Having spent an amazing evening watching turtles nest at Playa La Flor, we woke up to our last morning in San Juan Del Sur determined to make the most of our last few hours. We had been talking about hiking up the Christ statue all week and made an unsuccessful attempt to find our way there one morning, so this was going to be the morning it really happened.
We passed this little (big) guy on the way.
We packed up our room to check out of the hostel, although they let us leave our backpacks behind the reception desk until we were actually ready to leave town. We got going later than planned because packing always takes longer than expected, and I had slept in late with Torre after our adventures the night before, so the day was already hot. It was an extremely steep hike, and we tried to keep to the shade but it wasn’t always possible. Torre’s little arms got sunburned in the carrier because I straight up forgot to put sunscreen on this day, and my pulse was literally pounding through my face by the time we reached the top of a flight of stairs that concluded our journey up mansion mountain to this monument.
Once we got there though, after I had time to catch my breath and rest in the breezy shade, it was really cool up there and definitely worth our efforts. I hadn’t realized there was a whole courtyard around the base of the statue, and there were people there with snacks and drinks who were obviously planning to spend a few hours hanging out above the heat. We stopped at the chapel under the statue, and then we headed back down for our travels to Managua!
By now we considered ourselves fairly seasoned in travel through Nicaragua, so we asked a few taxi drivers at the market how much it would cost to get to Rivas where we planned to catch a bus to Managua. One driver told us $15, so we said we’d think about it, but we weren’t actually ready to leave yet because Matt wanted to take out cash in SJDS rather than use an ATM in Managua. When we left the bank, our taxi driver was waiting outside and offered us a lower price of $12 US to Rivas. We were happy with that, so we jumped in his beaten up taxi and sped out of town.
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Day 12 was nearing the end of our time in San Juan Del Sur, and although we enjoyed more time at the beach and another plate of tostones con queso, it was also time to buckle down on the bucket-list opportunities we did not want to miss! If we ever get back to San Juan Del Sur I definitely want to try zip-lining, and it would be cool to try surfing, but I am so, so happy that this time around we did a turtle tour.
Sea turtles nest at only a handful of beaches in the world, and one of those is located a short drive outside of San Juan, called La Flor. This beach is a protected nature reserve, and large tours can range in cost from $25-40 USD which includes the cost of admission to the reserve ($8 each for foreigners). This price is extremely reasonable compared to the cost of turtle tours in neighboring Costa Rica where you can easily spend over $100 per person to see turtles. We lucked out with a smaller tour organized by a French ex-pat and his Nicaraguan wife for $15 each, admission not included, and the whole experience was phenomenal. Matt talked to Sam and Jamie, and they brought two other guys they’d met (a huge perk of backpacking vs staying in hotels is how easily you connect with people!), and we all loaded into a pickup truck about an hour before the sun went down.
I am a British Columbian at heart, a Vancouver Islander in my bones.
To be fair, my Ontario roots go just as deep – generations of my people on both sides of my family were born on this Great Canadian Shield scraped level by ancient glaciers, fertile with farms and highways and the dreams of new immigrants. I was born in Toronto, but I grew up in Victoria, and perhaps my return to this city should have felt more like a homecoming.
My Grandma drove me around her town the summer before I started university and told my stories from my Dad’s growing up years – the places they lived and the schools he attended, and I walked up a stranger’s side yard to see a black cross emblazoned in concrete that marked the death of a pet bird. The people who live there now don’t know what that cross means, but I do. And a few months later, my Great Uncle drove me around his hometown and showed me the river my Grandpa used to fish, and the old post office that was a corner store for a few years, and we bought cheese curds at Reid’s Dairy because Grandpa always missed squeaky cheese after he moved out West with my Prairie-born Grandma. I have a rich heritage with deep roots in the earth, but my heart is hungry for a changing tide, for the smell of salt and moss and cherry blossoms, and smoke on the shore rising up to bright stars.