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Heading to the Beach: San Juan del Sur
Nicaragua: Volcanoes, Beaches, and Fireworks

Old LeonOld Leon (Marnie Green)
After another wonderful Nicaraguan breakfast of eggs, gallo pinto, fried cheese, and plantains, we headed back to our cabin to pack up and prepare to catch the ferry. On the way we ran into our second snake. Steve spotted it first and he swears it was BIG. As the folks at Totoco continued to remind us, 'Welcome to the Jungle.'

We were sorry to leave the peaceful confines of Totoco but excited to reach our final destination: San Juan del Sur. Before catching our taxi to the ferry on the other side of the island we once again relaxed in the hammocks and enjoyed the roars of the howler monkeys. It would be easy to get used to this, snakes and all.

Once we made the journey across Lake Nicaragua to the mainland, our driver Sergio greeted us with a big smile. It's been nice to have a friendly face at each transfer and we are beginning to make friends that keep turning up at each of our stops. It seems we are on the tourist path: Leon, Granada, Ometepe, San Juan del Sur. When we planned the trip it all sounded so exotic. Now it is just 'what everyone does' when they visit Nicaragua.

San Juan del Sur will be our home for the next four nights. It is the main beach destination on the Pacific coast and is a mecca for surfers. Cruise ships occasionally stop in SJDS and today there was one in the bay. In fact, we were on a holiday cruise two years ago that stopped at this port, but we were only here for a few hours. We are excited to explore this little beach town more than we were able to before.

As soon as we checked into our base hotel for the next four nights, Hotel Victoriano, we found the closest pizza place. Wood fired four cheese pizza with a cold beer at a beachside restaurant never tasted so good! The chef, Maurizio, is world famous and reportedly has cooked for Pavoratti.

Next Steve and Sam continued a ritual they started years ago in Costa Rica of getting a haircut while traveling. For $3 they each got a haircut and Sam got a shave thrown in for a few more dollars.

While sitting the barberia, we met the barber's family. They own and live in the building in which the barber shop is located. Dad used to cut hair and now the son has taken over. Mom came out of the home and welcomed us to Nicaragua. She was playing loud latin music inside the home and when we asked her if they had started the New Year's party early she said, 'No. Solo alergria.' 'No, just happy.' Nicaraguans really are a happy bunch.

After returning to the Victoriano we hit the pool, which overlooks the beach. The beach road runs between the hotel and the beach but we look right onto the action. We were even able to swing an upgrade to our room for the first two nights so that we overlook the pool and beach. It's only for two nights, but it's nice!

Nicaragua is fiercely proud of its local liquor: Flor de Cana rum. We just had to try it and the pina coladas were spectacular. Note the photo of Steve and Sam in the hot tub with their umbrella drinks.

Our plan is to spend the next four nights in this little slice of paradise. It appears to be the center of everything New Years in Nicaragua. The hotels are packed, the crowds are growing, and they are setting up big mobile discoteques on the beach. We are looking forward to just hanging out and watching it all unfold over the next few days. In between we plan to do a little local hiking, hit the beach, and continue to learn what to do with Flor de Cana rum. We're also hoping to meet up with several friends we've met along the way so that we can all celebrate together.

We'll post reports and photos along the way but you can probably predict that they will include the beach and umbrella drinks. Stay tuned and thanks for reading.

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