The long winter hit us hard this year, and we needed our warm weather fix. A phone call from our good friend Matt (more on him later) really sparked the idea of heading south to Nicaragua. With Matt being so familiar with the area, we invited him and two other friends, Anna and Paul, to join. So we snagged some tickets, gathered the rods and boards, and threw a few of our new spring product into a bag. With a loose plan and light bags two Free Fly owners, one new guy, and three of our friends hopped on a 5am flight headed south... Read on to see how it went!
Less planning, more exploring
We welcomed the early morning chill knowing this cold tar mac in South Carolina would soon be replaced by warm sand. Two flights, three crying babies, and many bloody marys later, we touched down in Managua, Nicaragua. After bumping along dirt roads for hours, we arrived at our home base on Playa Santana.
When life gives you wind, make rum and coke
Naturally, as soon as we arrived, so did the wind. Although the wind blows offshore almost all year round, this was no light Nicaraguan breeze. Gusts exceeding 20mph came through every few minutes keeping all the fisherman, including us, tied to the beach. So we pivoted our plans and explored the Nicaraguan hills. We traveled the dirt roads until we found a cliff face looking out over the vast, teal Pacific. We noticed a narrow trail cut into the side of the cliffs and followed it down to a sheltered surf break. Just to be safe, a few bottles of rum accompanied us to the rocky beach.
What are the odds?
With the wind keeping us on land, we decided to check out the town of San Juan Del Sur. The last thing we expected was to run into a College of Charleston grad. Corrine is an East Coast girl, who moved her life down to Nicaragua after graduating. She combined her passion for surfing and healthy food into Ding Repair Cafe, which she co owns and operates. Her love for good, healthy food is evident in every aspect of the business. We were all too happy to take a load off in the well decorated cafe, and indulge a refreshing acai bowl. Corrine became our unofficial tour guide through San Juan Del Sur, and gave us the local rundown.
After spending the day in town, we headed back toward Playa Santana. We pulled over at a beachside taco hut, and sat down to more rum, tacos, and chips and salsa. The salsa was dwindling as we piled it high on our chips and plates. However, we were all hesitant about the thick, black pepper that remained in the center of the bowl. Eventually, Paul plucked the pepper out by the stem and checked it out. The unidentified, salsa covered mass dangled from Pauls fingers as he inspected it closely. He was debating internally on testing its kick when he paused. The last bit of salsa had dripped away revealing what had been swimming in our bowl. The long, thin pepper stem turned into an antenna connected to a dead cockroach.
Oscar braves the ocean
This trip would have been a disaster without our guide and translator Oscar. He wore a constant smile and always greeted us warmly as he drank his morning coffee from a small plastic bag. Today however, Oscar was nervous. The wind had finally died down enough to get off the beach and we had convinced a few locals to take us out. The problem was they spoke zero english and our middle school Spanish vocabulary would not suffice. We needed Oscar, but he had never been on a boat, and never learned to swim. His growing nervousness was obvious as we neared the village. Upon arrival, he elected to stay ashore. We respected and understood his decision and began franticly trying to recall key words and phrases. It wasn't until we were close to pushing off we noticed a mass of the local fishermen surrounding Oscar and buckling him into a neon orange lifejacket. He walked down to us proudly with the buckles on his life jacket mismatched and announced he would be joining us. We were stoked! Oscar had never seen the beauty of his home from the water. The cliff scattered shoreline lit up in the early morning light and overwhelmed him. The smile never left his face as he took selfie after selfie.
When it all comes together
We were pumped to get this short window of good weather to get Oscar on the water. This was our final day, and last chance to make some casts. As we turned out of the small cove we had launched from, the rising sun exploded above the protruding cliffs. We settled in with a sigh of relief as the familiar hum of the outboard relaxed us. Although our week was controlled by the elements, we could not have asked for a better location to put the new gear to the test.