Wednesday, February 20, 2013

The Road to San Juan del Sur

We got up fairly early on Friday and rode through the busy streets of Jinotepe, and then south on the Pan American Highway.

This bus was so full that they actually had two guys riding on the ladders on the back. Then they stopped, apparently to pick up more passengers.

It was a gradual descent to lower elevations, and here the landscape was dryer. It was mostly ranch land, but we did see an area with rice fields as well.

We started to notice people selling a yellow, fist-sized fruit on the side of the road. Eventually we found a tree that they were falling from and picked one up to try it. It turns out they were a variety of mangos, and quite tasty. Shortly there after we stopped at a well-stocked roadside stand that had 3 varieties of mangos. We took 8 of the yellow ones and headed into Rivas, a mid-sized city and important transportation hub.

Just past Rivas we started to notice the strong cross wind off of Lake Nicaragua. We got our first glimpses of Volcan Conception on Ometepe, and saw many large wind turbines.

We got to the small hamlet of La Virgen, where we turned off the highway and took the road southwest.

Still more dry ranch land here. I couldn't decide if the area was originally dry forest, or more like savanna or grassland. The open grown nature of the trees suggested a savanna type environment.

We passed an area where a wildfire had burnt. I found the sporadic burn coverage interesting, as I had just been at a conference where fire and grazing interactions to form refugia was discussed.

We made a final push over some low costal mountains and coasted into San Juan del Sur. About 60 miles in total that day.

We found a room at Encanto del Sur, only $35 for a room with 3 beds, AC, and a private bath.

Then we went out to lunch and enjoyed people watching at a busy intersection. There were locals, surfers, hippies, and travelers from around the world.

We were both impressed that San Juan del Sur was definitely touristy with a lot of shops marketed towards gringos and many restaurants featuring American and European foods, it definitely still had the 'authentic' feel of the other Nicaraguan towns we had been to.

Then we were off to the beach. We swam a bit, took some photos and walked the beach.

Unfortunately while swimming the pocket of my swim trucks opened up and my debit card and drivers license fell out. I managed to save the hotel key, but we searched for over an hour an never found my cards. I emailed Carol to have her cancel my card just in case. I'll be relying on my credit card and cash borrowed from Valerie for the rest of the trip.

Once we had given up on the card search, we walked down the whole stretch of the beach, about a mile, to its north end. On the way back the sun started to set, so we enjoyed your sterotypical sunset on the beach.

One thing I have found on this trip is that you can't assume a gringo, white person, speaks English. I made this mistake at dinner with the French restaurant owner, who I assumed was an American patron. On the other hand, I have had short conversations with people in terrible Spanish before we both realized we were fluent English speakers. I have met Dutch, Swiss and German people on this trip that speak almost perfect English, with hardly an accent. I wish I were so talented.

-- Posted from the trail

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