I traveled to Nicaragua last weekend to extend my Costa Rican Visa because I will be over the time limit of 90 days when I fly out of San Jose, Costa Rica to the U.S.on April 4th. I took a shuttle with several others from Pachamama to San Juan del Sur, which is a municipality and coastal town on the Pacific Ocean, in southwest Nicaragua. San Juan del Sur is popular among surfers and backpackers. Its municipality population is approximately 15,550, with an urban population of 7200, consisting largely of families engaged in fishing or the tourism industry and foreigners from the United States, Canada and Europe.
A statue of the Christ of the Mercy sits above town on the northern end of the bay. The Mirador del Cristo de la Misericordia sits at on one of the highest points on the bay and is one of the tallest Jesus statue in the world.
U.S. backed forces engaged in armed conflict in San Juan del Sur in 1984. On September 2, 1992 a magnitude 7.0 earthquake off the central coast of Nicaragua generated a tsunami that devastated many communities along the Pacific Coast. As a result of the tsunami an estimated 60% of homes in the community were destroyed and approximately 800 residents were displaced.
I was in San Juan del Sur for three nights, staying at Rosita’s Hotel, which was recommended to me by a friend in Austin, Texas, who owns land 15 minutes from this Nicaraguan town and is building an ecovilla. I had hoped to find the town to be charming and to stay here in the winter for a few months. I’m already planning my first escape from the chilly sleet of winter in Portland.
It is a town of few older hippies like myself, and, although there are many yoga classes and some dance classes, there is little live music, none of it being blues or good rock, for this Old Hippie when I need to dance. It is very hot, windy and noisy, with cold and dirty water covering the nearby beach when the tide comes in. Prices are lower than in Costa Rica, which was good, and I did meet a couple of pleasant tourists with whom to converse. There are numerous hostels and cheap restaurants. The young surfers play at the many beaches in the area.
I was discouraged from staying more than a few days in San Juan Del Sur by a lovely woman I met who owns a cafe and bookstore in town. She has connections to Pachamama, so, although she is tremendously busy, she did find a short time to chat with me. She told me that I wouldn’t want to live in the town because of the noise, and that I should live on the outskirts, which I understand is dangerous if you’re taking the bus at night. This would certainly cramp my social life. Also house and pet sitting is just about impossible to find in the winter, and the rental prices go way up.
The next day this woman wrote, in a Facebook posting on the San Juan Del Sur page, that her landlord of 12 Years has chosen to make her leave the facilities to give the space to a relative. This will happen in 6 weeks, and her 9 employees will be without jobs. She cannot get another suitable space in the town and will move to another town and focus on building her rural community, which is 45 minutes from San Juan del Sur and is named Harmonia and is on Facebook, if you are interested in a visit. I found her situation to be another black mark against a longer stay for myself in San Juan Del Sur.
I’m sure if you come with your partner or friends and have money to stay in a nice air-conditioned Hotel, eat in pricey restaurants, rent a car to see all the beaches and the interesting colonial cities of Nicaragua that you will have a more positive experience than I did.
A friend picked me up from the bus in the town of Liberia, Costa Rica, and I went on a mini vacation with her to Nosara, Costa Rica, where we stayed in a beautiful B&B above the town and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.
I hope to visit this area of Nicaragua again when my friend’s eco-village is ready. I would love to barter with her for accommodations and spend time with her in Nicaragua.
Enjoy spring and see you in Portland in a few weeks!