(The town was technically San Juan del SUR, but considering it’s beachside location, “del surf” felt just as appropriate).
San Juan held an interesting dynamic, growing as a destination for surfbums/backpackers and rich Managuans at the same time. Consequently, the town developed 2 district sections divided by a river that runs partway through town before drying up meters from the ocean. I didn’t realize how different the 2 world’s were until I stopped inside one of the nicer hotels so some of Tom’s buddies we met up with could use an atm, and I realized that my feet didn’t even know how to react to a patch of ground not covered in sand anymore.
Anyways, you’ve probably guessed the main draw of San Juan, and may already know that learning how to do this has literally been one of my biggest dreams for years. So you can imagine my excitement once I got my first board rented and trucked to the gorgeous Playa Hermosa just outside town. After practicing my ability to pop up from my stomach to my feet on a makeshift board drawn in the sand, learning how to paddle through waves and balance on the board, I was ready to catch my first wave (easier said than done). After a couple bumbling wipeouts, I finally caught it: not just the wave, those feelings of thrill and zen connection to the ocean you get along with it as well. The (admittedly tiny) wave carried me back with what needed to be far more grace and power than should be possible between just water and board. I rode the wave in, and ran right back out to chase another.
(on a side note, this excitement was probably too much for me, I got back that evening with a rashburn up my stomach and a sunburn down my back – definitely a sexy surfer girl – awe yeah!)
We came back from the beach and made our way out to the Black Whale, one of the bars along the beach strip in San Juan. We’d only been in town for a couple of days, but I felt like I knew half the people there already. A guy we split a taxi from Rivas with was playing foosball, 2 marines we met at the beach were stumbling in and out all night and one of the people we were renting a room from kept popping up. It was strange to have built up such a base in such a short amount of time, but refreshing after the constant movement of the past few days. The night got even better as a Spanish reggae band started playing and fire dancers started performing.