Loc: San Juan del Sur
Acc: Susanna’s and John’s home
Dist: 58,5 km
Start: 6:20 End: 18:35
I had a good long night’s rest. Despite the freshwater shower, my skin was still itching in the humidity. My large chafing wound is getting better. But it is not entirely dry yet, and the cutting wound on my right foot is hopefully not infecting itself. While paddling, none of it bothers me. However, I know from South America that the tropical climate is terrible for healing even minor wounds. I also should have closed the bug net in my tent, as different from the first beach, mosquitoes are present here.
As last night, I write my update in the morning before the sun rises. My local fisherman neighbor in his hammock entertains himself in the evening and morning with his phone without a headset. But this is less torture than the noisy boom boom music from last night’s beach, and earplugs do the job. When I finally pack, I feel not too bad, somehow rested, and reasonably recovered. The launch down the steep-ish beach is easy with a gentle push from a local guy. My navy guard boat waits offshore, where they spent the night on the water.
I switch back to my white hooded nylon paddling shirt, which feels the coolest once wet. I must keep my body temperature at bay, or I will not survive long out here. The paddling goes smoothly while listening to the same audiobook I found tiring the first day. Meanwhile, my body works like a well-oiled machine, with little pain from sore muscles.
After passing the corner reefs of El Astillero, a wide, shallow, and low-breaking beach lurk me for a quick stop. I forgot to take my camera on deck. I can pull it out now and do a helpful bathroom job. I am too tired to drag my heavy kayak away from a rocky reef and high enough up the very shallow beach to take a small hike into the beautiful reef area. I call my partner Peter who currently acts as a digital working nomad in Malta and will keep going soon.
Soon, the backcountry shows mountains, and the coast becomes more and more cliffy. Landings on beaches seem doable everywhere, but I am not tempted. John advised me to camp on the southern end of Playa El Gigante, where it would be a calm landing. But my mind was set on a Playa Guacalito, hidden behind Isla La Vieja. That seemed to me like a great snorkeling spot. A catamaran anchors in the archipelago but moves away once I arrive. Unlike a world traveler’s vessel, it looks like a party boat with many ladies displaying their barely dressed bodies on the front deck.
I contemplate landing as planned, but it somehow turns me off with the many umbrellas and little privacy for a beach camp. The landing also looks not as easy as I expected, so what is it worth? I keep paddling to the next beach. But soon, my mind is set on arriving tonight at San Juan del Sur without a stop in between. I should have already split the day at Playa El Gigante, as advised. Now, it feels too late to camp. I have always done long ‘home runs’ to reach civilization and a shower.
I don my paddling jacket, as with the ever-wet thin shirt, even the still-warm night hours become chilly. Soon, I am in cell phone reach to send my hosts Susanna and John a text about my arrival in the darkness around six-thirty. My Navy boat guys never come close for a chat, but I assume they know I will keep pushing to San Juan del Sur tonight. It will be one hour paddling in darkness, not too bad when you aim for a well-lit coast. I have a red headlamp pointing to my rear that my escort boast does not lose me. They also drive with their position lights on so I can see where they are. Thankfully, they are always way behind me, out of hearing and direct sight.
At some point, when I look behind me, I have a vision of a ‘Flying Dutchman’ ghost ship approaching. The catamaran I saw between the islands is also nearing San Juan del Sur. Their red position light mysteriously illuminates the white front sail. I cannot see the ship’s hull, and it looks like the sailboat flies past me against the pitch-dark offshore horizon. I am thankful I do not have to aim into this darkness for a longer time, and I am grateful to have the city lights for orientation. Since I passed the beach in the archipelago, I switched to power music, as I had the energy to spend on a decisive home run.
Maybe the presence of the Navy boys behind me inspires me to keep going. Although I am sure they barely hear my noisy music over their own engine, I fantasize that we are all out at a private party. The boys are my background dancers, having a great time instead of sitting bored in their tiny barge, doing nothing. My most potent playlist is gigantic orchestral ‘war music’ like from a movie from Roman Emperor maneuvers, from Viking battle films, or sounding like the drums on a slave galley. I wonder if young Nicaraguan soldiers like that style. Overall, a bright soprano is singing along at the top of her voice through the night. A shooting star falls to my right, blinking a couple of times before dying.
The last kilometer before the Navy landing, my watchdogs feel obliged to drive ahead to guide me to their landing ramp. I would have enjoyed finding it myself, which is not too hard with my GPS. I hear Susanna and John calling my name out of the darkness, and I wave at the people gathering on top of the bridge. The war princess reaches another home base. Thanks to the Nicaraguan Navy for watching over my paddle along their shores. Who knows what it was good for? I am mature enough to know I can do it alone but clever enough not to reject their offer of assistance.
My baby sleeps well inside a Navy building, and Susanna and John offer me a private room in their lovely house. Thanks! I crash in my bed after a shower, unable to do anything else tonight than gulp down a delicious Mexican-style dinner Susanna prepared. Once more, I feel like a senior patient in a sanatorium.