San Juan Del Sur Selections.

Thanks to Nina’s excellent negotiation skills, we awoke early to a dorm room full of empty beds. With the exception of some midnight dog choruses, very little noise kept us from sleeping, which is unique for a hostel. We woke up early with a plan: visit the market, have breakfast, learn to surf. The first two, I’ll cover in this post; the latter will be for another day.

After being told by a server the previous evening that the market wouldn’t be open until 10 a.m., we decided to find another source. A market that opens at mid-morning? It seemed unlikely. Our instincts were correct, which allowed for plenty of exploring — and fruit buying — before our surf lesson. Half of our selected fruit would be left in the hostel kitchen the next morning; the remaining would accidentally be left on a bus in Costa Rica. Oops.

We mentally bookmarked a series of stalls for dining later in the day, before heading in search of breakfast. We were quickly directed to Barrio Cafe, where I saw my first “locally made” marketing outside of the United States. The beans of that lovely, lovely coffee were grown in Nicaragua. Our server gave me a handful to take with me.

The place was mostly deserted, a sign that few went to bed as early as we did the previous evening. (We passed several people on the street with bottles and cigarettes in hand, folks who’d clearly been awake all night, catering to the late-night scene in San Juan Del Sur.)

Bethany ordered her beloved gallo pinto, with eggs and toast.

Inspired by all the fresh fruit available, I ordered the fuit plate. Heavenly. Except the papaya. I’ve never had a version of papaya that I’ve liked. Fully caffeinated (and fruited), we were ready to return to the hostel for our surf lesson. Which I’m going to totally skip in this post. Imagine that it was a successful venture for all, and that we came back to town, hungry, ready to check out those stalls in the market. (This is mostly true.)

Four or five restaurants are accompanied by cafeteria-style seating in the market, with each restaurant providing a sink, condiments, napkins and a rotating fan for its own diners. I ordered something that I’d imagined to be a grilled chicken version of a quesadilla: tortilla, rice and beans, perfectly grilled chicken, fresh vegetables and cheese. That damn unmeltable, unmalleable cheese, always ruining expectations. I ate the chicken, rice and beans and ignored the rest.

Nina’s dish, however, was fantastic, with just the right amount of meat (I forget which kind) wrapped in a fried tortilla, and topped with crispy cabbage and sauce. I wanted a second, third, fourth bite, but by this time, I knew she was pregnant and did not want to deny Nina — or the baby — of precious nutrients.

All in all, it was a successful day, with all of our initial goals accomplished. A bonus on the travel front.

Barrio Cafe
One block west of the Municipal Market,
San Juan Del Sur,

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