I woke up early – the power was out so I took a walk to get some cash from an ATM. There are several in town but none of my cards seemed to work in any of them. Now I was getting seriously worried since we were low on cash. Finally I spotted an ATM at the Hotel Casa Blanca and fortunately I was able to get 4000 cordobas ($200) as a cash advance on my credit card.
We had breakfast and checked out of our hotel and were on the road by 8:30. We stopped at La Virgen to take some pictures of Ometepe – the wind was blowing pretty hard across the lake.
The drive to Managua was pretty uneventful – once on the outskirts of Managua we filled up the gas tank and turned onto the old highway towards Leon which was in pretty bad shape with lots of rough patches and potholes (we found out later that the new highway is just to the north and is much smoother). Every now and then there would be some kids in the road filling up the potholes with dirt in hopes that drivers would give them some coins for their work. I had a pocket full of change and each time I’d given them a few cordobas and they would be really appreciative. A Cordoba is worth about a nickel and I thought to myself that these kids were excited because “the rich Americans are handing out nickels!”
We arrived in Leon at about noon and got a little lost as we didn’t know where to make the turn into the city. After driving around for a bit we finally found some landmarks and were able to find the road to Las Penitas. The road to the beach is brand new and in excellent shape – only taking us about 20 minutes from Leon to the beach. Las Penitas only consists of one road that runls along the beach. The road is lined with beach homes for wealthy Nicaraguan families. We checked out a few hotels that I had earmarked in the guide book – They were doing work on the end of the road by the lagoon so La Samaki and Barca del Oro weren’t really accessible. We also checked out Playa Roca but the only room was right next to the restaurant and didn’t have a/c. We decided on Olazul which was nice – right on the beach with nice rooms, a/c, pool, and breakfast included for $45 ($35 if you didn’t want a/c and they also have a dorm room for $10 – one person staying in the dorm said she had it all to herself the entire time she was there). After checking in we had some cold Victorias and some good nachos in the restaurant. We then decided to take a swim in the ocean but the waves were breaking right on shore. When trying to go in the water I would immediately get knocked down and then dragged out by the undertow. It was like getting beat up! We quickly gave up on swimming in the ocean and instead cooled off in the hotel’s swimming pool.
After showering and watching another amazing sunset it started to rain so we drove down to Playa Roca for their happy hour (2x1 drinks) we drank some strong cuba libres and watched an incredible lightning show over the ocean. Since it was raining we decided to stay and eat there having some decent chicken burgers and fries – paying about $20 for all our drinks and food. It had stropped raining so we took a walk to the estuary and then back to Playa Roca to get the car and go back to our hotel where we had a few more drinks at the bar with some of the other people staying at the hotel before hitting the sack.