San Juan del Sur stood as a checkpoint of sorts on the outline of our trip, as we planned to post up there for a little bit, take a break from driving, and call it home base so we could edit our videos, make blog posts, get some work done etc. From various traveller encounters and vagabonds we met living in Playa del Carmen, we heard positive things about San Juan del Sur, and positioned at a good midway point between Mexico and Colombia, we unanimously, Winston included, decided that it would be good location to split up the trip.
Obviously, from what happened on the first day in Belize (if you have not read that post, check it out!) and the subsequent days that followed, it was somewhere that we were not going to enjoy together, however, it was still on the way, and still on the list. Let's see this infamous town of San Juan del Sur and make my own judgements.
Just like Granada to the port of Ometepe, we managed to link on with a taxi driver heading to San Juan del Sur, and were able to make the surprisingly short journey in relative style, via taxi. As we passed through the countryside of Nicaragua, the numbers on the signs denoting the remaining kilometers to San Juan del Sur were, as you could imagine, dropped, yet no sign of the town. As we turned a corner and the civilization started to thicken, we realized we were not entering the outskirts of San Juan del Sur, but San Juan del Sur itself.
First impressions of San Juan del Sur? Busier than I expected. I had an idea in my head that San Juan del Sur would be similar to Montanita in Ecuador but it was more like someone had cut a busy central part of a town, and plunked it near the beach. We pulled up right outside a good, clean hostel, at a good rate, and decided to call it our "casa" for the next couple days. A cool secluded little roof top with hammock sweetened the deal, and Matt, Big Dav and I sat down in hammocks with a couple pints, each, as they educated me on proper British music.
One thing we overlooked, was the proximity of the room and beds, to the street. As the bus driver in the morning yells his destination of "Rivas! Rivas!" at 5am, he leaned against our building and almost touched my feet. Without exaggeration, that is how close we were to the street, so you could imagine my nights slumber was limited. Checked out, and moved up the road, off the main drag.
No time to nap though, we were planning on dragging our weary bodies up the steep hill to the San Juan del Sur rendition of Cristo Redentor in Rio de Janeiro. An enormous statue visible from anywhere on the beach, perched on the north headland, hand outstretched overlooking the small town of San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua. It took a few wrong turns to find the right street that led up to the entrance to the statue.
Travellers Tip: Have some cash on you. It says nowhere that you have to pay, but when you arrive, a guard will pop out of nowhere and demand a dollar or two, but the view is well worth it.
From the top, you get a panoramic view of the town below, which from up here, looks asleep, knowing full well that from street level, it is revving. Today is the infamous, Sunday Funday, pub crawl tour today! The lads and I had elected, weeks ago, that the Sunday Funday crawl looked great, for those who are into that sort of thing, but the party would take its toll and I would be hungover for days to come, feeling rubbish, so we would not be partaking! Not to mention, with the cost of $25 - $35 usd not including drinks, it was very expensive for Nicaraguan standards. I mean, boarding down a volcano was $25! So put that into perspective.
As anywhere in Latin America, no matter the size of the place, there will be a church or some homage to Jesus and The Lord. Even up here, atop this needlepoint headland overlooked the ocean, the people who had constructed this statue had done a terrific job creating space and actually building a prayer area underneath the feet of Jesus! I am not religious but I do appreciate the beauty of religious monuments, cathedrals, churches and this is no exception.
We spent a good amount of time atop the view point as the rain clouds in the distance looked like they were headed our way. Also, all the sun started to set on our first full day in San Juan del Sur, we again, decided it was beer o'clock. Just like in El Tunco, El Salvador, where I had met Matt and Dave, we had enjoyed a cold pint each night, looking at the incredible sunset over the beach. Being inland for the past few locations since then, we thought we would revisit old times, find a great place to watch the sunset and toast over another icy beverage. We found just that place, as we walked back from the statue.
As you start to enter the touristy center of San Juan del Sur from the north along the street parallel with the ocean, we passed a couple cinder block structures, with wood beams at each corner holding the roof up, that had no furnishings, no paint, no entrance, just a shell, a plug, and a fridge of full beers.