The morning we left Ometepe we had the good fortune to meet Ron and Debbie who, for over a decade have lived on the island. There are many stories of “expats” moving to other countries but none so well documented as in Debbie’s blog, “Rewired and Retired in Nicaragua”. If you missed it in our last blog, here’s the link:
There are some incredible stories in there. In those few years, they’ve lived a lifetime that few could imagine. In spite of contracting tropical diseases, wrestling with boa constrictors, and dealing with the idiosyncrasies of Nicaraguan bureaucracy, they’ve persevered driven by their passion to help the people of Ometepe. Both professional educators, over the years they’ve contributed to the local school system in many ways and have seen the results of their work.
It turned out that we also have lots in common with these guys. They were keenly interested in our stories as well and our time with them went way too fast. One never knows, maybe we’ll see them again… We left the door open for that! Great to meet you both!
Rockin’ on the way to San Jorge
After saying goodbye to Ron and Debbie, we hung around the ferry’s waiting area for an hour or so and ended up with “the small boat” not the larger ferry. (Sorry, didn’t get a pic of our little boat)
It’s OK,” we simultaneously said to each other. “the lake is calm today.” Sure it was. As soon as the Little Ship That Could passed the spit off the west coast of the island, well… the fun began. There have always been the stories of how this crossing can be a rockin’ and rollin’ extravaganza. Today was the day and the high winds were the contributing factor. It started innocently and then I realized I had to hang on to the seat in order to stay put. And, when the boat rolled sideways, I wondered to myself, “was it going to stop?” What were you thinking.. of course it was! It actually became pretty hilarious when it was clear we weren’t going to be thrown in the water as long as we hung on.
One person that kept our minds off the boat capsizing was Johnathon, a super nice young guy who worked for an NGO from Canada. Well educated, he is involved in ALL SORTS of projects and is doing his best to help humanity and support his fellow Nicaraguans as they strive for a better life. Keep up the good work Johnathon!
By the time we arrived in San Jorge, we were happy to say goodbye to the crew. It was quite an arrival! There were deckhands throwing lines to the dock and shore men throwing their own lines back.
All the backpacks were quickly launched to the dock where the wide receivers caught them – hopefully. (Glad I didn’t bring that laptop) We all had a good laugh and I shook El Capitan’s hand. Too much fun!
Ronny the Cowboy
It was a short walk from the ferry to our refuge for the evening, the “Southern Nights Hotel”. The owner, Ronny Newberry met us in the driveway and immediately we could sense this guy had some stories to tell. A friendly, firm handshake was extended and we received a sincere welcome.
Ron is from the “Show Me” state of Missouri and all of a sudden it didn’t quite feel like we were in Nicaragua anymore. He showed us around his super clean hotel and beautifully managed gardens and we could just picture how much work this man must have done to arrive at this point.
He was a really interesting guy. I had never met anyone from Missouri and as we chatted we listened to a selection of each other’s life stories. Like many people who choose to move to another country to start a new life, Ron had given this chapter his best shot… and it showed.
Oh, and he was both a rodeo cowboy and a professional jockey in the US and Canada. (He was interested to hear about the Williams Lake Stampede in BC!)
Our stay at the Southern Nights was great. Ron’s daughter, Fawn and her husband Scott bent over backwards to make our visit enjoyable. Thanks guys!
The next morning, Ron got us a fair price with a local cab driver and after a great breakfast, (included) we were off to San Juan Del Sur on the Pacific Coast. The driver was also a dentist in Rivas… just in case.
We reach the Pacific
San Juan as the locals call it has a long history. “Discovered” by the Spanish in the early 1500’s it became an important port due to it’s sheltered bay. And, many years later it was a terminal for gold seekers during the North American gold rush of the 1800’s.
Now, it’s a major tourist destination for Nicaragua and a home to many expats who have built hundreds of homes in the area.
Our stay was with a lovely family in their home offering an Airbnb suite with a private bathroom. Called “Dayanna’s House” it’s named after the host’s cutie pie daughter. Miriam and her husband Enrique are warm and welcoming hosts and we loved our stay there.
During our stay in San Juan we got to hang out on the beach and we also did a ton of walking. The city has a bit of a reputation for being a ‘party town’ but during our stay, we noticed nothing out of the ordinary. Yes, there were lots of the shoeless, shirtless, free-spirited young Bohemians and plenty of mainstream young folks looking for a memorable ‘good time’… but everyone was pretty chilled. We only noticed a few guys that were strung out and unfortunately they were Nicaraguan.
Anyway, the location is stunning and if you visit, we highly recommend you take the walk up to the Mirador del Christo de las Misericordia statue – apparently the 2nd largest statue of Jesus in the world. The views are worth the walk – we saw the Guanacaste Peninsula, Costa Rica to the south!
Oh, and the food here is great. There is a Pali supermarket and tons of little tiendas downtown.
Finally, the sunsets are classic…
OK, so we’re off to Leon this afternoon. Yet another intriguing Nicaraguan city. We’ve been told by many travellers we’ll really enjoy the art museum here. Excellente!