San Juan del Sur. It was a must stop location on the tour through Nicaragua and our last stop before Costa Rica, where we began our fun and games in Liberia. After coming from the tranquillity of Isla de Ometepe we came to San Juan del Sur to party and meet some new people. Both objectives were achieved in no time.
San Juan del Sur isn’t actually a party town though, it’s a chilled beach town with good surf along the coast and relaxed reggae bars on the beach where you can watch the sunset over the pacific with a rum and coke.
Naked Tiger was our hostel of choice. It sits outside of town on the hill overlooking the bay and is famous for one thing, Sunday Funday. An enormous hedonistic pool party in three separate hostels, in three separate pools and definitely with more than three drinks per person.
We arrived at the hostel and asked if there was a room free. At reception/the bar was the manager but unlike any other manager we had met. He was this super chilled and slightly mad Aussie guy who of course greeted us with a beer and told us how the place works.
Pretty much everything is on a tab. Your room (which was strangely filled with moths), the food that you order from the hostel and inevitably the many drinks that you also buy. Once we had found our room we got talking to Gabby, who was out on the balcony, she was Filipino but was living in LA we think. She was in her late 20s and so to us, both being 19, she was practically an old age pensioner. We did look after her though. We made sure she had her Zimmer frame and that she didn’t drink too much (that is a small lie) but in return she did make sure we knew everything about the Philippines. The Philippines should sign her up as an overseas tourism representative because she did a stellar job. Watch out Philippines I’m coming in 2018!
After a night of drinking followed by the surprise of waking up feeling better than expected, we decided to check out the massive Jesus statue on the hill. It’s not quite Christ the Redeemer but Nicaraguan Jesus was big enough to spike our interest. A steep walk to the top of the hill provided us with a good view of the bay and a nice breeze. After this we had a little paddle and explore around the rocky sides of the sizeable main beach of the town. After cooling off we strolled back along the beach admiring the emerging volleyball talent of the youth in town. One lad impressed us on the court enough to see him as the Santiago Muñez of volleyball. All he needs is a strangely faithful old Newcastle scout and he’ll be in the toon in no time.
I realise that the previous few sentences will have made pretty much no sense unless you’ve seen the film ‘Goal’ about the rise of a Mexican football player. However, I felt it important to express this kid’s talent in the only way I know how, obscure film references.
The next day we met Emily, thanks to Brendan doing some much needed socialising that I couldn’t bring myself to do that early in the morning. Emily, who was later known affectionately as dead Emily, was American and very friendly. We hung out with her and found out that she came to Nicaragua after graduation to learn some Spanish, teach some English then just see what happens from there. The teaching part was in the north, in León, where we had visited at the start of our trip. We had been advised to take malaria medication for this area despite only being there for a few days. She was going to be there for a few months without any medication at all…
So, as a recap, she had no protection against malaria, no knowledge of Spanish (hardly anyone speaks English in Nicaragua) and had very little idea what she was doing. Therefore, the name dead Emily was born.
That day we swam in the sea with dead Emily, it had a lovely sandy bottom and the sea was the perfect temperature. We spent the rest of the day trying to teach her some Spanish somewhat unsuccessfully and marvelling at her spontaneity.
Finally, another notable character was Aaron. Another Australian (they made up at least a third of the guests, so in fact they were the opposite of hidden, contrary to what the title may suggest) and we reckoned he was maybe the most chilled guy ever. He was a man with an extraordinary talent. He managed to put ‘eh’ onto the end of almost any sentence making it sound like a question. Confusing but something we loved.
With this motley crew and many others, we had a brilliant 3 days and nights at the hostel. Ring of fire was brought to the table many a time and to my dismay beer pong was played. I’m a very inconsistent player to say the least and this showed in one night’s demolition of my opposition and the next night’s abysmal loss to Emily 6-0. My excuse is we don’t play it nearly as much as the Americans who were all over the beer pong. After three unforgettable nights, that were a lot more easily forgotten the next morning as the hangover set in, it came down to the bit that everyone hates thinking about, the payment. We were being asked, even begged to stay for Sunday Funday but knowing the bill would be steep we walked to the reception.
We had heard the bill for Sunday Funday alone (that’s one night) is at least 100 dollars, almost exclusively on drinks. As soon as we heard that our minds were practically made up.
They calculated our expenses and immediately their eyes lit up with a mixture of shear surprise and jackpot dollar signs. My total was around 155 dollars and Brendan’s was around 120, the rooms were $13.50 a night so we were a little bit baffled how we had spent so much on alcohol.
We left with extremely unhappy livers, much lighter wallets and the knowledge that we would never again be so easily seduced by the comfort of the tab system.