Tue 26 Jan 10 - Fri 29 Jan 10 85 °F
San Juan del Sur is a small surf town. There are many surf shops and you see surfers walking around town with their boards all the time. Restaurants line the beach and cruise ships pull in there from time to time. The beach is pretty, kids play soccer all the time on the beach and many people hang out on beach chairs.
Casa Oro is the famous hostel in town but when we got there there was some noisy construction going on and the dorms could be cleaner. We decided to head to the beach to stay at Matilda's. We met several travelers who recommended that place. San Juan del Sur is the biggest town in the area but the best beach to surf around there is Maderas. Casa Oro has daily shuttles to the beach and back so we hopped on the next one and were at Maderas by 5pm. There is only one hostel (more like a shack) on Maderas. It looked pretty dirty and uninviting.
Matilda's is the next beach over. A 15-minute walk on the beach. The recommendations were spot on. Matilda's is very cute, clean and inviting. In the center of the hostel there are several doghouses for rent. Think of a concrete human-sized doghouse. You open the screen door, crawl in and sleep.
We were considering that cheaper option but they were full so we stayed at the "dorm" which ended up being a 3-bed room with a shared bathroom for an extra dollar. That room had mosquito nets above each bed but those things are so uncomfortable to sleep under and they block the little air the fan blows. So I decided to skip the net and before going to bed I spent 10 minutes squatting mosquitoes. Obviously I was never able to get them all and they ended up getting me while I was asleep. It was pretty hot the couple of nights I stayed there, not Granada hot but still pretty hot.
Early next morning we walked to Maderas and met Doña, our surf instructor. She's this little surfer girl from Nicaragua who gives surf lessons and when she's not she's surfing or making bracelets and other accessories. We spent a few minutes going over the basics on the beach then she said let's not waste any more time and let's hit the waves. The whole time she was smiling, giving words of encouragement and had positive energy. She was a great instructor who really wanted to see us do well. Getting on the board wasn't as hard as I thought. Timing the waves was the most difficult part. When she's standing with us she tells us when to start paddling and we would ride the waves pretty far but when shes not there it's a bit more challenging. At times the white water wasn't strong enough and she kept saying go further out. I joked around saying I'm gonna go join the pros on the big waves far out and she was like yeah do it, go for it. I don't think so!
While I was in the water I kept feeling this stinging sensation. I thought it was the threading on my board shorts and my shirt. When I got out I noticed that I had red marks on my body! After talking to a couple of other people some said the stings are baby jellyfish that are hard to spot and other said it was sea lice. Whichever it was it the sting marks looked like a hive of mosquito bites and they itched! I guess that was better than stepping on a stingray. During the lesson Dona told us to drag our feet in the water to scare away stingrays and not to step on one. One morning I found a beached stingray right in front of Matilda's. It looked a bit scary!
The sunsets were incredible on the beach but after sunset there was absolutely nothing to do. There were two places to have dinner one behind the hostel and one at the front. The one at the back looks like a shack out in nowhere. A girl said the food there is very good but someone told her he got sick from eating there. She never got sick so we decided to go for it. The place didn't look terribly clean but the food wasn't bad. No one got sick.
The place out in the front is even smaller. A shack with two tables only but it's right on the beach. That's where Luke and I had our thanksgiving dinner. The food there wasn't bad either and it was quite pleasant having dinner while hearing the soothing sound of the waves. After dinner there was nothing to do but lay in a hammock and read before going to bed.
After a couple of night of staying on the beach we decided to move back to town and just shuttle to the beach to surf during the day. We checked out several places in town. Many of them were either dark or smelly until we came across Chales. The place was clean, well lit and a private room with two beds, two fans and a private bathroom cost $6 a person only. The place was recommended to us by a couple of travelers we met in Merida.