After our tour through the Mangroves we arrived in Jiquilillo. The sun had just set and it was a 10 minute walk to Rancho Tranquilo where we would be staying. We walk down a dirt pathway lined with palm trees through a covered eating area to the back where there have a covered bar area where we are greeted by a sweet hippyish lady named Tina. We introduce ourselves, she shows the big group to their dorm room, then shows the San Fran couple to their private room and finally us to our room. They were out of private rooms but offered us a volunteer room which had 2 beds and was right beside the eating area. Tina warns us that we have a sand floor and says she hopes that is okay but she can move us to a private room tomorrow when people leave. We like the room we have, it’s cheaper than a private room and the sand floor is pretty cool. We tell her this will do just fine.
We meet up with the rest of the group at the bar and it’s game on. Tina has an interesting system where she writes your name on a piece of paper and ticks off how many beer you have. It is very inefficient and slow when you have a group of 17 walk in so I offer her a hand and jump behind the bar to get the drinks flowing a bit faster. It probably didn’t help that the younger Americans were ordering pina coladas and margaritas.
We look at the dinner menu and see that it is all Vegetarian here. Vegetarian is fine with me except that I really like meat. We have pasta and tostones for dinner which was actually really good.
Kristi and I are cheap so we stuck to $1.50 beers. Next thing we knew we were all headed into the cabin because the group bought a 2L bottle of Flor de Cana for one of the guys birthdays. We passed the bottle around and some of the girls had juice to chase… pfft chase… I don’t need chase! This rum is so smooth and sweet on its own there’s really no reason to drink it with anything other than ice. I enjoy how the Americans call it a “bottle pull” which to me sounds like a lot of syllables for “swig”. Swig sound more like a pirate term and is way more badass than a bottle pull, IMO.
We grab more beers at the bar, the birthday boy grabs another shot of rum, looks at one of the girls and says, “What can I say? I’m a tank” and goes on his way to the beach where we hung out and star gazed until it was bedtime.
It was a shame to think this awesome group was leaving the following morning but it is probably a fortunate thing for my budget as I won’t drink much without them.
We woke up around 7am on the 4th as everyone was up in the breakfast area and the walls are paper thin. The NY group was up at 5am to go surfing and trying to get as much out of the trip as they could in their final 24 hours in Nica. They were heading back to Leon with the Guide. We had breakfast together, said our goodbyes and they caught the 9:30am bus out.
Kristi and I give our laundry to one of Tina’s helpers and decide to go down to Monty’s and find Comedor Pacifico which was recommended to us by our guide from the mangrove tour. We head into Monty’s and ask if Gerry is in as we want to go fishing with him tomorrow morning. He’s not in and we’re told to try back after lunch. We find Comedor Pacifico but it’s still early so we continue to walk along the beach. We stop back at Monty’s and find out it’s not even 11am yet. We grab a drink, hang out in the hammock before heading back to Tranquilo. Finally around 1:30pm we get hungry enough to go for lunch. We order the fish which is red snapper. The service is slow as it is almost everywhere in Nicaragua and we joke about them going out to catch the fish while we wait. It doesn’t matter, we’re sitting on a deck overlooking the beach as the tide slowly comes back in. Life is good. When the food arrives, it is delicious. Our meal was about $11 combined and we left full and happy. Also a lady came by while we were eating and was selling coconut bread. We bought 2 buns off her to enjoy with our meal for 10 cords each. It was amazing! We go by Monty’s again but Gerry still isn’t there so we get his number to call him and arrange the trip.
Back at Tina’s she asks if we are going to want dinner. Unfortunately, dinner is ordered at 4:30pm and served at 6:30pm because her cook can’t be there all the time as she has another job and family to look after. We just ate a late lunch but nothing is open late in Jiquilillo so we decide we should order dinner anyways even though we may not be hungry.
We both ordered the chow mein. I thought mine was great but Kristi felt her’s had too much ginger. We hung out and played crib for a bit at the bar area before going to bed fairly early as we needed to be up by 6:15am for our fishing trip the following morning.
As we wait for Gerry to pick us up on the road, there’s a bunch of piglets running around which kept Kristi entertained. Gerry arrives, we have a short drive to the boat, load up and are on our way. I warn Gerry this is my first time really fishing but the good thing is I don’t have any bad habits yet. I don’t have any good habits either though.
We head out about 15km and let the lines out. About 90 mins after we left I get my first bite. Pull in a decent yellow fin tuna. Gerry is very excited and says that it’s one of the best tasting fish we can catch. 5 minutes after we drop our lines back in, I catch another fish. Kind of tired from the one I just reeled in because I still didn’t have the proper technique, I passed it on to Kristi to fight. As she brought it in, it was a big Baracuda. Judging by the pictures, I’d say about 4.5 feet but I’ll post the pic and let you decide. Kristi is 5’4″ when you use her height as reference.
Time goes by and Kristi catches another yellow fin tuna. As we reel in our lines and head over to our next spot we come across 2 humpback whales. We follow them for about 10 minutes in awe. They are so cool to see up close. We got a bit of footage on our GoPro but it’s not really a camera designed for any kind of long distance shot. Still it’s pretty cool.
We go back to fishing and I reel in a small black fin tuna. Then Kristi pulled in a small spanish makeral before I catch something. Gerry gets excited and asks for my line. He says it’s big and doesn’t want to lose it. He gets it out of the ground and hands me back the reel to fight it. He suspects it is a big red snapper. I think about how delicious the little red snapper I had yesterday was and get excited to fight this thing. I pull it up with way too much ease… It’s another spanish makeral and not very big. I just had him hooked by the tail. We troll around for another hour or so without any luck. Gerry says it’s because the wind picked up which causes the fish to swim down. Either way we have like 70lbs of fish that I am excited to eat.
We didn’t have breakfast because they don’t serve food until 7:30am at Tina’s so other than a few cookies on the boat, we haven’t eaten. We get back to Monty’s, take some pics of the fish and Gerry buys us lunch. I’m not sure what kind of fish he said it was but it was tempura battered and tasted amazing. We ate that up and then were brought a plate of yellow fin tuna sashimi. Maybe 4 hours out of the water, it is about as fresh as it gets. We don’t think we can have our fish cooked at Tina’s because she is a vegetarian so we ask Gerry if we can return for dinner. He say’s “of course” and to come back after dark and we will feast on fried barracuda steaks. Before we leave, the lady who was selling coconut bread yesterday came by but selling something different and that she was making coconut bread for the afternoon. We told her where we were staying and she said she would be by later. We raced back to Rancho Tranquilo to wait for the fresh and delicious bread with plans on buying extra for the next day as we are leaving Jiquilillo early in the morning. She never showed up and Kristi looked very sad.
For dinner, we had another couple join us with their daughter on the walk down to Monty’s. They heard about our fishing trip and were enthusiastic to try baracuda. They definitely made a good decision coming with us as the fish was amazing. After dinner, we stuck around and chatted for a couple hours before walking back to Tranquilo. By this time the tide had come in and we only had about 10 feet of dry beach to work with though none of us had a watch or phone with us to see what time it actually was.
Back at Tranquilo we talked a bit more, exchanged emails, took a couple pictures and said good night. Kristi and I are leaving in the morning probably around 9:30am when the bus comes by so we will have time to eat breakfast, pack and settle our tab before we go back to Leon then make our way back North to Somoto Canyon. It seems silly to me that they do not offer Busses from Chinandega to Esteli but we have to swing by Quetzaltrekkers quickly anyways so it works out.
Jiquilillo is an awesome little town if you’re here for a short time. I don’t know if I could spend a long time here as there are no paved roads, the locals don’t come off as friendly as they were in Leon and there is limited internet access. If you want a good wifi signal here, you can get one for $430/month… That is insane. There are no ATMs in Jiquilillo so most people leave because they run out of cash. However, Gerry is building a hotel/hostel here so Kristi and I may be back to volunteer behind his bar and hopefully stay for even less.
Sorry if there are a lot of spelling mistakes in these. I click on the spell check but it picks up on anything in Spanish as an error and when I click on words it seems to lay “loading” then comes up with an error message and I’m just way too lazy to proofread my work