San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua
Yes, Nicaragua. It seems we may have spoken a bit to soon about our border crossing into costa rica... We packed up the bus and headed back up the dirt road en route to Costa Rica, but as soon as we hit the pavement we knew that at least some of our unease about the repair was warranted. He had a thumping/tapping sound from the same wheel that was distinct enough that we knew quickly that we weren’t going to be crossing any borders today. On the upside, we accomplished almost 10km towards the border.
We wander San Juan Del Sur looking for some immediate needs. I blew out a flip flop at Mango Rosa, so i’m walking around a dirty city barefoot...not really a huge problem or change for me; but its noon, there's no shade and the asphalt is blistering...so we it moved up the list rapidly. That was closely followed by lunch and calling our mechanic/parts friends. As we got to the beach looking for a place to stay our eyes popped out looking at how crowded the beaches were. The bay was filled with sailboats and pangas and the sand was littered with crowds of people. Quite the contrast from the empty beaches we’ve been on for the last few weeks. I think back to rounding the point in a week ago and being shocked to see 25 people on the beach. Were now looking at multiples that. We soon realize its sunday, which explains at least the number of locals on the beach...and why we cant get the mechanics on the phone.
We cant find a decent place to park/sleep in town, but didn’t want to risk driving all the way back to Mango Rosa, so we turned into the first establishment we saw- the Naked Tiger. Jen’s trend of finding only lodging with animal names somehow continues, even without advanced planning. This place has quite the steep hill of its own, but it’s at least paved/stoned and we made it up just fine (on the second try).
The Naked Tiger is a hostel that took over a large house looking over the bay of San Juan Del Sur and turned its large rooms into dorm style sleeping quarters. The view is exceptional and they were kind enough to let us park and stay with them even after we told them we’d be doing mechanical work in the morning. As per usual, we simply opted to sleep in the bus rather than joining the masses in the bunks. Jen and i walk over to take a swim in the pool and marvel that we appear to have the place to ourselves. So peaceful and quiet- just what we needed.
That lasted about 20minutes before the first shuttle of backpackers/vacationers from town made it up the hill to enjoy the pool view and cheap cocktails. Suddenly our peaceful surrounds turned into a full on spring break bash...and the shuttles continued rolling in every 2 hours with another truckful of partygoers. Mayhem.
This continued into the night with the apex of people arriving for happy hour/sunset, not surprising with a splendid view looking out over the hills and ocean. Numbers dropped a bit after that but the craziness continued to increase until well after the last shuttle at 2am. Nothing like hanging out in your bed, while listening to bunch of 18-20 year olds to make to feel old. We decided to lounge on one of the outdoor chaises in a dark corner near the pool so we could stargaze and talk about things to come, but after our third visit from a drunken girl who wanted to tell us about her trip/problems/family issues we retreated to the solace of the bus.
In the morning we start dismantling the wheel and are pleasantly surprised when the mechanics show up. Apparently they got some of the messages we left yesterday after all. We get back into the process and have a guy lying under the bus when Wham! The bus shifts 6” to the left above us. The shuttle, while dropping off the latest dozen partyers decided to backup a bit too close to the bus (rather than in the vacant 30’ behind it) and hit the open rear hatch. Only in central america. Luckily, part of our learning last week was to block up the bus really well rather than trust only the jack...in this case it saved a guys life. Literally. We all scramble out from under/behind the bus yelling and alerting the driver and then as our hearts slow down and return to work i realize that the rear hatch is well skewed and no longer shuts. I guess the project list just grew again.
The hostel manager was visibly stressed about the damage for two days and had lots of suggestions, including that we should go inside and have a cocktail to calm the nerves while thinking about a solution. What she didn’t do was offer to buy that cocktail, or any others...but i digress.
We put everything back together and feel good about things but decide to stay an extra day just to get in a bit more spring break action. Hardly- we simply wanted to get a bit of time to test drive in earnest and load up on supplies before another attempt at the border. The hostels kitchen was also closed for 2 days (as well as not having power 50% of each day), so it was a good excuse for us to wander to the place next door.
Here we found Casa de Olas, a much more laid back and fun (for us) atmosphere. We spent our next two nights sitting around the pool and bar and chatting with a bit of a more relaxed crowd while playing with the monkey. Ive already talked about my issue with monkeys on leashes, but i have to say that this monkey is a pet in every sense of the word. The owner, Fred has had the monkey since it was a few days old and orphaned. They let the monkey off leash almost everyday so it can go play in the jungle and it always returns. The leash is only to keep the mischievous youngster from tearing up the bar and kitchen...but they hope it will grow out of that phase soon. Jen didn’t warm up quite as much to the monkey as i did, but it might have something to do with the fact that the monkey stole a slice if watermelon directly out of jen’s glass where it was flavoring her spritzer. Jens sometimes holds monkey grudges...
We eventually get the rear hatch closing (mostly) and decide to make a run for the border. Lets hope this time we get a bit further than 10km down the road.