What I learned from a near-Nicaraguan-Shuttle-Heist

I awoke to a polite ushering from the vehicle that I thought would be my makeshift bed for the day.

We got my favorite Latin American lunch combo: plantains & cheese.

And we almost fell victim to the most polite robbery of all time.

None of us were on our game the day after SJDS’s infamous Sunday Funday, read Sunday Blackout, but it seemed a rather unlikely scenario to load our backpacks into a shuttle, ask our driver if we could use the restroom quickly, and return 4 minutes later to an empty parking spot.

If you assumed that the three of us lost our minds and ran back to the company operator blazing expletives, you’re wrong. Chris calmly went back to the storefront while Sean & I staked out the 6′ x 15′ cobblestone patch where the van was once parked. You know.. just in case it decided to come back. (Spoiler alert, it didn’t)

As we waited on a random street corner in Granada, I started taking stock of what was in my bag. Aside from the hiking shoes I’d need to climb a volcano the next day, I concluded that none of it actually mattered. 

I then realized that if that stuff didn’t matter, all the stuff I’d left at home mattered even less. And if someone who could buy almost anything she wanted doesn’t give a damn about anything she has, she’s either crazy or there’s something there to dig into further… aka things don’t mean sh!t (except to hoes and tricks).  

As I thought about what drives modern humans, it boiled down to something like this: we endure monotony and jobs we hate to make money. Money buys stuff. Stuff “makes us happy” and “provides comfort.” Those happy chemicals get us through a turn of the hamster wheel until we start the cycle over. All of this under the guise that 40 years later we’ll get to limp away from the drudgery. But why do we step onto the stupid wheel in the first place? Because we are raised like sheep, following what everyone we know has done.

What I can tell you is that I’m not not scared to leave every comfort I’ve ever known behind. Friends and family, a steady salary, a place to call home. But everything is relative. I’m far more scared of regret, of not seeing the “big E” (if this was vision chart at the eye doctor) on my bucket list through – experiencing what the world has to offer, finding contentment. Afterall, in the words of the late, great Mark Twain, “20 years from now you will be far disappointed by the things you didn’t do than the ones you did.”

Consider this: growing up in a small town, my first exposure to now-favorite Korean and Indian dishes was in my mid-twenties, about the same age that the first of my high-school classmates passed away from cancer. I never would have discovered those foods from within my comfort zone and that’s just the start.

I’ve yet to find an industry that I could fathom working in my entire life and I certainly won’t get any closer by purchasing an expensive TV or repeating the same weekly schedule in perpetuity. But each new place, person, story, and problem will bring me closer to the next possibility.

And that’s something that no amount of money can buy.

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