Category Archives: San Juan del Sur

From San Juan to Managua

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Shame we had to leave, I was becoming accustomed to the view…

Saturday, June 30 was our day of transition from San Juan del Sur to Managua, due to a scheduling conflict that had arranged Courtney’s flight home to be the day before Sara’s & mine.

The packing situation in my backpack had deteriorated rather considerably since our arrival, thereby necessitating that I take everything out and start over.  Good times.  The souvenirs and gifts I’d purchased took up a large percentage of space.  I suspect that had something to do with the two pounds of coffee I’d bought from Cafe del Flores.

Once we were all re-packed, we decided to take one more stroll through San Juan, picking up some last minute souvenirs and making a pit-stop at a bakery that we’d driven by on our way home from the beach every day.  We may have been too successful in terms of souvenir shopping (yes, that’s possible).  The bakery, or panaderia, was called Pan de Vida (“Bread of Life,” I like it).  It had a brightly painted storefront with subtle wooden sign and a single door.  Walking in, I had a moment of confusion because it appeared we had walked right into the kitchen, instead of the bakery itself.  There was one woman, wearing a Survivor: Nicaragua  headscarf, kneading bread on a long counter, who looked up as we entered.  She washed her hands and came over to greet us.  The kitchen itself was yellow, clean, and felt friendly, with a brick oven in the back.  The woman showed us a small selection of fresh bread: aceituna (olive), sourdough, multigrain, regular, banana, and carrot.  Courtney bought a loaf of the regular and I bought some sourdough, figuring that would be enough to get us through the next day or so.

Swiped from a TripAdvisor post, this is the bakery

We returned Hotel Estrella after this, thanked the manager for everything and walked down the street to Casa Oro to await the shuttle to Managua.  While we waited in the reception, we watched part of a video on scuba diving in Nicaragua.  It seemed to focus predominantly on some bizarre creature with no clearly discernable eyes, legs, or mouth and with no real way of moving about, short of being buffeted by the current.  It looked rather like a sea cucumber or an overlarge slug with a duster around its bottom side.  For the record, I just Googled “sea cucumber Nicaragua” and, whatever this creature was, it was not a sea cucumber.  It was, however, gross.

We shared the shuttle to Managua with three girls from Canada who were on their way to Leon.  I really wish we’d been able to see Leon because I’ve heard many great things about it, including the fact that it’s less touristy than the other places we’ve been.

Two hours later, we arrived in Managua.  It was not entirely what I was expecting, not that I could articulate what that was exactly.  There were many American chains.  I’m always disheartened when I see Burger King and McDonald’s in foreign countries.  They are so gross.  Managua was cleaner than I expected, plus it had the first traffic lights I’d seen in Nicaragua.  We hit traffic almost instantly upon our arrival, which worked in our favor a little bit because the driver wasn’t entirely sure where our hostel was.  The road the driver wanted to take to the hostel ended up being cordoned off due to what appeared to be a block party.  Fortunately, another taxi driver offered to lead us in the direction of the hostel and all was well.

Taking a little siesta in our dorm room

We were staying in the Managua Backpackers’ Inn, a clean and well-kept hostel located in a safe neighborhood, just off the main road and a five minute’s walk from a shopping mall (y’know, in case you’re into that sort of thing).  We checked in and found that we were only paying $12/person for two nights.  Amazing.  We left our stuff in the 6-person female dorm we would be sharing with two other girls who happened to be deaf and wandered around the hostel a little.  I was thrilled to see that there were hammocks in the backyard, next to the pool. I swear, one day I will live in a place where I can install a hammock.  That may be all I want out of life.

Next time: Movies in Managua

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The Belgian Who May Have Changed My Life

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one of my favorite beach pictures from San Juan del Sur

Towards the end of our mini-adventure at the Iguana (yes, we’re still at the Iguana), Sara flicked a lime from my drink across the bar, hitting the guy sitting next to us.  She apologized and apparently that was all he needed to strike up a conversation.  I believe his name was Morgan and I’m fairly certain I only remember this because we made him say it at least three times (“What? Your name is what?” loud noises “SORRY, I MISSED THAT!”).

Morgan was formerly a web developer in Belgium, before finally deciding enough was enough and that he needed to get out before it was too late (i.e. settling down and not being able to up and leave). So, he sold everything, told his family “adios,” and flew to San Francisco where he and a friend bought a car and began a drive down through Central America.

Obviously, upon hearing this, I began peppering him with questions:  what did your family say? what did you say to them? what made you want to do this? how long are you traveling? how long have you been here? where are you going next? were you nervous?

He said he’d been more apprehensive about going through Mexico which, given recent events in that country, is logical.  They’d only planned to spend a week or two there, but ended up spending two months camping on beaches and traipsing through the country.  I asked if the country was as tumultuous as the media made it sound, given that the media tends to blow things out of proportion.  Apparently the issues are mostly in the cities closer to the border and not country-wide.  They experienced none of the unrest in their journey through the country.  This was incredibly intriguing to me.

Following Mexico, they continued through Central America, stopping in places that interested them and spending extra time where they felt compelled to do so.  They had arrived in San Juan that morning and were planning on spending two weeks there.  After Nicaragua, they were intending to drive through Costa Rica to Panama, where they planned to sell the car and start using other modes of transportation to explore South America.  He wanted to end up in Brazil for Carnaval and figured he would probably head home next February, depending on whether or not he ran out of money before then.

Had I not needed to be back in Boston for the Thompson Island trip a week after Nicaragua, I would have seriously contemplated asking to go with him.  Instead, I came home and made a small purchase:

just planning a little trip…

Conversations like that make me realize how easy it would be to pick up and go, funding the experience through the sale of material possessions.  God knows I own too much crap anyway (books are not included in that).  It would be so simple.  I’m the only thing holding me back, funny as that sounds.  It’s a scary thought and something I’ve been mulling over for a while now.  I could get a job that paid well, even if I hated it, and if I could commit to that for a year, I could then quit and be free to leave, to have adventures.  An intoxicating idea.  Ultimate freedom.

So, we’ll see what happens.

“Quieres Bailar?” (Or, Why I’d Rather Dance in San Juan) (Repost)

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As any female who’s ever ventured out to a club will tell you, there’s something about dancing that seems to make it okay for random males to attempt to grope you.  Maybe it’s the modern day mating call, maybe it’s programmed into their genetic makeup, I don’t know.  They’re persistent, too.  If you escape, they tend to follow.   This gets old fast and you wonder, “why won’t they just let me dance?”  Because, if you’re like me, you get really frustrated when someone throws off your groove with the rather uncreative dance moves that seem acceptable for many (not all) of the male persuasion.

This is how I dance. You can understand why I dislike being interrupted

Before I proceed, I should disclaim that I’m sure there are females guilty of doing similar to what I’m currently accusing the male population of doing.   I also don’t believe this is all guys.  There is a specific type of guy who goes out to clubs, gets hammered with a single purpose in mind (hint: dancing isn’t that purpose), and doesn’t respect either the bodies or wishes of those he accosts.  That is the guy I’m talking about.

So, you can imagine what I expected when Sara and I ended up back at the Iguana one night and found it had turned into a full-on dancehall.  Predatory hazards or no, I’m usually not one to turn down an opportunity to dance, so obviously we started bopping around.  Eventually someone came up to ask one of us to dance.  Except he actually asked and didn’t grab.  Weirder still, when we declined, he left us alone.  Following this unexpected exchange, I started paying more attention to the dancers surrounding us.  There were dancers who fell into the category described above, but they seemed to be fewer and didn’t pose a threat.  There were also knots of guys in tank tops with huge arm holes, backwards 80s style baseball caps and knock-off Ray Bans who jumped around exuberantly.  They posed a threat only to our overall physical health as they were falling into chairs, tables, and people without care.  And then there was a third group who could actually dance.

You’re shocked and want to know more, I can tell.

The trend among the Latinos (I’m not sure if they were Nica or otherwise) who wanted to dance with us seemed to involve the following steps:

  1. Strike up a conversation, however stilted, due to my Spanish deficiencies
  2. After a reasonable amount of time had passed, ask to dance.
  3. If accepted, dance, but don’t grab hold like she’s a life raft right away.
  4. Dancing becomes more relaxed, but no violations of personal space ensue.

Also, they could dance.  It. Was. Awesome.  I don’t think I’ve ever had so much fun dancing with anyone at any dance club ever.  We did salsa and a little bachata and a little hybrid.  There was one song that started and the guy I was dancing with got super excited and exclaimed, “samba?!”  I’m learning samba, so I was equally excited.  Obviously this style of samba was different from “competition” samba, but still incredibly fun.  This guy had been dancing with a beer in his hands at first, but then put it down because we were becoming pretty energetic.  We cleared a pretty solid space on the dance floor because we were moving all over the place and even attracted a small audience.  It was epic.  He was completely appropriate and didn’t try any funny business – entirely a gentleman.

Salsa Dancing Dog GIF - Salsa Dancing Dog

A salsa dancing dog. Family, can we talk about training Doogan to do this?

When the song ended and I thanked him for the dance, he returned the thanks and moved on to find another partner, instead of hanging on for song after song.  It was refreshing.
Obviously, they weren’t all as respectful as that guy, but if you told them to go away, they took the hint for the most part.  There are exceptions to every rule, but it’s nice to know that somewhere in the world they’ll actually dance with you (none of this shuffling business) and respect your wishes.
I leave you with yet another gratuitous beach picture:

Right across the street from our hotel.

Next post:  The Belgian Who May Have Changed My Life