One of the stops during my holiday vacation was San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua. I, like many others, arrived in Nicaragua with a prejudice against the country. The wars, the drugs, the violence, etc. But like all prejudices, these feelings are based on naïveté and not knowing the facts.
That’s where Guillermo came in. He was our tour guide for the day. He spent four hours with us, two hours on the way to the Masaya Volcano located about 20 minutes from the Nicaraguan capitol of Managua, and two hours on the way back.
Guillermo spoke the entire time. He was passionate about Nicaragua and proud of the turn his country has made in the last decade and confident in the bright future they are facing. His pride was contagious and I found myself wanting to champion what he was feeling.
This current tour season (2009-2010) is just the third year of cruise stops for Nicaragua. And in the last three years they have added more and mores tops. They went from 30 to 40 to 59. Each stop means tourist income into the country as well as an opportunity to lure people into return trips. In fact this is one of the main reasons why my husband and I do cruises. It is a great way to get a broad overview of a particular area and figure out where we want to go back to for an extended trip.
I have been near volcanoes before, dormant ones, but I had never been to an active volcano. So I really didn’t know what to expect. We reached the top of the volcano and I have to say I was a little freaked out with all the “park facing the exit” signs, etc. Like I was going to be running for my life at any moment!
You can really only look at it for a few moments because the fumes coming out of the volcano are noxious, horrible… You gag and cough and have to walk away after a minute or two, take a breath of “fresh” air, and then you can go back and look.
Hard to take pictures and while we could see for miles and miles, all the photos are smoky and hazy, so it doesn’t make for good panoramic images. It was interesting, glad I did, but wouldn’t do it again. No one with asthma or breathing problems should get anywhere near this place and one guy got a massive migraine and suffered all the way back.
On the way back to the ship we stopped at Catarina Overlook for a photo opportunity of the Apoyo Lagoon, Granada, and Lake Nicaragua. It was breathtaking to see and somehow reminded me of the French Polynesia, in particular, Bora Bora. There were quite of few visitors and it is sort of an “Inspiration Point” for local lovers as well. The town of Catarina also has a little market selling food and handicrafts, so the little town was quite busy.
Having just spent seven hours traveling by bus in Guatemala the day before, the four hour bus trip to see the volcano was a bit torturous, but it was worth it to see this view. Even more worth it was the opportunity to feel the passion of someone who has hope for his country. That the past can be overcome and that everyone and every country has a chance to change their destiny.
When we arrived back to the port, Guillermo informed us that we were now brothers and sisters and the new Nicaraguan warriors, sent out into the world to tell people what we found and to encourage others to come and see. And I say to you, go and see….