Everyone you meet is afraid of something, loves something, and has lost something. - Author Unknown
Even though I’m halfway around the world, exactly 13,589km (8,444 miles) from San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua, now that I have received a new–while used–laptop, I’ve been meaning to give some of my personal favorites from Central America, primarily the area I called home for close to 10-months. There several great places to grub out at while visiting the most popular tourist destination for both foreigners and Nicaraguans alike along the Pacific Coast, and these are just a few of my favorite places:
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HOWLER BAR & RESTAURANT – This is a relatively new restaurant that opened in the Spring of 2013, located next door to The Black Whale (another great spot for live music or shooting pool) at the front entrance there is a tiki hut that invites you to pull up a bar stool and have an ocean view with your meal. While this can be a bit more expensive for SJDS, the generous chunks of beef on the kabobs and a side of garlic fries are certainly worth splurging for on a backpackers budget. (Price Range: $3 - $10)
NACHO LIBRE – In my opinion, hands down the best burger joint in town and reminds me of In-N-Out Burger. Located on the main street with other restaurants and surf shops, this is one of the few places that also delivers, which is an excellent service when staying at a hostel in town. Guaranteed after a burger and fries you’re most likely going to be full for the rest of the day. (Price Range: $6-$10)
V.I.P. PIZZA – While many people wait anxiously for the days that this place is open, as the owner is a bit eccentric and lives by his own schedule, there is always a wait for the wood-fired thin crust pizza. Since seating can be limited, for about a $1 more (the additional charge for the to-go box), when you are craving pizza this is a great choice. Located directly across from the Taco Stop and the main tienda in town. (Price $7-$10)
TACO & FRY STOP – The best late night food joint in town as most days it is open until 5am, and with the addition of the Fry Stop that opened also in the Spring of 2013 this makes for a heavenly fatty’s combo. Plus the local Nicas can be a hilarious form of entertainment as you wait for your food or the Naked Tiger shuttle. Located next door to Barrio Restaurant and across from V.I.P. Pizza. (Price Range $2.50 - $5)
THE MERCADO & STREET FOOD – This is by far the best choice for local meals at a very inexpensive price. Whether you are looking for breakfast, lunch, or dinner any small stand either surrounding the Mercado or inside, they all have the same menu and relatively the same prices and food portions. The street food vendors are spread around pockets in town but tend to congregate on the main road that runs between Iguanas and the Black Whale, but typically you won’t see them until 6pm or later. (Price Range $1.60 - $4)
Since the last 7-days were a non-stop schedule of a jam-packed itinerary, where almost every second of the day and night was planned, not to mention the emotional roller coaster of meeting my birth mother for the first time, I’ve decided to utilize the next few days in an attempt of catching up on all of the missed sleep I’ve missed out on, however, sleep still continues to elude me like finding hot girls at a Star Trek convention. Since I find that my sleeping pattern is all over the board, I use this time to catch up on writing about all of my experiences while the memories are still fresh. I’m also pleasantly surprised that Crystal has moved me into the twins’ old room, Danielle and Kaitlynn from New York, since they left early Monday morning to fly back to the States. I can’t rave enough about Mugunghwa guesthouse. Everything from how spotlessly clean every area of the house is, having a spacious kitchen with all of the luxuries of home (that again is unbelievably clean for a hostel kitchen), an abundance of communal food items, and now that the ESWS Home to Home Program has officially ended, being given a private room to myself.
The conversation begins a bit slow as I still only know a handful of phrases in Korean, and my counterpart’s English, while still light years beyond mine, is often a bit difficult to understand at times. When there is a pause in the conversation as we stare at one another searching for the appropriate elementary word to use, thank God for smartphones with translation apps, as we use this more than a dozen times. I am reminded how much easier Latin America is to travel, since you at least have a common alphabet to use when communicating as well as an enormous region that shares the same language, but we still manage. Knowing that she will read this, I hope she has a good sense of humor, because I still love hearing her accent, along with Miss Swan, when they pronounce words such as; rike, and rearry. I know that Steph, from the group of adoptees, and I had great fun in asking questions in order to receive answers for toilet–awe you mean ravatory. I can only imagine what things they find hilarious (or should I say hirarious) that Westerners learning Korean or another Asian language laugh about in our failed pronunciation attempts. I learn a lot about Nam as she is still in University, but has plans to travel when she graduates and of course after hearing what I’ve been up to for the past 20 months she is enthralled in my stories and photos, but I enjoy hearing more about Korea personally, so it’s a great back and forth, but before we know it the time has flown by and it is almost 6pm and Nam still has a 90-minute commute home by both subway and bus. Before we part ways, I invite her to join my mother and I this weekend if she will be in the city and she tells me that she will message me later in the week once she knows her schedule. Since I feel a bit bad for making her travel the long distance, at least according to travel time, I pay for the two of us, since my commute is walking a short distance and taking a single bus only about 10-minutes in total.