Nicaragua Day 8: San Juan Del Sur

Matt got a pretty bad sunburn on our travel day to San Juan Del Sur, so day 8 we took things pretty easy and Matt hid away from the sun. Our hostel offered free breakfast, so we had a nice slow morning there before moving over to Hostel Esperanza right across the street from the beach. We unpacked properly for the first time of our trip, and I went for a walk down the beach while Torre took his afternoon nap. It was so relaxing to wade in the surf, to feel ocean water washing in over my feet while the sand was pulled under my feet back to the sea by the undertow.

The power was out at this time – it seems there may be unofficial rolling blackouts because the receptionist said when it goes out it’s usually back on by sunset at 5:30, and so it was. It was the only power outage we experienced for the rest of the week, but it was a reminder that this beautiful country faces serious struggles and lack of infrastructure.

After Torre woke up our family went to the beach together with the intention of finding a restaurant for dinner. Instead, Torre was drawn irresistibly to the ocean waves, walking fearlessly into the water and screaming with joy as waves rose up to his belly and chest. It was so fun to see his face light up as each wave rolled in and as he threw himself into the surf (to be quickly snatched up by a parent). The wet sand here is goopy, and Torre kept trying to throw it in the air or at us like a ball, but it just disintegrated and spattered.

We played until it started pouring rain, then (drenched from the ocean anyways) grabbed showers at the hostel and actually went out for dinner.

Next time we travel to Nicaragua, especially in San Juan Del Sur, we will definitely try to cook more of our own meals at the hostels. There are no big grocery stores in San Juan, but there is a local market where you can find fresh fruit and vegetables, there is a great bakery, and we could even do a grocery shop in Rivas before busing down to San Juan. I mention this because the prices at restaurants were much higher than we’d expected as San Juan has grown a lot in terms of tourism and ex-pats who are willing to pay more for the atmosphere and menus they’d expect in the first world.

For budget travelers, the local market has vendors┬áthat sell inexpensive breakfasts and lunches, and of the places we traveled I found the San Juan market to be the most inviting in terms of lighting and overall atmosphere. The cheapest option is nearly always to make your own food, but I think eating at the local market was a great compromise for us to save our budget and experience the culture, and I hope that tourism inflation doesn’t strike there as it has at so many restaurants and cafes.

With that said, we did enjoy our meals at the touristy restaurants and cafes. Our trip was meant to be a combination of vacation and adventure, so I definitely appreciated that San Juan offered fine dining on the beach, hipster cafes run by ex-pat surfers, and local diners with Nica dishes and fresh smoothies.

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