December 24 and 25, 2013
San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua
Buena Onda Backpackers
Today started with a $2 breakfast, honestly everyday starts with a $2 breakfast of fresh fruit and a pancake with coffee. After sampling only three of the six breakfast places we’ve decided on our favourite, Comedor Angelita, the very first place we tried and happily, the owner knows us now. After breakfast we wandered the downtown core for a while, stuck on what to do on Christmas Eve. Thinking about it, back home we would probably be finishing up purchasing last minute gifts, wrapping them up and packing the car for the ride home. There would be discussions about where to spend the night, making a schedule for all the people we had to visit and choreographing meals so they wouldn’t overlap too much. Instead, for the second year in a row, we chose to remove ourselves from the holiday equation. Not because we don’t love Christmas or our families (we do!), but because we don’t like what this season has become. There’s just too much of it, from November 1st until Boxing Day, there’s constant pressure to buy the right gifts, attend all the parties, send all the Christmas cards and still enjoy yourself too. I know plenty of people who love this time of year and all the social engagements/expectations that come with it, but I am not one of them. And there’s nothing wrong with that.
Sitting on a beach Christmas Eve, any beach in the world, is something I recommend everyone do at least once in their life. Sure, it might piss off family and friends who want to see you, but with your toes in the sand and a remarkable feeling of calm that you can only get when you’ve unplugged for several consecutive days, you’ll begin to see things a bit differently. It is absolutely lovely to be away from the hustle and the bustle of the holiday season and we spent most of the afternoon realizing just how lucky we are.
In the evening we came across a parade of students with the requisite Joseph, pregnant Mary and angel, complete with lots of townfolk and a six piece band. There was singing and music, a couple frantic teachers running around, trying to get the boys to stop screwing around and the girls to sing louder. They even had a police escort for crossing the streets, though SJDS is a small town there aren’t a lot of stop signs. I’m not sure what happened after they made it inside the church, probably more singing and dancing with parents crowding each other for pictures.
Just after midnight we were woken up with what sounded like gunshots, but was actually just fireworks, tons and tons, and tons and tons (!!!) of fireworks, going off randomly all over town. Hello baby Jesus! After ten minutes or so I think everyone ran out and it quieted down until 6am when the carols started from a loudspeaker. Familiar tunes but in Spanish (of course) played for hours, on loop, until some decent soul switched them off. Feliz Navidad, whether you wanted to wake up or not.
Another day was spent lounging around and consciously trying to stay out of the sun. I’ve finished two books so far, Fooling Houdini by Alex Stone and Paddle Your Own Canoe by Nick Offerman. Both of them really great books, slightly biographical, about finding your passion and pursuing it wholeheartedly. An idea I can always get behind.
For dinner tonight we wanted to do something a bit more special than fish tacos, though by god those fish tacos are good. On our walk into and out of town every day we pass by a small restaurant called El Colibri or The Hummingbird. There’s something very special about this restaurant in the garden with its brightly painted walls and Hindu art that serves mostly Mediterranean cuisine. It’s always packed and so we thought we would give it a try.
We made reservations, a smart move on our part as people were turned away at the door, but the waiter warned us that there would be a sizeable wait for our food, considering every table in the place was full. From the time we ordered to the time our food arrived was about 90 minutes. I ordered vegetable curry and Jeff ordered falafel with Greek salad. Maybe we were doomed having such high hopes but the curry was really salted and though the falafel looked like falafel, it definitely didnt taste like falafel. El Colibri gets major points for decor and ambiance but the food we waited so long for was disappointing. I’d probably give it another try though, maybe it was just too busy because of the holiday.