Nothing exciting happened in Juigalpa and there is not much to do here but this is a beautiful place and I recommend stopping and spending at least one day here. We attempted to walk from the bus stop to our hotel after spending 11 hours on the bus but our legs were cramped up and it was all uphill to get there. We made it about half way before hailing a taxi and taking the 24 cord ride up to Parque Palo Solo. We stayed at a little place called Hotel Casa Country across the street from Paque Palo Solo. A nice place with a modest room, cable tv, wifi and air conditioning. We wanted a room without a/c in attempt to save a couple extra bucks but none were available. Our room was 400 cord for 1 night which works out to about $16.35USD. We have budgeted for $30/night but feel we want to save so we can have extra money for activities. We walk out of our room into a small open courtyard that could really use a table to sit at. The wifi doesn’t work in the room but there is a nice patio upstairs that is private, allows us to look into the street and gives full bars on the wifi.
We ate dinner at Restaurante Palo Solo which was a little bit more expensive than our normal dinner spots but the servings were large, the service was good and the food was delicious. One of the best meals I’ve had. The restaurant also overlooks the park and would be a great lunch spot. The park itself is up a staircase and overlooks a valley with rolling hills and is a popular spot for the locals to kanoodle as the sun sets.
5 blocks west of where we stayed is Parque Central where they have a statue of a shoe shine boy and a gazebo full of guys getting their cowboy boots shined. There are lots of places to eat in the area and banks if you need to take out cash. Surrounding the park is lots of stands with people selling random items. There are benches with art all around them and the park is very colorful and inviting. We ate dinner our second night just up the street from this park. It wasn’t anything to get excited about after eating at Palo Solo the night before which was amazing.
We followed the poorly labled signs to Hotel Las Mediras because we heard they have a spa with massages for $25/hour. It’s uphill then you walk up another hill then one more hill before going uphill to the entrance. The view from up top is beautiful and you can see immediately why this is the most expensive place in town to stay. We asked the employee if we could book massages for the following day, he said one minute and walked away. We felt after all the bumpy roads and crappy busses we’ve taken, a massage was well deserved. When he came back, he told us the spa was for people staying at the hotel only. We asked if they were busy and the guy said no but the spa still isn’t open to general public. Good business plan… We asked how much it would cost for us to spend the night and were told the cheapest room is $50/night. Pfft. No thanks. He did say that eventually they plan to open a restaurant to the general public and that they will likely do the same with the spa then. I still don’t really understand why you would turn away business and money. I understand prioritizing your guests first but it seems like a poor business plan to completely turn away service when your staff isn’t doing anything.
We also saw a guy passed out on the sidewalk on our walk back to Parque Palo Solo after dinner on our 2nd night (around 5:30pm). Kristi asked me, “Drunk or Tired?” I instantly noticed the empty bottle of Aguardiente beside him and we laughed. We joked about robbing him and taking his nice cowboy hat and boots and how he would explain that to his friends.
“These gringos woke me up and stole my hat and boots.”
“Yeah right you drunk, there are no gringos in Juigalpa”
“But they did”
“Your breath smells of cheap rum and bad decisions. Go back to sleep”
Maybe I thought too much about this, I just think it would be a funny scenario. I have a sick mind. It would either work great because nobody would believe him or it would completely backfire as we literally haven’t seen any other white people or travellers since we arrived here and we kind of stand out.
Anyways, Juigalpa! Great place to visit for a short period of time. We were told busses run regularily to San Carlos and it’s only about a 4 hour bus ride which is pretty uplifting. Hopefully it’s true. I was also told there is also a nice place for swimming 4km up the highway towards Managua but we didn’t check it out. It was a day to be lazy and cheap. We have what will likely be a long day of travel tomorrow but hopefully we will get lucky and we will end up in San Carlos early.
I have also written down our costs for all travel and accomodation for the month so hopefully we can offer some more information to other travels trying to figure things out online. I know we have been incredibly frustrated with the lack of information so at the end of the trip I am going to try to provide as much information as I can to help fellow travelers get around. That blog will be posted in Febraury so if you’re interested, check back.