We were sitting in the communal lounge area of the hostel when we first saw Tim and Jena. They were laying on the padded bench, each had a drink in one hand, a book in the other, effortlessly melting into each other. Avalon and I both looked at each other and knew we wished we could just take their picture right then and there.
After a few days and some inevitable kitchen small talk, we finally asked Tim if we could take their photos, and explained that both Avalon and I wanted to photograph a couple during our backpacking trip and that they were our ideal victims. Tim IMMEDIATELY exclaimed yes, which surprised me – usually men aren’t jumping out of their seats to get their photo taken. ;) He said he’d check with Jena and let us know. Jena immediately agreed too, and we started planning. But there wasn’t much to plan.
For one, we wanted to keep it simple – embrace the hostel life and how cool it was that these two were traveling Central America to, sew some wild traveler oats if you will, during a small gap between their big, permanent move from Canada (Jena’s home base) to New Zealand (Tim’s home base).
And for two, they had just experienced a gas tank explosion accident in their last hostel on a nearby island. I know, that’s a lot to take in.
They were going about their morning routine and Tim was turning on the stove to cook breakfast and… boom. Tim’s legs were severely burned, Jena was far back enough so she wasn’t hurt. I know I’m leaving out a lot of detail here in this post and cutting straight to the point, but you can imagine that when they told me the story, including the hospital visit… I had chills and couldn’t pick my jaw up off the ground.
Anyway - with Tim only a week or so into the healing process, we weren’t able to walk far or do anything too crazy for the shoot in order to keep his legs feeling good, cool, and comfortable!
Before starting the shoot, Tim and Jena asked me what I wanted to do about the bandages on Tim’s legs… “SHOW THEM OFF!” I said!!!
This accident was a true test of perspective. Many people (myself included, I think) would have ended their trip at that point and went home to suffer through the healing in their own space. Jena and Tim did talk about going home, but ultimately decided to stick it out and continue on for the remaining few weeks of their adventure. From the stories they shared, and from me observing them together throughout the week we spent at the hostel together, it only made their adventure more memorable. Perfect? No. Once in a life time experience that brought them both closer and this story will be told to their future grandchildren? Hell yes. (Hell, MY future grandchildren for that matter!)
Tim would sit in front of the breeziest window of the hostel to prop his legs up and allow them to cool. (This was a huge advancement in the healing process compared to the shower, where he let the cold water run onto his legs for hours and hours.) The window had the perfect view of the people buzzing on the streets and in and out of the giant church, Spanish jibber-jabber flooding through the window along with the cool wind.. Tim would sit there reading, smiling at Jena, and simply relaxing with coffee or beer in hand, depending on the hour.
They also participated in the little community events within the hostel too. Even though a boat trip was out of the question in order to keep the legs feeling good, a quick spin or two during salsa night inside of our hostel was not. Hiking a volcano wasn’t going to happen, but they did take advantage of the tour where a van drove you to the top.
I have a lump in my throat when trying to come up with the right words to properly explain the admiration I have for Tim and Jena and their deep optimism, perspective and love for each other. The way they spoke while talking about the accident, despite the freak-nature of the explosion, you almost wanted to smile simply because of the way they were embracing it, the way they looked at each other when speaking about it, the way they were united, happy, and loving in spite of it.
Jena was there for Tim, Tim there for Jena, and Nicaragua there for them both.
I want to give a HUGE HUGE HUGE shoutout + thanks to De Boca En Boca for the amazing hostel that honestly, Avalon and I would have stayed in for our entire 6 weeks if they didn’t kindly kick us out to explore more parts of Nicaragua. 😉I truly felt at home here I cannot recommend this hostel enough, if you ever find yourself in Granada. From the unlimited coffee + beautiful open-air kitchen to the insanely kind staff, to the crafted-with-love cocktails, it was a gem that I feel so lucky to have found. 🙏🏼
Here’s some behind-the-scenes shots that Avalon snapped of me while shooting! Thanks so much Avalon, you are incredible and I love you and I love you and oh yeah did I mention I love you?