As the all too familiar bass line of Bob Marley’s “One Love” filled the evening air, the young woman immediately to my right, head crowned with brown dreadlocks, raised her arms into the air undulating like snakes, hips and feet moving in smooth opposition. The surfer to my left with his sun-bleached blonde hair offset by a deep, golden tan, fist pumped yelling, “I f****** love this jam,” and began his own version of the hippy shuffle. Welcome to PitayaFest, a unique blend of tatter-clothed hippies and scantily clad surfers, and the beginning of our two weeks beaches and bands on the Nicaraguan Pacific coast.
The previous evening camped at Matildas on Playa Maderas watching the sun set and enjoying an ice-cold Tona, we were thinking a day or two lazing in the sun here wouldn’t be horrible. Playa Maderas appealed to us with its two hotels and restaraunts lacking the overdevelopment and masses of people found in San Juan del Sur. The empty beach with its crashing waves and hordes of hermit crabs scuttling about was perfection. We ended up staying for a week. After meeting the managers of the neighboring Castaway Hotel, Daniel and Megan, a couple from Florida who are leasing the property for the next five years and truly living the dream, we moved Suzie to their property.
They convinced us to extend our stay to not only attend PitayaFest, but also to attend their respective 29th and 30th birthday bash extravaganza. Here we were introduced to a mysterious yet deadly concoction know as Hunch Punch, an addicting game dubbed Corn Hole, and generally behaved as if we were not 30 something year olds, zipping down the Nicaraguan version of a slip and slide directly into the surging ocean.
After a brief hiatus from the beach on Isla Ometepe, we turned slightly north to Playa Gigante where our long lost overlanding buddies Joe and Kylee (Patagonia or Bust), had found employment for the next few months.
Jeff and Monica (Overland the World) and Gayla and Tad (Overland Now) were also in Playa Gigante living it up in a rental house with an amazing ocean view, air conditioning, and hot water showers! Camping outside of the hostel Campo de Gigante, we were equal parts excited and horrified to hear that the biggest reggae band in Nicaragua, Bluefield Sound System, was scheduled for a concert the next night. We had missed out on hearing them at PitayaFest because we had left too early and heard they played an incredible set. Given the fact that Suzie was parked 20 feet from the bar we were assured of a reggae lullaby lulling us to sleep in the wee hours of the morning. Soon the bar was packed, the bonfires were lit, and hippy and surfer alike were swaying to rhythm.
The rest of our time in was spent relaxing on the beach and at the pool, attempting surfing, and getting together with our fellow overlanders that we had lured to Gigante.