After the laid back life on the Island on Ometepe, we wanted to head to the coast and get some beach time. A friend had told us about a place called Playa Gigante on the coast that had some good surfing, something we were also excited to try out. We took the ferry back across Lake Nicaragua and were blessed with a remarkable sunset as our farewell.
We had a cab arranged to take us to Gigante for about $5 each, and it was about an hour ride in. Night had fallen and we were all pretty tired from our big last day on the island and looking forward to arriving at this little beachy getaway. Our friend Rueben had warned us that the place wasn’t exactly all that clean, but it had a view that was unbeatable. The hostel was called Monkey House and was perched atop the cliffside overlooking the ocean. Rueben definitely wasn’t lying about the view! The hostel was tiny and our room had two sets of bunk beds crammed in so tightly, there was only about 2 feet of space between them. We joked about our spacious living quarters for the next four days and made the best of it- it was cozy to say the least! The kitchen was smaller than our bedroom and consisted of a crammed sink, and overfilled fridge, and a coleman stove barely hanging on the wall. And the bathroom? Ah, that was the coupe de grace! It was a tiny little shack attached to the side of the kitchen with a toilet. No door. The sink was just attached to the side of the building. It was nice to look in the mirror however and see the huge expanse of ocean behind you. And I mean really, can you beat that view for your morning poo?! The shower was again just attached to the outside of the building and had a shower curtain that was not quite chest high and falling down. I shared my daily rise off’s with cockroaches the size of small mice.
After settling in and checking out our surroundings we headed to the restaurant next door which offered traditional Nicaraguan food- I ordered the fish and it was exquisite! Whenever I find myself next to the ocean I make a point to eat as much seafood as I can, and this place did not disappoint! After dinner we took to the hammocks to read our books and relax; we had a big day of surfing in the morning! I’ve never tried surfing before, nor had Richard, but Kajsa and Sarah had been a few times so instead of paying for lessons, we just rented boards and let them teach us all they knew!
We took to the waves bright and early after a nice breakfast of banana pancakes. The water was a little cooler than it was in Costa Rica, but we welcomed the brisk water. We all paddled out after a brief lesson on the beach and decided the best tactic would be to just dig right in! We spent several hours out there, chasing waves, face planting, inhaling salty ocean water up our noses, and crying out in victory as we finally caught that one small wave and stood up on our boards! I was exhausted, battered, sore and completely elated. I’d never been on a surf board, but I knew this was the start of a long love affair; I was hooked!
Each day we would head down to the internet cafe since our hostel didn’t have wifi, and connect with friends and family – but to be honest, I think the real reason we went there was the cookies and smoothies, not the internet!
While our hostel was nothing to write home about, Playa Gigante was a special spot. When we weren’t down on the waves, we were enjoying our little slice of paradise on the cliff: listening to the waves crashing just below us, practicing our headstands, swinging in huge hammocks, reading our books, playing with the puppies, playing ‘would you rather’ (hosted by the endlessly creative Richard), and making delicious home cooked meals together.
Sometimes you might find yourself in a dump of a place, but if you’re with the right people and the view looks like this, your accommodations seem like the most insignificant thing in the world. Travel, after all, isn’t always about the destination, it’s about the people, and I was lucky enough to find myself in the company of some of the best 🙂