I have a tiny heart. No I don’t mean I’m the Grinch. I mean I literally have a small heart. Small enough that my heart rate at rest is usually the same as someone else while exercising, and when cycling or hiking it gets very high. Pass out high. Bonk, can’t move any further high. Dangerous high.
Up until recently I didn’t know this and just beat myself up about my physical abilities. It seemed no matter how much I would do activity wise I’d still not be able to keep up with others. I couldn’t help but feel like a failure when it came to simply jogging a mile. I’ve never been able to. Never. Not in High School or Junior High when I was running track and participating in all sorts of other sports, highly active and in excellent shape. So when I finally found out that while healthy my heart is just very small I actually was pretty relieved. I wasn’t a failure, or even super out of shape as I had always assumed. That made more sense than the story I was telling myself. How could I be super out of shape when I was riding my bike 30 miles 3-4 times a week and spending the other days at the gym for at least a couple of hours? Funny the negative stories we tell ourselves when look to others as a comparison.
While it’s good to know it hasn’t (yet) stopped me from feeling, believing and acting as though I’m totally normal. I mean sure, I’m normal, just limited.
Back to Nicaragua. I rode up to the parking area for the waterfall and proceeded to hike. “It’s meant to be flat” I had been told by an English tourist who had not done the hike. Yeah, well I was meant to have a pony… doesn’t mean it’s true. The hike wasn’t flat. Not even close. Certainly not when you’re eventually bouldering through the actual stream coming from the waterfall. Crawling up rocks many feet high isn’t what I consider flat. Your mileage may vary.
The waterfall in the distance
As I climbed up my tiny little heart did what it could to keep up. Stupidly I got to the trailhead at about 12:30 having ate breakfast early that morning and with nothing but a small bottle of water on me. I climbed, my heart raced, I tried to stop and rest, my heart didn’t recover, I pushed on. Eventually not more than a few minutes from the top I turned back. I felt as though I might pass out, I was mostly out of water and I couldn’t get my heart rate down enough to push on. I was out of fuel and my body was screaming at me. I was very concerned that I’d get to a point of no return, possibly literally. I’ve done it before.
But on top of that I could tell that while the waterfall is likely gorgeous in the rainy season it was no more than a trickle now. I thought about how spoiled I am living in a place where waterfalls with minutes long hikes are so huge and rushing that you could get seriously hurt standing under one. I love the rest of the world but the place I call home is made more amazing with every trip away. Sorry, no waterfall pictures in this post.
Oh, did I mention that a downpour started just as I got back to the parking area meaning that the steep hill to the parking area was super slick and the puddles were going to be even bigger on the gnarly road. Awesome. In fact there were two other guys on bikes when I got back to the parking lot and one took a nasty spill not more than a few yards down the road. I proceeded to duck walk much of the way down. Breaking stuff, my bike or me, wasn’t in the plan and would have been too easy to do with how exhausted, hungry and thirsty I was.
I sincerely hope I’ve learned my lesson. I can do all sorts of things, it’ll just take me a lot longer and to a large extent it means I need to be kinder to my body. My little heart just can’t keep up.
Fortunately the hotel with decent food was close-ish and I was able to get water and fuel. Even more fortunately I didn’t feel like I was going to pass out after eating which is always the concern when you’ve pushed too far. There wasn’t time for a nap.
Hilarious Sign on the Paved Road
Riding the gnarly road back with it being wet and slick was interesting. Fortunately it hadn’t quite poured like it had the other days so while the puddles were bigger the road wasn’t under water completely (which does happen). Back at the hotel in mud splattered pants I was actually really happy. Maybe more so than any other day.
They say that we get true happiness from overcoming things, not from easy success. This day was exactly that. I’d overcome crazy roads, my own stupidity, I’d hiked pretty far up a crazy trail and I did it without falling and hurting myself or losing the bike at all. I was honestly content.
My new friend Robinson (motorcycle rental guy) and his sister. Both charming, Robinson lived somewhere in Tennessee for a while.
The next day I hopped back on the boat leaving the island and the Cornerhouse, my home in Ometepe. The boat ride was a bit less chaotic though there were more tourists than before. I can’t help but laugh at the huge packs these kids carry… multiple packs in most cases. Do you really need so many clothes? Sure, some may be camping but considering I’ve stayed in the same places with many of them I know many aren’t. I guess when you’re young and hooking up is as much a part of traveling as exploring is you probably need more in the clothing bag than I do. Almost everyone is surprised at how little I have and yet I have way too much in my opinion.
When we got to the dock in San Jorge there were a couple of BMWs so of course I had to go say hello. Funny enough they were from BC Canada. Two couples who were traveling back from Panama. I was jealous… having a bike would save me all the haggling with taxi drivers and crazy long bus rides that will follow the rest of my trip. On the way to Grenada in a taxi (woot, I finally haggled enough to get the correct price!) another lone BMW passed, this time with someone in a rally suit. I am being taunted.
And now I’m in Grenada, staying for two nights and certain to come back just before I leave to pick up crafts and other trinkets for myself and others. My hotel is crappy and likely run by a prostitute. For $15 more I will have a sweet room when I’m back. It’s always so hard knowing what you can afford before you go and look around and often the differences are huge for only a few dollars more.
These are all the lessons that I learned in Baja but seem to have forgotten. So for me and others:
Rule #1 REALLY LOOK at how clean a place is. Are the walls dirty? My first impression is rarely accurate and I find more to be grossed out about the longer I stay in a place. Stay in clean places. It’s more important than anything else.
Rule #2 Just because a hotel has wifi doesn’t mean your room does. Use your phone to check signal. I’m paying for wifi and if the place doesn’t have it in the room it might as well not have it. At least not unless it has a FANTASTIC place to sit and post. Most places do not. Sitting in the parking lot so you can make a skype call home is obnoxious.
Rule #3 Your priorities are different than you think. A fan is fine once the night cools off. Just because it’s fracking hot during the day doesn’t mean you need to pay that much more for AC. For me priorities are like this:
CLEAN. Really clean. Nothing is more important than this. Nothing.
Good wifi signal. Silly maybe, but when it gets dark early and I don’t want to read I can keep myself very busy with the web, much more so than TV.
Those are really all that’s important. A fan is a must if that’s all there is, but that’s enough to keep me quite content. For fun:
Cable. Never thought I’d say this but having US TV is pretty nice. Only a channel or two but enough to keep me busy on my early nights in.
AC almost at the bottom of the list. Unless the temps here climb significantly I don’t feel like this is all that important if I have a good fan and windows to open.
Hot water. This one used to rank a lot higher but now I realize I can do without it here. Just don’t shower first thing in the morning or at night. Shower in the afternoon when you’re sweaty and hot and before you go to dinner. Works fine and you’ll feel refreshed. Yes, I can actually still take a very long cold shower.
OK, enough of that. Just a good reminder for my next trip since I tend to forget what’s really important to me. Maybe not just when traveling…