without a roof. The walls enclosing the small space to shower were protective against the eyes of others, but allowed the jungle around me, the warmth of the sun, and the scent of the laguna to pour through onto me while the cold shower water did likewise. While out there I felt absolute solitude, except for the howler monkeys screeching overhead. Those moments were the closest to reaching the sublime that I have ever come.
That trip was filled with exciting and new situations and sights that I had never been exposed to. Being around a culture so different from my own in a place where hardly anyone spoke English was a very different experience. One of the most interesting and revealing moments during the trip was on the way home: after discussing all of our favorite parts, my stepmom asked me what the worst part of the trip had been. After thinking about it I answered that every aspect was perfect. I reflected how amazing it was that while on a ten day vacation in a place with a language difference everything had gone smoothly. I learned that you do not have to share a language or culture with someone in order to interact with them. On many occasions, if we had not interacted with the locals, asked questions about how or where to do something, the trip would not have nearly gone as smoothly as it did. The laguna also further deepened my passion for the serene and nature. I will never forget the things that the trip taught me. And I am already trying to convince my mom to get me an outdoor shower.
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