We all love them. A good musical show is usually accompanied by a great light show. But my favorite is lightning. Three nights ago, the best light show I have ever seen went down. It was just as the sun was setting. There had been, for a couple hours, this ´heat lightning´intensifying from the east. The thunder was not loud and just slowly rumbling as the day was nearing to night. To the west, over the Pacific, the colors of the sky were ominous. The mostly overcast backdrop to the sky was creating an orangish-green hue. There were thin horizontal slivers of clouds moving slowly toward the north-west. It was sprinkling rain very lightly. Then just at sunset, various forms and shapes of lightning began a majestic display. Every 10 seconds or so were flashes of the ´heat lightning´that would illuminate the entire visible sky. In between every single flash of ´heat lightning´, there were thunder bolts popping from north to south all along the coast. It seemed as if they were only a few hundred yards out in the water. I was half-expecting to see splashes of water in the distance after the constant air-strikes from heaven. I was sitting there imagining angels, like Paparazzi, hiding behind the orangish-green masked sky, frantically snapping photos. Some of the lightning bolts would originate very high in the sky, above any visible clouds, and somehow get split by the thin whisps and explode down into the ocean. As it grew darker and darker, the light show grew more and more intense with the contrasting colors. There were great waves breaking in front, at the Pistols surf break. It was barreling. I imagined how cool it would be to get a still shot (or video) of a surfer getting barreled, and in the background would be the beautiful sunset colors with an 8 legged, staggering lightning bolt descending just behind the barrel´s peak. It would have been rather easy to get the shot. Only thing I was missing - a working camera lens and an experienced surfer. Nature was doing all she could. Oh well….maybe next time. I went to bed after this, satisfied and exhausted from the show. Thank you Nicaragua…
What an inspiring story. And now for some dirty truth. I am the unfit boss that the author, Kendro, refers to. My name is Dave Sluder and I am the owner / founder of GreenSurf Nicaragua. Kendro was my client here at GreenSurf Nicaragua. First, let me point out that her first time to El Transito was November of 2011, not 2012 as she alludes to in her story. ‘Lucky enough to fall into the lap of the right partner’ is quite the understatement as I remember watching my tour guide and my client pinky wrestle in between surf sessions during her 2nd trip here. Maybe when she wrote lap, she meant…hmmmmm…lap. It’s too bad she did not listen to me later when I tried to be a friend and inform her that her new lover was having 3-somes with working girls from Managua, doing lines off their bellies at the same moment while she was back in NYC packing up her life. The current driver of Solid Surf Tours knows who and where the girls are. And I am sure Jon still does too, which is why they do not frequent Leon or Managua too often during the evening any more. But who knows? Maybe Allison is okay with that now with an open business relationship or maybe Jon stopped cheating on her and cleaned up his act, which I am in full support of. For me, I am not opposed to having fun, indulging in carnal pleasures, and am not one to judge because I have my own vices, for sure. But it truly bothered me that while I was discussing with Allison, back in June/July 2012, her ideas for completely rebuilding and improving my website, at the same time my tour guide would do a ‘cocoa puff’ and then 2 seconds later, explain to Allison on Skype that his sniffling was due to a cold.
You see, although I was not and will never be the perfect role model, I will never be able to support someone’s lying, cheating and stealing - especially in a business relationship. I never wanted Jon’s lies and deception to begin a huge drama with the girl who was rebuilding my website. What a bummer to read this malarky on my birthday. It sounds like such a heart-warming story, but the details are in the lies. Or are the lies in the details? In all fairness, I was battling with some intense depression and substance abuse at the time that Allison came to visit here, which is probably the reason why she refers to me as unfit. I was dealing with some highly personal family issues at the time. I did not deal with my issues with the best remedies. I have learned from my mistakes. But these were my own personal problems that I overcame and am still overcoming with the help of my true friends and my faith. My tour guide knew about my weaknesses and vices. Why? Because we spent every moment together for 2 years straight. Every time, and I mean EVERY TIME, we went to Leon or Managua for the night, he was searching for and requesting nose candy. Need a friendly companion for the night in Leon? Jon is your man. There are handfuls of girls in Leon and Managua that can confirm this truth.
Although I was having my own personal issues, Jon never once expressed dissatisfaction with his position or environment to me. I invited him here to assist as a tour guide because he did not have a job in Florida. I offered him all food, room & board. Any and all cash he earned would come from client tips. He agreed. However, I went above and beyond what I promised him and paid for many party nights out in Leon and Managua. After all, I remembered his quote to me when he first arrived in Nicaragua to assist me. I asked him - ‘Your choice - Party or Surf?’ His reply - ‘Party’. I will never forget this. After this, he never once expressed dissatisfaction to me and never asked me for a salary or commissions. Later, instead of expressing any dissatisfaction to me whatsoever, concern, or offering any help or support, he and Allison saw a weakness to exploit and made their plan of attack. I guess you could say that my business was growing, but I, personally, was in a weak and vulnerable state. She did state the truth in that she ‘took the opportunity’ and ‘never looked back’. I had a perfectly functional website at the time of Allison’s first visit. Between her 1st and 2nd visit, Allison convinced me to allow her to completely rebuild my website. She told me that she could improve the marketability, exposure and help create new products, etc. and so I agreed. She had full access to ‘behind-the-scenes’ GreenSurf Nicaragua including my email and client contacts. Little did I know that building my website was just a practice-run to prepare for her own future website to promote herself.
When I asked Jon why he was spending so much time on the phone and Skype with Allison, he told me that he was just having small talk, phone sex, etc. I asked him if he was discussing or planning any business moves with her and he told me, emphatically, NO. I explained to him that while he was with GreenSurf, he was not to use any of my resources to create competition. I expressed to him that I support a free market and if he wants to make another business, then we should shake hands and part ways. He assured me he was not. Within a week of this conversation, I confirmed that he was lying to me and I fired him. I confirmed an email originating from Allison to a former client stating that GreenSurf would be closing soon, but there is a new surf camp soon to open in El Transito. Jon’s acting job during his termination was laughable. He acted angry and scared, asking me ‘where am I going to go?’, because I gave him until the end of the day to pack his belongings and leave. But the couple had already found their location. Lie after lie. I will never forget one of the last things that Jon said to me. He said ”You better watch your back!”. Jon was only angry that I fired him before he had stolen all that he wanted to steal before he left on his own. I threw a monkey-wrench into their plans. By the way, who cares how much money she made in NYC?
Soon after I fired Jon, Allison deleted most or all of the files associated with the GreenSurf website. Just like that - all of a sudden - when you typed www.greensurfnicaragua.com and press enter, a blank page appeared. Then, after destroying my website, she stole the property of GreenSurf to assist in building her own business. I have documented evidence via computer screenshots from her original website (she has since revised her website a few times to conceal her theft) of stolen photographs taken from the GreenSurf website. She copied photos that are the property of GreenSurf, cropped out the watermark and used them to create her website. She used these stolen photos on her website and on her FaceBook page. These photos were of action surfing shots and still photos of clients on the beach - photos well suited to allure prospective clients. Some of the written content on her original website was almost verbatim as she plagiarized my writing. I retain copies of her plagiarism. Now her website is clean of any theft or plagiarism, but it does not erase the fact that her business is built on a foundation of theft and deceit.
A couple months later in November 2012, some friends of Jon and Allison hoaxed a robbery here and then began a vicious online public campaign of smearing my business and personal reputation, while at the same time, shamelessly plugging Solid Surf Tours. Comments such as ‘maybe the owner had something to do with the robbery’ and ‘if you are going to stay in El Transito go to the other new surf camp’ and ‘the one that really ran things left GreenSurf’ - speaking of Jon. One of their friends even created a FaceBook page named ‘GreenSurf Sucks’. On various messageboards and even on TripAdvisor they tried to destroy my reputation. Just to make it clear - Jon would know absolutely nothing about Nicaragua, how to run a surf tour and how to get barreled, had it not been for the one who invited him to come here in the first place. The staged robbery was an act of international insurance fraud and an ultimate failure. Although it decreased my client traffic exponentially due to the drama and consumed much of my time and energy trying to protect my reputation. My stress level was at all-time highs for some time. People can be ruthless on the internet with what they say because they feel like they are somehow protected by the computer screen. Since then, they have tried additional underhanded methods to eliminate me, including accusing me of trafficking illegal drugs. But all of their efforts have failed, thanks to God and all that is true and good.
In conclusion, I want to express that I am no longer bitter about the deception of Jon and Allison. I was very angry for a long time and it was destroying me from the inside, which is probably what they wanted. I can honestly say that I have forgiven them for what they did. I am still in the process of eliminating the memory of their existence from my brain. That may sound pious, but I say this with all humility. It never helped me to harbor negative feelings and hatred and it is the fastest way to heal. They did what they felt they had to do at the time to succeed. I would have rather that they came and talked to me about what they wanted to do. Or they could have even come up with an original idea and business plan instead of copying mine and stealing from me. But the past is the past and nothing can be changed. What bothers me about reading her story is that it is misleading. I am glad that she is making an effort to help in the community and give opportunities to clients to participate. Posting photos of yourself on the internet picking up trash off of the beach helps the community AND tickles the heart strings of prospective clients. I mean, who can criticize that? And it takes a whole lot of effort to bring your clients and your camera to the local arts center, ran by an entire different entity (God bless Julie), and encourage them to volunteer with the kids. We do our own unique community services here at GSN and it is quite fulfilling to see happy kids running around the place and it is beautiful to see volunteer surfers painting an old-folks home in a small northern town in Nicaragua. But why they felt the need to steal from me and attack me, who knows? Again, I cannot plead innocent and act like I am Jesus Christ here, but nor will I allow myself to be crucified for her name’s sake. I battled with my own monsters and I am still whipping and taming the demons inside me. But I am truthful about my shortcomings. I am a sinner. I have sinned a million times and am going to sin a million more times. But to use someone’s weakness and exploit it for your own gain is….well, you decide!
Absolutely amazing sunset in El Transito this evening. Living here is fun, exciting, adventurous and, at times, dangerous. It is hard work. I am blessed, not lucky. People who tell me that I am lucky are insulting and ignorant. It has proved to be more of a challenge than most people can imagine, but it is worth every effort. Good night from Middle Paradise, Middle Nicaragua, Middle America, Middle Earth…
Would the greatest human discovery be the cure-all for disease, sickness and injury, even aging? What if we were close to that point or even already there? If one person possessed the answer, the cure … I would argue that he or she would be in more danger than one could possibly imagine. The greatest threat to all earthly life is humankind. We have to learn how to live with each other before we can save the world. Until humans learn to properly manage energy, control, power and their own selves…we will continue to struggle and fight. The greatest obstacle is ourselves. Once we conquer ourselves, the rest will fall into place.
We owe yet another great idea to our Canadian friends, so raise your drinks on this extended weekend and salute to our brilliant neighbors up north - eh? They take a lot of crap thrown at them from the south, but at least they can operate a banking system. 126 years after Canadian Peter J. McGuire first proposed the holiday, we now associate Labor Day with BBQs at the lake, days at the beach with friends and family, the beginning of football season and the return ‘back to school’.
For me, it also reminds of the time when I first started my laborious journey out of my mother’s womb. In fact, the the labor proved to be too much as my mother couldn’t handle the atomic bomb that was developing inside her. By the age of 2, I was the official property of the state of Florida. But not for long. By chance or fate, I ended up being taken care of by a pair of Foster parents. Inevitably, they fell in love with my baby blues and killer smile and decided to adopt me by the age of 3.
So on this labor day, I raise my drink to my parents. They not only worked their asses off to take care of me, but helped several other unfortunate children who were without a home. Now as an adult, I am FAR from perfect as I have made my own mistakes in life and personal relationships, but I thank my parents for the morals that they instilled in me. They taught me to accept responsibility for the actions that I make and the importance of faith and love. Thanks, Mom and Dad, for working for me.
10 years ago, while I was practicing Real Estate Appraisal in Florida, if you told me that I would be the founder of of a grass-roots surf camp and eco-adventure tour project in Nicaragua, I would have been tempted to slap you and demand my money back. But I never frequented fortune-tellers, so that would have never happened. At the age of 13, when my passion for the ocean was developing, I had no idea where my infatuation would take me in this life. 25 years later, it is hard to believe where it has brought me. My addictive personality has brought me to soaring heights and unimaginable lows, both sober and chemically intoxicated. Sometimes I feel like I have experienced ten lives all wrapped up in this one and there are ten more to come. Although I believe that the Universe’s most spectacular creation is the emotion of love, the combination of vast amounts of water and salt and the energy and life it produces is simply magical. The ocean is a creator of life and also a destroyer and I will forever be addicted to its powers. There’s something about the ocean - the feel, the sound, the smell, the energy, the beauty and raw power of it. For us surfers, being able to harness some of that energy for our own personal enjoyment seems almost a secret power that we possess. Think about it - a large storm or series of storms in the Earth’s atmosphere converge to create wind energy and then transfer that energy to the water creating aquatic waves of energy that can travel thousands of miles before that energy is dispersed over a reef or sand. We paddle, swim, maneuver ourselves in the ocean, reading the volatile waves, waiting for the moment to adjust and position ourselves precisely, to harness that energy and absorb it into our mental and physical being. We do this by putting forth our own energy to unite with this seemingly opposing energy, join forces, dropping into a wall of water that could kill you instantly with one wrong move or with the slightest hesitation. When performed properly we enter into the eye of the storm centrifuge - the barrel - the utopia of the surfer’s existence. For a few surfers, this is the most peaceful place in the vast universe and we never want to leave. Everything outside is chaos and sometimes only an arms-length away. But we are at peace here.
For those of you who do not surf the ocean waves, you are surely surfing some other form of energy. All of us are surfing through this life. Some ride the energy better than others. Some are naturally gifted with grace and style. Others of us have to work hard at improving our wave - riding skills. Learn to read the energy around you, to avoid the hazards and embrace whatever it is that nudges you toward the center of the energy. Then when you find that perfect middle ground, in the exact center of all the energy and chaos, there you will find peace and be on top of the universe. Then you can relax and not worry about a thing.
The following is from my exploration journal from 2009. I arrived on 09/09/09 to begin a new adventure in Nicaragua. I arrived alone. Well, my awesome Jack Russell Terrier, Roxy came along with me to help carry the other end of my coffin board bag. It was quite heavy with 2 boards, towels, t-shirts, baggies, wax and a nearly brand new 3/2 mm Rip Curl full suit. I never used the wetsuit. After spending about 10 days in Managua creating a new FaceBook page and the official GreenSurf website, I headed out to base my exploration from a secluded beach located about 12 KM southwest of the colonial city of Leon, Salinas Grandes. This led me to where I am now.
09-22-2009 —- “Today turned out to be quite interesting. The person I am staying with, Ernesto, has MS and gets around slowly with a cane. It’s probably quite a spectacle for the locals, watching HIM escort ME around. But this guy, Ernesto, is invaluable. He knows the coast very well, including all of the roads and as long as I can keep his jeep from falling apart and keep gas in the tank, I’ve got a partner in exploration. He also knows a lot of people all around the central and northern area. I think this new ‘job’ may be cool for him, something new to do. So we start heading south and end up in another small fishing village that I should probably leave nameless - the wave here was very good. It’s kindof a point/beach break that gets really good on the incoming tide. Lefts and rights that are super rippable. There are three large rocks in the line up that make the wave good. It doesn’t barrell, the wave just kindof stands up. 4 or 5 turns and no section on the wave at all. I had my best session so far here. The wind stayed offshore until 2 PM. I was very happy with that. Before I could surf I needed to kill a couple hours with Ernesto, my guide. We ended up eating at this ‘restaurant’, if you want to call it that, near the beach. One of the workers there was a 6’ Nicaraguan hermaphrodite that was just hard not to stare at. Then there was the local drunk slut dancing around our table trying to seduce me saying ‘I wanna F… the gringo….I want the gringo! Very interesting lunch. The plate was actually delicious though - rice and chicken with salad, veggies and fried plantains. On the way out, I was able to snap a picture of my faded admirer taking a nap just outside. Check it out. Too bad my camera died and I couldn’t get any pics of the surf.”
Ernesto remains one of my best Nicaraguan friends to this day. He introduced me to some of his friends who are the long-time residents of Leon. Most notable, Raul Baldizon. Raul and the Baldizon-Rodriguez family are linked to Nicaraguan history dating back to the 1600s and he can tell you more about Leon than any ‘tour company’ based out of Leon. He is a walking history book and is readily available in English and Spanish! I could never have built the relationships that I have now, had it not been for the kindness of Ernesto. Now, nearly 4 years later, GreenSurf provides some of the most exclusive tours in all of Nicaragua. Not only do we provide the best all-inclusive surf tours of the region, but we feel at home when we visit our friends who own the private sugar cane and coffee farms. This, in turn, provides quite the experience for a surfer who really wants to know the country on several different levels.
For those of you who would like to know how GSN was born, I will be writing about how it all came about, here on my blog page. The past 4 years have been so very eventful. Come to think about it, I seem to have began attracting dramatic events since I was a young child. I have been thinking about this for quite a while and it’s about time to do it. Most of you don’t know the circumstances that led up to this adventure. And since this particular adventure started here in Nicaragua, it has only become more and more interesting. In the coming blog posts you will read about some of my childhood and upbringing, my pursuit for ultimate freedom, my passion for the ocean’s energy and my ‘love - hate’ relationship with Faith. I will provide some very personal background and bio on myself which will give some insight as to what lead me here, from North America to Central America. Some posts will prove to be quite emotional as the true stories will include a plethora of drama - passion, love, betrayal, adventure, pain and suffering, lies, theft, sex, drugs and a whole lot of other things that have made my life quite the roller coaster of adventure. But most of all, what you will read - is the TRUTH. The sometimes ugly, but always magnificent,TRUTH. I know that what I am going write will often open myself up for some heavy criticism. But I am comforted in my belief that true freedom is found in the truth, if you can stomach it. Freedom does have its price. I hope you enjoy reading what I write. But more than this, I hope that you are inspired to find what your heart is truly searching for and go for it without reservation.