Step into San Juan del Sur and things begin to slow down. Thankfully, this is exactly what we were looking for.
For those who have not been, San Juan is a very laid-back, surf town with a sort of hippy-bohemian meets party town vibe. The dusty streets are lined with surf shops, taco stands, vegetarian eateries, loungy cafes, and many places to buy ridiculously cheap Flor de Caña Rum and Cokes.
We got into town via ferry from Ometepe to Rivas and bus Rivas to San Juan del Sur. We were left off in the middle of town with zero clue of where our hotel was. We wandered aimlessly through the sweltering streets until we finally deemed our effort futile. We ducked into a nearby Internet cafe, looked up the coordinates, and wandered the three blocks to our hostel.
Upon arriving there were a couple things that instantly stood out to us. One - the hostel/B&B appeared to be pretty ok value. $25 for a Large private room, with private bathroom, and very decent cable options. Two - The room was UNGODLY Hot!! And though the posting had advertised a fan cooled room, the fan that was mentioned was an ancient looking ceiling fan that rotated a rate of about 7 times per minute, and of course a massive picture window that doesn't open. Why would it?
We need to get in that ocean, immediately!! We packed up our beach bag and made our way out. As we were leaving the B&B, we stopped to inquire how much it would cost to get our hands on that precious remote in order to turn on the A/C. The news we were given was that it was going to cost us ($10) or 40% of the total cost of the room for us to bring the temperature of our room to a humane level. Absolutely NOT... Such a rip off!!
So instead we cooled our over-heating bodies in the blissfully refreshing Central American Pacific Ocean. After many afternoon ocean swims, several hours of reading on the beach, we finally pulled up some chairs at a local bar and continued our reading bender with two ice cold sparkling waters.
As the sun was beginning to inch its way toward the horizon, we paid our bill and set out on foot down the length of the beach to watch an incredible Nicaraguan sunset. We watched surfers wind their bodies around heaving breaks as the sun dipped behind the sea cliff at the exact point where a newly erected Jesus statue is perched.
As the sun had well and truly gone to bed, we made our way back to our hostel to rinse the sand off ourselves before heading out for some dinner. We had high hopes that because the sun had now gone down, that our room would have cooled down slightly. Our hopes were swiftly shattered as we opened our door and were slapped in the face with a thick, hot blast of air. Our only escape were the cold showers we were taking multiple times per day. We quickly dried off and left the room before we started pouring with sweat once again.
For dinner, we pulled up two stools outside a simple burger joint called Nacho Libre. I ordered a delicious couscous burger with salad and Adrian settled on the Mexican inspired burger with chips. Very yummy, but insanely filling, which wasn't a terrible thing as we hadn't eaten much all day.
We spent the rest of the evening strolling the easy streets of San Juan, with a strong desire to not go back to our hot box of a hostel. Eventually we faced the music thinking surely it would have cooled down a bit more, seeing as it was perfectly cool outside. Unfortunately, we arrived and quickly realized this was not the case. Something had to be done. We simply can't live like this.
We wandered downstairs to inquire about procuring an additional (and hopefully actually functioning) fan, or if worse came to worse, ponying up for the $10 for A/C. At this point in our stay, we still had not met the owners, and it seemed the manager had left for the night. The only person there to speak to was the old man night guard who spoke not a word if English. We asked if there was an extra fan we could use, to which he replied, "I don't know. I cannot help you".
"Ok, well it's brutally hot. Is there anyway we can call the owners?"
He replies, "Yes, can call, but I don't know if the phone works"
"Ok, we'll use Skype. What's the phone number?"
He answers, "I don't know. I don't have the number. They always call me."
Our absolute last resort was to check our confirmation email for the number and call to see about getting a working fan or get our A/C turned on. We called through to the number provided and heard as the downstairs phone rang, which was promptly answered by our friend downstairs. I just hung up, of course.
We were f'ed. Our options had run out... Or had they? I went out to the hallway to seek a bit of breeze when I spotted a fusebox with numbers written on it. I followed the black cord from the fusebox across the ceiling, through the wall, into our room, and across to the A/C. Ah hah!
I crept over to the fusebox and after a brief investigation, I flipped a switch and peeked into our room to see a glorious green light lighten on the A/C. Oh sweet Jesus, all we need now is a remote and we're in business. I just need to get past the old man security night guard and we'll be chillin... Literally.
I snuck downstairs into the kitchen and made as if I were helping myself to a glass of water. I slowly began opening up drawers, cupboards, anything, everything to find where this remote could be stashed. The night guard began to stir. At that point I spotted a stand alone cabinet outside the kitchen. I opened the drawer and found a stack of remotes and grabbed the first one I saw. Just then, the old man came in speaking quick and mumbly Spanish. I answered him in English just as quickly, in hopes to confuse and end the conversation. I excused myself and made my way up the flight of stairs to our room. I opened the door, pointed the remote, pressed the power button, and as if the sweetest Angels in Heaven all sang at once, the A/C turned on and began spewing icey cold air into our otherwise hot, stale room.
Two Huge Smiles swept over our faces. The rest of the night was spent in a cool, cozy room watching Stand By Me, and falling into a beautiful restful slumber.
That is until the colony of Pigeons that lived right outside our window, which in effect, is directly next to our faces, began coo'ing, scratching, fluttering, and what sounded like mating at the early hour of 5:30 am. It was noisier than you can possibly imagine for pigeons, and extremely disgusting given the apparent proximity to our faces. That was about it for sleep that morning.
I got up and snuck downstairs. We had decided it was best to put the remote back early before anyone arrived, so that no one would notice it missing. As I descended the stairs, I was met by the night guard who sat on the couch staring at me as I came down the stairs. My best bet, was to act like I owned the place. Move about confidently and he won't notice a thing. I cruised past him, slid open the drawer, placed the remote back in it's original position, quietly closed the drawer and headed back up stairs with a pleasant "Buenos Dias" as I departed. Like a Ninja.
As it turned out, the owners never showed up, and were therefore forced to pull off the same heist the following evening. As a important side-note, neither of us ever condone stealing in any capacity, however, there are several reasons why we felt justified to do so in this case. #1- The room advertised a fan cooled room, and that fan can barely even be called that. It resembled a fan, but it sure didn't function like one. #2 - There was no one around to pay even if we wanted to. #3 - The A/C was ridiculously overpriced especially considering the overall price of the room. #4 - We endured two sleepless mornings due to the several dozen pigeons that lived outside our window. And #5 - we would find out the next day. I think it was just.
Our second day in San Juan was spent lounging in the cafe drinking smoothies and iced coffees and battling over a fierce game of Monopoly. For the record, I have never seen anyone go into such massive debt so quickly in all my childhood playing that game. (and to think, Adrian is heading up our travel finances... We may be back home sooner than planned!!) :)
The rest of the day was spent at the beach, swimming, reading, relaxing. We went for a long afternoon beach run as soon as the afternoon clouds rolled and cooled down to an acceptable level.
We went back to our place to shower and hang out until dinner. Food that night was in town again at a very local comedor. Chicken, rice, salad for Adrian, and a "vegetarian plate" for me, which wasn't half bad, and two beers.
We hit the hay early that night due to our very early rise that morning and our early departure the following day.
In the morning, we rose early drank some coffee and ate breakfast, packed our bags, set them out in the hall, and did the systematic final check of the room to ensure we hadn't left anything. After confirming we had everything, we went to go pick up our bags and noticed a massive yellow puddle on the floor directly in front of Adrian's bag, And reason #5 - As it turns out; either Karma had it in for us for being a touch dishonest with the A/C, or the clueless night guard neglected to take the dog out to relieve himself, or perhaps both, but the house dog had taken it upon himself to empty his bladder all over Adrian's bags just as we were about to leave for a long travel day. Perfect, juuuust perfect.
We scrubbed his backpack the best we could, but there was really no helping the pungent, unpleasant aroma that was disseminating from his bags. What are you going to do??
We grabbed our bags, headed down the road to the junction where the bus picks us up. We had just missed the 8 a.m, but there was an 8:30, so we pulled up a piece of concrete until the bus was ready to roll. Our day was to consist of 5 different bus transfers and a border crossing in order to get from San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua to Playa Samara, Costa Rica. A small price to pay to be able to hang out with great friends at the end of the road. The day had come to meet Christy, Chris, Jamie, and Gilbee in Costa Rica, and we couldn't be more stoked.
Thanks Nicaragua! You've been swell, but we're off to live it up with our mates on a paradise beach in Costa Rica now. Let the adventure continue!!