Saturday, January 7th. Marina Puesta del Sol, Nicaragua. A hidden secret piece/peace of Paradise.

Written by Jack van Ommen on January 7th, 2017

Nicaragua, the 55th country visited with “Fleetwood”. I did not set foot on El Salvador but sailed its territorial waters, nbr 54.

I left Puerto Quetzal, Guatemala, at 12.45 after the agent, Miguel, had brought my passport back and my “Zarpe”. Instead of the $ 160 I mentioned in my previous blog, I ended up paying $180 on Monday and then another $35 on Tuesday. A good racket. The little I spent on my very interesting side trip to Antigua was eaten up by the clearance expenses and the marina restaurant was extremely expensive. More than state side and twice and more than Mexico. The wind forecast was for very light air, between two and six knots. I decided to bring out the old worn 150% Mylar Genoa sail. Because it is about 20% larger than the second hand dacron genoa I have used so far. But I got some stronger winds and did also a fair amount of motor sailing. A mylar sail is much more delicate than Dacron, it tears easily. But it turned out that it is not as difficult to refold as I had anticipated. I shall be using it until it is totally used up. I still have a much newer Mylar replacement aboard. Late on Tuesday afternoon the wind strengthened and was about 20 degrees from hard to the wind. When I checked my speed over the ground I could not believe my eyes I was doing 7 plus and hitting close to 8 ½ knots at times, fairly consistent for a couple of hours until dark when the wind usually diminishes. I had to record this. It is the fastest I can remember ever going on “Fleetwood” without a spinnaker or a strong favorable current. See: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YTh3NOBoxUg&t=174s

The Puesta del Sol Marina is about 12 ½ miles north-west of the Nicaragua port of Corinto. It is the first and so far only marina in this country. It was developed by Robert Membreno who came at 7 years old to California from Nicaragua with his parents. He is from 1932 but you would not guess it. He has sailed in many parts of the world and discovered these vast mangrove sloughs in 2002 while sailing this coast. The marina and resort he built are exceptional, first class. He owns vast stretches of the estuary and is not planning to develop it. The small fishing settlement next to the resort goes on just like before Robert showed up but benefits by the employment opportunities and better access. He also built a school for the local youths.

When I turned the corner at the unexpected opening in the shore line, after going through mild tidal rapids, I felt like entering into a new world. The water was flat and there was no sign of any human interference with the original environment. Still and peaceful, a little further down the marina and resort showed up in a bend of the slough. It is the end of a very little traveled road. There are no street noises and at night the sky is as bright with stars as on the ocean or in the desert. The nearest habitation is 20 miles away. There is a swimming pool, excellent restaurant and bar and the personnel is very professional and helpful. The showers and bathrooms are so much better than to what I have become used to since leaving the Saint Francis Yacht Club. Only the one at Grand Harbour Marina in Valetta, Malta beats this one.

Thursday afternoon I met the people at the table next to me in the open air bar. I just had my first cold beer since Guatemala. I was curious and wondered for whom they spoke English since most of them were apparently Spanish speakers. It turned out that the one non Spanish speaker was a Hungarian, Victor Pentek ww.elanhunting.hu/, visiting his friends whom he has taken on hunting expeditions in Hungary and Slovakia. His local host, Alfredo, is here with his son and daughter, who are both studying in Boston, and his longtime friends Rafael and a Houston-Nicaraguan, Marvin, who is guiding the men on a water fowl hunt here in the mangrove banks. The kitchen had broiled some of their fowl catch of the day, wrapped in bacon. They invited me to share their food. They were all very curious and interested in my travels and came to see “Fleetwood”. Alfredo had arranged a “Fiesta” that evening for his guests at the resort and invited a folkloric dance group “Los Maribios” to perform. (Los Maribios are the string of volcanoes that run the length of Nicaragua, one of the main volcanoes, San Cristobal, can be seen right across from here, a lower one, Casita, can be seen to the S.W., both are active.)

The dancers and their costumes were very impressive. I made a short video of it. snapshot-5-1-6-2017-5-47-pm

I included the introductions from the director in Spanish which were translated by Marvin. I did this with the expectation that these may be appreciated by the Spanish class of my friend Adam Von Zimmerman at the Gig Harbor High School for whom I am trying to give some visuals of the Central American countries I visit. I have discovered that there are some distinct differences in language and customs between the different countries and also a strong national pride. Just to give an example: the Nicaraguans tend to swallow the “s”. Lune instead of Lunes, etc.

Now I have to, delicately, tell you a little more about this encounter of these new friends. It had not escaped me that they are people of means. But I was almost a little disappointed when I indirectly learned that the host belongs to the wealthiest family in this country. I would have never guessed. But it raised my respect for who they are. Rafael heads their philanthropic organization ANF which is the most important private source of assistance for the underprivileged in this country. They are committed Christians. Alfredo said the blessing over the dinner. “Noblesse oblige”, they take their privilege and their Christian obligation seriously.

And I feel very fortunate to have had this opportunity with a seemingly very different social crowd.

On Monday I was the only “white” man on the cheap bus ride to Esquintla. Luis, also a Nicaraguan, with his 2 year old son Marco, in front of me. But he and Alfredo junior have that same interest and curiosity and happiness in their broad smile and spark in their eyes. They are the kind of people I am drawn to, who are happy with themselves.

There is a very strong wind forecast along my next stretch. I may try to sit this out here. I plan to take the 6.15 am bus from here to Chinodega to go to mass and return here in the early afternoon. I have plenty of chores. One other good thing here is that I have excellent wi-fi on the boat. A luxury I have not had for a long time. It saves on coffee and beer in the nearby bar and no need to drag all my gear along.

This morning was picture time. I can go crazy here….

San Cristobal, active volcano, 5,725 ft.

San Cristobal, active volcano, 5,725 ft.

dug outs, marina in background

Dug outs, marina in background

 

 

 

 

 

 

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