San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Around San Juan

It seems like the dry economic spell of October and most of November is thankfully coming to an end in San Juan del Sur.

The 8th annual Panga Tourney and the  8th anniversary of the San Juan del Sur Biblioteca were both held on Nov. 14 with festivities that were well-attended by the community. The library event featured games, contests, and a luncheon that fed over 400 people. And most people saved room for dessert – more than 300 ice cream cones were served afterwards!

The “Panga Tourney” (or small boat tournament) drew more than 50 pangas – driven by both locals and foreigners – who competed in six categories. The funds raised by the tournament benefit will support various efforts to promote recycling and other environmental efforts.

In other news, the 2010 cruise ship season begins this weekend; the first ship of the season, the Star Princess, will be arriving Nov. 28. Our new harbor and beach road area are sure to make a positive impression on guests as they get off the boat to see the town.

In many ways, people seem to be optimistic and hopefully preparing for a great new season. But several others have not been so lucky.

One of the saddest fallouts of our economic downturn is that the Pelican Eyes … Piedras y OlasHotelhas recently changed management amid financial troubles. A group of investors know as Pelican Rescue LLC has established new management of the hotel and is working towards normalizing their situation.

The same great service, attention to  detail and specials are available as well as the grand view and smiling faces of the staff, but it is sad to see San Juan mainstay Chris Berry go. Chris has returned to the United States and is recovering there from eye surgery to repair a detached retina.

Chris has lived in San Juan for more than a decade and was one of the pioneers of this town’s tourism industry, as well as being responsible for the vision of Pelican Eyes, now a world famous resort.

On a more positive note, Thanksgiving dinner reservations at several of the restaurants including Big Wave Dave’s, BambooBeachand Piedras Y Olas were reported to be brisk and holiday reservations for New Years have already begun.

Christmas trees are popping up in hotel lobbies around town, Christmas craft fairs are being advertised and tourists are appearing on the streets again.

Happy hours abound. Most evenings one can be happy somewhere or other including El Timon’s, BambooBeach and Piedras Y Olas.

The newest offerings are the Mini Cruise Ship MV Isidora. For cruises contact Emilio Gonzales 8888-8855.

Another new attraction is the Marsella Valley 12-hole Frisbee Golf Club on the Chocolata road.

Beach Fun Quad rentals are available and should do brisk business during the holidays (2568-2441).

Other new offerings ready for this upcoming Holiday season include The Irish House, SJDS’s first Irish Pub and Hotel, serving Guinness and live music two blocks north of the market.

Terraza Stadivari Italian Restaurant has arrived on the beach 8945-0261 and The Pier (site of the Old Ricardo’s) is up and coming and boasts beach chairs and umbrellas. Yoga workshops and brunch are being held at Nica Yoga at El Camino Del Sol. Contact Donna for their weekly Yoga schedule. Chica Brava, the all-girls surf camp, continues to do well (

Casa Marina Condominiums is the home of the new Bonnie Lassie Luxury Spa 2568-2766 offering massage, pedicures and a line of handcrafted soaps, oils lotions and gift certificates just in time for the new season.

It seems to me that the community here is stronger than ever in its efforts to survive, succeed and support one another and welcome the new season with hopefulness.

–Jane Mirandette

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