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Motorcycle Diaries: San Juan del Sur to Casares, Nicaragua

Traveling by Motorcycle in Nicaragua

Traveling the Nicaraguan countryside by motorcycle allows you to interact with your surroundings in a way you never accomplish in a four wheel people carrier. Staying safe requires a rider to stay sharp. Road hazards pop up when you least expect them.

Motorcycle Nicaragua

– Just one of many obstacles common to a motorcycle journey in Nicaragua. This photo was taken near the famous surf beach Popoyo.

Riding Team

Adam is one of my best friends in San Juan del Sur. We’ve spent hundreds of hours riding all over Nicaragua together. You can tell he is a proud Canadian by the CCM hockey helmet he rides with.

Tina is another great friend that I’ve watched become a real rider over the last couple of years. She is a Brit that came to Nicaragua for three days on a backpacking trip. That was nearly three years ago and she still hasn’t left.

Griff is a new friend and is new to our riding group. He is another Brit that just moved to San Juan from Portugal. Griff was successful in keeping the rubber side down on his first big ride in Nicaragua and was also the designated photographer for this journey.

Our Route

Map of Southern Nicaragua

Our Journey

On this trip we decided to stick to the backroads as much as possible and stay somewhere new and less travelled. Our destination was Casares – a tiny fishing village on the Pacific Coast on Nicaragua.

The dirt roads are perpetually rutted and bumpy. During rainy season the section of road between Jiquelite and Ochomogo typically has a few seasonal rivers to cross. We were not disappointed on this trip. Adam rode too fast into one stream and was awarded with a shower that left him wet to the ears.

Frequently we make stops to take a rest from the road and grab a Toña. We usually meet interesting people and see some unexpected sights along the way. Motorcycle rides are always as much about the journey as the destination.

Casares Nicaragua

~ The only other patron at the road side bar we stopped at for refreshment.

 

Our Destination

Casares is too small to have a gas station, grocery store or even a bar, but one thing this town does not lack is fishing boats. There are well over 100 fishing pangas on the beach going out every day. In fact there are so many boats you barely even see the beach which seems to be the hub of activity in town. 

Where We Stayed

El Casino Casares

~ The view from the deck outside of our hotel room


We would like to give a big shout out to Patrice our host for the night. Located right on the beach Hotel El Casino was a comfortable and a welcome respite from the dusty roads. It is hard to beat a double room overlooking the ocean for $35 USD. Patrice has lived in Nicaragua for well over 20 years and regaled us with stories over a few glasses of wine on the second floor balcony.

Our Casares Experience

We spent the evening hanging out like a band of derelict teenagers outside of the corner store/liquor store. We sat on the benches and ordered litre upon litre of beer to share with a handful of locals. A couple of guys from a neighboring beach town invited us to continue the party at their favorite bar in Huehuete. Alas we were in no shape to take the bikes on that foray.

 

Carares Nicaragua

– The new guy “Winning Friends and Influencing People”.

Once our new found Nica friends decided to go home we retired to our balcony to drink wine and discuss all life’s little intricacies.  We found one avenue of conversation with many miles to ramble down. Did Griff notice his admirers t-shirt and further more was he was singing The White Stripes’, Apple Blossom in his head during his semi-coherent Spanglish conversation?

 

An Interview with Nicaraguan Architect, Herman Gallegos


After a quick visit to our property and with nothing more than copies of the topographical drawings and our wish list Nicaraguan Architect Herman Gallegos has designed a beautiful modern 2 bedroom, 2 1/2 bathroom home for us.

A home that is even better than we could have imagined!

Once finalized and complete we’ll publish our floor plan and interior renderings for you to check out, but for now we are super excited to share some exterior views of our home with you.

For a larger view just click on any one of the 3 images below.

 

We couldn’t be more happy with our decision to hire Herman as our architect and are thrilled to introduce him to you today. In this interview he provides insight to his work and our project. He also shares some helpful tips for hiring an architect in Nicaragua.

Can you tell us a bit about your design process and how you bring a project to life?

To bring a project to life for me depends on the typology of it, whether it’s a private residence, office space, commercial, religious, etc. It’s imperative for me to analyze how the users would interact with the structure and the feelings or sensations that the building transmits. You always want your spaces to be comfortable and fit for their special use. Natural lighting and cross ventilation are very important, especially in countries like Nicaragua where we sometimes have very hot temperatures.

I always like to sketch out a basic floor plan or even start it on the computer. Depending on the lot and the style of the project I always have something already pictured in my mind and I just start drafting. Once I have the floor plan ready and approved by the owner I immediately start working on the elevations (3D). Sometimes I make changes to the floor plan in this stage too, depending on the proportion and the scale I want the building to have – mostly location and sizes of windows, openings, etc.

What about Elisha & Gordon’s project interested you the most? What were the biggest challenges with their project?

What I really like about Elisha and Gordon’s project is their enthusiasm. I like that we’re not designing a house, but actually a home where the walls will be filled with good memories and good vibes.

The only challenge might have been the best use of space to make it functional yet comfortable. It’s a small lot with some difference in levels from the road to the back (part of the mountain). I decided to create a lower level for parking and steps up to higher ground and with this have the house look even bigger from below.

What is it about your job that gives you the most satisfaction?

There are two things that satisfy me the most about a project. First, I like it when the finished product is exactly the same as I had envisioned it. I like it when the spaces flow correctly and when I see the light coming in with play of shadows and textures. Secondly, what gives me even more satisfaction is to see that the clients are happy and proud of their project. That is the best advertising anyone can have.

Is there a particular project you’ve worked on that you’re most proud of?

Of the projects I’m most proud of so far would be the Spanish Cultural Center of Nicaragua (CCEN) in Managua and the Santa Cruz lofts in San Juan del Sur.

What advice would you give to someone who is looking to hire an architect in Nicaragua?

When looking for an architect in Nicaragua I would suggest to see their work first. Make sure they know what they’re doing because sometimes architects like to design projects without any construction background. This can end up being very costly to the owners. It’s imperative not only to have good design ideas, but also to know how these ideas can be built logically.


You can see more of Herman’s work on his website
http://www.hermangallegos.com. You can also find him on Instagram.

Thanks so much to Herman for making the first phase of building a house in Nicaragua stress free, easy AND fun!

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