Pacific Coast

Our final destination in Nicaragua was the Pacific Coast near San Juan del Sur. We stayed in relative luxury, for us, in a resort with airy cabañas overlooking the ocean.

Not far by foot was Playa Madera, a popular surfing beach. We had the skills only for boogie boards, but it was great fun, with waves big enough to be exciting but not terrifying. The water was a perfect temperature when we were there in late March, though we were told it had been quite chilly a week or two earlier.

It was at Playa Madera that Wally slipped off a rock and dunked his digital camera in the ocean — just after taking this shot — so we have no more photos of this beautiful beach and the surrounding countryside.

Not long after our days on the Pacific Coast, we were on our way back home via Costa Rica. A very few photos and parting thoughts about Nicaragua:

Nicaragua is now a peaceful country. Having suffered through difficult and violent times in recent decades, people tend to be somewhat more reserved than in Cuba. The folks we met were friendly, but we didn't sense quite the joie de vivre and good humor that is so evident in Cuba. Nor did we enjoy the music as much.

Still, everyone was welcoming, even to us Americans. This seemed remarkable to us because the U.S. attacked Iraq while we were there. Most Nicaraguans opposed that war intensely, and they well remember that the World Court found the U.S. guilty of war crimes against their country during the Contra war — but they were still unfailingly hospitable.

Having first experienced Latin America and the Caribbean through our trips to Cuba, we were sometimes dismayed by the poverty in Nicaragua — certainly worse than in Cuba — and especially by the number of children who were evidently out of school and living, virtually, on the streets.

Housing is often inadequate, with a great deal of litter and evidence of unsanitary conditions in some of the poorer areas we visited.

At the same time, there is plenty of wealth in Nicaragua — perhaps too much in the hands of a few people, given that this is the poorest country in Latin America. There were certainly more brand-new, huge SUVs cruising around than we've seen outside of a U.S. suburb.
Despite its many problems, Nicaragua truly is a beautiful county, the land of lakes and volcanos, and we hope to return.

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