It was hard to leave charming and colonial Granada. After playing like children on an uninhabited island, being amazed on our walk in the cloud rain forest and screaming through an invigorating zip line across the top of the Nicaraguan jungle, it was hard to imagine that anything could beat those experiences.
But we had this idea that we should check out off-the-beaten-path San Juan del Sur, where Playa Gigante was known as the most beautiful beach in Nicaragua. The not-so-friendly taxi driver said it would only be about $10 to get to the Bahia Majagual Eco-Lodge, which was billed as a quiet hotel with a restaurant just above the beach.
Bad idea. Very bad idea. We started to get a little suspicious when we were driving a lot further than the 40 minutes we expected, and the road got more brutal by the minute – rougher and rougher, narrower and narrower.
Fidgeting and anxious, exchanging nervous glances, we had little choice but to endure and hope we arrived soon, and that we were not being kidnapped. In the end we were driving on nothing more than trails across bush and sand.
Finally we arrived at what looked more like a backpacker’s camp than anything else, with a lot of guys in dirty torn t-shirts and headscarves. They didn’t even look happy.
The taxi driver suddenly wanted $50! We were pissed, but didn’t argue – he was a big guy.
Thick white sand filled the entire area of rough-hewn cabins in a semi-circle overlooking the beach below. Your feet sunk into the fine white sand as you walked. Cabins didn’t look so great, but there was a beautiful view of the bay.
After some time locating an owner, who seemed to care less whether we were there or not, we dragged our suitcases into a tiny primitive cabin. Basically a dump, and very hot, with little sand crabs. Disappointing, to say the least. It was getting dark – now to get something to eat and drink.
We asked if there was a cook.
“NO, no cook.”
We asked if there was somewhere to buy food?
“NO, no food.”
“NO, no grocer – why you want a cook if you have no food?”
Ha, ha, ha. A restaurant? Anything?
A drink machine???
To our horror, there was no restaurant, nowhere to buy any type of food or drink whatsoever, and no water source! Either we were obviously not even at the right lodge, or my research source was totally inaccurate.
Sullen and angry, we ate the last of our peanuts, and went to bed hungry.
The next morning, we asked if anyone would give us a little food. NO. We asked if we could buy some food from them. NO. Food was scarce and precious.
We tried politely to ask if someone would share a pot of coffee, and finally got a cup of coffee, after which we both fell ill for several hours. Great.
The guys, who were there solely to surf, got friendlier and told us we could order food from the food truck that comes once a week from a village miles away, on Tuesdays, but it hadn’t been there for a while. Great.
Some of the beach bums had been there for months because surfing was great and it was a cheap place to stay at $24 a night. We guessed a monthly rate would be much less. Food was not a big concern for them.
We should have known. The Pacific coast is known for big waves and surfing, not for the calm turquoise waters we liked.
The owner finally sold us some water.
Then we asked to use a phone. No phone! It took a lot of questions and insistence to even find a phone, then even more to use the phone to arrange a ride out of there the next morning.
In the meantime, though it was already late afternoon, we tried to enjoy the pretty beach…
The beach was tucked under a towering rock formation called Pie de Gigante (Giant’s Foot)…
Watching the sun go down in a place of beauty below, but dismay above…
P.S. To this day, I cannot find any information about exactly where we were, and I believe the taxi driver, who likely did not understand our weak Spanish, took us to a different place altogether, though still on the same beach.