If you want to party your pants off (and put the party up your nose), hook up with any other backpacker you can find and possibly wake up to a monkey giving you a handy… THEN DON’T COME TO MAMA’S! There are other places for this, and this is just too good to be one of them.
Mama Sara’s House is our favorite place to stay in San Juan del Sur. Its tiny. Four bedrooms, three of which only have one bed and one room with three beds. These all split two full bathrooms, a full kitchen area and a living room. We are repeat customers here and we will be for as long as we visit this town. We were able to park the runner on the street in front without a problem. This place is surfer friendly. There are close lines in the back of the building to hang your wet things (or wash them) and there is space in each room for your boards. Each room locks privately and you have no problem waking early to catch the morning surf.
I know I rave about so many places. This was a trip of a lifetime and so much good comes with a trip like this. I also go on and on about the people we have met because really, there has been so many incredible people that I will never be able to forget for the rest of my days on earth. Mama Sara is one of these amazing people. On this trip, we spent a good amount of quality moments with our host and learned more about this incredible women.
Right off the bat, you know there is something special here. You walk up to her porch and are greeted by her entire family, and they all smile at you. Even the porch dog, not owned by anyone, is happy to see you (his name is Thor & he knows how to shake). You hear “MI HIJOS!!!” as she comes running from her kitchen to come talk to you. You instantly just want to hug this woman. You will see her everyday of your stay and I can’t say this with any more sincerity, you will be happy to see her, no matter who you are.
Her name is Sara, obviously, but you will be calling her Mama without thinking twice about it. She has a family that helps around the property and hangs out together at night. Her grandson is adorable.
One of the best things about Mama is her never ending desire to take care of everyone staying in her house. You may wake up to food on the table, juice or chocolate drink ready just at the hottest time of day. One day when we were leaving for the beach with our two friends, Mama ran out to the car with fresh pineapple for us. If you stay here, do not expect these things, they are not included in the rent you paid. Just make sure that when they do happen, you accept with the greatest gratitude.
When you are travelling through a country not as developed as your own and someone loves offering up food for perfect strangers, you know that you are in the right place.
Mama filled us in on her cooking passion. She used to own a restaurant. She told us that people would sit into the sidewalk to eat her food. One day, her doctor told her she could no longer continue her business because of pains in her wrists and she was forced to let it go. I believe this is where the business must have transformed from feeding happy mouths to housing happy guests. (This is my interpretation of the conversation she had with Dave because my Spanish is horrid). So now she feeds us, the travelers, her guests. She also feeds the kids. She’ll make food for events in the town and feed all the children she can for these special days. This woman does this all out of her huge heart.
So one magical day, Mama came up and talked to us about cooking and Dave let her in on the secret that I love to cook. She offered to give us a lesson one morning on Nicaraguan Enchiladas. Here’s the cliff notes if anyone wants to give it a whirl, but beware, I was translating, writing, photographing and cooking at once.
This dish involves 3 parts. The dough, the filling and the salad.
First you mix cornflour, chicken flavor, anjote flavor, diced onion and sweet peppers, crema and water in a bowl.
Add all the dry ingredients first.
Add water to achieve a dough consistency without any dry cracks. Dough is done!
In a large pot, add already cooked/boiled chicken (off the bone).
Add onion, celery, carrots and green pepper.
Heat on the stove.
After heating a bit, add a TON of ketchup, salsa iglesa (worcestershire), butter, more chicken flavor, garlic, cilantro, and onion or onion flavor.
All those ingredients above are to taste, add what you like to eat or don’t!
Leave to heat on stove.
Here’s the fun part. Putting everything together.
Take a plastic grocery bag and rip it open. Lay flat on table and wet the working side with water. This is so the dough doesn’t stick. (You could also use cling/plastic wrap)
Take a ball of dough and pat in a circle onto the plastic.
Add a scoop of chicken mixture onto the dough.
Roll the plastic over, causing the dough+chicken to roll in half.
Press down the outside edge (like a pie) to form an empanada.
Lastly, you are going to fry these puppies on the stove! Use an appropriate oil and fry away. Make sure to not leave them unattended and don’t burn! You know they are done when they are golden and you can hear a tap on the dough with your spatula.
Lastly, and maybe most important simply because it is a staple to any Centro Americana meal. The ensalada.
Simply dice up these:
Lettuce & cabbage
Wash the lettuce (seemed important to make this note at the time… Wash your veggies folks)
Add some salsa picante
Add the veggies
Add vinegar and salt
Mix in a bowl!
We were going to stay with Mama for a month. We ended up being blessed with company at Pelican Eyes and had to leave. The experience we had at our next room was one that we will never forget but I know that if we would have stayed at Mama Sara’s, we wouldn’t have forgotten that either. This has been one of the most fun blogs to share because of the incredible experience one person can have on your life but it hurts my heart to know that we are no longer there.
Everyone asks what was our favorite part of our trip and we always say that there is no way we can pick just one… but maybe, this was my favorite (and its a place we have been before).