san juan del sur: our last night in nicaragua

Friday, January 6: It was with a heavy heart that we parted ways with Adam in San Jorge so he could make his way back to Ometepe and we could drive on to San Juan del Sur and then on to Costa Rica on Saturday. Originally, we had planned for Adam to spend one more night with us in San Juan del Sur, but he was anxious to get back to his home and his little dog, Biggy Smalls.

We felt diminished by his absence but thankful to have had time with him. It was fascinating to see the life he has chosen and to be part of it, if only briefly. We were sad and lackadaisical all afternoon and evening.

The drive from Rivas to San Juan del Sur was quite easy and straightforward, and Mike refrained from passing other cars or doing anything which might cause his license to be confiscated. We settled in to HC Liri Hotel. It was the 2nd least favorite accommodation we stayed in, with Hotel La Posada del Doctor in León being the worst.

San Juan del Sur is on the Pacific Ocean in Southwest Nicaragua. It sits beside a crescent-shaped bay and was a popular layover spot for gold prospectors headed to California in the 1850s. This portion of the Pacific has been the focus of many historic Nicaragua Canal proposals because of its location on the narrow isthmus of Rivas between the Pacific and Lake Nicaragua. In the end, the Panama Canal won out; it was built from 1903-1914.

The city is a vacation spot for tourists, a home to many expats from the U.S., Canada and Europe, and a hot spot for international surfing competitions. Families who live here work in fishing, tourism or the food and beverage industry. Adam wanted me to see it in case I might like it and agree to move there one day. It seemed too bedraggled to me; it’s a place I wouldn’t consider living. Besides, the political situation in the country is untenable, although it might be an option if Trump gets elected again.

The Mirador del Cristo de la Misericordia (Christ of the Mercy) sits on one of the highest points on the northern edge of the bay. It is one of the tallest Jesus statues in the world. We could see it from the beach but we didn’t really have time to go up and see the view from there.

Alex, Mike and I walked along the beach to El Timon, which was recommended by some friends of Mike’s who have made a home in Costa Rica. We planned to visit those friends, Carlos and Carol, at their farm near Tilarán on our way to Monteverde. El Timon is one of the largest and oldest restaurants in San Juan del Sur,  a kind of beach shack by the bay. We enjoyed the laid-back vibes of the place while eating nachos.

We walked back to our hotel after lunch and relaxed on the rather shabby grounds. Mike made us drinks and we sat by the pool and admired the gorgeous sunset.

For some ridiculous reason, we took a taxi back to El Timon for dinner. The taxi driver took us on a rather long detour and I felt like we might be kidnapping victims — until he stopped to pick up his wife to take her out to dinner. 🙂

We managed to enjoy our dinner despite feeling down in the dumps. We hoped our time in Costa Rica would be good, but it would be hard since we still missed our family time with Adam. Alex would be with us for only 3 more nights, then he’d be on his way home to start what was supposed to be his first semester at George Mason University. By the time we returned home, it turned out he had decided to take a full course load at Northern Virginia Community College instead, to get another Associates Degree. Mike and I would be on our own for 7 more nights after Alex left.

Nicaragua was a challenge because of its primitive conditions, but it was eye-opening and educational. We found some gorgeous natural spots in the country, and we were thankful that Adam directed us to the best spots.

For dinner, I had grilled octopus but found some of it rather chewy. It was accompanied by fried plantains.

We decided to walk back on the beach after dinner, and then we prepared ourselves for the border crossing into Costa Rica on Saturday morning.