Getting out of San Juan del Sur

Cynthia is up soon and hanging out with the hostel crew, drinking a big vat of mojitos that Cooper has cooked up with Chelo. Instead of the Flor de Cana, they use some cheap local rum that costs $1.80 a bottle.

I relax and catch up on writing until 9 or so, where upon Cyn and I head to the ATM so I can get some cash. I literally have 0 cordobas.

We hit two ATMs that only take Visa cards before we finally get to one that functions with Mastercard along the beach strip, across the street from El Timon where we had dinner. I make a note to myself about Visa’s superiority.

I get $140 US, and head to the grocery store to pick up some Doritos and Coca cola. When we return to the hostel, I reach into my back pocket to put my card back into my wallet belt when I realize the back butt button on my pants is open and my card is gone.

Shit, I think. I can’t believe someone stole it. How did this happen?

Cyn is outside smoking with Nina and Florine and is startled when I start cursing into my bag.

Are you sure you took it out of the machine? She asks.

Of course! I say. I can’t believe someone stole my card.

I didn’t see anyone even get close enough to you to take it, she said. Are you positive?

Yes, I say. And then I begin to have mental doubts.

Cyn and I retrace our steps from the ATM to the grocery store. At the ATM, we see another fellow inside the room,.

Crap, I think to myself, and when he exits and we ask him if he’s seen my card, his answer is just as expected: No.

But this, a British fellow, seems awfully honest and endearing. He even pulls out his wallet, offering to show us his debit card to prove he doesn’t have mine.

That’s ok, I say. It’s not necessary.

“This happened to me in Costa Rica,” he said. “Because in the UK, you take your card first before your money and I left my card in the machine. I think it just eats it afterwards. There was nothing here when I got here, but maybe you can call the number and they can open it up.”

We thank him for his help, but it is no use. We are leaving tonight at 2 a.m.

Listelessly and angry at only myself, we saunter back to the hostel..

The night drags on as I call Citibank and talk to India. His only suggestion is that I should make my way to a Citi branch as soon as possible so that I can obtain a new card.

I’m looking at your site now, sir, I say, and I can see for a FACT that you do not have branches in any of the countries that I am going to be in.

Well, ma’am, he says. If you were to go to Mexico, we have a branch in…

No, I won’t be able to get to Mexico this trip. I would love to hear your recommendations on the best way to handle this problem.

Well ma’am.. The best way is to go to a Citibank station and speak..

Yes, but I believe I’ve already made it clear that that is impossible. I cannot get to an.

Well ma’am, if you could get to a Citibank branch, we can issue you the new card if you have a passport.

Or, I say… I’ve already let you know that there isn’t a single branch in any of these countries.

But in the end, I still lose, because the supervisor I talk to tells me that the best they can do is ship it to me overnight.. But with the holiday season, I likely won’t get my card until January 4. And I don’t even know where in Belize I’ll be in on January 4. I thank him reluctantly, feeling a bit naked.

We hang out at the hostel for a few more hours, trying to decide whether we’re going to go out, hanging out with Nina, Florine and Daniel.

At 11:30, the lights completely turn off. Black out. Terrified of the dark, I am screaming. Apparently, people are partying so hard that it short circuits the electricity. When it is back up 15 minutes later, I am eager to see what the excitement is about.

Cyn and I head out to the strip around midnight. We pass a group of children on the walk down from the hostel playing with a Santa Clause pinata. They are screaming, whacking the figurine with a gigantic stick. I cannot believe they’re all out and hanging out so late. In the distance, we can still the sound of firecrackers exploding.

People in the street are rowdy, half the gringos donning Santa hats. We go to the Pier first and see some of the guys we’d been boating with earlier. The bar is packed and the music is blasting. On the beach, a few locals are doing fire dances, twirling a stick torched on both sides with fire.

We have a drink with some of our amigos and then another.

“My friends are going to the Iguana,” Cyn tells me, so with an extra beer in hand, I decide to head out with her, finishing the beer along the way.

The Iguana is pumping and we weed through the crowds to get up there. People are everywhere, dancing like crazy. Girls in short skirts dance on chairs in the bar. I am in heaven.

Cynthia leaves me somewhere and find Daniel. While I try to order a beer, the bar turns completely dark. Another blackout.

Are you joking?!! I say to Cynthia, who eventually manages to surface by my side offering me a beer. I can’t believe this shit.

I expect people to start heading out, but instead, they stay, continuing to order drinks although the bartenders are no longer serving drinks.

Can I have a beer? I yell over the crowd.

We’re not serving, the bartnder says back to me, shining a flashlight with the image of a naked woman onto my wrist.

Son of a bitch, I think to myself… and then Cynthia, my angel, offers me a sip of her drink.

Within twenty minutes, the lights are back up again. The crowd screams and I fist pump, ecstatic that the party will continue. I order another Tona and we dance like assholes.

I lose Cynthia for some time and when I see her again, she is grinding against a local. Oh God , I think to myself, and head to the bathroom When I come out, it is 1:45 and we have Martin, our cabbie friend, coming at 2.

Cynthia and I reluctantly leave the excellent party, surprised to find that at the door, they have locked everything and are no longer letting people in. Chelo and Daniel stick their fingers through the barred door, trying to explain their ways in. The bouncer is unrelenting.

As we start walking down the strip, it becomes painfully clear that there is another blackout. There are no light illuminating from other buildings, and the only light illuminating into the streets are from the cars that drive by every now and then. We can’t believe that it’s dark again!

All of a sudden, looking up at the sky, we see stars. Brilliant, bright, covering the sky like a sequined blanket. They were never there before and we can’t believe that in a country with such few lights, the effect of so few from a small town would be so bright.

When we feel our way slowly back to the hotel, it is 2 minutes to 2 and there is a light in the front of the hostel I squint a little closer and I realize that it is Martin. I can’t believe he is actually here.

We run back in the hostel and it is pitch fucking black. No other way to put it. We stumble around our things, trying to find where are stuff is stashed. I sit on my suitcase firmly, zipping and locking it.

As I walk to the front of the hostel, I remain a bit apprehensive as Martin stands behind the hostel door. The security guard refuses to let him in and for a brief moment I feel sketched out. Then I buy two Victorias, feel my way back to the bench in the common area where I have stashed a bottle of Flor de Cana, and head back to exit out the doors.

This is my brother, Martin says as Cynthia and I exit the hostel. Again, for a brief moment, I think that he AND his brother are planning to drive Cyn and I to the middle of the jungle and screw us.

What do you have, he asks, as I sit down into the front seat. A Tona, I say, Do you mind if I drink in here?

Cynthia is apprehensive that we fall asleep in the cab because despite that we kiiiiiind of know Marin, you never know. She thinks it would be good that at least one of us stay up during the ride up. Up until she had three beers, we had always assumed it would be her.

So in the effort to stay awake, I take my beers and drink in the front seat while she passes out within the first five minutes. I take a picture.

zonked out
zonked out

We stop at three gas stations before Martin finally stops to get out and get something from inside. I have no idea what he is doing and while I semi-trust Martin, I don’t really. Until he comes back with two Coca-colas for him and his brother… and a Tona for me.

While we hit a police checkpoint–not knowing the rules in Nica– I quickly tuck the beer I am drinking in the front seat along my foot. The police force Martin to exit and show his information. I think that just mayyybe, I have to bribe him for 10 dolares. Not so, it seemed. We went on our way.

While Cynthia snores, I jam to reggae tone until 3:15, when I become painfully aware that I cannot make it another minute. My eyes are more closed than open.

Thankfully, Cyn is awake and she chills with them until we arrive at Managua aiport. Cynthia is tapping me hard.

Aeropuerto! Airport! She keeps yelling and I am so confused. What the hell is she talking about. She looks at me helplessly. Tell them we’re not supposed to be at the airport, she yells.

I take a look up and prepare to exit the door when I realize that Martin has taken us to the airport.

NO! NO! I say. Necesto ir al escation de Ticabus.

Ayyye, Ticabus, martin groans. It is all the way on the other side of town!

But he takes us noentheless and within 20 minutes, at 4:30 (we were supposed to be there by 4:15), we are there, unloading our things. We pay him $70 for his excellent servies and say good bye. A local boy grabs our bags before we can realize and takes him to the door.

He looks at us, expectant for cash.

Ugh. I am pissed that this little asshole..unsolicited.. dragged my luggage 10 feet (literally) and wants a tip. I hand him 10 cordobas.

Mas? He says.

I walk on, even more pissed. Get away from me, you little shit can, I think.

We go up to the main desk and show our documents. With a short verification, we have our tickets and we are ready to go.

I order an empanada, and by the time we are finished, we are already the last to load the bus for Tegus. On a bus that can fit 80 perhaps, there are only 15 or so of us.


The bus is freezing cold and I am suddenly aware that my Lonely Planet has warned me about this.

Do you think we can run down and grab our sweatpants and things from underneath? I ask Cyn. Maybe, she says.. And I jump up to grab stuff. No way I’m freezing my ass off for 8 hours.

One Thought to “Getting out of San Juan del Sur”

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