San Juan Del Sur, Nicaragua
March 12th, 2012
Nicaragua has not been a big tourist destination. After a history of civil war, the country is now stable and safe. It is the largest country in Central America has a lot to offer visitors. We had originally scheduled a beach tour to enjoy one of the great beaches but we changed our tour. I’m glad we did as we were treated to a day on a historical ranch at the edge of Lake Nicaragua (one of the largest fresh water lakes in the world). Our tour was listed as “Amayo Hacienda Experience”. Except for the beaches, all the tours were a good distance from the port of San Juan Del Sur. The capitol of Managua and Granada are a long bus ride away. Lake Nicaragua is a huge lake in the middle of the country.
Our bus ride was about an hour to the Amayo Hacienda and ranch. What a beautiful ranch. The owners are the Barrios family who live in Managua. The hacienda sits on a hilltop overlooking the lake. The ranch (which extends much further and at one time reached all the way to Costa Rica) has a great view of the two volcanoes which are on an island in the middle of the lake. The Amayo has its own private beach and boat dock. It is basically a cattle ranch with palm trees. The grounds are meticulously kept by the ranch hands and their families.
We were welcomed by the son-in-law of the owners. While we enjoyed coconut water and local fruit, a he gave us a brief history of the family and the ranch. He and his wife have three girls with twins on the way. Their grandmother is the maternal head of the Barrios family. Her sister (Violeta Barrios Torres de Chamorro) was president of Nicaragua from 1990 to 1997. A little history…
Violeta’s husband, Pedro Juaquin Chamorro, published La Prensa , an influential newspaper in Nicaragua during the Samosa era. They did not support Samosa but they also did not like the violence of extreme leftist (Marxist) Sandinista. They were more moderate in their ideology. In 1978, Pedro was assassinated,. Violeta became publisher and was thrust in to the political spotlight. Pedro was popular and 50,000 people attended his funeral.
In 1989, she ran against and defeated Daniel Ortega and became President. She was a popular president. Violeta was responsible for brokering a deal between the Sandinista and the Contras and laying the ground work for Nicaragua’s peace. In fact, she spent lots of time here on the Amayo when she was growing up and several meeting between the Contras and Sandinista took place here. She used it in a similar manner as Camp David is used by US presidents.
Back to our tour. We enjoyed Amayo. Zenetta even took a horseback ride along the beach. I was busy taking a nap in the hammock and taking pictures of Lake Nicaragua and the two volcanoes in the lake.
They served us lunch while a small group played folk music. The food was authentic and very good. Our hosts were very gracious.
I was encouraged to learn that Nicaragua stable and safe. It is still a nation with a lot of poverty, but they seem to be on a track to a better economy. Tourism is one area that is being developed. But as they move forward, they will have to erase the memories of their civil war. Ironically, Daniel Ortega is the current president having won re-election. He is predicted to win his third term this year. He has modified his radical views and is moving the country forward. He has the support of the people.
After a big lunch and the trip back to the ship, we decided to skip dinner again. On to Manzanillo Mexico.