Thanks to the Internet, my summer project has been a hop skip and a jump from a funky pottery in Prague, to an eco community in the Nicaraguan 'jungle.'
Actually, read steamy tropics for jungle ! Whether jungle or sweltering tropics, I'm preparing myself for lots of unfamiliar animals, barking dogs, slithery beasties, and lots of torrential, tropical rain.
It's going to be an extremely long hop skip and jump from Granada Spain (never made it to Prague) to Granada, Nicaragua. Then there'll be a drive into the sticky unknown.
Previously, anything to do with jungles seriously freaked me. Wasn't attracted.
Outdoor wildlife fine, at a bit of a distance. Indoor wild life, no thank you.
Mosquitoes, scorpions, snakes - love the photos, love the films - but I do not love any of the above in my bedroom !
However, something has mysteriously changed. I seem to be 100% game to zap this life time phobia !
Every summer, apart from always eagerly learning more Spanish, I love to immerse myself in some aspect of drawing, painting, ceramics, writing, or leaning a new skill. Usually this requires being alongside other artists. Always it involves living communally. Last year I spent 3 weeks at and arts center in the Spanish Pyrenees working on my screenplay. This year it's going to be 3 weeks in Nicaragua, potting.
My first Internet search led me to Prague. Two weeks of making and decorating pots in a funky studio with a talented teacher plus afternoon visits to colorful local places, home stay or hostel. Sounded wonderful.
Expensive and complicated to get there from here though.
No reply to my email.
Next search: a fab studio near Valencia, Raku pottery, right up my street.
No reply to my email.
OK I though, how about combining Spanish and pottery ?
Immediately up popped NICARAGUA.
Learn Spanish 3 days a week, make and decorate pots with local potters in indigenous villages 3 days a week Home stay. Transport, local buses.
'Si señor,' I said out loud.
' Me voy !!' ( I'm coming)
Yeah! Love the sound of this. The fact the journey is long, complicated and expensive didn't seem to come into it.
Sent the email .
So having landed, so to speak in Nicaragua, quickly all sorts of other info arrived about this volcano studded country, I could feel the adrenalin rising.
La Mariposa Eco School then popped up and it quickly became a definite possibility. No pottery though. Never mind.
They replied to my email immediately. A good omen I thought.
Truth be told, my biggest longing for this summer is to take my Spanish to another level. A level of competence where all those pesky little words don't trip me up...... a level of confidence I need to be able to speak to prison directors in Bolivia, and to people in Latin American organisations related to my fundraising work. So I decided to enroll at the Mariposa Eco School ( The Butterfly School).
I chewed on the decision for days.
Real adventure versus real improvement in my Spanish?
The Eco School offers interesting field trips three afternoon a week, and at weekends . I'll post their website below. It's at the heart of an eco community set up my an extraordinary English woman,and it's s run entirely by local people. No English is spoken. Good.
It's going to be awesome I know!
Possible challenges may be: getting bitten to death by mosquitoes, catching Dengue fever, getting bitten by a snake, devoured by scorpions, being buried alive by an erupting volcano...
Yes I am taking sensible precautions.
The tropical medicine doc gave me a great bit of info the other day:
'Mosquitoes bite at night' he said, 'the ones who carry the Dengy fever bite you by day.'
Did you know that ? Double lathering of Deet during the day then ? How many bottles will I need to take?
Having decided on La Mariposa School, the pottery school replied!
Oh the decision was so difficult to make....
La Mariposa came tops.
Sound teaching versus a real adventure into the completely unknown?
Maybe week 3 I can venture into one of the pottery villages?
Contacts in Nicaragua ( from friends) are arriving daily. I now have a Buddhist nun to meet; the owner of a wonderful pizzeria in the capital to chat with; a poet-priest-sculptor to track down, an island to visit.. but first of all I´m going to spend 3 nights with Irish Gerry in Granada- beside- the- lake, in his hostal Casa del Agua .
Looks lovely on the Internet ! A friend of his will pick me up at the airport.
So, thanks to emails not being replied to, I'm off with hand luggage only for the next Latin American adventure.
I hope to return spouting the subjunctive effortlessly and with a sketch book full of lovely memories. .
Malaria ,scorpions, food poisoning, hurricanes, scams any of these might show up.. but hey ho... we live in the moment don't we.. so... no worrying allowed !!
'The heart has reason the head cannot understand.'
So, once again, I'm following the call, being drawn by that same shinning star !