I apologize in advance, for this LOOOONNNG first post. I promise, they won't always be this long. Nevertheless, I hope you enjoy this, my very first blog entry. :)
My husband and I started trying to get back in shape in 2008 after my daughter Mackenzie was born. We had both been pretty active prior to my pregnancy but during my pregnancy, we BOTH gained some weight. Mark gained sympathy weight while I gained baby weight PLUS 30 pounds. Anyway, shortly after he started running (never having even raced a 5k before) he comes across a blog talking about this race that is held on an island in the middle of a large lake in Nicaragua. The race is called Fuego y Agua, meaning Fire and Water in Spanish. The island is called Ometepe and it is made up of two volcanoes and sits in the middle of the largest fresh water lake in Central America. Needless to say, when he came to me and told me he wanted to do this race some day, never having ran a 5k race, much less an ultramarathon, I thought he had lost his mind. I just basically ignored the idea, figuring that it was another one of his "dreams" that hopefully would never come to fruition. Well, low and behold, he did start racing 5ks, 10ks and then ultramarathons. Last October he came to me and said he wanted to sign up for this race and he was planning on going whether I was going or not. Well now, logistically speaking, it was going to be VERY difficult for us both to embark on a trip like this. We now had TWO children, a 3yr old daughter and a 1yr old son. Trying to find someone to watch our children for the time we would be gone was going to be WAY more difficult than we could have ever imagined. When we mentioned the idea to most people, they either thought we were crazy or they didn't even know where Nicaragua was. To be honest, I wasn't EXACTLY sure myself, although I did know it was somewhere between Mexico and South America! LOL When we mentioned the trip to Mark's mom, she was all for it, which honestly surprised both of us. She was also willing to take on the two kids while we were gone. Well a couple of months passed while we sat and watched airline prices (I secretly hoped Mark would forget about this crazy trip) until one day Mark said, "ok, let's do it. Let's purchase the tickets." So we did. The next day we called Mark's mom to let her know the dates we would need her to watch the children. Mark's mother had been a Breast Cancer Survivor for around 16 years. She had recently had some test come back and they weren't good. We found out that day from her, the results of her last test. She was Stage 4 and would have to start Chemo immediately. This was devastating news to both of us! Not only were we extremely concerned about the journey Mom was about to face, we were in a dilemma now. Who would we trust to watch our kids? How could we tell her that we had just dropped a TON of money on two plane tickets to go to a third world country so Mark could run up and down two volcanoes while she is battling for her life. It just didn't seem fair. Months of stress and concern, crying and arguing, planning and un-planning, praying, praying, and praying some more, finally an answer was given. A friend's name kept coming to mind. Well, she was someone who had used to be a friend until some stupid mistakes an overstressed, under-rested momma of two young babies had made. I had to "suck it up" and call her for help. She was the only person in the world I would trust both of my kids with, besides family, and now I needed her. That was the hardest phone call I have ever had to make, but she said "Yes", she would watch our kids. AMAZING! WHEW!!! and with only a few weeks to get everything prepared. Now I could breathe a little easier. I had someone to watch the kids. I was still SCARED TO DEATH about leaving my children, especially my son, who nursed up until the day we left. Talk about cutting the cord!!!
Now, skipping ahead. The trip to Nicaragua changed our lives! The entire trip was magical and amazing and each new town we went to, I loved in it's own way, but Ometepe, there was just something about Ometepe. I can't really put it into words exactly what that place means to me. We made this trip into a vacation (one of the ways Mark enticed me to go) so a couple of the places we stayed at in Nicaragua were more "luxurious" than Ometepe. I looked forward to the beginning of the trip and the end of our trip, but not the middle, when we would be on the island. Ometepe is like a step back in time. It is isolated, only reached by an 1hr and a half ferry ride. It is made up of small villages and fincas (another word for farm). Coffee, banana, and plantain farms are how the people make their living. The people there live a very simple life. They would walk past us and stare, not quite sure what to make of us. However, the second we waved or smiled, they threw back a smile and wave that would have crushed any wall that sat between strangers. Their smiles lit the world with a glorious light. They were so warm and inviting that they made you fall in love with them and their way of life. There, it is not unusual to pass cows, horses, and other livestock walking down the middle of the road, alongside men carrying machetes . Most people get around by horse, bicycle, dirtbike or the feet God gave 'em. In American standards, I guess they would be considered a "poorer" group of people. After having been there, I think they are really richer. They have little, but are happy. We have much and always want more. There is something to be said about being satisfied for the blessings God has provided us. I learned a lot from those people. I know a part of my heart will always be on Ometepe. I can't wait to go back and take my children! I could write so much more about the trip, the race and the people, but I will leave that for another time. I encourage you to listen to the podcast my husband made with his friend Tim Worden about the race. http://ultraquest.podbean.com/2012/02/26/marks-adventure-to-fuego-y-aqua/ and you can also learn more about the race at https://www.facebook.com/ultrafuegoyagua or www.fuegoyagua.org. Please visit my Facebook page to see more photos of Nicaragua, the race, and Ometepe. www.facebook.com/PinkCrowPhoto.
So, this trip truly changed my life. It took me out of my comfort zone, it reunited a friendship, it gave me a love for simplicity, and it launched me into a new career path. Welcome to my new photography blog and website. I can't think of a better way to start it!
This kid rode along side Mark for probably over a mile, smiling the whole way!