San Juan del Sur is the touristy part of Nicaragua. Though I have never been to Key West, I imagine that, about 40 years ago, it was something like San Juan del Sur is now, without all the Nicaraguans. It was about a 2 hour drive from the staging area on Mombacho to San Juan del Sur. We headed west to the Pan American Highway and then south, through Rivas, to La Virgen where we stopped to take in the view of Concepcion and Maderas across Lake Nicaragua.
Gary Perkins taking in the view of the two volcanos. Concepcion on the left, Maderas on the right.
When we arrived in San Juan del Sur, we headed straight to Piedras y Olas, the nicest accommodations in town that are available to the public.
The view from "La Cascada" the restaurant at Piedras y Olas (Rocks and Waves)
As to above photo shows, there is a great view from the hotel. Though you have to walk through town to get to the beach, the location is excellent. But all is not perfect in paradise. Piedras y Olas is almost a first class facility. They try very hard but are still stumbling through some of the motions. On Friday evening, after walking back from town, a couple of guys jumped into the pool with their sandals on. These were waterproof sandals so no worries for the swimmers. However, some apparent employee of the hotel decided that sandals should not be worn in the pool and proceed to make a scene. Instead of approaching the guests who were in the pool and asking them to remove their sandals, this idiot proceeded to begin to yell insults loud enough for everyone around to hear. Now, perhaps it didn't dawn on the idiot that everything on the sandals was also on the feet of the guys in the pool and that removing the now rinsed sandals was pointless. However, the scene was made remarkable due to the fact that the proprietor of Piedras y Olas, Chris Berry, was sitting near the pool, within a few feet of where the idiot was doing his thing and Chris did nothing. When I approached the idiot and asked why he didn't just ask the guys to remove their sandals in a quiet, polite way, he protested at first and then backed off. I suppose even this idiot knew that his actions were indefensible. When asked by Jay if he worked for the hotel, the idiot refused to answer.
Luckily most of us were a little too drunk to care about the idiot, but if a Google search ever brings Chris Berry to this page, I hope he will put a stop to that sort of nonsense. The other shortcoming of Piedras y Olas is the weird pricing policy. Our group of 7 booked two suites. The "Grand Suite" which is advertised on the Piedras y Olas rates page as accomodating a maximum of six (6) guests at a rate of $130 per night during May. We also booked a "Deluxe Double" that is listed as having a maximum of four (4) guests. Three (3) of us stayed in the double and four (4) stayed in the Grand Suite. Imagine my surprise when I was told during checkout that because we had an "extra" person staying in the Suite that we had to pay an extra $90 for the three nights. I was informed that we had to pay an extra charge if we had more than three (3) in the Suite or more than two (2) in the Double. WTF Chris? Though the remainder of the accomodations are better than anything you will find in San Juan del Sur, not being able to rely on the quoted rates at Piedras y Olas is a big minus in my book, especially considering the fact that we told the hotel how many people would be staying before getting a price quote and any policy concerning "double occupancy" of a suite with one king size and two queen size beds is stupid (and apparently not applicable to the Grand Suite anyway according to the desk clerk who said three was the limit). The price is still reasonable but confronting your guests as if they've done something wrong by putting too many people in a suite that holds more and after giving them a price quote based on the number that actually came seems a little shady.
Ah, but lets forget about the minor buzzkills for now. This was a vacation trip. After the pool fiasco, which largely went ignored, including keeping the sandals in the pool, it was time for some serious drinking. I won't say who drank the most, but I have to say that I've seen few things funnier than a sloppy-drunk presbyopic Red Sox fan attempting to light a cigar.
The next morning, Saturday, we had booked a trip on the Pelican Eyes, the hotel's sailboat. Before the trip, I had been led all over the hotel grounds looking for an urraca, a local bird that I wanted to photograph. Hugo, a very nice Wackenhut security guard was kind enough to show me one. Then while trying to recover from the beating that my knees took climbing up and down looking for that bird, it was off for the sailing trip.
Jay and David on the Pelican Eyes
Whether you stay at Piedras y Olas or not, you should book this sailing trip. It is a great way to relax for a day. The trip begins and ends with a few hours of sailing. Sandwiched in between is a stop at a beach for food, drink and anything you can do on a beach or in a tropical rain forest.
On the trip back, everyone enjoyed the drink service on the Pelican Eyes, but none more than one Gary Perkins. I won't say what or how much he drank, but I have never seen someone pass out sitting up before.
Flor de Caņa + Gary Perkins = Cooter Brown