Tuesday, January 29, 2013

San Juan del Sur, Aussie Day

On Friday, after Spanish school, I left rightaway to go to San Juan Del Sur. It's a small fishing village/surfing town on the southern pacific coast, nearly on the border with Costa Rica.

To get there, I would need to take the chicken bus from the market in Grenada to the market in Rivas, then transfer to SJDS. I got to the market in Grenada and learned that the next bus was to leave in over an hour so I figured that if I could walk to the main road I would be able to grab a Managua-Rivas bus instead, as there are surely more busses passing more frequently. I walked about 5k to the main road, then decided it more fun to start walking instead of waiting in the hot sun. You can flag down a chicken bus anywhere.

So I kept walking; the buses didn't run as frequently as I had hoped (apparently), but I told myself that as long as I got picked up within a hour it would be better than waiting an hour in the hot market next to the raw carné. I managed to get a ride in a pickup for about 10k, so when the bus finally passed and I could flag it down, I had entered a different price zone and paid only 30 cordobas instead of 35!

The transfer in Rivas was crazy quick, in fact, I had to jump from the camionetta in slow motion (along with a dozen locals) and run across the carretera to hop onto the next bus in motion. "Correte! Correte!"

I even got a seat on that bus...nap time!

I arrived and wandered all over town looking for Hostal Pacha Mama (the hostel where Paddy from Ometepe had gotten a job). My Lonely Planet was out of date and the hostel had moved across town to a new location since the last publication. Well, at least since the 2010 edition I pawned off Kim.

I found a hippy couple in the street and asked if they knew where the hostel is located, and they kindly offered to walk me there. They were Australian, and were both beaten up pretty bad from volcano boarding in Leon-the guy broke his arm. On the walk over they asked me if I knew it was Australia day. Turns out I had arrived in San Juan just in time for a national Australian three day drinking weekend, and about all the Aussies in central America had conclaved on the surfing town to catch waves and party. I arrived at Pacha Mama to learn that because of the holiday, the entire place was booked and every other place was likely booked as well. No worries though, as they offered me a couch at a discounted rate. Of course, they were hosting a party that night, which meant my prospects for an early night were nil. "You can sleep on the couch, but I'm afraid that you'll have to party all night," said the dutch girl at reception.

The evening was fun; we played the Australian drinking game "centurian", similar to a power hour (60 shots of beer in 60 minutes), but for 100 minutes. Playing in the background all night was the traditional Aussie radio show of the top 100 music tracks of the year. After centurian, we checked out all three bars in town, and I ended the night early with a nap on the beach, in a safe place by the hostel, and then returned when the party had died down to sleep on a cushion in the courtyard underneath the stars.

The next morning I had make-your-own pancakes and coffee  for breakfast, then joined a large group for surfing on a beach 20 minutes by pickup outside of town; Playa Madaras. Paddy let me borrow his surf board so I didn't have to rent one, and I spend the afternoon teaching myself to surf. I managed to catch quite a few waves! Fish tacos for lunch (fresh cilantro--eww) cost $8!

When we got back to town, the whole place was a buzz getting ready for the evening. Apparently, night two was to be even crazier. The night started at a hostel outside of town (the Naked Tiger) where there must have been a hundred or more backpackers, all sharing refreshments (as well as dubious powders of all sorts--not for me) and stories. By midnight, the staff was too drunk to keep serving, so they arranged shuttled back to town and everybody moved back to the bars: Iguanas, the Black Whale, and Pearl where there were now 2-300 backpackers and travelers. There was a lot of dancing and even some good live music.

The party scene isn't really for me, so I returned to Grenada the next day, meeting a lovely Norwegian girl on the bus along the way. We checked into Entre Amigos and I signed up for Spanish classes again.

More to come.

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