When the European explorers arrived in the Pacific Northwest they marveled at the lack of people. When we drove through Mexico and northern Guatemala, we were overwhelmed by the number of people. The population decreases in El Salvador and is noticeably less in Honduras, but we haven’t seen any wilderness. The closest thing to wild animals are the dogs that wander everywhere. Road killed dogs are common.
Our map showed a beach umbrella and a star at Salinas Grande in Nicaragua. It looked like a good place to spend the night. We drove down a dirt road, constantly drawn around the next corner by signs promising a resort. We drove through groves of trees with ball like green fruit, past the sugarcane fields, past the saltworks, and big saltwater lagoons that looked like oversize fish hatchery ponds, past every possible kind of shorebird, and we got to an unprepossessing area that was on the beach. Locals directed us to the Somar Lodge.
It didn’t look like much from the road, but once we were inside the gates and parked, we walked up past 3 or 4 cabanas to a palapa-shaded restaurant, swimming pool and bar, and a long, surf swept beach. A girl was in the pool, and called out to us in a French accent “Welcome to paradise!”. And paradise it was. Capi took one look at the beach and was sure she’d arrived in heaven.
The first night, the French couple were the only other guests. The next night a family and two couples joined us, but we hardly saw each other. The only disappointment was for Capi. We were asked to evict her from the swimming pool, and from then on she was on her leash. (You can take the water out of the dog, but you can’t take the dog out of the water.)
The beach was perfect and almost deserted. The cows wandered on it, along with an occasional pig. Fishermen launched their boats every evening and decorated the water with their lights, which appeared and disappeared with the swell. They were gillnetting with 2” web for bait fish, then using the bait to jig for red cod. Tasty stuff, served at the restaurant grilled in butter and oil.
The last morning we met the owner, who had lived in Ottawa, has daughters at Carleton University, a brother in Calgary. He told us there were 10 Canadian families in the neighborhood. Laundry was piling up, the coffers were depleted and we needed wifi and water. So we left paradise for the city. After 10 minutes in Leon, we were fed up with people and headed for the nearest ATM and gas station and highway, and headed off to the next beach umbrella on the map.
The only hotel in Masachapa with wifi doesn’t take dogs, but allowed us to use their wifi to locate a pet friendly B and B/restaurant called Casa Larocque. On a quieter beach in a quiet neighborhood of houses, it turned out to be owned and built by a Canadian couple. We dined with two Canadians from Montreal, who told us many of the homes in the neighborhood were owned by Canadians, and the local big resort attracted 200 Canadians a week. Capi loves it here: they let her swim in their pool. The 5 or 6 rooms have handcrafted furniture, big bathrooms and comfortable beds. And the food is good. We had set up the camper, then thought better of it and got a room. Heaven.