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November 27, 1864: San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua

November 27, 2014

[Today] we ran down close to the land all the morning and before noon anchored in the little harbor of San Juan del Sur, where we landed in launches.

The transit company was on hand with wagons, horses, and mules to transport the passengers to Virgin Bay, on Lake Nicaragua, twelve miles distant. Our little group of six or eight, called by envious passengers “The Committee,” had taken means to get good animals, ordered for half-past one. Captain Merry of the America was to go with us. For five tedious hours we waited in the heat for those animals. We could not go out for fear they would come, for they were often promised in a few minutes. Well, the animals did not come until night, and we found out that we could leave [tomorrow] morning and reach the lake steamer in time, so we went back on board the America…

First, however, we looked around the village. Houses were scattered here and there among the trees, without any order, and of very primitive construction. The furniture is very scanty, and the people live very simply….They appear to be the genuine descendants of the aboriginal natives, with but little foreign blood intermingled. The women appear finer than the men, and many of them struck me as decidedly beautiful—too dark for brunettes, yet not black—complexions rich and soft, lips well set, magnificent teeth, large and liquid black or hazel eyes—hair long and flowing, fine as silk and gently wavy or straight, which they had put up in the neatest manner—fine forms, which their very thin dresses showed off to good advantage. The climate is such that dress is worn merely as a matter of taste and decency rather than for warmth. That of the men consists of pants and shirt, that of the women consists of a very thin skirt extending to the ankles, and a jacket or sack which hangs over the skirt. They go bareheaded, or with a gay, light shawl thrown over the head. Such are the natives of Nicaragua as I saw them in three towns—San Juan del Sur, Virgin City, and Castillo Viejo.

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