I hate Valentine’s Day. I always have, regardless of if I’m with someone or single. For the record, I’ve been with the same guy for over 10 years now and still hate that dreaded 14th of February. But this is more of a love story. Not a love story in the traditional boy-meets-girl-on-a-train-in-a-foreign-country sort of way. This is the story of a love boat, as well as the love I have for a country: Nicaragua.
We decided to go on a trip to Nicaragua and Costa Rica for my friends birthday in February 2018, meaning we would be away for Valentine’s Day (BONUS)! Figuring that no other country could be as excited about this greeting-card-roses-and-box-of-chocolates holiday as the United States, this was something we were very excited about.
We were wrong. And, as we soon discovered, Nicaragua is a big fan of Valentine’s Day. A HUGE fan.
We were leaving Ometepe Island (located in Lake Nicaragua) on the day of love, and found that the only way to get back to the mainland is via ferry. We just didn’t expect that ferry be turned into a love boat.
When we stepped aboard, we were greeted by a large sign reading “Feliz dia del amor y la amistad,” which translates to “Happy day of love and friendship.” So much for avoiding all the mushy love stuff during our trip!
As we walked onto the ferry, we were greeted by all sorts of Valentine’s Day decor, as well as cakes and balloons. There was a festive air about the boat, especially on the second floor where a DJ was spinning music over the sound system. There was no avoiding Valentine’s Day now! Whether we liked it or not, we were deep in it.
We thought we were safe with the seats we chose – top floor, towards to bow of the boat, on the opposite end from where the DJ was stationed. Alas, we were wrong once again. About 15 minutes after we started moving, the DJ stopped playing and a man with a microphone appeared right in front of us. It was time to play some Valentine’s Day games! I looked at my friend, and she and I just laughed. Here we were trying to avoid this day and now it’s staring us in the face.
For the next hour, the man on the mic pulled people from the audience. First, there were three couples who were asked questions and each received a gift bag. All of the couples had to kiss in front of everyone before the game ended. Next, there was a game where the host tried to play matchmaker for a few single girls. However, there wasn’t a single guy on the boat who seemed interested in playing (so typical, right?). Each girl was asked a question about what they look for in a relationship. They didn’t get a man, but they got a gift bag!
Tables were set up around the boat with people selling baked goods, including one elderly woman. At one point, while the games were going on, she approached me. Of course, I thought she was going to try and sell me something (I’m an American from New England, after all, and very untrusting of most people). Instead, she embraced me in the longest, warmest hug of my life! Thanks to this loving Nicaraguan grandmother, my cold, icy heart melted. I truly fell in love with the Nicaraguan people. Thinking about it, we had encountered so many warm, friendly people who were so full of pride for their country, especially on this love boat.
The Valentine’s Day love ferry made me feel a little bit different about Valentine’s Day. It’s not all about having a romantic relationship, but also a celebration of the love for our fellow humans. My distaste for the holiday departed and I embraced the love in Nicaragua.
IRL, Melissa works as a tv/film accountant and is a mom to two little travelers. She loves to do a combination of budget and luxury travel! Other interests include photography, travel writing, & spending as much time as possible at the beach (despite now living in the desert). Oh, and coffee always!