Namaste Nicaragua in search of peace aNd familiaritY

The Nicaragua from my childhood was a country suffocating from oppression and violence. I didn't know much about politics in the 80s. However, I knew enough from my father's daily commentary, a uniquely Caribbean perspective, that the Central American nation was deep in the excrement of a zero sum game with the United States.

Everyday life in Tola. A man and his son travel via ox cart.

For decades, Nicaragua was synonymous with poverty, death and corruption. Most Americans would've never been caught dead traveling here. Three decades later Nicaragua welcomes savvy American travelers with open arms.

Though poverty is still rampant, the country has land on sale for anyone who has the money to buy it.

A Country of Contrasts

The beauty of the Emerald Coast is intoxicating.

As with any country, seaside property is a hot commodity. Nicaragua is no different. Luxury resorts and manicured communities dot the picturesque Emerald coastline.

The road to relaxation becomes an adventure.

You never know what you're going to get when you travel to Nicaragua during the rainy season. I had my fair share of rain storms last time I visited the Solentiname Archipelago.

This is an example of what you might experience during the rainy season.

Dozens of cars are stuck on the road because of the flooded road.

Rain can last several minutes or a few hours. I visited during a storm system that textured the skies with cumulus clouds and shadows.

Lush greenery is the benefit of rainy season.
Wild flowers grow where they will.

The Road to Luxury

There's a bit of guilt that runs through you when you're sitting in an air-conditioned vehicle barreling past impoverished communities on the way to an oceanfront resort. I couldn't help but think about common life in the area as I peered at shacks, barefoot children, stray dogs, clothes lines, muddied pigs and countless adults lingering about seemingly not working on a Friday morning.

I loved traveling in Nicaragua. I was curious to learn if Nicaraguans were at peace here and if so, what did that peace look like? I didn't know what to expect once we got on the road.

I thought I'd see more Black Nicaraguans on the road. I was half-hoping to. It's something that I look forward to when I travel to foreign countries - bumping into people who look like me.

Is the socio-economic disparity the same in Nicaragua or does the country suffer from a different type of economic divide, one that transcends race? Will I identify with the black people I meet and do we share similar experiences?

The slave trade was far-reaching. Because race plagues the psyche of American people in such a profound way, I'm always intrigued to learn how black people are perceived in other parts of the world where Africans were placed in servitude.

Mukul Resort

Owned by Rum baron Don Carlos Pellas, Mukul is a luxury hideaway for the country's elite, celebrities and travelers who can afford the $500-$10k per night tab.

The paved road outside the resort stretches for miles, clearing the way for visitors to easily get to Mukul's guarded front doors.

Welcome

A pool with a view sits between the lobby and the beach.

The open air reception lobby welcomes guests with friendly linen-clad attendants offering up a fruity drink spiked with Don Pellas' rum. Wicker and wood fill the lounge with front row seats to a peaceful ocean view.

Luxury Villas

Double-bed villa option.
Symmetry appreciated.
Villa bathrooms flaunt a romantic charm with their clamshell bathtubs and open vista layouts.

The Grounds

An oasis of exotic plants.

The Spa

Mukul's spa has 8 different spa experience rooms. This one replicates a Moroccan spa house.

An attendant at Mukul's spa served me a hot cup of chamomile tea. Brown-skinned, curly hair and accommodating, she had a pretty smile and spoke accented English even when I wanted to practice my EspaƱol.

I searched her face for that unspoken connection that unfamiliar Black folks in foreign settings sometimes experience.

I didn't find it. And that was okay.

It's not always there. But when it is, it's a breath of fresh air.

It's like we're saying to each other 'I see you.'

The connection that some of us feel is deep, passed down through generations. It's a bit inexplicable but one of my theories is it comes from a time when we needed to communicate with each other without speaking. The other theory is that it comes from having to speak in code to pass on important messages without being detected by white slaveowners.

Me and my theories.

I thought about these things while I sipped coffee on the beach staring out at the beauty of Nicaragua's Pacific Coast.

Aqua Wellness Resort

Will I run into a guest that looks like me at one of these luxury resorts?

Before I get into that let's talk about...

This...

The ultimate retreat

Yogis always seem to be the first to find the best hideaways.

I've heard of luxury tree house resorts but I never saw myself staying in one.
The last time I was this tempted to buy speculative real estate was in Belize 11 years ago.
A woman's heart is a deep ocean of secrets. - Gloria Stuart

The first thought that came to my mind when I thought about sleeping in the trees was bugs. Once I finally laid down to close my eyes, my thoughts graduated to snakes. I was so exhausted from the journey getting to Aqua Wellness Resort that it didn't even matter.

Don't get me wrong, my heart took a few extra beats at the idea of a snake slithering under my bed. But all I could do was surrender to the sounds of waves crashing outside my shutters. It was peaceful and like nothing I had fallen asleep to before.

Let the snakes do what they may. At that moment all I could do was allow nature to take me away into a deep restful slumber.

The Morning After

A view worth surrendering to.

Snakes didn't attack me during the night. When I opened my eyes it took me a moment to realize where I was. Every once in a while on my first day in a new place I wake up disoriented, confused where I am.

The lively sound of cicadas and birds reminded me.

Unfortunately I did not meet any other guests in Nicaragua's luxury resorts who looked like me.

But that doesn't mean we don't come here. We certainly can afford it.

And I am not just talking about the Samuel Jackson's and T.I.'s who fly here for a weekend.

Luxury in Nicaragua is still very affordable. It isn't as elusive for a middle-class American as luxury in the U.S. might be.

Thanks to our American dollar we can come here to live like Kings and Queens.

Before the secret gets out maybe we should.

There's so much still to uncover about Nicaragua.

Two visits are just a taste.

Want to learn more about traveling to Nicaragua? Need help arranging your own unique getaway? Visit the Mom's Guide to Travel website for more information.

Created By
Tawanna B. Smith
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