. It is a funky little colonial town nestled in the hills, but still relatively close to the ocean. So we thought about it, and decided why not.... John tucked us under his wing and with his great spanish and friendly heart brought us right to a great hostel in Leon where we could stay and had us heading off in the morning to a surf break in northeren nicaragua called Las Penitas.
Leon was a great little town, with only a few tourists, and great little shops, and a tonne of history. Beautiful old colonial buildings and the people very friendly. We headed to Las Penitas in the morning to check out the surf and spend a few nights. Upon arrival there, we realized the surf was not as we had thought, so spent the night and headed back to Leon for the December 7th celebration for the immaculate conception.. It is the celebrations for the virgin mary and it is a huge party with massive amounts of fireworks from 6pm until 6am, non stop. Literally, non stop. It was so loud, with people in the streets, kids running around collecting candy, somewhat like halloween. Quite the experience to witness!!
December 8th we headed to Managua, back en route to our original destination of San Juan Del Sur. We spent 2 nights in San Juan Del Sur, just enough time to find out where to go for good surfing and beach atmoshere. San Juan does not offer surfing, but is kinda the hub where all the gringos go. It has a little beach the harbours boats or both locals and tourists. Cruise ships tend to stop in San Juan quite often, so it feels very much like a gringo town. After 2 nights there, we took a shuttle bus to Playa Maderas where there was surfing and accomodations right on the beach. It is only 10km from San Juan, but such a peaceful beach, with virtually no one on it. It is however, growing in popularity, so gringos frequent it more and more often.
Upon arrival there we found ourselves a great little spot to stay called Matilda´s
. We had our own little room and met a bunch of great people. Such a small world we live in that we ended up bumping into a fantastic couple from Vancouver, Erin and Scott that I recognized from visiting the local pub in Vancouver. Funny how things work our. We became comfortable spending a week here, surfing, hangin on the beach, and meeting new people. We were able to cook for ourselves, which was such a nice treat from restaurants. Who would have thought that we would be so creative over an open fire right on the beach. One evening we became so inspired that we roasted a beer can chicken. Yep, an entire chicken with a can of beer stuffed inside it, and then wrapped in foil. It was the tenderess and juciest chicken we have ever tasted. To top it off, we made chicken soup from the left over bones!!! You should have to collect wood on the beach for the fire, and then keep it stoked while you cooked up the food. Quite fun, and felt rewarding after slaving over the fire when you finally had a delicious meal in front of you!
The beach there is gorgeous with great sunsets, nice waves, and not busy. I (Jenn) was unfortunate enough to have been stung by those darn little jellyfish not once, but twice. And darn, are they itchy as heck!! I swear I have drove Rustin crazy a few nights sitting up huffing and puffing and scratching myself to death!! ;)
After a week at that beach we wanted to check out another surf break called Popoyo, so we packed our stuff and off we went to another little beach town, where we thought we might spend christmas
. We took a small side trip on the way there, to an island called Isle de Ometepe, which is in the middle of Lake Nicaragua, and has 2 active volcanos in the center of the island. We took a ferry across the lake, found a place to stay and woke up in the morning, rented a motorcycle for the day and drove around the entire island. It was a great way to see the entire island in a day. I must state, having been on the back of the bike, that the roads on the island sure are not in the best of shape. We were bouncing along the rock, bumpy, muddy road, but all the while enjoying the scenic views. After seeing the island via the motorbike, we took a dip in the lake, which was a refreshing break from the salt waters. And then we were off to bed and back on the journey to Popoyo. It took us a day to get there, and upon arrival was a gorgeous, endless beach with virtually nobody there! I think we were the only gringos in site. You could walk on the beach for hours and see not a soul, but we enjoyed it while we were there, as it is appartently going to be the next surf town on the uprise! We did enjoy the peacefulness there, but deemed it a little too quite to spend the holidays. We thought we might be a little lonely if no one was around to share the holiday cheer. On that note, we had felt so comfortable at Playa Maderas and had met some great folk there, that we decided to head back to the beach we had just come from.
And so we did. Back to Maderas we went just in time for Christmas
. We were crosssing our fingers that there would be accomodations left at Matildas, where we had stayed the last time. We arrived to find out that we got the last form of accomodations available. Whew!! what a relief to know we had somewhere to lay our heads, even if it was a cement tent! Yes, that is right, we were staying in a dog house as they like to call them, which is a cement, tent like structure that you can lay down in, but not stand up. In the end it was not so bad. We got use to the lack of air flow, and the 2cm thick mattresses we were sleeping on. But heh, we were surrounded by great people and a beautiful beach. We spent the last 9 nights there enjoying every moment. We were able to witness dolphins playing in the ocean in front of us, surf everyday, and cooking great food with great people over an open fire on the beach!! Christmas eve we enjoyed a fabulous pot luck dinner which everyone staying at Matildas contributed to. The menu consisted of bacon potato salad, coconut rice, fresh mackerel ceviche, grilled Jack fish, steamed lobster caught that day, pasta, rice and beans, chocolate banana crumble, and Rustin and I contributed a pork roast stuffed with bread, cashews, olives, rosemary, garlic and spices!! It was quite magical, and in all the magic, in the evening we were lucky enough to witness a massive sea turtle that came up on the beach at night to lay her eggs It is quite the magical process. She comes out of the ocean, up to the sand, digs a big hole and lays her eggs and then buries them in the sand and makes her way back to the ocean, leaving the eggs behind. Turtle egg poachers usually try to snag the eggs for profit, but the owners of Matildas, Matilda herself, is an avid turtle lover and she waits for the turtle to lay the eggs, rescues the eggs from the sand and then reburies them on her property to they are not snatched up by the poachers. The eggs will hatch in 45 days and then she puts them back in the ocean so they are safe!
! An amazing thing to experience.
We had a mellow and fabulous Christmas with a great breakfast and a turkey dinner at one of the camps down the way. It was quite nice. Rustin went spearfishing yesterday and was able to come up with some conch for us to enjoy last night. It was tasty, tasty. So here we are, back in San Juan Del Sur to spend New Years Eve. It is suppose to be a huge ordeal, with a big bash on the beach, and then we are off to Honduras.
Happy Holidays to you all.
Love Rustin and Jenn
So we lefr paradise as we knew it in El Salvador to embark on a new adventure in Nicaragua. We left with the intentions of returning to El Salvador for Christmas and New Years, but the fabulous beaches, great surf, and the beautiful people we met along the way in Nicaragua has kept us here over the holidays. We went to San Salvador for a night on our way out of El Salvador and had a quick dinner before we caught the 5am bus to Managua, in Nicaragua. Our initial plan was to get to Managua, and then immediately head to San Juan Del Sur so we could go to where we heard there was surfing. Funny how things change along the way depending on who you meet and different opportunities that present themselves. We boarded the bus to Managua, and about half way there at the border to Nicaragua we began chatting with a gringo named John who lived in Leon, a city in northern Nicaragua. He was from Halifax, but has been living down here for the past 3 years. Anyways, he suggested to us to head to Leon for the night and check it out instead of going to San Juan