Our journey from Ometepe to San Juan Del Sur was a simple one, we caught the boat, haggled a cheap taxi and arrived at the doorstep of our next hostel; Casa Romana. En route, Josh’s diverse array of music had the driver dancing to Nelly and Nickelback; he was a really nice guy who had accidentally accepted $4 in contrast to his jobsworth colleagues.
However, never trust Booking.com with local, modest businesses. Though our reservation had been confirmed, the hostel admitted that they could only cater for 4 of our 6 and that we would have to stay elsewhere for a night. Initially frustrating, but I think we enjoyed the spontaneity of searching for a last minute hostel to save our souls. Around an hour later, we ended up in the most luxurious (in relative terms) studio apartment. Instead, we took that for the four nights and settled in wonderfully. We were coming from an unassuming bug infested home stay, the hostel had just cancelled our reservation so forgive us for taking the ‘let’s just treat ourselves’ angle on this booking. Nobody really cared for a budget at this point. And it was genuinely worth it, even if it was just for the air con and hot showers.
On the first evening, we headed out in search for easy access food. Supermarkets were incredulously expensive, young kids were being used to offer drugs and there were numerous amounts of people begging for money. It was like Nicaragua’s very own Magaluf. We grabbed some burritos, quesadillas and tacos and headed back to our apartment where Finny conjured up some Pina Coladas.
Magaluf is not the picture I want to paint for this place, because despite its American spring break infestation, is very dissimilar. 1) Nicaragua’s San Juan Del Sur is not overlooked by a Christ statue:
Can you see Christ overlooking our every movement?
2) Locals actually live here, and lots of them too. Despite its facade and superficial glow, San Juan is an area which, if you look close enough, is very poor. Take a wrong turn and you end up in a market where families are sharing mattresses on the street.
On our first full day, we took a shuttle truck to Maderas beach which appeared the place ‘to be’ if you fancied surfing. We did, but we were all novices. While the flowing haired quintessentially American surfers hung out back and executed 360s at will, we concentrated on standing and not making a fool of ourselves. That was another mission completed. To my knowledge, everyone who tried stood and we revelled in spending the whole day in the sea. That was, of course, until Lew’s GoPro was misplaced in the Pacific Ocean. RIP.
After mourning for the evening, we woke in preparation for a day of drinking in the sun. After 2 weeks of hiking, facing our fears and doing various water related activities, we deserved a few ron con cocas (Rum and coke). So, to start the day we headed to the local beach with a classy 2L of coke with rum, a few beers and a newly acquired volleyball to fulfil our football needs. Being Santa Semana, the beach was rammed full of buzzing locals. Having a ball was like being a royal, we were inundated with Nicaraguan kids looking for a touch and chance to show off their skills. Naturally, Lew and I ended up playing volleyball vs 5/6 Nicaraguan kids. Suffice to say, we won. No time for lightheartedness. Once the ball games had finished, the bar crawl had started. Instead of paying $30 for the organised ‘Sunday Funday’ route, we did it on our own and hopped from bar to bar, interchanging between mojitos and daquiris depending on prices. Each cocktail was about £1, absolute win. A Canadian couple told stories of claustrophobia on the ‘Sunday Funday’ crawl… we had chosen well. And they had to wear questionable vests. Not my scene. Luckily, we were in a beach bar for this little beauty:
Unashamedly, we ended the day drunk ‘clubbing’ with Americans to a shit DJ who permitted each song a maximum of 30 seconds. Top notch. That evening, we said goodbye to Izzy and Rosie as they headed upwards.
The next morning was challenging; and it would be made even tougher by the Spanish lesson we had prearranged the day before. I skipped breakfast, filled my water bottle and accompanied Finny and Frances to the lesson with our teacher, Fernando. He was brilliant at his job. His grasp on both Spanish and English meant he could elaborately explain sentence structures, tense, stress on words. This was a really valuable 2 and a half hours. Thanks Fernando for making my head pains bareable.
With mild hangovers, 4 of us headed back to Maderas beach for some more surfing. The waves were profoundly stronger and if we had picked up any confidence from 2 days before, that was soon stripped from us as the waves came out victorious this time. Stand-up percentage dropped, let’s leave it at that. Still, it’s kind of fun to be crashed about so much.
So, that was San Juan Del Sur and Nicaragua. Now, we head back into Costa Rica. Ometepe to San Juan was one extreme to the other, but both were as valuable as each other. Our apartment’s comfort means we are rejuvenated and ready to see what Costa Rica’s Pacific coast has in store for us. Next up, renting a car and driving the Pacific Coast in our own time.