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16 Apr

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Kook

 

Kayla selected some randomness for me this time…not really a theme here to run with other than the complete randomness of the photos she selected!

The T-Shirt:  If you’ve been here you probably understand this…there is always talk of “the plan”.  Usually it’s around the dinner table so I can get the following day’s surf plan into everybody’s head at the same time.  Then later, right about the time I’m going to disappear for bed, someone asks the question: “so what’s the plan?”.  My first two years running the camp I would politely review the plan again.  Now I pre-empt the plan meeting with a clear announcement that those not paying attention will not know what the plan is until we are underway the next day following the plan that ignored, didn’t remember or just didn’t listen to…pay attention at the plan meeting…

Nasty Rashy Thing:  That is the back of Kayla’s leg after she underestimated the jellyfish.  She had that rash for days!

Food, Food, Smoothies, Puppies, one lone coconut…?  I think Kayla was getting artsy with the camera;-)  That sandwich though is one of her famous BLT’s.  She made fresh homed rosemary bread first.   Then we put on sundered tomato hummus, chipotle cheddar, BLT, and some red onion to top it off…to say it was good is a gross understatement.  This is our Sunday tradition now…BLT’s for lunch and then I either do ribs or a shrimp boil (thank you Matt Khouri).

The Brazilian surfing community does not follow the rules of the road as most of us know them.  Dropping in on your buddy is just known as sharing.  Burning your buddy is just a way to show your friend that you’re a better surfer…wether you are or you aren’t.  The truth is we don’t know who had the right of way in this photo because we don’t know who’s been waiting longer for the wave.  The days of the rule being whoever is standing first or closest to the curl are kind of gone in favor of waiting your turn and letting other people catch the wave if they’ve been waiting longer….except in Brazil…none of those rules applies.  It was shorty after this photo was taken that I paddled out to the lineup to start setting things straight.  Luckily the word Kook is understood in any language!

 

 

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16 Apr

We are so blessed to encounter some wonderful people at our camp/house.  Our TripAdvisor account brings joyful tears to our eyes.  Our latest review has a very special place in our hearts.  Thank you Lisa and Iz and we can’t wait to see you again.  Oh and Iz, keep surfing! Luke says “Hi!”

“Surf Tours Nicaragua THANK-YOU!!! We had the most amazing adventure with you. From the moment Jose greeted us with a huge smile we could feel the stress of NYC life melting away. We stopped on route at a local pharmacy for additional sunscreen and fell asleep only to awaken to the gates of our home for 9 days. The house is magnificent, just like the photos. Arched doorways, terracotta stone floor tiles, spiral staircase, the perfect pool. We chose to stay in a double bedded private room with shower, and the AC saved us each night. Located right on the beach we spent many hours in hammocks lounging on the huge porch lovingly referred to as El Rancho. Fridge at hand always filled with cold drinks, and awesome tunes kept the tropical atmosphere heavenly.
We were there during Santa Semana so a bit of 24/7 beach party ensued by locals until Monday morning when the beach emptied and we felt like it was ours. Blue water, blue sky, magical surf spots, soft sand under your feet. The sunsets were like a movie: transitioning every night around 5:15pm from a bright orange sun to an explosion of purple, pink, and gold. **Precision management and knowledge by Greg who clearly had everything well-organized in the most chill manner. Expert surf guides who are genuinely the coolest friends you never had before. Kayla is a mermaid goddess whose divine massages, professional grade photography, artwork and perfectly challenging yoga sessions enticed us during our stay. Guests arrived and departed with fluidity day and night, no worries.
STN has established itself in the neighborhood and there is a real sense of family amongst the crew. Its obvious they’re passionate about what they do and their goal is to create the perfect vacation/ stay for you.
Staff is constantly cleaning the house, and there’s always an ample supply of soap, shampoo, purified water, snacks available. All are very aware of environmental conservation. (but bring plenty of sunscreen and bug repellent!)
I’m a real picky eater and I felt absolutely catered to. Homemade delicious meals were prepared 3x/day including fresh salads, if you’re lucky Kayla will make you one of her banana smoothies. They even made a special dish each dinner for us. We ate at a long family-style table and the conversations were one of the best parts of the trip. (besides hanging with the crew, G&K on the stoop …and special shout out to Shawn, Keith, Markel, Luke, Olsa and Dalle~Dalle~Dalle (aka: “Dale”).
Day trips to Leon, a breathtaking lagoon, and Gran Pacifica were xtra highlights for us. Our goal is to return soon and explore some more of this beautiful country with G&K. We can’t thank you enough. xoxoxoxo”

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15 Apr

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This view is from infront of the swimming pool looking out through the new gaps in the wall towards the waves at Punta Miramar!

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13 Apr

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“One, two, three, four, get your booty the dance floor.  Work it out, shake it pretty mama, let me see ya do the Jane Fonda.”  Name that lyric? You might be thinking, “What? These guys surf everyday.” Well as a athlete, you plateau, and on those “small days” and god forbid those “no surf days,” we need a little someth’n someth’n to get our heart rate up adrenaline going.  Hence, our new in home gym.  We all discovered how out of shape we were today.

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10 Apr

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This was literally what we did.  Lobster Lady last night and it was EPIC.  It was the second trip to go eat there this week.  Came home and loaded up the van for a before sun rise Meat Grinder mission.  The kids from Santa Cruz were frothing all week about going to this wave so on their last day we made the trip.  Woke up at 4:30, left at 5:00am got there at 6 :30, surfed for a hour (tide was dropping fast!) Ate some more epic food then took off for Managua to drop everyone off at the airport.  Looooooonggg day at it was only noon.  Threw in some pictures of the neighbors kittens and us making the Rancho look purdy for fun! Enjoy.

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10 Apr

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9 Apr

Yes it’s that time of year and the jellyfish are back!  You might think it sounds like a minor problem and in some ways it is, but after getting so many stings, at least for me, I’ve been having outbreaks of hives all over my body.  The jelly fish come in different shapes and sizes, some worse than others.  I’ve found three main categories and they can be there one minute and gone the next, but they always show up sometime in spring and then we get a few stragglers throughout the rest of the year.  It could be worse….we could be on the East Coast with no waves, Blue Bottles and Sea Lice!

Here’s a quick outline of the local jellies- all scientific information provided by experts of course!

Common Name- Brown Buggers
Nicaraguan Name- Chele Suave (Soft Gringo)
Scientific Name- Itchius Scratchius
  These little guys have a mantle about the size of a grape to a golf ball.  They’re a brownish green in color and often are found in dense drifts that look like sludge on the water’s surface.  Their sting isn’t the worst, just a gradually increasing itch that attacks mentally more than physically.  You typically just try to endure it as long as you can and then deal with the consequences later.  Typically 15 minutes and the itch has gone away although if you scratch the stings the itching will return for up to a few days.  The best thing to do with these jelly fish is to pick them up by the mantle and fling them at your buddies face, or even see if you can slip one into his/her rash guard.   It’s a fun way to pass the time between waves.
Common Name-Sea Lice/No See-ums
Nicaraguan Name- Agua Mala (bad water)
Scientific Name- Whatthehellis Bitingus
These are probably the worst mentally as you can’t see them, hence the name.  They’re actually jelly fish polyps and they can be alone or little jelly fish all attached by a slimy string that holds them together as they drift.  The trick is even tiny jelly fish need to eat, so they have a powerful sting to paralyze their prey very quickly….prey that might be thousands of times there size, yours truly included. These come in blooms like wildflowers, so if there is one, there’s usually a million.  Worst about these little guys is they’re really small….so they can get in everywhere…and they do….they get in everywhere…use your imagination, now stick a hot match there!
Common Name- Electric F*****s
Nicaraguan Name: Medusa (literally the word for jellyfish)
Scientific Name- Gettus Outtaherenow
These Jelly fish are not messing around.  I’d take twice the amount of the first two than just one of these guys.  These jelly fish can have a mantle from grape size up to watermelon size. They have tentacles that hang from four corners of a slightly squarish mantle, resembling the infamous box jelly fish or Irakanji (those two can kill you, but luckily we don’t have them around here).  The Medusa though has a sting that is like an electric shock and in some ways it is.  It’s a nerve toxin that is meant to paralyze quickly and when it hits you, usually in the arm it feels like you stuck a pair of scissors into a power outlet.  There is no hiding the fact you’ve been stung by one of these, they often leave distinct purple lines and rashes in the shape of the tentacles as they hit you.  Sometimes the designs are distinct enough to resemble a ‘Tribal Tattoo’.  The itching last for days and the most sensitive of us might see it last for over a week.  I saw a rough looking Australian mine worker get stung, a man about 6’3″ 245 pounds, who could have been Crocodile Dundee’s mean uncle.  When got stung he emitted a scream resembling a 5 year old who’s seen a spider.  The unfortunate part he was stung on was hidden under his shorts and he was frantically trying to pull them off, which only exposed more parts to the other Medusa in the water.   He exited swiftly, as did I, before I got hit by the jellies.  I have been hit in the face and other parts…when I got hit in the face I paddled back to the boat where I poured white distilled vinegar onto my face.  This is the most common and effective treatment to neutralize the venom.  What I didn’t realize was how much I hated the smell of vinegar and how noxious the fumes are.  The relief was brief and got me out surfing again…but with all the jellies in the water I sometimes wonder why.
NOTE:  Sea turtles eat jelly fish…like they were jelly bears/beans or some other delicious candy.  Unfortunately in most locations where sea turtles nest their populations have been decimated by hunting and raiding the nests for eggs.  It’s pretty common for us to see the raided nests on the beaches here.  The turtles are at such a disadvantage because you can follow their trail right up the beach and see where they dug the nest.  In times past locals would take all the eggs, supposedly now they know to leave some…which might be 50-100 of 300 eggs.  The problem is all baby sea turtles hatch on the full moon.  They follow the moon into the ocean where everything that’s hungry knows it’s a full moon and is lying in wait.  The baby turtle population gets decimated just by natures design….hence they all hatch at once giving them the safety in numbers advantage.   It’s estimates that less than 10% of all turtles from a nest grow to maturity!
….which brings us back to jelly fish.  With the turtle population dwindling, the jelly fish population is doing great!!!!
If we could just figure out a way to make jelly fish a delicacy in some part of the world… maybe we could help the turtles eat them out of existence!
Next week:  Stingrays and Stonefish!  Wheeeeeeeeeeee……
….Cheers and Happy Easter from Central America!  I hope you all had a fantastic week.  We were busy with about 4000 locals on the beach.  They show up in droves for the holiday and disappear just as fast…only they leave behind a lot of trash.  The beach is clean and calm now, but the jellies are still here.  I think we’ll do some land based activities for the next couple of days.
….miss you all…lots of love!
G & K and crew….
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8 Apr

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I’m gonna guess most of you have not seen our beach look like this….ever!  For me it was a flashback to my first Semana Santa 4 years ago, but even then it wasn’t as organized as this event was.  We had the full on stage setup with lights and a wall of speakers.  There were tents to organize the beer selling, food concessions, medical people, volunteers and the police too….the latter sat for most of the day in the shade until the were called out to roughly usher some borracho off the beach.  The week scales up day by day and starts around Wednesday.  Pickup trucks, busses, donkey carts, tuk-tuks and every other conveyance shows up with bottoms out suspension and full up to the roof with people, hammocks, plastic chairs, and everything else they might need for the week.  Every shack that sits abandoned for 51 weeks a year becomes a camp site for any number of people.  It’s impossible to get water from the local well because it’s been run dry as all the households take on water to use for the week.  The pulperia’s stock up on everything and quickly sell out of it.  What you thought was your neighbors shack, has a cardboard sign announcing it’s now a restaurant.  What I thought was private property, my home and the surf camp, is looked at as the premier restaurant and place to use the restroom and showers.  We chased many people out over the course of the week…although Luke is pretty good as discouraging them.  Parking is amazing…if there is a parking spot next to my front gate….they park in front of my gate.  If there is a throughway and parking on either side, they park in the middle and block the throughway.  If they have a car alarm, they set it to the most sensitive setting they can and the alarms work….very loud and distracting.  Nicaraguans when it comes to music cannot get enough volume or enough bass.   We were surfing at Salinas Grande, a distance of about 5 miles away and the wind carried the bass from Playa Miramar all the way to Salinas Grande!?  Have you ever seen a Nicaraguan EZ-Up?  This is two tree branches stuck in the sand with a blanket draped over.  At Noon you get about 1 square foot of shade and often times the high tide has pushed everyone back onto the lava hot sand anyway…siesta time.

Saturday morning looked like the beach of Normandy after D-day.  Bodies lay strewn across the beach, luckily not dead, just a motley array of drunks that couldn’t make it back to there hammock before passing out.  It was a smorgasbord for the local dogs eating away at the leftovers and occasional diaper treat.

Saturday night was also the night of the party at La Cancha.  That’s is the basketball court up the street by the church.   The speakers for the Cancha party were about 200 feet from the window to room 1.  Keep in mind those speakers could be heard at Salinas Grande 5 miles away….that’s about 26,000 feet!  It was loud.  Instead of sleeping though we joined the party and did some dancing.  We were happy to find 1am arrived quickly and they shut the party down.  We were actually a little bummed and wished they had played longer.

It felt good to feel a part of the community.  I recognized most of the faces I saw and often ones I didn’t recognize knew me.  There were no fights.  There was no tension…although apparently when Don Gollo shows up he’s supposed to sponsor beer drinking for everyone?!  I felt accepted and cared for by the community and I hope that all the donations and mentoring of the kids and putting people to work is why…especially because I wasn’t about to buy beer for everyone;-)

Good times….I love the quiet beach we have here and the sleepy community…but once a year for a few days, for things to cut loose and get crazy is pretty fun.  Best news of the week is no drownings!  The first year I was here there were several and then the second year there were 11!  This year none!!!

Happy Easter all….did I mention the waves were pretty good too?

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8 Apr

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7 Apr

Going Surfing in a Spanish Speaking Country? Be Sure to Learn these Tourist Phrases!

 

Where will you be traveling to this year? The world is large, and our time is short – be sure to choose your vacation spot wisely, and make the most out of your trip!

 

Did you know that there are a total of 21 countries in the world whose native language is Spanish?

You’re probably familiar with many of them:

Spain, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Argentina…

 

But did you know that Andorra and Gibraltar, which are located in Europe, carry great popularity with the Spanish language as well? Let alone the fact that the United States has over 38 million Spanish speakers, making Spanish the second most popular language.

 

Traveling is always a fun experience (unless you are traveling with 3 kids under the age of 5…our heart goes out to you). That 2 week vacation is something we usually look forward to year round. Sometimes we travel a couple hours by car for a small getaway, sometimes we travel a couple hours by airplane to forget where we are from. While both can be exciting, immersing yourself in a foreign country is always the most exciting!

 

English and Spanish carry many similarities to one another. Here are some words that you should have no difficulty in recognizing:

 

Spanish English
Fabuloso Fabulous
Diccionario Dictionary
Personalmente Personally

Sounds simple enough – right?

 

Sadly, many words in Spanish have no similar sounding English counterparts. Even worse, they may sound similar, but have nothing to do with each other! Here are a few ones that can trick you into thinking they are apart of the same family:

 

Spanish English
Carpeta Folder (not carpet)
Actualmente Currently (not actually)
Embarazada Pregnant (not embarrassed)

I Want to Be Prepared for My Trip! What’s the Easiest Way to Learn Spanish?

 

Have you ever been in a taxi in a foreign country, or at the market, and the people saw that you had the words “TOURIST” written all over you? Perhaps you paid an extra couple dollars for your taxi ride, perhaps you settled for some 2nd class broccoli from the market.

 

The first sign that locals recognize from a tourist is their inability, and sometimes lack of desire, to learn their language. After all you’re in their country, it’s only fair to learn their language!

 

The challenging part is, however; languages are very complex, and can take upwards of 200 hours to master. What’s the easiest way to learn Spanish  to help you get by on your trip without waving a big flag that says “Hey! I’m a tourist!”

 

Here’s our suggestion: learn just the tourist phrases.

 

Spend time learning the basics, along with practicing on words you expect to be using on your trip. Would you rather learn how to ask “What is the square root of 49?” or “Where can I find a place to eat?”. In just 6 hours we are confident you can sound like a local!

 

WIth our Spanish for Tourists course, we’ll pair you up with a native Spanish speaker over video chat for a 55 minute lesson, and go over all the juicy tourist phrases you can expect to use for your trip.

 

Here are some phrases to start you off:

 

Spanish English
Habla(s) Inglés? Do you speak English?
Soy un(a) turista I am a Tourist
Estoy perdido I am lost
Disculpe? Cómo dice? Pardon me?
Cómo puedo llegar a? How can I get to?
Qué/Cuál bus? Which bus?
Dónde puedo encontrar…? Where can I find…?
Un lugar para comer A place to eat
Un bar A bar
Derecha Right

 

Not too bad huh? With just a little practice, no one will know you’re a tourist ;-)

 

We welcome you to try a free Spanish lesson with one of our tutors – you’ll be happy you did!

 

Enjoy your trip, and be sure to practice practice practice!

You’ll thank us when you brag about the low price you spent on your new sombrero.

About Spanish Virtually: Spanish Virtually teaches Spanish online over video chat, with professors from all over the world. All classes are 1-on-1 and are personalized based on the learning motives of the student.

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