More Eating and Drinking in San Juan del Sur

For a small town with a downtown of about 3 blocks plus a beach strip, there are a ton of places to eat and drink in San Juan del Sur, so this is my second round up of the places to eat and drink. I have moved on to new spots in Nicaragua, but I never got bored in San Juan del Sur.

Bocadito Tapas

Bocadito Tapas
Bocadito Tapas

Bocadito Tapas is the only place in San Juan del Sur where I was able to get a properly chilled glass of sauvignon blanc. Not even Pelican Eyes had this! It is a key selling point. They also have a nice front patio and some very tasty tapas which are not pricey either. Nothing is pricey in San Juan del Sur. A selling point for the entire town!

La Vecchia Signora

A few of us from Spanish school took a night off from our home meals and enjoyed some pretty good quality pizza at La Vecchia Signora. Located right in the middle of town, it’s run by Italians who are crazy fans of Italian football club Juventus – you can tell the moment you step in. We split a couple of different pizzas and they were good – especially when all you’ve been eating for three weeks is gallo pinto!

Pizza La Vecchia Signora
mmmm delicious pizza

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Scuba Training: Rescue Diver

Rescue DiverThis week I took the course for my next levels of Scuba: Rescue Diver.  I also needed emergency response certification to complete the course, so it was a very intense week!

I had 3 books to read, study and memorize. Fortunately for me, 2 of the books were in English. The dive shop only had a Spanish version  of the emergency response book. So now I know how to use a defibrillator and perform CPR and rescue breaths in Spanish.

Scuba books
The dive books I needed to memorize

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Windy Season 

It’s been the windy season while I’ve been in San Juan del Sur. Some days, and nights, are worse than others.  In general, for the 3 weeks I have been here, it has been very windy.

At the beaches, people use large rocks to hold everything down: surfboards and beach chairs included.  I have seen more than a few people running on the beach after hats and clothes. And then there is the sand! It gets EVERYWHERE, including your eyes. Some days it is wise to just avoid the beach. Some days, like today, the navy closes the port because they don’t want boats on the water the wind is that strong!

Maderas Beach
You can see the rocks keeping the surfboards from blowing away on the beach

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A Quick Tour of Rivas, Nicaragua – It’s All I Needed

The school took us on a field trip to Rivas. It’s the closest big town, between Lake Nicaragua and the Pacific Ocean, and has a population of just under 50,000. Compared to San Juan del Sur, it’s HUGE.

Rivas doesn’t get a lot of tourists. It’s mainly a stopping off point to switch local buses from San Juan del Sur to Ometepe, Granada and Managua. We took the local bus, aka “chicken bus” and stayed in Rivas.

bus
Our group from school on the bus, before it filled up

The chicken bus cost 17 cordobas, which is about 60 cents US. We got there early so we could sit. Glad we did because the bus left before 8am, was packed the whole way, and took more than an hour with all the stops to pick up and drop off. The return trip was a little better but not much! Continue reading “A Quick Tour of Rivas, Nicaragua – It’s All I Needed”

Getting Some Exercise in San Juan del Sur

Besides walking on the beach, swimming, surfing and climbing up the many hills around town, there are a few other ways to get a workout in San Juan del Sur.

Zen YogaZen Yoga

The town has a lovely space to practice yoga, tucked away downtown just past the park.  A drop in class only costs $10 and everything is in English.

The classroom is on the second floor in an open space, so it is always full of fresh air and wind – like now, the windy season!

I have been to class there twice, they have all the equipment you need and it is nice and chill. Not surprisingly, they play relaxing music and the mood is very zen. Continue reading “Getting Some Exercise in San Juan del Sur”

First World Problems

It’s been a pretty good life for me the past 2+ weeks- aside from really crap hotel management in Managua, of course! But, I do have a couple of issues with the way things work (or don’t) in Nicaragua.

Schedules that are not followed

Caso Oro Shuttles
The shuttle “schedule”

I am talking to you Casa Oro and other businesses in San Juan del Sur that claim to run daily shuttles to the beach! This is really a ridiculous complaint but other travellers to SJDS need to know. Lonely Planet and every other guide seems to believe that Casa Oro’s makes multiple daily trips to different beaches. They don’t. It’s a bait and switch. You show up for the 1030am shuttle to Remanso or 11am to Hermosa and they say “no. We no going there” and offer you the Maderas shuttle. Every time. OK this has has happened to me 3 times, so maybe that’s not a scientific sample but look who’s president of the U.S. now. Continue reading “First World Problems”

Cooking Class – Eating Nacatamales in Someone’s Backyard

nacatamalesI got to participate in a really fun activity in San Juan del Sur – cooking and eating Nacatamales in a local’s backyard.

Nacatamales are a traditional Nicaraguan food and a twist on the tamales most of us have had in Mexican restaurants. Cooked in banana leaves over a flame for hours (4-5 in this case), they are very big and contain meat, corn meal, rice, potatoes, onions, tomatoes, peppers and mint. Here in Nicaragua, they are popularly served for special occasions like Christmas and Sunday breakfast. I and a group of others from the Spanish school had them on a Friday afternoon. We’re so untraditional.

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Things to Do in San Juan del Sur: Pools with a View at Pelican Eyes Resort

Pelican Eyes Infinity PoolAn alternative to taking a bus to the beach on a weekday afternoon is walking up the hill to Pelican Eyes Resort. I have gone to the resort twice to enjoy the pools and the view. I personally don’t think it’s that bad a walk, but you can also get a taxi to take you – it can’t cost much.

The first time I visited Pelican Eyes was to drop off the school supplies for Pack for A Purpose. This hotel serves as the drop-off point for the Jean Brugger Foundation, even if most of the employees at the reception area don’t know it!

The resort is beautiful. It’s on a hill overlooking the town and the beach, and the rooms are pretty expensive. However, non guests like me are still able to enjoy the amenities simply by showing up and buying some food or drinks. And the food and drinks are very reasonably priced. Good deal!

There are three pools at the resort, the other visitors are always very friendly, and it’s a fun way to spend a relaxing afternoon. The first time I went, with my school friend Susan, we met a group of retired Vermonters who gave me some great tips for my upcoming visit to Granada.

Pelican Eyes
2nd pool Pelican Bay
Pelican Eyes bar
Pool Bar at Pelican Bay

Who knows? I still have a week left so there’s a good chance I’ll go back.

Pelican Eyes
Pelican Eyes post sunset view

Things to Do in San Juan del Sur: Parque Aventura Las Nubes

The activity of the day today was a trip to an Adventure Park: Parque Aventura Las Nubes – nubes are clouds. It is an amazing mountain preserve, with hiking trails, beautiful views both east and west, and plant and animal life.

Ometepe Islands
View eastward to the volcanoes of Ometepe Islands
Costa Rica
View west of the Pacific and Costa Rica

Finally I got to see monkeys (monos, as they are called in Spanish), and hopefully it wasn’t the last time.

Howler Monkey
Howler Monkey

In addition to the monkeys, we saw a sloth!, butterflies, and iguanas.

Sloth
Sloth in a tree

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Eating and Drinking in San Juan del Sur

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.

San Juan del Sur Cerveceria

SJDS Cerveceria
SJDS Cerveceria

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.

El Barrio Café

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