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August 26, 2007

Nicaragua... part II

Even the best laid plans fall apart... Well actually I'm not sure our plan was that well thought out but whose judging.

Josh and I both felt a need to get out of the States for a while and after some convincing he was keen on a mission to Nicaragua. The way it worked out we flew a day apart. The plan was simple. Fly to Atlanta and then down to Managua (Nicaragua's capital), get on a bus for four hours, get off in San Juan Del Sur and then some how get another 12km up the coast to a random backpacker's called the eco-lodge. No wucker's aye.

Down Town San Juan Del Sur - tough finding a park...

Turns out that the eco-lodge didn't exist any more as it had been brought out and was in the process of being turned into some big arse ugly military looking resort. Bugger!

Now that this wasn't an option I elected to stay at the Playa Maderas 'chicken shack' about a km back down the beach and then try and find Josh later, after I went for a surf... and maybe a few beers.

It's funny how things turn out some times. After surfing for a few hours I headed back into the beach (in search of beer) and wadayaknow, Josh is standing on the beach drinking beer - a day early and in the wrong place. Some how he had knocked almost a day off my travel time and turned up on the right random beach at the right random time. Go figure.

A sudden rain storm offers cooler temperatures, temporarily


After being slightly weirded out by this we settled into a few local beers (Victoria) and let Nicaragua soak in. The scene at the 'chicken shack' was pretty cool with a mix of local surfers and non-surfers as well as a bunch of foreigners such as myself staying upstairs. After about 5pm things would empty out a bunch with the last of the shuttles heading back to town and the cafe (if that's what you could call it that... do cafes cook there chicken on the ground outside?). This left us with hour or so to surf before dark and then plenty of time to chill late into the evening, perhaps chill is the wrong term as it was often still in the 30's, so we were left with time to be more 'less hot'.

The beach would come alive after dark with masses of orange and purple crabs scouring the sand for morsels left over from the high tides. The local hermit crabs were also very active during the evening as well. The are much like kiwi hermit crabs only four times bigger and everywhere.

The real locals at Playa Maderas. Its the quick or the dinner for Frigate birds that hover above.

After all the beer had been drunk and bugs swatted it was time to douse yourself in as much bug spray as you could stand to help ward off the malaria mossies. This process had to be under taken in a well ventilated area due to the severe nature of Central American bug spray. I figure that it was probably illegal every where else in the world, but when in Rome.

Our days would usually start at about 5.30am with a stumble out onto the deck to check the surf through sleep encrusted eyes. This was more of a formality because we knew the surf was going to be great but it brought us time until our basic motor skills got going (walking, grunting and scratching).

Starting the day Playa Maderas style
Photo: Josh Neilson

The early morning surfs were always great because it was just a few of the temporary locals out and there were plenty of waves to be had for those you were awake enough. Back in NZ you would be awake after the first duck dive and maybe already in the early stages of hypothermia, but here it was already in the mid 20's so waking took a little longer.

Josh Neilson getting amongst the action at Playa Maderas

This became our daily ritual and I still can't think of a better way to start the day (well maybe one). After a few hours out surfing hunger would start to call and it was back to the shack for some chips or crackers. Food wasn't a major for Josh or myself.

It was about now the crowds would arrive from San Juan on the first of the days shuttles so we would then head into town for more exploration of the markets and stalls and to find new unsuspecting people to practice our appalling Spanish on.

Our Air-Conditioned Shuttle

Tucked away in the middle of town was a fantastic little market. First impressions weren't that flash but after I realised that this wasn't the local supermarket then things went fine. Although the major challenge lay in trying to communicate with the locals and stall vendors I found smaller challenges in little things like finding bananas that weren't black and 'what is that thing' and 'will I die or become seriously ill if I eat that'. From the market then it was down to the local store to pick up a few more supplies. Namely big containers of water and packets of salt and vinegar chips. Its amazing how much you sweat just walking around so we would always have a plentiful supply of chips.

Actually, Nicaragua is the first place I have broken a sweat drinking a beer.

From here it was back onto the shuttle (back of a truck) for the bone jarring and always entertaining ride back out to the beach. Here we would drop off the supplies and straight into the water to escape from the heat. Surf for a few hours with the crowds and then back to the shack for a quick break. This usually involved drinking a few litres of water, downing a pack of chips and a local beer - Tonya (our new favourite) before heading back out to surf until after dark. Repeat steps daily.


Some dude called Action Jackson running the left line.
Photo: Josh Neilson

Sadly with my body totally ruined from hours of surfing abuse day after day, it was time for me to leave and head back north to the U.S. I was a little wiser now a forked out the extra cash for an air-con taxi all the way to the airport. This changed a four and a half hour trip into just over two hours. Just as well because some of my 'farewell' Tonya's were coming back to haunt me.

My trip back to the U.S. was pretty straight forward apart from the two ladies who did there best to convert me to the ways of Jesus on the flight to the States. Then my bags were lost between Atlanta and Sacramento and the mighty Subaru had managed to blow a tire out in the airport car park. Always a welcome discovery sometime after midnight. Go the space saver tire.

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