I woke up with a darting light over my tent. What was that? A torch? Maybe they didn’t see the tent. Then I heard voices, and the light hit my tent again. This time it was fixed on it - they found me.
It was my first day on Ometepe island in Nicaragua and would be my first time ‘wild camping’ alone. It had been raining a lot that day and the sky was covered with dark grey clouds. I parked my bike on the side of the road and walked through the bushes towards the lakes’ ‘beach’. It was already almost dark, and I didn’t’ feel like looking for a spot anymore. I found what I thought to be a good flat spot surrounded by bushes and proceeded to unpack my tent. I saw someone in the water fishing and didn’t want to draw any attention to myself so I pitched it in the dark. Every now and then I used the light on my watch to light up small sections of the tent. 15 minutes later, I was inside my tent ready for bed.
First thing I thought was, oh dear - they found me. They? Who knows. Then my mind raced to the cycling films of Iohan Gueorguiev , when he said he was always just really friendly to people if he ever felt worried.
"Hola buenos noches!" I said in the most cheery voice I could muster up.
I stuck my head out of the tent directly into the bright light shining in my eyes.
"Buenos noches" they said back.
I’m still learning Spanish and trying to think of what to say in this situation at 1am just left me blank.
Police. Ah it's the police. Thank goodness. Oh crap, I’m probably not meant to be camping here. I got out the tent, and greeted them. After about 15 minutes of trying to communicate, I figured out they were concerned about my bike parked on the side of the road and asked me to move it so people wouldn’t see it. They also checked all my documents and expressed their concern about me camping alone and asked why I am not staying in a hotel. I explained, in my best Spanish/sign-language combo, how I wanted to camp and wake up really early to take photos of they sunrise.
Muchos perdon - I said to them as they left - which I figured means “a lot of sorry” . They replied with “Tranquilo” meaning "Calm" . It’s cool, I suppose.
The rest of the night I woke up to every single sound from the bushes around me and when I did sleep, dreamt of all the possible reasons why the police said it’s not safe.
5am, I got up and took this photo. I packed up, ready to explore more of Nicaragua.
I camped again the next night, but a day older, and a little wiser.