This story begins and ends with beating a hasty retreat.
We left San Salvador as soon as we possibly could the next morning and made our way down to el tunco - a place I’d been recommended - and within an hour we were there. We stayed at Mopelia, a wonderful place, moments from the sea and run by a lovely family. It had a pool, it was by the sea, it had a peaceful vibe and it felt safe.
We were going to leave the next day for Nicaragua - and then for Anita to go straight on to Costa Rica and to London - but our options were limited: the next bus out to Leon was two days away and there was another bus to Managua in Nicaragua but leaving from San Salvador. We decided to stay another night and decide the next day - we feasted that night at a place right next to the sea and felt so thankful to be there. And alive. Mostly alive.
The next morning, new options presented themselves - the bus to Leon the following day was full and the next one left on the Friday. The option remained to go the next day from San Salvador to get out of El Salvador as quickly as originally planned, but for various reasons we chose to leave on the Friday together.
By that stage we’d met a travelling duo, two friends - Michael and Randi - who had ready-friendliness and told me about a must-go place in Panama and that they’d be staying on till Friday too to catch the bus to Leon. Michael wanted to learn to surf, as did I, so we went together with a friendly fellow traveller to try our luck with the waves. So much fun, so challenging, and I realised, again, that my enthusiasm to surf didn’t quite match my natural skill. It was great to chat with Michael - he wanted to be a writer, on travel, too and we shared stories about how we’d go about it, writing and what it was like travelling with a friend. All in all, it was a welcome reprieve from the previous few days.
So the week was spent swimming, trying and failing to surf again, shooting the breeze, chilling out and regrouping and enjoying El Tunco. I enjoyed getting to know Randi and sharing stories about things from families to why we were travelling and to love. We saw old friends from the road and met some fellow guests who were sailing around the world - cruisers - for the next five years. Ahhhh what a life and what a way to capture my imagination - there’s such a romance about giving everything up and sailing.
It was hard to leave but by Friday we travelled the 10 hours through El Salvador, Honduras to Leon in Nicaragua where we spent a night, bumping into the wonderful Paul again who we’d originally met in Tulum. I wished I’d spent more time there, but the next morning, we were off to San Juan del Sur, lured by the promise of the best hostel in the world: Casa de Olas, with it’s beautiful views and its infinity pool. It lived up to its reputation, and run by an awesome Aussie couple from Noosa, who ran the show like the ultimate cool parents, offering kindness and humour during the day and leaving the kids to play at night. I was initially worried about being in a dorm for the first time since boarding school - I know, I’m travelling, man up - but it was fine and really just a base for each night.
We spent the days lounging by the pool and partying and talking, meeting new people including the wonderful Chris, a friend to all and who reminded me of my old flatmate and legend, Ollie. What was to be a couple of days there before I travelled with my new friends straight to Bocas and Anita continuing onto Costa Rica, was stretching to longer - and, as plans do, they shifted again. A situation occurred which, although kind of lovely in its own right, toppled the house of cards and sparked what was to be, in retrospect, the very best thing that could have happened. I left. By myself.
And so this adventure continues as just one, as originally planned. And the things I learnt from this experience - these experiences - are thus:
- In the end, what binds us all is love. Everyone I’ve met along the journey - no matter where they’re from - and including me, has their own version of a familiar story: the one about the hopeless love, about the love reciprocated, the unrequited love and the love that got away, and more. And not just romantic love - the love for a child, the love for parents, the love for friends. And sometimes it truly does bind us and we have to let it go. I have to let it go. But, yes, it’s always and only ever about love. Of course.
- That there are always three sides to every story: your side, their side and the truth. Yes. Thanks my sister.
- That ultimately, if you stray too far from your right path, there will always be a situation - generally a challenging one - that will bring you straight back to it.
- That, as the wonderful Jack said the best, and as it was and as it continues to be…