16.07.2012 - 20.07.2012
The journey from Ometepe to San Juan del Sur was quite an experience. We first boarded the busiest chicken bus to date (yes, even busier than the one two days ago!) and amid the scramble for standing space we got separated – Sarah finding some space at the back whilst Joe somehow ended up next to the largest bottomed lady in Central America. Most uncomfortable. The bus took forever to get to the ferry port and so we missed our boat to the mainland... but not to worry, the shabbiest looking boat was available for us to board. It was half the price of the other boat and the price was reflected terrifically through heavy creaking timber noises for the duration of the crossing. We decided the boats out here probably keep carrying passengers until they sink – we give this particular vessel 2 months - tops.
Safely ashore we splashed out on a taxi with a nice Danish couple to take us all the way to San Juan del Sur. San Juan is one of the places we have been hugely excited about seeing and it has not disappointed – we have spent 5 days here and is a lovely place! It is the most popular beach destination in Nicaragua. San Juan itself is a fishing port with a nice beach, calm waves and many restaurants and hostels. Luckily we arrived on a Monday so have had the whole week with it not being too busy! The reason for it’s popularity is it’s close proximity to several of Nicaragua’s finest surf beaches.
On the first day we arrived late afternoon and found a lovely hostel named Mama Sara House. It is one of the best places we have stayed! There are only 4 rooms, a small kitchen, a lovely balcony, and Mama Sara provides us with a daily ice cold Limon drink – perfect when returning from the beach! One day she even made us banana chips with salsa as well. She is amazing. The first evening in San Juan we went for a sunset dip in the sea before enjoying a cocktail on the beach – Nicaraguan rum is wonderful!
The next day, Sarah finally got to make use of a birthday present surf lesson.
We headed to a beach called El Remanso which is without a doubt the best beach for learning to surf we have encountered. A stunning beach with medium to small waves and there are no scary currents such as in El Tunco, El Salvador. Sarah was outstanding in her lesson – standing up immediately and catching lots of great waves throughout the day – including one monster wave which came from nowhere - Sarah stood up against all odds only to face-plant into the water moments later and then surfacing with a smile. Great fun! (Although later realised a small whiplash injury may have been sustained during said face-plant. Ow!)
The next day was Joe’s birthday. For those who have not been using the zoom function on our photos, Joe’s hair seems to have been misplaced throughout our trip and after a birthday haircut has considerably less volume than it once had – 2 years to hold on to some before 30!! Hairlines aside, Joe had a wonderful birthday! Sarah had bought a Nicaraguan cake with a candle and some birthday decorations for the room.
We then went out for a pancake and bagel breakfast before heading back to El Remanso for a whole day of surfing. Joe had a birthday surf lesson (courtesy of Jane & Katrina – thank you again!) where coach Jose tried to teach Joe how to turn the board with the wave once caught. After an hours lesson and a whole 4 hours of practice, it was achieved at least a couple of times!!
It was great to spend the whole day in the water and Sarah also spent hours developing her wave-carving skills! We then enjoyed a few more cocktails and a lovely dinner.
The last couple of days we have spent visiting beaches, surfing, eating, surfing and not sleeping – it is extremely hot here and sleeping is a struggle! We tried a different beach called Playa Maderas – bigger waves and a lovely beach but absolutely heaving with people (by remote Nicaraguan beach standards; i.e. we had to share the waves!) and so less relaxing than El Remanso!
We had a little surf there which was great fun but headed back to El Remanso today (our last day here) as we love the place. Our surfing skills have certainly improved and we have identified future improvements – Sarah can stand up on even the biggest waves but sometimes struggles to catch them. Joe can catch waves but gets a bit excitable and falls off regularly. Sarah also needs to find a cure to sore eyes with all the sun, sea, salt and suntan lotion inflicted on her retina’s! All in all we have had an amazing time in Nicaragua and particularly San Juan del Sur. It is sad to be leaving tomorrow... but then again we are heading into Costa Rica and for our final few days in Central America we have a canopy tour and white water rafting planned!!