Fancy-Pants on the Cheap
Trip Start Sep 05, 2009
4Trip End Sep 13, 2009
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Where I stayed
As soon as we checked in we headed back out for Playa Grande, supposedly one of the prettiest beaches in the area. It's hard to know how they define that, because the whole north coast is stunning. The beach is indeed gorgeous, with trees buffering the road from the soft sandy beach and a long peninsula of palm trees shielding one side of the bay. Shen was hoping to surf, but the guy with the surfboards wasn't there, and also there wasn't there any surf. Supposedly it gets very good in the winter, but this time of year it's hard to predict. He arranged for the guy to come the next day, and we walked over to Playa Preciosa, where the waves are usually a little better. It was still pretty bad - he caught a few waves on Thursday, but overall it was a bust.
We got back to the hotel right in time to have a drink on the terrace and watch the sun set over the ocean. Perfect! We went out for dinner and finally found food that wasn't of animal provenance. I didn't think it existed here! I wouldn't go so far as to call it delicious, but we had some good mangú (a strange casserole of platanos and corn, maybe? I don't really know...) and rice with a few beans thrown in.
In the evening we strolled around Rio San Juan, another small but chaotic town. The people here have been super friendly, and the natural beauty is remarkable, but I can't say I like the towns we've seen. They almost have a strip-mall feel to them - shop after shop, power cables criss-crossing the street all over the place, and no real center. There's nothing pretty about them. The towns we've seen do have a Plaza Central, but life doesn't seem to revolve around it as it does in many places. I can't seem to find the town's anchor. One thing that does give a sense of character is that everyone is out on their stoop in the evenings. Once the sun sets, it's all about watching people go by. On our walk, many of the homes were lit by kerosene lanterns. Electricity is very unreliable here, so we weren't sure if the power was out in those homes, or if they have some sort of rationing system. Many of the kerosene-lit homes clearly had electricity (fridges and TV's, for example) but were also set up to function without it.