Hacienda Mérida is an accessible hotel.
We have made the commitment and investment to allow everyone to enjoy the beauties of Ometepe and to participate in our mission for sustainable and responsible living. The restaurant/sitting area has ramped access as do the rooms on the second floor (even if you are not staying up here, the view of the lake is beautiful and it's a great place to read). For the day visitor or dorm user, there is a communal bathroom, shower, and sink designed for easy wheelchair use.
This was one of the most important farms of the Somoza family. It was founded by Roberto Falcón, who came from Mérida in Yucatán México. Later it belonged to Gastón Lacayo and Sara Bonilla, who sold it to General Somoza García in 1930.
The area was 900 hectares, of which 600 were for the cultivation of coffee and 300 were forest and shrub land.
The previous owners were dedicated to the cultivation of sugar cane, cacao and fruit trees. They even conserved the giant cooking utensils for sugar cane processing, chimneys, etc.
In 1945, they renovated the building and brought a steamer which changed the whole system of processing coffee and milling rice. The coffee harvest started in October and ran till December, during which time workers came from all the nearby villages on Ometepe as well as from the mainland. Men and women who still live in the community assure us that there were around 600 people who cut coffee and were housed in a two story dormitory, which is actually where Francisco Valverde lives today.
The workers left at four o'clock in the morning, returning at three o'clock in the afternoon. For every 5 gallon bucket of coffee picked, the workers would receive 2 cordobas. (The exchange rate during the 60's and 70's was fixed at 7 cordobas to US$1).
Once cut, the coffee was taken to the 10 mule keepers, each one tending 5 mules. In addition there were 10 ox carts. The coffee was then transported to the coffee processing plant in Hacienda Mérida for de-pulping and drying. After this the coffee was ready to be transported to El Diamante, a dock situated near Granada, on the Mérida and Omepete boats. There were seven of these journeys each week and each crossing carried 300 sacks, each sack weighing 222 pounds.
The land that was not cultivated for coffee was rented to the farmhands. These sharecroppers, could grow what they pleased on these sections of land, paying the Hacienda 5% of their production takings in return.
In this region there were 7000 cattle belonging to the Somoza family. This cattle were regularly moved among farms and distributed in the various Somoza states, primarily on the mainland. However, in addition to coffee and cattle, the farm raised 500 pigs, and produced coconuts. It is impossible to determine exactly the quantity of coconuts produced, as it was so vast, however this production was collected by the Victoria steam boat once a week, from both Moyogalpa and Mérida.
The houses of the farm were well organized. In the large house was the kitchen, living room, the accountant's office and the radio and telegraph office. In the back house was the manager's bedroom quarters (which is actually where the guests' dormitories are today). The tall house with two storeys was exclusively for General Somoza and his family.
Running through the hacienda were train tracks on which a small wagon from the coffee plant ran to the loading dock on the lake (the now beached wagon can still be seen, nestled on the property). Next to the coffee plant the old bagging patio still exists on which 4 to 5 men would work the coffee. General Somoza Garcia would visit the hacienda two to three times a year for two weeks with his whole family. Before his visits, General Somoza would send guards to plan his arrival. He also visited other haciendas in San Ramón, Tichaná, El Cairo and Corozal. His children fished and swam and the general visited his workers who often successfully asked him for some extra money.
While at the hacienda they would feast on fresh beef and pork and, rarely, fish - a reality that is starkly different from today. He usually used the boats Vapor Somoza (Somoza Steam) and the Cinco Estrellas (The Five Stars).
El Bonilla, el Borbón, La Caridad, La Esperanza, La Fe, El Armengol, Los Placeres, La Curva, La Socola, Santa Isabel, Santa Martha, Palmira, Caturro, El Somoza, Mérida, Las Nubes, Tomas, López, Santo Domingo, La Cucaracha, El Pilarte, El Zúñiga, San Juan, El Sombrero, La Unión, La Trinidad, El Arabia y Josefina.
There was no school in Mérida until the middle of the 20th century. In 1959 Socorro Flores de Cruz, from San Jorge, was the first teacher assigned to the area.
She offered classes on the porch on the north side of the hacienda to very few students; later they moved the school to Mercedes Zeledon's house (the large pulperia next to the green gate), and more teachers continued to come each year. With the formalization of education in Ometepe, the Ministry of Education sent Ena Lopez, a teacher, with a pilot program in education in 1960. Education on the island continued developing with Edwin Castillo who, in 1964, was the first teacher to offer 6th grade.
By 1986 the Mérida elementary school had been built, and in the 1990s the Robert Drew Foundation was founded and began offering high school.
There was a medical dispensary which was run by Miguel Cruz, a homeopathic healer (witch doctor), and later Julio Madrigal. In the dispensary there was a first aid kit located in the front room where there was also a well, which ensured a supply of clean water. Among the farmhands there were also midwives, two of whom were Placida Barrios and Sofia Carrillo.
When people complained of sprains or broken bones, Daniel Cubillo, Juan Tiberino and Genaro Zambrana would rub or massage the muscles or bones with herbs.
In 1979 General Somoza was overthrown by the Sandinistas and the entire Hacienda was confiscated and turned into a government run cooperative. All the cattle and capital goods where sold and the Hacienda began a gradual deterioration and abandonment. By 1985, most of the buildings were abandoned. The newly formed dictators, the Sandinistas, ran the country for 12 years and were forced into a democratic election in 1990 and lost. Violeta Chamorro, the first female president in Latin America, was elected president of the country and donated what was left of the Hacienda Mérida to the Nicaraguan Institute of Tourism (INTUR). The Institute hired two caretakers and left the Hacienda abandoned for most of the 90's. In 2002, the Institute of Tourism leased the Hacienda to Alvaro Molina, a Nica from Esteli. Electricity, portable water, a septic tank, and dormitories were built in the old houses. The new two story house began a gradual restoration and remodeling and today has 11 rooms with private bathrooms. The original wood dock was restored and a reconstruction process continues until today in May 2006.
Today Hacienda Mérida has 18 employees and receives tourist form all over the world.
(505) 8868 8973 / 8894 2551
(505) 2560 0496 / 2560 0493