Many of you may have heard about political unrest in Nicaragua between those loyal to Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega and the people of Nicaragua demanding the President's resignation. Land-bound cities and the country's capital, Managua, have harbored protesting and violence, and to our great sadness, the government has approached the situation with a merciless hand, claiming the lives of many protesters.
Information on the originations of initial protests and the beginnings of the student-led movement can be found here. At current, the Nicaraguan people are demanding earlier elections as a crisis solution, but president Ortega is standing firm, refusing the possibility of an early end to his term, which is up in 2021.
We wanted to give an update to longstanding and new patrons wondering about AST's overall state and how our operations are faring in the midst of the nation's strife. We are committed to the continuance of our resort and retaining our long-employed, hospitable staff, and contributing to the economic well-being of La Barra and the surrounding areas, as well as continuing to spread both the magic and stoke found in Nicaragua's stunning beaches to our guests.
The following is an update from a group of guests that stayed at AST La Barra Surf Resort in the beginning of July, as well as notes via AST's Founder, Dave Hall, as well as Alonso Vargas, La Barra Surf Camp Manager, and Luis Lopez, La Barra's surf guide and Puerto Sandino local.
Nica Villaluz and Casey Kim traveled to La Barra Surf Resort from July 1st to 7th with four other friends, age 25-40 and enjoyed some healthy swell and clean conditions throughout their trip, along with a few other guests that were at La Barra. This was Casey's second time to La Barra, and Nica's first.
How was getting to and from the airport?
Casey: “Getting to and from felt safe feel like you’re away from everything that’s going on – the countryside, you don’t feel that strain.”
Nica: "The way back took longer - there was a lot of traffic, but we made our flight and didn't see any violence."
How about the lineups?
Casey: "We noticed quite a few people staying at some other resorts. Nothing seemed to be out of order along the coast."
Casey and Nica: "We got 2 different swells on our stay - one through the first part, and another fun one towards the end."
Did anything else seem out of the ordinary?
Casey: "Dave and his team have done a great job with legwork to ensure that everything is running smooth. Everything is as it should be, and the new remodel of the resort is epic."
Notes From The Team
Current Conditions of La Barra and Nicaragua
Airport pick-ups and returns are continuing as normal, though we have changed our hours of transfers to 5:00 AM to 5:00 PM for precautionary measures. We have had many groups in and out of La Barra the past 6 weeks with zero challenges, but we are taking measures to ensure our guest arrive and depart safely.
Do you have challenges with sourcing supplies?
Supply deliveries are business as usual - all the primary sources of food, fuel, and water are delivering fine, and we don’t see any potential challenges in the future. La Barra is well-prepared to manage this challenge in Nicaragua.
How are potential guests feeling about the situation in Nicaragua?
We have incurred cancellations, but 70% of booked guests remain on our roster for their vacations.
Where is most of the political strife happening?
Most of the protests and any violence have been in the city near political buildings and colleges. Managua, Masaya, and Leon have been subject to the most distress. At La Barra and in the surrounding areas, we have not had any issues.
What procedures are you taking during transfers to avoid challenges?
Our operations in Nicaragua have commenced for over 9 years, and we are knowledgeable of the roads in and out of the city. Protesters have put up roadblocks to keep government loyalists and corrupt police out of their cities to protect their people, and we know exactly where those are - all of our drivers and staff are well informed of current conditions.
At the airport, our AST vehicles are present before you even walk out of the gate. There is a 20 to 25-minute drive out of the city, and as soon as out of Managua, we are all well on our way to the coast and a relaxing surf vacation.
What do you recommend to travelers looking to visit Nicaragua today?
Stay informed of the latest happenings and reach out to us with any questions or concerns. If you're planning a trip to Nicaragua but not staying at La Barra, make sure you are in close contact with your hotel, surf camp or surf resort and make sure they keep you updated with exact information on travel challenges. We have opened our lines of communication with guests so they can call our managers in Nicaragua, or even send a recent guests questions. Our Trip Advisor “La Barra Surf Camp” has recent guest reviews for reference.