I am getting 3 square meals a day in my home stay, but sometimes a girl needs a change from Nica cuisine. There’s only so much rice and beans and chicken one can take, and I like that food!
Fortunately, San Juan del Sur has tons of options for eating and drinking. For a small beach town, there is a huge variety of bars, cafes and restaurants. Most cuisines are represented: Italian, vegetarian, sushi, Chinese, Indian etc.
Below are just a few of the dining spots I have visited in town.
One of the only craft breweries in the country, this is a nice spot to grab a beer and sit in the open air restaurant. So far, I’ve only tried one of their original beers, so I have to get back for some more! I went during happy hour and paid about $2.5o for a pint of good beer.
San Juan del Sur is a surf town, but being on the ocean, you can still scuba dive here too. It is definitely not common: after a few days searching, I was able to find one dive operator in town. I got two dives in with Dive Nicaragua this past weekend and even used the go-pro underwater for the first time. It worked!
The dives weren’t the greatest dives I’ve ever done. The water is quite cold – less than 20. This isn’t the Caribbean, that’s for sure! The visibility also wasn’t fantastic. It really varied around, depending on the amount of sun shining and the waves kept bringing in lots of sand. All in all, it was still worth it. The dive master was very nice and the other client, a youngster from Germany, was very friendly and interesting. The weather was great and the scenery was pretty good too.
The dive sites were close to the beach I visited last week, Playa Hermosa. They were at rocks in the water. At the first site, we dove around a statue of the Virgin Mary which was recently submerged in the water and is beginning to attract plant life. On both dives, we saw schools of fish and lots of rays and starfish. My photos aren’t the best, but they are OK.
There are a few other things to do in San Juan del Sur besides visit the beach – although the beaches are lovely! After one week, I’ve visited places that are tops on tourist lists, and some that aren’t. One of the first sites I visited was the statue of Cristo de la Misercordia, who sits atop a hill overlooking the ocean 134 meters up.
Estatue de Cristo de la Misercordia
A pretty easy walk up a mostly paved road, or you can drive most of the way if you choose, the view is worth it. You can walk right from the beach of Playa del Sur through a residential neighborhood to the top. It offers a 360 view of the main town beach and more. Admission is $2. There is even a little chapel in the bottom of the statue!
It was interesting checking out the spot. According to the display in the church, the statue is quite new and was only completed in 2009. They did a good job because this is definitely a tourist attraction! Lots of tourists go, and apparently Jimmy Carter and his wife went a few years ago (there’s a photo of them in the chapel).
I opted to stay with a family on this trip, for a few reasons: it’s cheap, authentic, and I get to practice my Spanish with the locals. That was a good choice because the town of San Juan del Sur is full of tourists and ex-pats so everyone speaks English here. It’s also worked out well because my home is seconds away from the school.
The family whose house I am living in is a large multi-generational and friendly bunch. There is a mother and father and they have grown children – I believe there are 3 living in the house: a son and his wife and their son, Alex who is 8 (yes, he is the only one whose name I remember. He is very chatty and cute and likes baseball and soccer); and two daughters, one of whom does most of the cooking. One or both of them may also have husbands and children, because I have seen other grown men and I have also seen a teen girl. The father had a stroke recently so he doesn’t move around much. He spends a lot of his time on the front porch and is very nice. There is also an abuela, or grandmother (actually, she’s Alex’s great-grandmother). I don’t know how old she is but she’s pretty spry and friendly too. Continue reading “Where I am Living in San Juan del Sur”
My experience at the Spanish school, Spanish Ya, has been great so far. The teachers are friendly and very capable, the space is really nice, and it is very well organized and run.
As I mentioned, the school is very close to my home stay. The classes are held outside on a veranda in the shade of some trees across the street from a small river. The weather has been great for outdoor schooling: blue skies and cool breezes!
The first actividad (activity) offered at school was an afternoon trip to the beach! The town beach is San Juan del Sur is not much, so people take shuttles or private cars to beaches outside of town. Playa Hermosa is a gorgeous big beach that is owned privately by an eco-lodge but allows visitors for a fee of $10 US.
The drive to Playa Hermosa was about 15 minutes from school/home, and it is a beautiful beach! The place is so stunning that is was used as the site of a couple seasons of Survivor, for all you reality TV fans out there.
San Juan del Sur is a surf town on the Pacific coast just two hours drive north of Costa Rica. So, why am I here? I am here mainly to study Spanish, but also to experience a few weeks in a beach town and hopefully get some scuba dive training in in my spare time.
I am living with a family two doors down from the school, as arranged by the school, which is great. I get to live cheap in a convenient location, 3 meals a day, and I practice my Spanish with the large family in whose house I rent a room.
I put my trust in the wrong person and I got fooled yesterday. I feel more angry at myself for falling for her scam but I am going to explain what happened so others don’t get conned too.
First, don’t worry about me. I am fine and only out $80 so you don’t need to start crowd funding. I am merely upset with myself for not being smarter plus angry at the hotel and their unethical receptionist.
In advance of my arrival in Nicaragua, I did some research on transport from Managua to San Juan del Sur, where my Spanish school is. I emailed both the school and my hotel in Managua enquiries about options. I ultimately went with the school’s taxi as it was a better price and I figured he knows the destination. And I emailed the hotel that I didn’t need their transport.
The hotel receptionist helped me get taxis in Managua on Saturday and was generally very nice so this is probably why I thought I could trust her. She asked if I was good for transport to San Juan del Sur and I assured her I was. When she asked when the taxi was picking me up, I told her 1230p tomorrow and that’s when she put her evil plan into operation. Continue reading “Don’t trust the b*#!ch receptionist at Hotel Europeo”
Another reason the layover in El Salvador was a positive surprise is one of my new friends gave me a tip on a safe place to go near my hotel in Managua. He recommended Puerto Salvador Allende so I went there for a few hours last night.
The Puerto is a new resort along Lake Managua. Lake Managua is a very polluted lake so for a long time nobody even used the lakeshore. Hence the newness of this spot. It is an extension of the malecón, the malecón, which is a walking path along the lake. Nearby are some of the landmarks of Managua, like the cathedral, the national palace, and the Teatro Ruben Dario. I had a good cab driver from the hotel, who came and picked me up at the end of my visit, and pointed out all these Managua highlights.
I walked around the malecón for a little bit first, taking photos of the sculptures – they have a lot of these big colored metal trees; my cab driver told me they are called “arboles de la vida” – trees of life. They are relatively new and very colorful. I am glad I got to see them up close at night because it was very pretty.
Today is my only day in Managua. I did a lot of research and everything told me that checking out the city on my own was not safe. I didn’t want to come to Managua without seeing any of it though, so tried a number of tour operators but no luck as a singleton. I had to come up with another plan.
This morning, after check-in, breakfast and a short nap, I hired a taxi to take me to Tiscapa Lagoon. A volcanic lake on a mountain, this preserve offers views of the sprawling capitol city, and a canopy tour of the lake itself. So views and adventure. The taxi driver waited for me while I enjoyed the activities at Tiscapa.