Thursday, June 12, 2008

It's Good To Be Back

1993. It was the fall of that year. I was returning to San Diego after spending the previous three months working on a ranch in the mountains of Colorado. I was playing tennis again (this time for the university), my girlfriend of the summer had just broken up with me (for the FIRST time), I had recently discovered this NEW WORLD of outdoor recreation, and I officially declared myself to be an “all of the above” guy. I say “all of the above”, because as I read the logic behind it all…..the environmental degradation, the numerous health concerns, the countless ethical questions, etc. etc. etc., the way of the vegetarian just started to make sense. “OK”, I thought. “I think I’ll really give this thing a shot…..we’ll see how it goes”.

15 years later, I found myself sitting in an open-sided restaurant in Nicaragua. Mangoes were falling from the trees, the heat of the dry-season was at the peak of its intensity, and I had just completed the first week of what was to be my new life for the next year. There were probably 10 of us in the restaurant that day, and we had been brought to a very SPECIFIC place to experience a very SPECIFIC food by our host. The idea of the meal was to honor his guests (i.e…..US). To turn down what had just been placed in front of me would have been a significant insult, something I had always sworn against. So there it was……perhaps the largest plate I had ever seen, containing perhaps the largest slab of beef ever intended for a single individual. And as I stared at the enormous CHURASCO before me, I found myself uttering those familiar words from a decade and a half earlier. “OK”, I said. “I’ll give it a shot…..we’ll see how it goes”.

Another three months has passed, and I’m sitting in a small town in the mountains of Panama. I’m essentially taking a vacation, as I needed to leave Nicaragua to renew my travel visa. The rainy season is now in full swing, and the avocados are the current fruit falling from the trees. A new season…….a new world. So as I sit here on a porch, watching the rain, I’m ending my little hiatus from the Blog. In the next few entries, I’ll be filling in a few gaps as to what the last three months have entailed. I’d like to explain what I’m doing in Mangaua, a bit about why I’m doing it, and some of the high’s and low’s of it all. I do hope you enjoy it. It’s good to be back.

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