As I mentioned in my last post, my Peace Corps service is over. I’m also back from my journey through Central America. I ended up visiting Mexico, Guatemala, Belize, El Salvador and Nicaragua. I passed through Honduras on my way to/from Nicaragua, but I didn’t really “visit” it. I then spent a month back in Querétaro, house/pet-sitting for friends and helping my Cinvestav students prepare for an international materials science congress.
The second week of August I went to Cancún to watch the students give their presentations, and I then settled down in Cozumel, a nearby island. It’s much more quaint and quiet than Cancún, which I far prefer, yet it’s not too small (one loop around the island on my bike wipes me out … which is sad as the Ironman course makes three loops). I’ve avoided using “getting old” as an excuse for anything, but I’m starting to reconsider. 🙂
My pool in Cozumel, about 100 meters from where I’m staying. Tough life!
So, several people have asked me “What’s next?” The short answer to the long-term aspect of that question is “I don’t know.” I still don’t know what I want to be when or if I grow up. Actually, I have no intentions of growing up, but I do expect I will eventually make longer-term plans.
In the short-term, I will return to the U.S. in late September. It will be my first trip “home” in more than two and a half years! I’m not worried about reverse culture shock, but I’m sure it will be a bit strange. I’ll spend about ten days in Southern California, visiting family and friends, then I’m going to New Jersey. Yep, New Jersey! I’ll be house/cat-sitting for Micha, a Peace Corps friend who is returning to Mexico to volunteer independently for six weeks. I’m thrilled because I will finally get to visit New York City. I’ve visited many places around the world, but still haven’t visited NYC.
Dulce, the cat Micha adopted in Mexico and took home to New Jersey. She is one of three cats I’ll be caring for.
From there, I’m off to the Big Island of Hawaii for ten days to crew for Kathleen, a friend that is competing in the Ultraman World Championships. If you’re not familiar with Ultraman, it’s a 3-day, Ironman-triathlon-type event. In other words, the people that compete in it are even crazier than I am. 🙂 I’m thrilled to support Kathleen and to visit my other friends in my adopted home.
I had considered spending the winter in Hawaii, but instead I’ll be wintering in Nicaragua, specifically at Laguna de Apoyo, a huge crater lake in an eco-reserve. One of the few buildings on the lake is Hostel Paradiso, where I’ll be starting a windsurfing lesson/rental program. On a whim (three attractive young women that I met at another hostel were headed there, so, shockingly, I decided to follow them), I visited the hostel during my summer travels and was taken by the area’s beauty and serenity. The water is warm, but still refreshing; I enjoyed a long swim my one morning there. When the owner of the hostel heard I used to windsurf, he invited me to come start the business. Step one will be locating inexpensive windsurfers, as they can’t be found in Nicaragua.
The women who “dragged” me to Laguna de Apoyo. Pssst, guys, there is a beautiful crater lake in the background.
Laguna de Apoyo, Nicaragua, as viewed from the crater rim.
Some of you will remember that I used to be very passionate about windsurfing. It’s one of the reasons why it took me more than six years to complete my Ph.D. I used to dream of having a windsurfer rental shack on the beach, with my diploma hanging on the wall. When Javier offered me the opportunity, that memory came storming back, and, well, I’ll be “living the dream” in December and January.
View of Laguna de Apoyo from Hostel Paradiso. Yes, gentlemen, there are lots of young ladies, and a bikini is the typical wardrobe. Life’s gonna be tough. 🙂 Don’t worry ladies, if you choose to visit, there’ll be plenty of eye candy for you, too … that’s in addition to yours truly. hahahaha
From there it’s back to New Jersey for a few more months of house/cat-sitting for Micha (she’ll be volunteering in Guatemala this time). It will be another new experience for me – living through a real winter. I expect the novelty will wear off quickly, but I’m confident I’ll survive.
Which brings us to early May 2014. Where I go then is yet to be determined. During my time at Cinvestav, I was reminded how much I enjoy teaching and mentoring, so I may look for a teaching position at a college. There is also a chance that I will love living on the laguna so much that I’ll return to Nicaragua. I’m contemplating several other options, as well. I feel blessed to have so many possibilities and the flexibility to consider/pursue many. I’ll let you know where I land.