Drive south about nine hours from Nebaj, almost to the Salvadorian border, and you’ll find yourself in a perfect oasis. Six of us made this drive last weekend, and it turned out to be the perfect remedy for our restlessness.
While David and QuiQui headed to the capital to be with family, the remainder of the group chartered a micro bus and took a much-needed break from the hustle-and-bustle of work and life in Nebaj. At this point, we’d been living with local families for almost a week, and we were finalizing plans for the greenhouse construction. A weekend at the beach would give CES some time to approve our plans and allow the education team to work on scripts for English-language DVDs that will be used at the centers when no English volunteers are around.
So off we went, bubbling with excitement for a change in scenery. And what a change it was.
Carlos’ family beach house in Las Lisas was perfectly suited for its climate and surroundings. With a tall, banana-leaf roof and an open-aired common area, protected from mosquitoes with nets instead of walls, the house’s plush couch and big dinner table bred conversation and laughter.
We spent the next few days floating in the pool, relaxing in one of the many hammocks, playing the addictive dudo game and braving the tall waves of the Pacific. We were joined for a few days at a time by Carlos’ older brother, Alejandro, and his fiancée Catherine, and then by Carlos’ dad, his girlfriend Audrey, and Carlos’ little sister Natalia.
Erin, Nick and I had planned out an extensive grocery list for the meals we wanted to cook. The grocery store we stopped at on the way to the beach had a produce section consisting of bananas so ripe they’d only do for banana bread, cucumbers, onions, tomatoes and limes. So you can imagine we ran into some problems. Fortunately Alejandro and Mr. Toriello brought the remainder of what we needed. Needless to say, there was quite a bit of improv cooking, all of which turned out great.
Nick and I put together an Alfredo sauce the first night, a creamy marinara the second and breakfasts with scrambled eggs and chocolate pancakes. Erin made an amazing chicken parmesan the third night, as well as chocolate rice krispies. Carlos had asked me to make a marble cake when he heard me raving about it, so I was finally able to when Mr. Toriello and Audrey brought baking powder.
In the evenings, before the dining fiasco, we would sit down on the beach. Facing a pink a peach glow reflected in the receding ebb of the tireless ocean, we talked. Sometimes it was to hear Mr. Toriello’s political stories about various enigmatic relatives and sometimes just to discuss the day’s events.
Speaking of daily events, Nick and I experienced the true force of the mighty Pacific. When everyone else sat down for a game of dudo one afternoon, I convinced Nick to come swimming with me. We were just talking and dodging waves when a little while later we noticed we hadn’t gone under a wave in a while. Looking behind us, we realized that the beach was pretty far away. Carlos had explained the rip tide danger, and we thought we were being careful, but I guess we got dragged into it. We started swimming side stroke to get back to shore. Just when I thought we weren’t getting anywhere, we were swept up in a huge wave. I heard Nick tell me to ride it just as I went under. I popped up after being thrown around, but didn’t see Nick. He finally came up, telling me he was under for almost a minute. GREAAAAT. Well, we continued to swim calmly and made it back to the beach, safe, sound and exhausted. Mr. Toriello made us some daiquiris when we got back, which sure helped relax us.
So that, in a nut shell, was our beach weekend. Although eventful at times, it was mostly relaxing and a great time to enjoy good food, friends and weather. If that soothing humidity could only have followed us back to Nebaj. Alas, we’ll deal with the rainy season for a few more days.