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San Juan del Sur Nicaragua – 3 nights and more…

Ok, so my Father in Law Gene and Sister in Law Kelly came down last Thursday. They wanted to know what all this fuss was about with www.NicaEco.com and the Hart Family’s new Spanish study abroad division. They are familiar with http://www.inertiatours.com our college spring break travel division already.

We went and picked them up in Managua and then brought them to Leon. We had dinner out at Manhattan sushi across the street from the incredible La Perla Hotel (only 5 star in Leon). The sushi here is like $2.50 USD for a California roll!

Then, we went to the La Perla casino which Julie absolutely hated. They have slots, karaoke (LOL!!) roulette, 5 card stud poker, and blackjack. We didn’t play just tucked out head in.

We then when to La Terraza for this special Flor de Cana rum party they had.  This party sucked. It was hot, and they had 4 pre made drinks you had to dick around and buy “tickets” for instead of just paying at the bar. Guys – don’t reinvent the wheel. You want a drink at a bar – order it. Then pay for it. Don’t run people around. We ended up leaving.

The next morning we arose early at like 6 a.m. to a fresh poolside breakfast Erlon our driver’s sister had made us. At 7:30 a.m. we left to go volcano boarding, or what in Australia they call sand boarding. This consists of more or less driving one hour to Cerro Negro volcano on these crappy roads in a 4×4. (you don’t really need a 4×4 and compared to Costa Rica, these roads are good). Once there you pay the local association of people of Las Pilas about $2 USD each to enter. Once in, you drive to the base of Cerro Negro Volcano (called as such as it’s dark black and the most active volcano in central America).

volcano boarding in nicaragua  or sand boarding in nicaragua or sandboarding in nicaragua

volcano boarding in nicaragua or sand boarding in nicaragua or sandboarding in nicaragua

You see, I was smart. We hired a Green Pathways guide from the Big Foot Hostel here in Leon run by this cool dude from Barbados, Phillip Southan (highly recommend HIM and his operation). Instead of just a “guide” – I hired two college aged dudes that work for him to porter our 4 boards up the face of Cerro Negro (about a 45 minute hike up in blazing heat – the hike is easy, the heat isn’t). Most other volcano boarding companies make you carry your own volcano board up yourself.

A volcano board is no more than a wooden toboggan or wooden sled you use to sit on and slide down the face of the volcano attaining speeds of up to 55 mph. Don’t worry – the lava rock is very forgiving, and the view at the top is amazing. Anyway, hire these porters! Totally worth it!

Once up on top, you can see smoldering sulfer gas /smoke as like I told you – it’s active. Then, you put on these overalls or jumpsuits and they give you a 5 minute instruction on how not to “crash.” It takes all of 2 minutes to get down to the bottom.

If you do go volcano boarding I recommend bringing with you:

  • Water
  • Wet Wipes (leave in transfer vehicle)
  • Clean socks & shoes
  • Toilet paper (if you have to shit before or after the little rangers station has none)

Yes, you can get by without it. But, if you do take my advice, (get porters, bring the supplies I told you) trust me – you will be so, so much happier with this excursion.

When we were done, we made the mistake of deciding to have lunch before we went to San Juan del Sur. The thing about Nicaragua is, when you ask”how far” something is, it’s a trivial (at best) answer. I heard it was anywhere from 2-3 hours from Leon to San Juan del Sur. Well, er..yeah…as long as it does not rain that is.

It took us 5 full hours. Traffic in Managua. Bathroom break. Fuel stop. Rain from Managua all the way there. It got dark. Shit man. Yuck.

San Juan del Sur is about as “touristy” as Nicaragua gets by the way. Feels like Costa Rica. Lots of gringos. Lots of kids backpacking. Locals hawking crap on the beach. Don’t be expecting Cancun by the way hahaha!

It’s a town of like 10,000 on a bay of the pacific ocean about 45 minutes from the Costa Rican border. We booked the Pelican Eyes Hotel as I had been there in 2007. It now sucks. Rather than get into it, ready my  Tripadvisor review or the copy I posted of it on this blog.

Instead of boring you about how crappy the service was at this hotel, I will move on to what we did there for activities.

surfing at Remanso Beach by San Juan del Sur

surfing at Remanso Beach by San Juan del Sur

1.)    We did a zip line or canopy tour in the hills overlooking San Juan del Sur with da Flying Frog canopy tour. It was $30 USD. See videos of this at http://www.youtube.com/nicaeco

 

zip lining in san juan del sur nicaragua with da flying frog canopy tour

zip lining in san juan del sur nicaragua with da flying frog canopy tour

2.)    We took surfing lessons from Mope’s surf shop and went to Remanso Beach, my absolute favorite beach to surf at anywhere in the world. It was $30 with the board, rash guard, and “instruction’ (instruction sort of sucked but the waves were so perfect you really didn’t need to know how to surf to get up)

3.)    We went swimming and relaxed and did some light shopping. I don’t recommend shopping there, it’s spotty, expensive, and well…

When the weekend was done, we dropped the folks off at the Sandino Augusto International Airport  ( Managua International Airport) – these people are all tits over tea kettles  about Sandino Augusto whom from what I can see wasn’t all that brilliant if you read his Wikipedia post, but as the Sandinistas are in power, and they use his name, they think he was some bad ass.

I’m going to go off on a tangent here. The US military has been kicking some people’s asses for about 100 years. This has now changed, as we now cannot kill “civilians” although those same “civilians’ kill and terrorize our troops. This is completely idiotic. In the early 1900’s, the US military just rolled down here with a brigade of marines and ran the country. We put into power whom we wanted to. Then, we got all soft. So you have it.

So, we now have all these loud ass dictators that know that we can’t really “declare war” so we just send in some “peacekeepers” that eventually get shot at, sporadically killed, and then leave as a.) these forces accomplish nothing and are expensive to keep and b.) our “ideas” of “democracy” only work with Western civilizations. The fact is, Nicaragua has flourished under Manuel Ortega and this means the US government won’t “do business’ with them. They don’t really give two shits by the way. They probably see our men with shaved arms discussing their “filet mignons” and new Cadillacs – (remember the French? Yeah, real warriors they were – King Louis got beheaded he was a pansy). Anyway…I mean how hard is it to worry?

My tangent hence cease….

Chad…OUT!

my Review of Pelican Eyes Resort in San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua I posted on Trip Advisor

We booked the Casa Madrona house a 2 bedroom, 1 bathroom house. To start with, when we checked in they gave us keys to a different house; we walked in with the bell man and people’s stuff was everywhere. So, we put our stuff outside and waited 15 minutes for them to sort us out – not a big deal but a hassle. My sister in law was sort of freaked out but I was like “easy, simple mistake.”

The house itself was WONDERFUL but….it had two bedrooms and only one (main floor) bathroom. For a family, I’m sorry to say this just doesn’t work. I’d never book it again. The AC worked awesome, it was clean. One problem in the house is the so called “wifi” just plain worked like 10 minutes of our 3 night stay. I called the front desk a half dozen times and they finally got irate with me so I stopped trying. They claimed “the entire city is out” – however, we went downtown and used the internet at the Barrio a restaurant downtown so they were just lying to us. It’s a feature if you were on business you would need – don’t stay here.

 

My wife Julie, my Son Miller, and I at Pelican Eyes

My wife Julie, my Son Miller, and I at Pelican Eyes

We did meet Gabriel the General Manager at the pool on Sunday. He was a nice enough guy – we brought up to him the night before they had a trance/techno party at the lower bar that went past 2 am. No one slept – it was totally unacceptable and he was like “did you not receive my letter apologizing” and I was like “no dude.” But we paid $300 for the night, so did you comp the night since my 14 month year old baby was up all night? Of course not, and no, the letter never did come. It was ABSURD to run a dance party club at a restaurant this late at night – ridiculous. I could see until maybe midnight, but not 2 a.m. and later.

The other issue was the so called “breakfast.”  It was horrible. Runny eggs, “ fruit” which was watermelon and mango, and dry toast. Thanks. How about charging us $20/more a night and actually doing a good breakfast like Pelican Eyes had back in 2007 when I stayed there before? It was total crap food. The other issue was if you stay at a house on the upper level, that upstairs restaurant closes (on a Saturday I tried to get a late day snack) at 4 p.m. as I was watching our baby and they were like “we are closed, go down to the other restaurant.” Yeah right. About a 20 minute walk down steep stairs, then back up again with a  baby? I don’t think so. When a cook in Nicaragua makes $4 to $7 per day, why in the WORLD would this restaurant close on a weekend this early? Total nonsense. Another completely unacceptable practice by the wait staff is on our first night, we decided to just eat at the downstairs poolside restaurant for dinner. The food was terrible but here – if you are “white” or a gringo, when you sit down they automatically are nice enough to bring you $2 bottles of water even if you didn’t order them.  It’s not just blatant racism, it’s fraudulent in my mind.

We did make the mistake of getting cheeseburgers at the pool on Sunday. Wow is all I can say. Nasty do not order them. And…they were about $10/each. If you want to charge US prices, give me US quality food & service. I have to add that overall the employees all seemed discouraged and unhappy.

pool at Pelican Eyes and my wife Julie is easy on da eyes!

pool at Pelican Eyes and my wife Julie is easy on da eyes!

On a positive note – the houses and the ground including the pools there ARE spectacular. For the price, the service needs to improve DRAMATICALLY. This place sold like 10 or 11 months ago to an investment group from Orange County, California. They better hope these new owners never come or heads will roll. The service was horrendous.

Unfortunately, I will never stay here again. Book a private home on like vrbo or homeaway and save yourself $150 a night. Place is NO 5 star maybe a 3 star.  A nice room with a view will not over overcharging, bad food, no wifi, ridiculous RAVE parties, and bs service in every way. I’ve been in the travel business for 17 years and was truly disappointed in Pelican Eyes. When I checked out I even took the time to leave Gabriel the GM a personal note asking him or an assistant to contact me about the service issues we experienced and no one bothered. I guess I won’t bother to spend money with them, either.

 

Inertia Tours Chad OUT

Day 3 – Leon, Nicaragua

Today woke up at about 8:30 a.m. and went to breakfast with my Assistant Marginne. By the way I make videos of almost everywhere we go. Check out http://www.youtube.com/nicaeco to see vidoes.

We covered the upcoming schedule which includes visits for contracts, pictures & videos at a couple of language schools to study spanish abroad at that http://www.NicaEco.com got approved for college credit in the US.

Julie & I will be visiting La Isla and Juntos Contigo foundations as if you do our spanish immersion you can volunteer as part of the program for 3 days a week / 3 hours each time.

We will be seeing Ometepe, Cerro Negro, Cerro Madera, Lake Nicaragua, Granada, San Juan del Sur, Big & Little Corn Islands, Managua, Chinandega, Miraflor & more over this next month.

We are very settled in at Casa Leones and feel that this will be our college spring break headquaters in terms of a hotel property for http://www.inertiatours.com for our college spring break party trips

By the way if you want to do an alternative spring break trip to Nicaragua, or spring break in central america – skip Costa Rica & come here. I have a trip here for $1099 per person with airfare, transfer, 3 nights hotel in Leon, 2 nights at Penitas Beach, 2 meals a day, an onsite party itinerary, Volcano Boarding, and surfing lessons all wrapped into one including our great onsite english speaking staff.

We had dinner tonight at CocinaArte. Julie’s Pesto pasta was superb, my fried chicken sucked. Our baby Miller ate & ate. He’s already in bed. We have a sitter for tonight & are going out with Phillip from Bigfoot Hostel and the owner of GreenPathways tours. He’s a sick surfer and a great guy. We are going to go “clubbing” and see the nightlife. I’ll do videos & post up to my youtube as well.

Tomorrow we are going to Penitas Beach & Poneloya beaches to surf, tan, swim, and ride horseback. I’ll let you know how it goes.

Chad…OUT!