Last day in Nicaragua - huge manifestations - San Juan del Sur


On Sunday morning, 22d of April, Rebecka and I left our hostel in Ometepe pretty early to catch a ride to the ferry station of the island. Unfortunately, no bus came by and no cars (most people on the island drive scooters or motorbikes), just taxis... So we decided to take one of those and for 8$US p.P. we got to the ferry station. Our driver was really nice, a young guy from Dominican Republic who lives on the island at the moment, and when he dropped us off, he even offered us a (free) watermelon! :-D He was the first to really tell us about the situation in the rest of Nicaragua. Last Wednesday, José Daniel Ortega, Nicaragua’s president, signed a new law that makes people pay more taxes and retired people get less money. That’s when some retired people started manifesting and revolting. Soon after, they were joined by students. University students in Nicaragua are a big power and they have a strong community. First, they asked to make a peaceful demonstration, but were denied. They decided to do the demonstration anyway, but on the University campus. Police came in and started hitting students and hurting them. When the first student died, that’s when all went to hell. More and more people went on the street, demonstrating, supporting the students. Suddenly, it wasn’t enough for them to kill the new law, they want their president to abdicate. In the last years, he has become a dictator, controlling all power (police, military, ...) in Nicaragua. Now that students died, people started revolting against him. Apparently, Donald Trump gave Ortega an ultimatum, either he abdicates in the next 48 hours, or American soldiers will be send to Nicaragua. In the next days, about 26 students died during manifestations at the hands of policemen.

Ortega killed the new law quickly, but manifestations keep going on. We’ll see how this goes on...

Strangely, press in Europe has not talked about this much, nobody asked me if I was ok, how the situation is ; so I guess people don’t really know what’s going on. We saw videos on locals phones from the manifestations in Manágua and León and it was terrible. People burning down cars, buildings, destroying so much. They entered in hotels, hostels, bars, restaurants, destroying everything on their way.

My Swiss friends, Skander and Anja, saw this happen with their own eyes in León and told me about it. They were lucky to get out of León just before streets were closed down. All tourists - and many locals - were really afraid, fleeing cities and going to places where it’s more quiet. Even in Ometepe it got a bit scary. The ferry we wanted to take at 10AM was cancelled because people had threatened to burn it down ! So we had to take the ferry at 11AM that stopped midway on the lake for about 20 minutes due to mechanical issues and we were very happy when we finally arrived to shore.

Like many other tourists we fled to San Juan del Sur, a city at the coast, close to Costa Rica, to go to Costa Rica the next day.

Apparently, now the situation is more calm, but it’s very difficult to get real news not being in Nicaragua anymore. Let’s hope they resolve their problems soon and students stop dying...

Due to the agitation everywhere, Rebecka and I preferred taking a taxi to San Juan del Sur. Everybody told us there where no buses going that day anyway, but if it’s true or a scheme from the taxi drivers, we didn’t know ; just didn’t want to risk it.

We shared the taxi with 2 other girls from Canada that went to a different place, but wanted to share the taxi anyway. Our driver was really nice and he told us more about the situation in Nicaragua and told us his nephews were amongst the students fighting and that they were a bit scared for them.

When we got to San Juan del Sur 1 hour later, everything was quiet. They had cancelled the « Sunday Funday » (usually on Sunday the city is full of drunk travellers joining in the pub crawl), but many people were enjoying the beach, drinking anyway in bars and having fun.

Rebecka and I, after checking in to our hostel, went for lunch to a nice place with vegan options and then to the beach where, by chance, I met my Swiss friends Skander and Anja. We spent the afternoon relaxing in the sun and swimming. At 6PM, we went back to our hostel to take a nice shower in our private room (for once we had spent a bit more money to have a private room without drunk people with a private shower and toilet - heaven !) and shortly after Gwen came back from the beach and we spent the night with her. Gwen and I shared a bottle of wine that I had been carrying around since Utila (Honduras) and Rebecka had a few beer. After some time, Jennifer joined us at our hostel, because she had lost Max somewhere during the (unofficial) pub crawl and didn’t know what to do. So we had a nice girls night! :-D After Jennifer went back to her hostel, Gwen, Rebecka and I were a bit hungry and decided to go find a pizza place. We found one, but decided to go a bit further and, in the end, all pizza places were closed and the one we had found had closed in the meantime as well... So we went back to the place where we had had lunch and ate a delicious falafel taco! :-D

After that, we were all very tired and with all the alcohol we had had, it was a good idea to go back to the hostel and sleep, because the next day we all had to get up early ^_^

Our hostel, the Surfing Donkey Hostel (I always want to call it « Flying Monkey Hostel », no idea where this comes from ^_^), was quite nice, clean and comfortable rooms, big kitchen, nice bar. But you can see it’s a party hostel : every day, they have another drinking activity planned for their guests and on the toilet doors is written « no sex in the toilets ; vomiting in the toilet not the sink ». Well, I guess that says a lot about what kind of hostel/town it is ;-) There is also a pool, but Gwen told us that when she got back to the hostel the night before, a couple was having sex in the pool, another one behind the bar and one upstairs on the balcony, so it does not make you want to go into that pool! ^_^

Nicaragua is a very beautiful country and I had liked it a lot. It’s very safe to travel there, people are very friendly, food is very good and it’s quite cheap compared to other countries in Central America.

I have seen the most important places, I think : León, Manágua, Granada, Isla de Ometepe and San Juan del Sur. Other people also visited Popoyo, a beach town, but that’s only interesting if you surf and I have not yet learned to surf and didn’t want to « loose » a few days to try it out. Maybe some other time. :-) Another popular destination is Corn Island on the Caribbean coast, but it’s far away from the other places I went to and a bit expensive to go there, so I preferred to skip it and rather add Bocas del Toro islands in Panama on the Caribbean coast to my list, which is much easier to access.

I have spent all my time in Nicaragua with Rebecka and a lot of time with Gwen. It was really nice to travel with them, we liked to do the same things and we had a lot of fun together! :-D

I can only recommend you to go to Nicaragua and see it for yourself! :-D

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