Culture Awe: Masaya and San Juan del Sur

>> Monday, January 26, 2009

After our trip to paradise in the Pearl Keys, it was time to return back to the Pacific side for the second half of Danny's trip. We spent most of my birthday in an epic Amazing Race-style journey in which the tasks were to beat the Swedes and make it home: Paul and Danny rose before sunrise to buy tickets on the earliest panga (boat) back to Bluefields, once in Bluefields we spent the morning looking nervously at the clock hoping we could make it off of standby on to the earlier flight back to Managua, and then took a taxi and a bus and a neighborhood shuttle to get back to our house. We eventually did make it home in time to unpack our sandy clothes, greet the dogs and dog watchers extraordinaire Nicole and Caitlin, and have the the fanciest birthday dinner that Masaya has to offer--Papa John's Pizza--before going out on the town to celebrate:

The next morning, we went to San Juan del Sur so that we would have seen both the Atlantic and the Pacific in the span of a day. Danny got the quintessential Central American bus ride, complete with a rooster in a sack in his feet and a bus driver that spent a fair amount of the trip sending text messages:
Surprisingly, we made it safe and sound to San Juan and spent the afternoon having lunch in a pretentious but lovely bookstore/cafe, walking along the beach, and exploring the new shops that had popped up since our last visit in April.
After our semi-rough accommodations in Pearl Lagoon, Paul and I mentioned to Danny that there were, in fact, nice hotels in Nicaragua. Easily the nicest place in the country is Pelican Eyes in San Juan del Sur, and Danny insisted that we go. Pelican Eyes is a beautiful resort built on a hillside overlooking all of San Juan del Sur and the harbor; its three infinity pools make for some pretty amazing views. Here is the uppermost infinity pool and the middle infinity pool:

Me overlooking San Juan:
In addition to really nice pools, the little villas are awfully nice as well, complete with their own private patio outside:
Paul mentioned earlier our criterion about places we visit having animals around that we can play with. Pelican Eyes has a non-profit veterinary clinic that rescues and cares for many animals in the area, and has its fair share of dogs and cats that call the various villas their homes. Our villa, we found out, is the home of Azerbaijan:
Azerbaijan was constantly scheming to get into our room, either by running in open doors or climbing in though windows. Unfortunately, he was not a friendly cat, and would bite any time we tried to pet him, pick him up, or disturb him in any way. Azerbaijan claimed the entire room as his own; when Paul climbed into bed for the night, Azerbaijan made it quite clear that the bed was his domain when he attacked Paul's feet from under the covers where he was hiding.

After our one night in Pelican Eyes' Pacific paradise, it was time to go back to Masaya. Danny had wanted to test out his intestines of steel by consuming Nicaraguan street food, but due to the negative effects parasites can have on vacations, only on the last day were Paul and I willing to let him take the risk. He started with a drink from a plastic bag, chicha:
Then moved on to some enchiladas and salad in the market:
And then graduated up to this unidentified meat (later identified as undesirable pork parts) made in this part of the bus depot:
And finally the night ended when we shared coconut milk out of a freshly macheted coconut:
We have come to regret tempting the intestinal parasite gods with much less, but much to our surprise, Danny never ended up getting sick. Aside from that glaring flaw, I think Danny got the quintessential Central American vacation he was looking for.


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