Last time you heard from me was on January 2nd of this year, after that things got very challenging and you didn’t hear from me again. Thanks to everyone who sent kind words, to everyone who has supported Garden Cafe throughout the year and to those who encouraged me to continue posting on our blog. Perhaps after all these months I have learnt how to navigate uncertain waters a bit better and I will be able to dedicate a little more time to posting.
2019, as some of you know and others might imagine, was a year of frustration, uncertainty, anxiety, fear and so many other emotions I didn’t even know I could experience. Business in Nicaragua in 2019 was everything but traditional. It was more like a business school. Wow! Truly, very few companies are prepared to face long, complex and extended crisis such as the one we are facing in Nicaragua, but with a strong mission, steadfastness and commitment, one is able to withstand, even if hardly, mighty storms.
Iglesia La Merced Granada, Nicaragua. PC: Wilfredo Miranda
We went into this year with very little expectations and unable to make short, mid or long-term predictions. Why? Because though generalized violence and evident chaos had ceased, the cause and reason for the crisis had not been resolved, and I dare say, has not yet been resolved. Without much knowledge other than this is the place where we want to live because we love Nicaragua, our community, family and friends, we held hands with 9 out of 35 people in our team, we committed to trying new strategies, creating activities that connect the community and above all to maintaining, or even improving, our quality standards.
Damien and Xiomi
Business: In terms of business, the first half of the year was on a month to month basis 70% down in comparison to 2017 or the first trimester of 2018. The second half of the year began to show more signs of recovery at 30% down when compared to the same period mentioned above. Though brutally low, we could see a clear tendency, which allowed us to keep pivoting to find balance in the operation.
Staff: To this day we have re-hired a total of 23 staff members. This is one of the biggest sources of happiness for us—the certainty that 23 families will have food on the table, health insurance, an end of the year bonus, paid vacation and the emotional support of a solid team. Maintaining our quality standards not only refers to the food and experience for our customers, but also for the experience and benefits we provide for our team. After all, they are the core of Garden Cafe and the ones creating all the magic!
Our current Garden Cafe team on a decompression outing.
Tourism. With what I perceive around me, I would guess that the tourism industry might be one of the few economic activities which will continue to experience recovery in Nicaragua, even if at a very slow rate. We are happy about this but we are also very aware that this is one of the most sensitive industries, one that can take a dramatic downfall in a matter of a few days in the face of threats.
Today we are grateful to everyone who has visited Nicaragua this year and those who are planning on visiting next year, especially those who consciously decide to visit us despite the challenges we face and the media reports. May I mention that most of the world seems to be in flux, and no matter where we are or go, we face similar tensions. This to me is a clear call to everyone...no matter where we are! It’s time for everyone to become active citizens.
End of the year balance. Though very challenging, we end this year with profound gratitude, for the good and not-so-good things. Today we know and feel in every cell of our bodies that things could perfectly be otherwise, so the simplest blessings like food, clean water, a roof over our heads, family and friends make us feel whole and complete.
From the Garden Cafe family we wish your holidays to be filled with gratitude, love, family and health!