Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Waves and Rocks

My wife recently took a week off in one of our favorite Central American destinations. No, not Costa Rica, but the Pacific Coast beach town of San Juan Del Sur, and one of the nicest hotels we've stayed in:
Piedras Y Olas means Rocks and Waves and is the brainchild of a friend of ours who sailed to Nicaragua decades ago and never got around to leaving. It's been a long struggles but Chris has created a world class hotel on the slopes above the little town of San Juan, using his hotel to improve the lives of locals and give visitors a world class destination resort:The hotel is built of local materials in the local style, a cascade of paths and vegetation between the rooms, the pools and the two restaurants on the property:

Chris keeps an assortment of refugee animals on his hotel grounds, local residents abandoned or ill treated who find refuge at Piedras Y Olas, including a pelican who I am told helps in the raising of kittens born on the property. Apparently the pelican keeps an eye on them and if they wander he scoops them up in his bill and returns the kittens to their mother:
Monkeys are frequently to be found abused and abandoned, often suffering severe personality defects as a result of their treatment by humans:
You get extraordinary views from the three infinity pools scattered around the grounds of the hotel, whose website is The pools also offer ringside seats for the sunsets, as famous in San Juan as they are in Key West:
Part of the hotels raison d'etre is to provide a place for locals to train and learn how to work in first world hospitality industries. The American chef teaches Nicas how to cook gringo style using local ingredients:
All served under the Ramadas:
Development has come to San Juan, not only in the variety of businesses around town but also at the government docks that used to be pretty much moribund but nowadays see recreational boats lined up for maintenance:In the hills above the waterfront sits the Pelican Eyes resort, Piedras Y Olas, hidden in the foliage while on the beach there sits a multi story monstrosity that prosperity has brought to the town. San Juan's first high rise bang on the beach:
Hotel guests can opt for a day long excursion on the hotel sailboat, the 43-footer that Chris sailed down from California and that he has used to offer Nicaragua's only sailboat excursions ever since. The sailboat lives at anchor in the harbor and guests board via a trip from the docks on a motorboat.The sailboat is again met by the lancha, at the destination beach down the coast. The crew on the motorboat has previously landed the fixings for a beach side picnic and then takes the guests safely to the beach through the swells, from the anchored sailboat:Classic Pacific Coast shoreline in the tropics, abundant vegetation, granite rocks and long sandy beaches washes by tall tides and strong waves:
To gringo eyes I think it takes a certain amount of bravery to contemplate spending the best part of a day braving the swells of the Pacific Ocean in a wooden fishing boat with an uncertain outboard for company:
A view of San Juan Del Sur in the approaches. Beyond the last hill, twelve miles from the town lies the shore of Lake Nicaragua, a huge body of fresh water that generates powerful down drafts of wind along this section of Pacific Coastline:The ride back from the beach is usually less windy than the ride out but sailors will notice the double reefed main and scrap of head sail only, which is the remnant from the wild ride out to the beach:
And so, back to the anchorage, a final ride in the lancha to the docks and a short cab ride back to the hotel for a drink and dinner and a sunset view:
My wife admitted I was right, it was the restful week long vacation she needed and the boat ride was the highlight as always of a vacation spent in San Juan Del Sur.