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Shawn and Brent

Decided to keep this blog strictly a travel blog, so I have a new blog at

Be a real pal and check it out if you get the chance. Buenicimo.

Diary Entries

Thursday, 13 December 2007

Location: USA

What Is It About Oceans?

We left the small town of El Sauce, Nicaragua with one thing in mind, the Pacific Ocean. The eight hour sweaty ride in the chicken bus was worth it. I thought this, as I stared off into the great Pacific Ocean, in the beach bum town of San Juan Del Sur. San Juan is located on the southwest corner of Nicaragua, just north of the border to Costa Rica. I felt as if I was worlds apart from the States. Sure I’ve seen the Pacific Ocean before, but this was different. There weren’t multi-million dollar houses lining the beach. Instead, there were several miles of sand, with the rhythmic sound of waves painting the shoreline. The breeze came off the water with the fragrance of the ocean’s salts. I walked along the beach, letting the foamy water lick my toes. The beach was setup in a way that made you feel like you were at a concert. Mountains to the left and right side of the ocean formed the bowl shaped amphitheater. Looking out into the ocean, I watched as the main event unfolded. A never ending amphitheater where the ocean stretched further than eyes could imagine.

I didn’t need to know Spanish there; my brain was at recess, on the merry-go-round. My senses took over. How many people has the ocean hypnotized, and how many more will it after me? I let it captivate me; let it seduce me with its beauty. A new love. I told Brent I could live there forever, get a little apartment with a balcony overlooking the ocean, and wake up to the smells and sounds of the ocean every morning. His realist side came to life, asking me what I’d do for money, and how I’d be able to afford the Land Rover I’d want to be driving to the surf spots. I didn’t want to think about the reality of leaving this place.

The next morning I bought my first surf board for two hundred and fifty bucks. The top was blue, with a red stripe outlining the sides, and dividing it down the middle. The bottom was tan with a gold stripe down the middle. It is the coolest thing I have ever purchased. Brent’s board was tan with a gold stripe down the middle, and had a couple gnarly stickers near the tip of the board. The main beach in front of San Juan Del Sur was enormous, but the waves weren’t normally big enough for surfing. We were told we would need to get a ride a few miles down the coast to Playa Romanso, where the waves were perfect for beginners, or a longer ride to the north, to the infamous Playa Maderas, where the waves get bigger, and the ocean gets busier with professional surfers, hoping to ride the perfect wave. The Lonely Planet agreed.

As we decided which beach to surf first, Brent suggested that we get a few days of surfing in before we kill ourselves at Maderas, and I agreed. As we rode out to Playa Romanso in the box of a small two wheel drive pickup I gazed at the open landscape picking out a plot of land I could purchase someday. I secured my surfboard on my lap, being careful not to ding or nick it up. The truck pulled up short of the beach by a few hundred yards. We hopped out of the truck to walk the rest of the way. “Surfing really isn’t that hard.” I assured Brent, with an air of confidence having surfed a whopping seven times in my illustrious career. But seven times more than he had, I thought to myself with my head held high.

As we walked to the beach we joked with each other that surfing isn’t really that difficult. We had both been wakeboarding our entire lives and thought it would be enough experience on a sideways sport to figure things out quickly.

Then we saw it—the beautiful blue ocean. Then we smelled it—the beautiful blue ocean. The beach was scarce other than one other surfer about fourteen years old. It was like we had the ocean to ourselves for the entire day. My heart started beating faster, as my flip flops dug into the sand, making it awkward to walk. I took off my shirt and felt the sun warm on my skin. I looked over at Brent smiling as if we had just won the lottery. We laid our boards down on the sand, and sat staring at the intimidating ocean. I put my board leash around my left ankle, picked up my board, and looked at Brent ready to go into the water.

“What about the sharks?” Brent questioned with a deadly serious look on his face.

Never knowing for sure whether he’s joking or serious, I laughed saying, “Jeeeez, who asks that right before you go surfing! You don’t even think about it—besides they don’t like the taste of human flesh anyways.”

We treaded out into the foamy water like five year olds deciding whether to enter a swimming pool. Just as the water reached below my waist, I put my board on the ocean surface, and saw the board become a partner to the ocean. It floated naturally above the water, as it had done a million times before—but never with me. The amphitheater was filling up now; you could hear the people talking with anticipation for the show to begin. The bells started chiming, the trumpets, and the flutes, all in perfect harmony. The sound of the ocean waves chiming on the water. I hopped on the top of my board, and Brent did the same—and the dance had begun. I felt the wax on the board rub up against my skin. With my legs crossed and balanced gracefully in the air, I began to paddle out into the deep blue. I could taste the thick salt in the water, as waves splashed over my face. There it was, a big wave, coming right towards us. I paddled faster reaching the wave just before it crashed, and ducked my head with the tip of my board into its body. I came up on the other side of the wave and looked over relieved to see Brent alongside me. I continued paddling to get out beyond the breaks before the next set of waves came in. Finally, we made it out to where we needed to be, no more fighting with the waves. I sat on my board, and learned to balance it between my legs. With my back turned away from the shore, we looked out into the ocean, trying to decipher a large wave from the smaller ones.

“There’s one now!” One of would yell. We turned our boards around facing the shore to get in the right position. I paddled slowly, as I looked over my left shoulder at the wave coming towards us. Just before the wave came in I looked at Brent as we laughed both knowing this wave was going to demolish us. We paddled as frantically as we could, but the wave strode right by us. We laughed about how impossible it was, then turned to see the fourteen year old Nicaraguan kid get up effortlessly and ride the wave practically all the way in. Then another perfect wave would pass us. “Ahhh, that was the one, we gotta be ready for these.” Brent would joke. As we sat on our boards staring off at the waves coming in we learned how they would come in sets, and when there was one big one, another one was soon to follow. We sat on our boards, our legs dangling in the water below us, slowly paddling to where we guessed the next big wave would come in. Wave after wave passed us, but then finally one of us caught one. I felt my board as it was propelled forward by the wave, now, stand up now, I told myself. I grabbed the sides of my board with my hands and began to stand up. Standing up awkwardly on my board I raised my hands in the air. The board slipped away from beneath me sending me tumbling like a rock down the side of a cliff. I swallowed tons of water and got up after the rollercoaster ride, looked for my board, then hopped back on it, and paddled out past the break.

As I paddled back, I saw Brent riding a wave in, his eyes focused directly in front of him, hands raised to his sides like he was walking across a balance beam. Seconds later he crashed into the wave, and come up laughing. “Did you see that?” He yelled over to me. I started paddling out faster, eager to catch a wave and ride it in longer than he had done.

We became friends with the fourteen year old Nicaraguan kid, prying for advice on catching a wave like him. Along with some helpful advice, he taught us the word, “olas” or waves in Spanish, and it soon became my new favorite Spanish word, right up there with “zapatos.”

“This is it, this is the one!” The wave was coming closer; I started paddling again, but faster this time. The wave was directly behind me and I felt my board catch the wave. The fins of my board stuck in the water, and I began to stand up with the curl of the wave speeding my board along the water. I was up, and felt like I had just reached the peak of Everest. In less than twenty seconds the board skidded away from underneath me and my right foot would fly in the air as I fell backwards into the wave. I learned quickly to get into a ball position, and cover my head as I tumbled with the wave. Holding my breath, I waited for the wave to release me from its grip. I took a breath, and swallowed a mouth full of salty water. I stood up on the sand. The waters waist high again—the wave carried me nearly all the way back to where I started. I held my board under my right arm and looked out at the massive set of waves crashing the surface. Laughing at what had just happened to me, that was awesome, I thought to myself, and hopped back on my board to do it all over again.

Everyday we went to surf after Spanish class, feeling mentally exhausted from all that learning, and every night we left the ocean with a new sense of energy. The ocean had lifted us to a new level neither of us had experienced before. We didn’t even need to say anything to each other; we could just look at each other, and know how great of an experience it was, one we’d remember it for the rest of our lives.

After surfing Romanso for a week we made plans to head out to Maderas to conquer the bigger waves. With a friend we had met earlier in the trip, we left to Maderas to camp out on the beach, praying for clear skies. After getting throttled by waves that were scary big, I sat in the beach hostel and videotaped the pro’s ripping up these waves that will simply make one shake their head from side to side, saying, “Oh my God, that is so dangerous, I cannot believe those people are doing that.”

The last day we surfed we couldn’t say goodbye, but after baking in the sun all day, we were all worn out. We set up our campsite, which consisted of one king size bed sheet, and another bed sheet for our blanket, that the three of us would all share. We used a log for some reason at the head of our make shift bed on sand, and lined the sides of the sheets with our surf boards, one at each side, to block any breeze the night might bring. But we didn’t have fire. Neither Brent, nor myself were boy scouts, so we decided to walk down the beach to the one and only surf hostel at Maderas. We lucked out—they had a bonfire. After kicking it around the fire with some “real surfers,” we headed back to our spot with a burning log. As we heated up some canned ravioli by the fire, we reasoned with ourselves that camping out on the beach under the stars made us practically as hardcore, if not more hardcore of surfers than the dudes back at the hostel—especially when it started raining.

“We’re hardcore.”

"Yeah we are. Hasta manana.”

Note. This essay is best when read while listening to Sufjan Stevens.

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Recent Messages

From Jonas
Hola amigos, como estan? Where you? You are still travelling? Its nice to read your stories, Shawn!

Saludos de Alemania
Response: Jonus... Its been too long- We're both doing well, enjoying a winter for a change here in the States... What are you plans for this summer, we should meet up for a coffee-
Saludos de Estados Unidos, Shawn
From Alltel James
Hey Shaun, it has been a while man. I don't know if you will read this but...after now spending some time travelling in another country myself, is interesting to read this stuff again. Got any future overseas adventures in the works?
Response: James-NICE to hear from you! How is Australia??? I'm super envious. Do you have a site I can view photos??? Take more photos then you think you should... I'll drop you an email after I'm done with my finals, right now I'm drowning in them. Spain this summer man, its all happening.
From micaela
gosh I haven't read this in forever. i just was looking at the pictures and it all seems so long ago, as if many years ago. wow. i am waiting for more stories.
P.S. Actually, I'm waiting for the book.
Response: Micaela, I love you, you're soo funny. It does seem like a long time ago doesn't it?? Last year at this time Brent and I were surfing in San Juan Del Sur. Now I walk to school, my whole body tense from the cold... Maybe we should go to Hawaii for the weekend? We could go to an airport, and be holding surfboards tomorrow at this time? I'll pick you up on my way to the airport, tell gabe and Riley to pack their swimsuits... adios, Shawn
From mom
Hi Shawn...just reading your September 13th entry. Just love reading your thoughts. Last year at this were in the warmth of South America...and now this year, you're in the coldest place in the state. Keep writing...we're loving it. See you at Thanksgiving....we'll make it the best ever.
Response: I know it... It is way too cold, and its not even that cold yet. I walk outside to find it windy and cold, and think about the palm trees in California or Hawaii. They're still there, right this second-- the palm trees, just waiting...
From Suzie McShane
I was just checking this site, and there you were... Shawn instead of a pilot, you should consider being a writer. You have great insight and stories.

I ran into (prev. Greenmill waiter ?can think of his name), and stated that you two were back, and Brent you were working for deed/mineral rights.. Im glad you both had a great adventure..important to do in life.
Im still bumbed Greenmill has not been occupied yet.

I hope you are doing well.
Keep in touch! Hey, how about pottery now?
Response: Suzie, Thanks for checking the blog! Brent is doing really well.. He's working for an oil company, and seems to enjoy it... We talk often about wanting to go somewhere again...
I'm happy you enjoy the entries... I'm in Grand Forks finishing an English degree, and am doing more writing and reading than my brain can stand at times... I haven't done any pottery yet, but hopefully soon... Adios, Shawn
From Jonas
Hola amigos,

encantado de conocernos!
Ahora tengo un blogg en internet tambien. El es en aleman, pero tiene pinturas y creo ustedes no tienen un problem con la idioma de alemanes ;-)

Un abrazo.

Response: Por supuesto amigo, hablamos Aleman mas o menos... Por que tengo un amigo de Alemania- Entendimos aleman como entendimos futbol... Entonces estaremos no problemo... Chau Jonus! Y vamos a buscar tu blog...
From Shawn
Hey, guess what?
Brent and grandma came over tonight. We had chicken chili soup. Brent brought us a cow that poops out M&M, Skittles, and jellybeans.
Too bad you missed Easter. it was so much fun

Can't wait till you come home
Response: Micaela, I missed you for Easter too... Happy late Easter, take care of Brent... Since I can´t anymore!
From Candace
I'm going to ignore your last entry and just tell you Happy Easter. You should enter an Easter blog for us, to make up for the awful April Fool's joke.
Response: Thanks, I will have a new entry soon I promise... Happy Easter
From Beth Marka (Barth's
You F'ers!!! That is the worst, not even in the slightest bit funny blog that i have ever read...EVER!!!!! All I could think about when Justin showed me was thoughts of
Brent getting the crap beat out of him 20 times a day and all the worry your family and friends have been going through. Just so you know, I hate you both...seriously!!! NOT FUNNY!!! I have one thing left to say, that's just bad karma man....bad karma's not a good thing to have when travelling abroad.........
but i will give you got us good!
Response: HAAAA HA HA.... I have so much good karma, I don´t know what to do with myself... We love you Beth! Don´t hate, it´s not good for the karma-
From Barth
Way to good! I was at work and I was freaking out. You totally got me. You nerds need to update more often.
Response: Sorry to get you worried Barth, we both feel terrible...
From Brady
Green Mill closed on Sunday April 1st....signs are already taken down.
Response: Brent leaves, then they close her down, whats the deal...
From Ann
I sure hope Brent is soon found safe. If you need money for the kidnappers, I would be happy to help as I recently won $40 Million in the recent Powerball Lottery drawing!

Oh........ that's right, it was some woman in Wisconsin who won that. But, I do have a jar full of change sitting on my dresser that I will gladly donate for his release.
Response: April fools Ann,

Brents home safe..
From Brady
Is this an April fools joke?
Response: YES
Response: YES?
From mom
Response: Only for April fools day...

I love it,
From Gage
hey dudes,
Coldplay! Wow! Did they sing in spanish/english? Sorry for not picking up your phone call shawn; you were right I thought it was a telemarketer with a 012-3456 number. Seriously. Things are good in SoCal. Marck Madness is prowling. I got Florida beating Georgetown in the Finals. Also Texas A n M and Pitt in final 4. Coldplay concert. Awesome. I'm going to San Fransisco wednesday. Should be fun. Keep up the adventureous stories. Futbol is nuts. Your story reminds me of that movie you fell asleep to back in Bismarck about the soccer gangs.

Happy Easter and end of Lent,
Response: Gage sorry I haven´t gotten back to you on this one... Yeah man the Coldplay concert was a blast... But equally as fun was the Bela Fleck and the Fleckstone´s concert... If you ever get the chance, go. CHAU
From Vinnie
Hello boys,
Just Vinnie here living the highlife and kicking and screaming the whole way. Just wanted to find out when you guys plain on coming back to the States? I wasn’t sure so, I thought I would just ask. Well, like I said all things here are going well. I'm impressing the Boss with my hard work and dedication, so that good. Other then that life is good and I am hoping the same for you. There really isn’t a whole lot else so I will be checking the webpage for more updates and pics. I just wanted too give a shot out… Peace…….My Brothers from another Mother……

Response: Funny how I was just thinking about you the other day. I'm starting to job hunt and it looking like I'll be back by the middle of April. Do you still have your same cell phone number? I'll contact you when I return. Lates.

From Silje
Hey guys! Great travel diary, looks like you're having a fantastic time. Nice pictures, keep them coming! I really miss being in Nicaragua and hanging out with you - Norway is way too cold! Have fun, and take care :o)
Response: Silje, thanks for checking up on us.. Try sun tanning, it helps get through the winters! chau
From Francisco
Muy comico! La moza genia del restaurant!!
Esta bueno el blog... escribo en español para que practiques
Response: Francisco, Muchas gracias amigo, por visitando el website- Hasta luego, problamente dos semanas... Bueno suerte con el kite surfing-
chau, Shawn
From julien
soy julian de los cursos de IBL. tengo un problema. he perdido la oja con los correos electronicos de markus y vos.
te doy mi numero de tel : 15 635483 80.
hasta luego
Response: Julian, gracias por la mensaje... Hablare contigo mas tarde...
From Bruce Ellison
Hey Brent,

Good to see you guys are having a some fun down south. While you play, things have gone to heck at the Green Mill. Johnson or "Silverback" as he now prefers, is running wild. He now believes that he really is the biggest, meanest gorilla since you left. No one left to keep him in line. We need ya back, Brent.

Response: Bruce, the Wild Silverback is on the loose? Thats all we need. Nice to hear from you. I´ll be back sometime in April, job hunting. What do you say we meet once a week for a jog? Take it eazy, and tell Beau I¨ve got this round for the crew. What a sec...Is it Wednesday?

From Micaela
One more thing-we are going to the DIsney place in Florida in June, JUNE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Response: June huh... We'll see what happens!
From Micaela
As I am sitting in Social Studies I am thinking about Argentina. We are looking at a map of Europe, except I find a map of Argentina, and am looking at it thinking, "Shawn and Brent are in this tiny place somewhere, while I am here learning about Europe. You are far away, in a big city, but on this map Buenos Aires is as small as a crumb
I am wondering what you are doing, and then I am thinking"OOPS!" and I am learning about Europe again and you are probably thinking about that lunch you will have at eleven at night...all that juicy steak...and more steak
or maybe you are at Spanish School
Well I hope whatever you are doing and wherever you are in that little crumb you are having a good time!
Love you,
Response: What did you learn about Europe? And do you have a favorite country? We wish we could take all you kids to the March of the Penguins! Take it easy-
From dad
Hey guys, mom just shared the news that you got into an apartment... congrats! Thanks for the new pictures... are you really as thin as you look... brent, you must have lost 15-20 lbs. and shawn, about 10... you must really be working out... hope you are healthy... enjoy, be safe and know you are loved and missed... dad
Response: Dad,
It's wonderful to finally be settled into an apartment... Take my life out of a backpack for a bit...
From Aaron
95 degree water?! That is rediculous. We can't even get to 0 degree temps outside..sounds like you are living the rough life, although it seems like you guys are getting quite the different perspective of other ways of living, must be nice. I could really go for a steady diet of $6 steaks though. So what are your plans? Looking to stay there longer than the trip or is that going to be enough for you?
Response: Aaron, great to hear from you... It's been a blast, just trying to soak in as much as we can...
Your question touches a sensitive subject! Right now it's looking like this trip will hopefully be a small taste of a lifetime of travels, or maybe someday working in a foreign country.
How's IBM, are you running that place yet?