I arrived in Managua, high on the Panamanian friendliness that fed my soul and the colonial beauty that fed my eyes. I wasn’t sure what to expect in Nicaragua. This trip was planned in a different way than I was used to. While I prefer to move around and drink in as much as a destination will offer, the consensus was to base ourselves in San Juan Del Sur, in Southwest Nicaragua, not too far from the Costa Rican border. We were all three weary from our crazy work schedules of the last few months and needed some chill time. There was a lot to see so we agreed to alternate relaxation with sightseeing.
Driving from Managua to San Juan Del Sur, we passed several different towns and landscapes, proving that the journey is the destination. I could have easily stopped several times along the way. The road played tricks on our eyes as we headed (what seemed like) straight into Masaya volcano, only to veer left at the base. We passed the lush greenery of Catarina, one of the Pueblos Blancos (white villages) known for their handicrafts and beautiful views, where the streets are lined with shop after shop selling rocking chairs, garden gnomes, and colourful flowers. The dark sand on the banks of Lake Nicaragua beckoned, as the peaks of Concepción and Maderas volcanoes stood stately in the background. Turning to the final stretch toward San Juan, with the sun blazing and Pacific ahead, I already had a list of places I wanted to see.
San Juan Del Sur appeared fairly quick, going from rocky cliffs and green fields to cliffside houses within minutes. We drove further into the town, alongside surfer dudes carrying their boards, locals zipping around on mopeds, dogs wandering the streets and a calm buzz in the salty air. We had arrived oceanside finally, but not quite yet at our final destination: the treehouse in Majagual.
I have to admit, I was very excited about living in a big treehouse with all the modern amenities, because really who wouldn’t want to tap into childhood that way? We picked up our keys from the Remax agent (who also gave us a very useful tour of the town) and then headed to our treehouse.
Once our Airbnb booking was complete, the Remax agent sent us a list of things we would need for our stay at Majagual, most important of which was a 4×4, as we would have to navigate steep, off-road, and uneven terrain every day to get to and from our treehouse. So naturally, I (being the only one over 25) had rented a 4WD. I assumed they were the same thing. Apparently, car manufacturers have given a lower-cost option for SUV enthusiasts, a 4×4 lite if you will: the 4×2. Little old me did not know this and neglected to emphasize the importance of it being 4×4 vs 4×2. I asked for a 4WD, and got the Hyundai Tucson. I’m not knocking the Tucson, but when the agent told us that we would now need to turn on our 4×4 capabilities and we couldn’t find the knob, we wondered if it would make it to the top. How bad can it possibly be? Well, ask and ye shall receive an answer. Stuck on a 30° incline, shrouded in the darkness of an early sunset and the forest, we realized that we weren’t going anywhere when the pedal was hitting metal and we weren’t moving. Problems? I’d say so.
All praise to my brother for calmly navigating the car down the hill, steep cliff on one side, deep ditch on the other. We ultimately made it up in the agent’s car. Most car rental companies in San Juan are closed on Sundays and wouldn’t you know this was Saturday night! I had used my credit card’s concierge to book the car (shoutout to BMO Concierge!), so I took to my email requested a swap. By the time we woke up on Sunday, we had receive confirmation that a 4×4 awaited us in town. We walked down to where we had left our Tucson, drove to town and switched it out for a Toyota Prado (the Land Cruiser). Easy peasy.
Sunday kicked off on a good note, we headed to the Pelican Eyes Resort for a snack and a dip in their infinity pool overlooking San Juan. This was just the relaxation I needed after the last four months of work whirlwind. Nica weekend 1, thank you for the breather.