Dear Rise Up… A Love Letter
Two days ago I finished working at Rise Up Surf Nicaragua – at least for now – and as I’m the one responsible for writing blog posts, I thought it fitting to write my own Adios. As I made my way to the airport I received a notification from Facebook asking me to review my time at Rise Up which got me thinking it might be interesting for people to gain the perspective of an employee, rather than a guest. However, as I set out to write a useful article about what to expect, it quicly became more of a love letter. How I feel about my time as part of the Rise Up familia is beyond words, and definitely cannot be described in a blog post, but I’ve done my best to paint a picture of how meaningful this experience has been for me.
So, dear Rise Up, I kinda really love you. You took a leap of faith when you hired me last September, fresh out of my Yoga teacher training in LA. I don’t think either party knew what to expect, and I was nervous. Nervous because I hadn’t taught much before, nervous because I hadn’t been traveling on my own for a few years, and nervous about what I would find when I got here. And in the end, what I found was a home away from home.
Not only is the beauty and tranquility of the place completely understated online, but so to is the magical dynamic that exists between staff and guests. It’s hard to convey the feeling of belonging that you get when you walk through the gates of Rise Up, but the longer you spend there, the stronger that feeling gets. And as this was my second two-month stay at Rise Up, the connection that I felt with my co-workers and guests and the community was something else. So if anything, I hope to capture a little sense of that belonging to share with you.
When I first came to Rise Up, I didn’t know how to surf. I’d played around with it a few times but it was always more frustrating than rewarding. So my first review is for all of the surf coaches who gave me my first lessons – patiently putting up with at least a month of tantrumsm and excuses, and tears, and abusive language – until I finally found a love of surfing and started going out every day. So thank you to the surf crew for your lessons in the water, but also for your lessons on land.
To Conner, my camp husband, for always listening and putting me in my place during our hammock therapy sessions. To Fran, for constantly challenging my perspective on life and showing me that simple is often better. To Laura for being my coach whether you signed up for the job or not, you always knew when to give advice, and when to simply listen. To the local boys for the dancing lessons and Spanish lessons and drinking games and for being such amazing uncles to Kaya – seeing her dance with you or fall asleep on you almost always made me want to cry. To the English boys for all of the energy and laughs at Salsa night. To Josh and Clem for making me believe that true love exists and for keeping me constantly entertained with British humor and French charm. And to Dani, the sweetest soul, who came along in my last few weeks of working at Rise Up, thank you for making my last weeks some of the most memorable in my life. For the jam sessions, the friendly hugs, the excited surf sessions, and for throwing me a BBQ on my last night and taking us to dance in a forest of a million fireflys, I’ll forever be grateful.
So to all of the surf coaches, thank you a million. And to anyone considering working at or visitng Rise Up, you will not find a better crew to spend your time with.
To Charlotte in the kitchen for keeping me fed and healthy and somehow managing to keep a cool head when trying to feed 3 meals a day to 60-some people. And to her support team, to the girls of the kitchen – who were always ready with a smile – thank you for all of your hardwork in the constant heat, I don’t know how you do it! And if you’ve never been to Rise Up, the food will probably surprise you most of all. Charlotte is an absolute wizard in the kitchen and has created such a creative and nourishing menu, you’ll definitely never be bored.
Robinson, Abuelo, Pablo, Javier, and Alvaro, thank you for being the cogs in this entire operation and for holding Rise Up together. Not only are they the glue that make sure we have transport and keep the grounds tidy and secure, but they’re an integral part of the camps culture. All of the staff at Rise Up are part of the bigger picture and whether you’re a guest or an employee, you’ll likely interract with every member of the team no matter what their role is. These guys are all local and all turn up to work each day with big smiles on their faces and a warm welcome. Seeing them has become such a regular part of my day, that my life feels a little empty now without them.
And to two of my best friends, Bea and Gazza, who are always creating tirelessley in the background but somehow find the energy to surf with me daily and play songs on the Ukelele late into the evening. I met Bea during my first stay and while we both spoke different languages, we became fast friends. When I returned, she had become almost fluent in English and has kept me in fits of laughter ever since. Working away behind the camera every day, Bea is a creative genius and I know her lively presence will be sorely missed at Rise Up. But thankfully you still have some time to meet Garret, and I guarantee you, he is a man that you want to meet. While he busily constructs a Permaculture garden at Rise Up, he never seems to lose energy for living life to the absolute fullest. Sometimes squeezing in three surf sessions a day, he has an uncanny ability to always view the half empty glass as half full and will always find time for you. He is a Jack-of-all-trades and can help you with anything from reading you star chart to healing your wounds with natural remedies to switching over a gas bottle to playing any instrument you hand him.
And of course, to the heart of Rise Up, my good friend and my mamacita, Marcia I don’t even know what to say about you. I don’t think I’ve ever shared so many tears or genuine moments with one person in my life. You wear your heart on your sleeve and even though you sometimes have to crack the whip on me, I know that everything you say and do comes from a place of love. Thank you for sharing your bed when my fan broke, and for your surfboard, and for our susnet ride on the scooter on the beach, and and and…I could go on, but I know we will be friends for a long time so I have plenty more opportunities to thank you.
Finally, to the owners, to the ones that gave me this opportunity, I will forever be grateful and not quite sure how to express that properly. Phil and Corina and Baby Kaya (who is already growing up far too quickly) are the perfect team and it’s because of them that I’m able to write all of these wonderful things about the rest of the team. Without such a well-oiled ship and careful selection of staff, Rise Up wouldn’t be the experience that it is and likely wouldn’t attract guests and staff to keep coming back time and time again. I think I speak for all of the employees when I say that we are truly lucky to have such a great team leading us and trying to make our time in Nicaragua as special as for those who are just visitng.
So, while I intended for this to be useful, I realize that all `I’ve managed is to spew love all over the page. So if you’re grossed out by my adoration, I apologize, but if you want a genuinely meaningul experience on your next vacation or as your next job, then I suggest you look into a stay at Rise Up in the quaint little community of Asseradores. If you’re as lucky as I was, it might just change your life.