An adventure, and a Wedding, in Paradise: San Juan Del Sur

My fiance (now husband) David and I had subscribed to the Nica Nuggets newsletter a little over a year ago, with the intention of learning all we could about life as an Expat in Nicaragua, from an Expat in Nicaragua.  Darrell’s personal and conversational style is easy to read, and I enjoy the emails!

David had visited the beautiful country several times, along with several other Central American countries, but I had yet to own a passport when we scheduled our trip for October.

We planned to vacation in San Juan Del Sur, and wanted look for property so we could live happily ever after in the affordable, and beautiful Country.

As the vacation drew nearer, we decided we wanted to get married in Nicaragua on a beach, at sunset, with our feet in the sand.  Quite a tall order, particularly since I had never stepped foot inside the Country, and had no idea what to expect!

I took a shot in the dark, and emailed Darrell from Nica Nuggets, and asked if he could be of some assistance.  To my surprise, he contacted a local RE/MAX Real Estate Agent (Gabby) from SJDS who got us into contact with a local, affordable minister.  I was absolutely ecstatic!!

While there was too much red-tape with the United States for us to have any desire to jump through multiple hoops in order to make our Nicaraguan marriage legal in the States we were given the gift of our dream wedding on a surprisingly secluded, and beautiful beach in San Juan Del Sur.  A quick 2 night trip to Vegas solved our legality problem, and gave us another weekend away…

Come October, we experienced what it might be like to really live in Nicaragua!

In true Nicaraguan fashion, full of unexpected twists and turns, we had some hilarious hiccups along the way.  The first day abroad, my fiance didn’t notice when we passed the turn to San Juan Del Sur from the main highway, and we ended up at the Costa Rican border.  This was after running over a very large snake, and hitting a bat as it flew across the road!

It was well worth the midnight excursion, when we landed at our destination and for the first time we could both see the Milky Way with the naked eye!

As a photographer, naturally, I ran back to the little casita we had rented and grabbed my camera equipment.  This must have alarmed the local Coast Guard, because we were met with a military-dressed guard brandishing a machine gun.  David was able to explain to him that I just wanted some photos…but the guard didn’t understand long exposure, and every 15 seconds or so he checked on us with his high-powered flashlight.  Let’s just say, I didn’t get the photos that night…but we still enjoyed a perfect evening on the shore with the occasional flash-light check to ensure we weren’t really there to disturb the giant sea turtle which was laying eggs nearby.

The next morning, I heard Monkeys in the jungle, and dashed out of the shower in a make-shift towel-dress, bare feet with my tripod and camera.  It’s a good thing that guard-dogs in Nicaragua are as chilled out as their masters because I discovered after snapping a few shots of the monkey I could see that I was on private property, in a towel with no shoes.  Ooops!!   Later that day, we got to catch some birds fishing at La Virgen.  My first attempts at nature photography weren’t half bad!  (photos attached)

A few days later, I got to experience the Emergency Room!  All I can say is the US has it all backwards…in less than a half an hour, I was seen by a nurse, a doctor, and left with a prescription in my hand and NO BILL!  Talk about superior efficiency, and amazing service.

When we stopped by the pharmacy to pick up my prescription, we saw a prescription pain cream my husband uses…for less than $8 US over the counter.  In the states, it’s $2000/tube and requires a visit for a refill.  I’m wondering how it’s so much cheaper to export something, pay export and import taxes, and still be nearly $2000 less.  Hmmm.

Cut to the big day:  We woke up to a power outage.  Naturally, I needed to do my hair and make-up…so we waited and played in the surf for a little while hoping it would come back on as it had the few times the week before.  Coming up on 1pm, we decided we had better see if there were any open salon’s in Town.

We trekked to Downtown San Juan Del Sur and stopped into a little salon across from El Bocadito, our favorite Tapas restaurant.

Not really expecting anything great on short notice, I was pleasantly surprised.  I was given the Queen’s treatment at the salon, despite my language barrier, and lack of appointment.  Sadly, I had not taken the time to learn any words describing hair-styles, so with David out looking for his own clean-up help, the sweet ladies came to my rescue with photographically illustrated hair style magazines, and we played charades until I found the perfect style for my wedding!

It was an eye opening and enjoyable experience for me, as I realized I will need to be conversational in Spanish before we move, but it was nice that the Nicaraguan ladies were so patient, and sweet to the white outsider who asked for help on such a short-notice.  They really bent over backwards to make my wedding hairdo perfect.  One of them even set out to find little white flowers to put in my hair!  I was so thankful, and I can’t wait to bring them my business when we reside locally.

David found himself up chocolate creek without a paddle on shaving and trimming up, as every barber in town had lines out the door…evidently Saturdays were busy times as the men prepared for church the following morning.

As he walked past El Bocadito’s, which was closed for renovations that day, he was offered from the owner the use of the men’s room and an outlet so he could prepare!  People in San Juan Del Sur are absolutely wonderful, hospitable, and inviting.

As American’s we experienced a level of kindness and hospitality that does not exist in the United States…at least not in Western Washington!  We certainly didn’t expect to be given such amazing treatment by locals as outsiders.

Our next reality check about life in the jungle came immediately upon return to the beach casita.  We discovered that it was windy, and the tide was all the way in…we were hoping it would be lower as we hadn’t seen it up as far as it was.   Since I was both the bride, and the photographer, I was a little mortified that I couldn’t monitor the ocean-spray on my precious Nikon lens, but I wasn’t going to let anything deter us from our perfect wedding.  I set up the tripod, and remote trigger… Despite the ocean spray on the lens, we did get some good photos, and memories to last our lifetime!

Thank-you Darrell for helping us make this dream a reality!

We look forward to hopefully becoming Expats in 2016, and cannot wait to come back ‘home’ to Nicaragua.

Stacie Dylan (now Stacie Seeley)        [email protected]

Pitahaya Baya-sized Angry Bird Playa Virgen-sized Angry Bird Fish-sized After IDO-sized Beach First Kiss with Text