Safety In Managua

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Zelaya, you are the problem

Holy Fuck! I am glad your family left Nicaragua. You and your Somoza bretheren will be more comfortable in the USA, I am sure you took enough money from the peasants to be comfortable for a while. But be careful, to your adopted country you are the peasant, the nigger, even if you have the dough. Leave the ALBA states and their genuine desire to avoid the disgusting trappings of Capitalism to themselves. They don't want your businesses or your politics. They don't need you at all. Get bent - Tom

Nicaragua

Nicaraugua is fine if you stay out of poiitics, Nicas are poets, dreamers and politicos, friendly and takative in general, I has ex FSLN guerilla and ex Contra friends when I lived there, since a long while ago I was also in combat.
I dislike now Managua more and more, the FSLN propaganda signs just the same old shit for me, love the country outside Managua and nobody bothers me cept vendors once in a while.

wow

so the author claims that he did the right thing by staying away from any groups that he saw, thereby isolating and alientating himself, until he came to a dark alley, which he decided was the best avenue to take. then, low and behold, some people decided to take all his money and then take him for a ride, only to dirt road him with all of his valuables in their hands. gosh, i'm glad to know that he has explained that he has a lot of experience in world travel and knows how to handle himself and blend in. i wonder what would have happened to him if he didn't have so much skill?

I know your post is 2yrs

I know your post is 2yrs old... but I had to tell you I'm a blond haired blue eyed white devil and I left the United States to live and die in Nicaragua... Along with me came my wife 2yr old baby and my parents followed behind me.... WHY? I'm free in Nicaragua.... the united states you are not free.... I like it when a cop in Managua pulls me over and I have the option to throw him a 5 instead of the 30 dollar ticket. I like steeling electricity like my Nica neighbors, I like it when i beat the shit out of someone at the bar and the neighborhood gets excited. I like walking around with 5 dollars in my pocket feeling like I got the world by the balls. I like the Tona and I love the Flor De Cana. I love the hard working Nica but I cant stomach the rich soft spoiled Nica especially their spoiled children. I like going to a cock fight on saturday night with the family. I like the fact that I can "donate" 20 bucks a month to the police department and they dont fuck with me when i drive around drunk without a helmet on my dirt bike. I know they hate my Gringo ass but the feeling is mutual... and the rleationship works for me. I could just keep going.. some call it corruption others call it freedom... One thing i can agree with you is...... work with the community.... i live off of cordobas not dollars.......... who wants to live in the usa where everything is 100 dollars ..... traffic ticket... light bill... phone bill....medical bill.... insurance bill.....car insurance bill.... home insurance bill.. its the same shit in the us just controlled but everyone is putting their hands in your pockets... only in Nica you can do someting about that... Te quiero amigo Pura Vida. y a la verga con ee uu ....

agreed

I think I agree with you.  I don't mind reasonable taxes, as long as there's transparency.  I have found, in my time in Nicaragua and Philippines, that I don't at all like taxes based on citizenship / political affiliation, "taxes" paid without a receipt under threat of noncooperation, or taxes just because a politician would like something.

Looking forward to hearing your first-hand reports when you do visit.

I'm currently debating a Nicaragua trip

I'm currently debating whether or not I should go this year to Nicaragua... it's the third anniversary of my Grandmother's death and I should go but my brother is getting married in June and everybody has to go his wedding and I won't have any of my relatives in the U.S. or Nicaragua down there so I'll probably end up going in late July or early August.  As you know the rhetoric can really whip up the people into a frenzy and I'm sure you saw little Daniel on T.V. the other day blasting the U.S. about it's failed Latin American policies of the last 50 years, right in front of our newly elected Fearless Leader President Obama...  When I WAS there last year it looked more and more like the police state that everybody imagines any dictatorial, despotic Marxo-Leninist-Socialist regime to look like and I have to you that I wanted to leave 2 days after I got there.  To make a long story short we stayed for 2 weeks and it was very harrowing and and a very skin-crawling type of ordeal, and I'm not talking about the sancudos.  Most of the travel reports I've seen about Nicaragua are very old at, least 2 years and the like but I definitely will be back by at least October of this year so I'll have something to share for all the traveleers here who want to experience what Nicaragua is like.  I just wish everybody here wouldn't have to see the Nicaragua I saw last year, it's a hellish experience.  The Nicaragua of the PLC era and The vaunted Somoza era ( which I didn't live through ) is what I have seen and what I have heard of the most, and I have to say the PLC did try some things to give the coutnry a fresh coat of paint, but do you want to know what the essence of Socialism/ Communism REALLY is, Peter?  It's not how much they want to give you...  IT'S HOW MUCH THEY TAKE AWAY FROM YOU AND GIVE IT SOMEONE ELSE WHO NEVER HAD A RIGHT TO IT IN THE FIRST PLACE BECAUSE THEY NEVER EARNED IT.

    Communism is just envy of the educated, affluent elite.  You just replace the weak oligharchists with a poorer, less-educated and more repressive class of oligharchists.

 

no problem...

No problem, sometimes it's easy to make small slipups on the internet.

I don't live in Nicaragua anymore, by the way.  I did live there about three years, but for the past two years I've been living mostly in the Philippines and Costa Rica (we just returned to the Philippines last month after seven months in C.R.) 

Actually Peter I acidentally

Actually Peter I accidentally mixed your name up with a travel guru who bears a name similar to yours, a "tonteria " on my part.  I don't really know what else to say today, it's been a slow week... what  is actually going on these days in Managua?  Is everything pretty calm down there right now cos I swear when I turn on state-run radio here in the States it makes my skin crawl with all the rhetoric and all that's going on there.  How are the Americans and Canadians getting along down there?  You seem to have immersed yourself fully in Nicaraguan and Central American culture in general... anything that could be of potential unrest there?  No Chavez-edifying or kissing up to Ahdaminajad?  That's always what seems to be going on.  Do they still have a guard on every street corner with an AK-47 and a walkie talkie?  A net camera in every cybercafe?  Protests and manifestations?  I'm going to go access the newpapers right now and get a general feel of the actual mood down there but what is your opinion on how things are?

Who is Mr. Greenberg ??

Hi Zelaya, What a great post!  Thanks for sharing more of your background so that we are able to understand where each other is coming from.  You and I obviously have a similar analysis of many aspects of the Nicaraguan experience.  However, it seems like you conflated me and sojourner into one single person called "Mr. Greenberg." - who amazingly appears to live in Nicaragua (though neither I, nor "sojourner" live in Nicaragua).  I think most of what you say is actually directed to "sojourner" so I'll defer to him, but if you had some question specifically for me, what is it?

Very Well Said...

That was an excellent point you made regarding the basic fundamentals of human respect, Mr. Greenberg and I do wholeheartedly agree with your points.  Let me reiterate by saying that while I as a Nicaraguan ( more American than Nicaraguan, and most of my Latin American brothers from any nation South of the border would attest to and actually never allow me to forget it ) I have to agree with your ideas about fundamental human respect et al, but you have forgotten one very interesting puzzle to the point I was trying to make... you are a WHITE AMERICAN, I assume, while I am an AMERICANIZED NICARAGUAN MESTIZO FROM THE UPPER CLASS HAVING FLED NICARAGUA DURING THE MIDST OF THE SANDINISTA REVOLUTION IN 1979.  My parents were exiled and so effectively was  85% of my family, half of which fled to the United States, others to Guatemala, Puerto Rico, El Salvador, various other Latin American countries...  and I did go back and lived off and on for various years during my teen years.  Tell me Mr. Greenberg, just for clarification how long have you lived in Nicaragua?  It seems to me that while your intellectual and rational thinking abilities about how to deal with people on a decent human level deserve merit and consideration and especially praise to how you able to carry on an effective argument about how you see things from your American prism regarding Nicaragua as a pristine, idyllic and utopian paradise it is still a rather naive and blase view of a culture you absolutely know very little about.  While it may certainly be true that you know how to speak Nicaraguan Spanish, are you implying then that now you are just an American Nicaraguan?  Would you pack up your family, your kids, all your relatives and everybody else who has absolutely any blood relationship to you and all move down to Central America, fleeing the Black Socialist Orwellian nightmare America is becoming under the Schwarzenfuhrer Barack Hussein Obama and trade him in for a Mestizo strongman like Daniel Ortega Saavedra and his Satanic shaman witch wife Rosario Murillo?  How about trying to do business in Nicaragua, with PLC fat cats and Sandinista ruffians each trying to get a piece or whatever business interests you are trying to establish legimately, as it should be, like any decent American in America would and should but absolutely has no chance of being done in a fair and decent business-like way in Nicaragua?  No, Nicaragua is not a country where you can conduct business fairly and properly, be it that you are American or Nicaraguan.  Someone IS JUST GOING TO GET UP AND TAKE WHATEVER YOU OWN AWAY FROM YOU, IT'S AS SIMPLE AS THAT AND I AM VERY SORRY TO INFORM YOU OF THAT.  I read your post about how your were trying to buy a piece of land fairly and legitimately and how first that PLC asshole and then that Sandinista piece of of shit were pulling you in opposite directions trying to bleed you dry of any penny you have got... well, that's Nicaragua in a nutshell.  It is controlled by one big giant, for lack of a better word, Political Action Commitee Machine, if such a giant bastard monstrosity of a failed government could exist.  It's like a mafia, government, and giant Marxist-socialist soul-crushing apparatus rolled into one, crushing anyone in it's path.  If you're a member of the PLC and have enough dinero, political clout, political connections, family ties, relatives, " pull " as Nicaraguans euphemistically call it in their comically absurd slurring of the English word that means exactly the same thing, then you can get away with most anything.  And what about the Sandinistas, the darling, human-loving, pueblo-empowering sons of the legacy of Augusto Cesar Sandino ( who incidentally has been rolling over in his grave since the mid 1960's when good old Daniel, Humberto, Camilo and the rest of those idiots started using his name for their pet revoltinglution ) ?  Well, as an American you won't get away with ANYTHING there, not one thing.  You have to be Russian or Iranian or Korean or Vietnamese or Chinese or Swedish or any of the other half a dozen nationalities who idealogically think like the the Sandinistas do to work with them, but being an American trying to run a LEGITIMATE BUSINESS in Nicaragua?  PLEASE! 

To answer your question, I HAVEN'T tried to run a business in Nicaragua YET, but I have had plans of doing so for a great while.  I have enough startup capital squirreled away to get something done, but if you really want to get something done in Nicaragua don't think like an American thinks and starts to put up eco-tours or sex tours or brothel ownerships or hostels or hotels or other expatriate shit like all those other lunatics do, actually take the time to talk to the locals, the NICARAGUAN PEOPLE THEMSELVES, and see what they think would work and how it would benefit everybody, not just American wallets.  To often people who are in a superior position from any country they are, whether it be in a political, economic or social position of superiority look down on those they can exploit, even it is unintentional on their part and through no fault of their own see the world through their eyes only.  These are the same kind of people who could go to any foreign country in the world and only visit the areas where people from their part of their world visit, eat at the same spots people who look, think, act, and speak like them usually do, and generally keep to themselves as it is was intended naturally, according to Social Dawinism.  " Birds of a feather flock together ", right?  It is true but that theory is being put to the test every day in this increasingly more constricted, racially uneasy, ethnically diverse multicultural diaspora that is the 21st century planet we call Earth.  Now many people have nowhere where they can actually call home, do they?  I may have been born in Nicaragua but I have lived in the United States of America my entire life.  I have lived in Nicaragua 4 months out of every year for the past 16 years, but am I really Nicaraguan, when the locals make fun of my Americanized accent, size me up and down and sneer at me because I wear better shoes, better shirts, have things they wish they had but will never possess because they didn't have the fortune of immigrating to the United States at a very young age like I did?  The last time I was there one of my cousins kept referring to the United States as " my country ", she would say to me " ... so is everybody IN YOUR COUNTRY wealthy, do they have all the things you do? " My country?!  When I was in my teenage years America was more my country than it has ever been since, I voted Republican in every election since Clinton-Dole in 1996 and now that that wimpy Mr. Magoo " Big " John McCain threw in the towel to the tall Black Avenging Disco Godfather Barack Hussein Obama how is ever going to be my country AGAIN?  Mr. Greenberg ( Peter if I may ) I have to honestly say to you that my position is strictly from a position of extreme frustration and I am completely flabberghasted at the position I AM IN TODAY.  There is NOWHERE for us to turn anymore.  Perhaps you enjoy living in Nicaragua today because the Sandinistas haven't gone after your land yet, your bank account, your livestock, your businesses, none of the things that you have down there that would be harder to obtain up here, but UP HERE IN THE STATES SOONER OR LATER the government will crack down on everybody.  Just the other didn't the Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner start talking about how the G-20 nations were going to funnel $1,000,000,000,000,000,000 in GOLD to developing countries because it was time that the rich nations started doling out their wealth to the less fortunate?  It's all one big giant geo-political mess now and Nicaragua is one of the battlegrounds in a future scenario that had it's beginnings during the Cold War, then the Reagan Era with the Iran-Contra affair and the eventual collapse and subsequent reemergence of the Soviet Union, etc, etc.  Nicaragua is another one of those countries like Russia, mainland China, Cuba, Vietnam, Angola, El Salvador, Venezuela, Bolivia, Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, etc, etc, where you had a country that once had a great deal of prosperity, was once A REAL PARADISE back when it was something to really write home about before all of the hippies and free-love faggots of 1960's started protesting about the Military-Industrial Complex and how Eisenhower and Nixon were racists and this bullshit and that drivel... maybe it's just me but DO YOU ACTUALLY LIKE LIVING DOWN THERE?  Honestly I'm just trying to sound the warning bells:  get off the ship as fast as you can, it's going to go down eventually and I'm sorry you just can't see it, you can only see what is in front of your eyes but you brain hasn't registered it yet, and you haven't taken a look around you entirely yet. :)

Hi! Good Points

Hi Sojourner and Zelaya!  Nice to have you here.  Great points.  Sometimes it's difficult to understand the nuances of what someone is saying on the internet - we can make assumptions trying to place a few statements by someone into a context of our own experience, instead of theirs, and they might not make as much sense.

One thing I think we all agree on is that you're most likely to have problems if people feel resentment towards you.  We probably also agree that people who have lived in the U.S. are often more drawn to open expression and not as aware of nuances of personal relations, as people who have lived in Nicaragua most of their lives, and that this can be a focal point of resentment (though we might not agree whether it is a cause).  But let me tell you that once I understood Nicaraguan Spanish and culture, I realized that Nicaraguans were sometimes also spontaneously obnoctious to Americans (or anyone else) who had done them no wrong.  As noted below, Nicaragua is a macho culture, and insulting one another is part of how men dominate each other, and watching that is part of how women determine whom they desire.

Are Americans evil, and Nicaraguans noble savages?  Or are Americans saviors and Nicaraguans heathens?  We'd probably even agree that it's somewhere inbetween.

What else can either of you tell us about your experiences in Nicaragua?  How long have you each stayed in Nicaragua in a given trip?  Have you tried to do business at all?

yeah... whatever?

i've been backpacking off and on for over 15 years throughout europe, asia, central and south america and have never had any harm come to me whatsoever... and you know why? i take the time to study the country before i travel there... i learn their history, traditions and politics... i learn the basics of their language and especially the pleasantries... you know - words like... please... thank you... excuse me... you're welcome... and most of all i treat each person there with the upmost respect and dignity they deserve as a fellow human being. i am continually annoyed by the "ugly american syndrome" that occurs frequently in third-world countries around the world... it's truly pathetic. on more than one occasion i have walked up to an obnoxious gringo on the street or in a restaurant, or where ever and told them to "put a plug in it... you are blowing it for the rest of us!" they think they are funny or are being cute for their girlfriend or for whatever reason and they are being jerks to a local who they think they are above because they have more money in their bank account!  bottom line... the lower they appear in the pecking order of life... the more respect i show them! this is noticed by those around you my fellow travelers... trust me. i always always buy candies when i enter a new city and give the candies to the children and buy food for a select few children who are particularly malnurished... do this and you'll be amazed how doors open for you and how well you'll be treated. i have returned several times to nicaragua because i have unofficially adopted three children who were sleeping under a hammock with their grand-mother because both their mother and father are dead. they now have a very small one-room home i helped build with the help of the locals and they have told me they love me very much and this means more to me than all the fun money can buy... you know folks... i can backpack all around this area and people know me... i have absolutely no fear because i took the time to help others... i am not saying each of you should go and help others... but just understand you fear stems from your concern for your "possessions" more than in showing concern for starving people all around you... this defies common human decency… so fear naturally grows inside your soul because you know you should do something to help… but you don’t because your desire for fun far outweighs this tiny voice in your head that desires to help these poor people. here’s the bottom line… the 99 out of 100 people who get their skulls cracked open in nicaragua... were earlier that day out being obnoxious/disrespectful to someone somewhere... and eventually they get caught up with by "the universe" or what some call "karma"... be aware that you are constantly being watched and observed... treat everyone with respect and be humble and you'll be fine... God will show you the way. but hang around bars, get drunk and chase loose women… then come back and cry to us your sad stories of how you were victims south of the border... yeah whatever? if you do the same thing in boston, new york or miami you'll get your head bashed in there too. on this blog - it's not nicaraguan's you should be scared of... you should be afraid of yourselves .

 

Don't Get TOO Comfortable

     O.K, first of all it's a pleasure reading all of these wonderful accounts of how great a place Nicaragua and the rest of Central America is, the idyllic lush green jungles, the active majestic volcanoes, the interesting exotic wildlife, tbe food, the women, the surfing, etc, etc.  However, WHEN does a person visit or even live in a foreign country for an extended period of time and just because nothing has happened to him/her for however long they are there and expect to somehow wake up one day with a Teflon coating and somehow RELAX?  The answer is:  NEVER, EVER let your guard down in any foreign country, including Nicaragua, espeically if you are a White AMERICAN.

   As a Nicaraguan born pseudo-American I have lived in America all of my life but I have visited Nicaragua 7 times in my life, and I have lived there for extended periods of time over the past 16 years and my miost recent trip was back in June of 2008.  Let me tell you my friends Nicaragua has taken a turn for the worse, and although Americans, Canadians, Europeans, Taiwanese, and all the other people who visit and invest time and money to live and relax and do business in Nicaragua are enjoying daily sunbaths and trips to the beach and cheap thrills with Nica chicas there is a deep, festering well of resentment slowly creeping up in most of Nicraguan society, especially the " proletarian masses " who see all the money being thrown around by Americans and other foreigners and all the ass-kissing that is going on by the Sandinista government, the smiling Cheshire Cat-like grin of Comandante Daniel Orttega and his FSLN brothers and sisters telling all the gringos and gringas " Si, por supuesto que es seguro que pueden derrochar su plata aqui en Nicaragua, todo esta seguro para ustedes, somos sus amigos, Nicaragua YA NO ES UN ENIMIGO DE EE.UU, TODO ESTA EN EL PASADO " BUT as far as simply visiting this lush, fertile, rich and charming little haven of a tropical paradise it's all good. 

     In pure economic terms, with the Nicaraguan Cordoba Oro at roughly 19 to 1 United States dollar and at an even better exchange rate for the Euro ( slightly and even in the midst of all this global economic turmoil, especially since Nicaragua still has it's monetary standard riding on the dollar's coattails ) it's a good deal to visit Nicaragua.  If you visit any large, American-style supermarket such as La Plaza Espana in the Martha Quezada neighborhood ( where ALL the tourists seem to stay most of the time, at least the frugal road-warrior type ) you'll find that American-style packaged foods are CHEAP compared to American standards, while average Nicaraguan food and the fare you'll find on practically every streetcorner is practically given away to anyone who can afford it ( but not to any poor Nicaraguan in rags, boo-hoo ).  The relative cost of living in Nicaragua as compared to the United States... no comparison at all!  Unless you factor into account how much you pay for commercial goods such as stereos, computers, DVD players, etc. all things that NIB are ridiculously overpriced there, and strictly because Nicaragua and the rest of Latin American with the most notable exception being Venezuela simply does not produce finished goods, having no natural resources to speak of to produce such things, no mineral wealth, nothing except coffee, bananas, sugar, coconuts... get the idea?  I saw a post here by a guy named Peter Christopher who asked if there was any legitmate way to make money in Nicaragua... damn, you are GOOD!  THERE IS NO WAY!  AT ALL!  Every foreigner who has lived in Nicaragua for an extended period of time has found out everybody is doing something they shouldn't be doing or would go to jail immidiately if done in the United States.  People are running prostitution rings, illegal counterfeiting operations, smuggling, and yeas, there are street gangs and organized crime rings but they keep things hidden away like they do here in the States.  If you go looking for trouble in Nicaragua, you'll find it quicker than the supposed porters at Managua International Airport will snatch your luggage if you aren't looking.  Nicaraguan men are EXTREMELY MACHO, and I mean EXTREMELY.  Why do you think Reagan didn't invade Nicaragua in the '80's... does Vietnam ring a bell?  Think of Nicaraguans as the Vietnamese of Latin American...  shunned because of poverty, looked down upon because of their provincial, backward ways and their insignificant little country that has never produced anything of any renown, yet fiercely loyal, close-knit, family-oriented, proud and pissed-off.  If you go down to Nicaragua with an arrogant Gringo attitude and get into a Nicaraguan's face, and you have DEEPLY done something to offend him or her, don't be surprised if the next time your family see's you it'll be at your funeral.  Assaults, kidnapping, street violence all happens even in braod daylight, but as a traveler just TRAVELING here are the hints and tips I can give you:

1.  Don't EVER flash anything valuable around, NOTHING WHATSOEVER.  That includes a watch, camera, IPOD, any kind of electronic device, jewelry, wallet, etc. Just look inconspicuous as possible and you should be fine.  Sometimes I wonder if the Americans who dress like bums down there do it cos they don't wnat their valuables stolen, but it's a general rule for any coutnry, I guess.

2.  RESPECT the local rules.  Don't act too boorish, rude, offensive, be cordial, geinal, nice and corteous to everybody you meet.  They'll have a better opinion of you in general cos Americans in general are seen as repugnant and extremely arrogant, the only thing that stops a Nicaraguan from knocking an American's head off is the simple fact that he's an American and that implies power, status, recognition, etc.  Otherwise...

3.  TRY to NEVER go anywhere alone.  Always go with someone.  The chances of ANYBODY getting mugged in Nicaragua are extremely high. no matter what anybody here tells you.  If you can read Spanish and bother to read local newspapers or turn on La Nuevo Radio YA! or another radio station there's always reports of some sort of violence going on, someone got hurt or beat up or robbed or something, try to go out with at least another person, or 3 or 4...

4.  Don't ever get into a taxi alone.  Most of the taxi drivers are crooked and will not only try to overcharge you for the ride, some may rob you, mug you or worse.  ALWAYS call a taxi from your hotel or hostel and always go through a reputable, certified taxi service, the taxi drivers on the streets are justt too risky to flag down most of the time.

5. Be VERY careful when you go out at night.  Managua is very, very much alive at night as are most of the other cities but since Managua is the capital and has an active nightlife it's easy to get caught up in the boozing, womanzing, partying, etc.  The same things that can happen to you here can happen over there, and it's also not unusual for there to be fighting and rowdy behavior and violence in nightclubs and other places where people congregrate.  Always stay safe!

6.  Always do your shopping as early as possible, especially in places like the mercados where some of them are dark and you don't know where to turn and they seem rather ominous.  A lot of them close early and there are always pickpockets and riff-raffs around so be careful.  Always watch your wallet or purse, always.  Theives are very good at stealing things in Nicaragua, believe me!

7.  Watch what you eat, always have it cooked to U.S. standards and be sure to drink purified water or if there is no purified water avaiable heat it until it's boiling.  The water in Nicaragua usually isn't safe to drink, especially from the tap.  The Sandinistas are cleaning up Lake Managua with help from the Spanish goverment so I've heard but who REALLY wants to drink water from a lake that has been a dump for human excrement for 3 decades?  And also don't be surprised if you get sick the with a very painful stomachache when you first eat the food down there, again... there aren't ALWAYS the same health standards in every nation, if you know what I mean.

8.  Try not to do ANYTHING in Nicaragua that will make you get seen by a physician.  The medical care there SUCKS BEYOND BELIEF, you don't want to see a surgeon down there, believe me!  So if you go surfing, jungle exploring, hiking, whatever read as many manuals and handbooks you can find on the country, there are animals, diseases, plants and other things in Nicaragua found nowhere else in the world and since it's not an oft-explored place most of the data is scant or non-existent at best.  Try to stay safe in your physical activities, including sexual activities or anything else.  Nicaragua has the lowest AIDS rate in Central America but has been rising for a while now.  It's still 100 times safer to engage in sexual actiivity in Nicaragua than in Costa Rica, Honduras and El Salvador combined but always use protection ( I don't have to tell you that one but had to throw it in there ).

9.     If you suspect someone is trying to shake you down like some of the other reports here, use common sense.  Just use basic survival instincts when it comes to your passport and important documents like that, never hand them over to ANYBODY unless you are certain they are legimately employed by the government, and even then most of the people employed in the government are corrupt and will usually take a bribe to stop harassing you and if you don't pay up it could get ugly.  There's always ways of getting out of things but just assess the situation and always act on your best instincts.  Several times I have been there I have been in cars where the police has stopped the driver, never with foreigners but it's the same thing everywhere:  Money. 

10.  This one is purely for you college types, but take a look around you when you are there.  Police on every streetcorner with walkie-talkies and armed with semi-automatic weapons, Net cafes with cameras, phones with survaillance devices, the party hacks on the state-run government news channels shouting " Death To America ! ", Iranians, Venezuelans, Cubans, North Koreans, Russians, and a lot of other people you have never seen in your life around you... just remember Nicaragua has gone back to the it's old U.S.S.R. ways, even though it says it hasn't.  Stay safe, people.

     I hope you enjoy everything Nicaragua has to offer, the food is especially good.  Try the nacatamales, vaho, vigoron, cacao, pinole, horchata, pataya, tiste, sopa de pescado, and some of the exotic animals like iguana, armadillo, and garrabo if they're available.  If you ARE going to live there for while and can find an exotic pet consider buying it, those are getting hard to find now but it's going to be very expensive to export back to the U.S.  If you need something shipped always use a trusted U.S. or private carrier, the Aduana ( Customs Office ) officials like to rummage and search for valuables in some rather tantalizing-looking packages from time to time.  And that's about it!

sounds like you'll be ok

I think as long as you are especially careful around the capitals, and at night anywhere, you'll be fine traveling with your friend and camera.  I hope you'll take some nice pictures and post them then! Peter

Thanks for the reply Peter! 

Thanks for the reply Peter!  This will be my first trip to Central America, however I'll be traveling with a friend who has been there before.  He is fluent in Spanish, I know very basic things, but am focused on learning more before I go.  The camera itself is worth about $1200 and it is a full sized SLR with attachment lenses.  I'm less worried about getting it stolen as I'm planning on keeping it on me at all times, either in its bag or with a wrist strap.  I'm more concerned about getting robbed, or stopped and threatened for it.  Thanks for the other safety advice, that's all very consistant with everything else I've been reading.  Any other advice you can lend would be most appreciated!

-DES

managua is dangerous

here we have an ignorant gringo who seems to know everything about anything.

victims are criminals in his opinion and he seems to know about any background and has any advice for anyone without having any clue.

he says that he lives there for 2.5 months. wow, that makes this gringo an expert about managua.

i think the most dangerous people in managua are gringos like this one...

fred

 

San Juan Del Sur

I'm leaving Saturday for my first trip ever to Nicaragua. We'll be getting in really late(2 in the morning) and taking a taxi to the hostel we're staying at in San Juan Del Sur. I've been researching things on the internet about everything there quite a bit. So now I'm looking for some advice for my trip. Like the person that posted a bit before, who said she was wondering about taking her camera, I have the same concerns. I really want to take my camera with me, but for obvious reasons I'm afraid of it getting stolen. It's not too big of a camera, but it's still bigger than a normal point and shoot. So what's the deal y'all, take it or leave it??? Also, any other advice for a first time traveller there?

What's your experience level in Central America?

Hi DES,

Welcome to the forum.  What is your experience level in Central America?  Will you be traveling alone?  How much is a camera like that worth, and how big is it?  Do you speak Spanish?  To give you a good answer for your particular situation, we'd need to know that information.

I consider myself quite savvy about Central America, and to have good Spanish knowledge.  In the last 7 months in Costa Rica, neither my wife nor I have had a problem - except for one near-loss when we almost lost a $400 LCD monitor in the Costa Rica bus robbery scam.  Every country is different, and the parts of the country are different.  While you can leave yard tools in the yard in many parts of Costa Rica, that's impossible in Nicaragua.  While in Grecia many homes don't have bars, twenty miles away every home has bars.  Overall in Nicaragua, I'd say you are more likely to have something stolen from you by a "friend" or neighbor than in Costa Rica, while in Costa Rica you are probably more likely to have something stolen by a complete stranger.  One of the hardest things is to try to adjust to the varying contexts while traveling.  Whatever you do, don't fall asleep on a bus going to San Jose.

Central America is a beautiful place - gorgeous beaches, mountains, so many wonderful people, great fruits, perfect climate - err on the side of caution if this is your first time especially near the capitol cities: do not take a taxi alone in Managua; if you EVER feel uncomfortable anywhere, immediately find the quickest safe place to take a breather and think it through; do NOT spend time outside at night; and Never do drugs or drink more than one drink in a sitting anywhere, period.

Peter

Camera Safety

I'm going to be taking a trip to Central America, Managua to Panama, shortly and I'm debating about whether to bring my DSLR camera or not.  I'm reading a lot of conflicting information, and wanted to get some feedback and opinions.  I'm a photographer, and would really love to capture the beauty that CA holds, however, I'd also like to be able to return home with my camera.  Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated!

-DES

the "police"

The "police" weren't Police. They were impersonators. And you never went to the real police station to do your part in combating crime....you should have reported it immediately. Nicas all around you did the right thing. The doorman got the license plate number. The "radio man" was shocked because this was really a new phenomenon to him, and he did his part. But you left the country...without reporting the crime. And now you want to complain about Managua and Nicaragua...

So, you knew beforehand that the TicaBus area is known to be unsafe and the area around the Irish bar is unsafe, but you walked alone there at night.....? Hmmmm......TAKE A TAXI, OK?  That's what we do here. It's a fact of life. The average Nica would not do what you did. Why expect better odds than they do?

I have lived in Managua for 2.5 months now and have not had any such bad experiences. BUT I would never behave as you did for the simple reason that the history is there to warn you that you raise your chances of experiencing this type of thing when you go against common sense and the warnings of those who have been there before you. The information is there. Use it!

In my job I meet a lot of travelers, Nica and gringo. I know personally of only 2 incidents of robbery in these 2.5 months. In both cases, the victim did things they were told not to do, for safety reasons. Apparently there are always those who think the rules of the game don't apply to them.

bummer

what a sad way for the police to welcome guests into their own country.  no wonder that ticabus station was building its own expansion with dormitories inside the compound.

 

got robbed by the police

it happened two years ago while i was staying in a nice aparthotel in the
ticabus-area. there are always many tourists from all over the world
in this area.
one evening at about 10 i wanted to go to the new irish pub which is
located just a couple of blocks from the apartotel. i knew that this
was a dangerous area and i was watching out for the worst. i had my
running shoes on and a maze in my pocket. it would not help against
guns, but against anything else. and i was watching out for groups and
would stay away from any gathering immediately. i am experienced in
dangerous zones in latin america, i know how to dress and how to
behave and i blend in physically somewhat.
when i took the first right into a dark alley i saw a policecar
rolling slowly with their lights off. i relaxed because of the
associated protection- what a mistake! they asked me where i would go
and i answered them: to the irish pub. they jumped out of the car and
asked to search me. i denied but they did nevertheless against my
protest by force-four against one. they took my money(did not carry
much cash of course) my maze, my bankcard and some files that i had
wrapped in my pocket. then they wanted to see my passport. i told
them that the passport was in my hotel room around the corner for
security reasons. they made me enter their car and drove me around the
corner to the entrance of my hotel. when we arrived, they let me exit.
as soon as i had reached the door of the hotel, they took off at full
speed with my personal property. the doorman of the hotel saw them
escape and took down their license plate.

the next day i complained with my embassy. the embassador told me that
he had written a complaint note to the police chief. i was supposed to
go there again and confirm what happened in front of the police chief.
when i was asked to do so, i had already left the country.

the same day i met a radio guy from a managua radio station. he was
stunned. then he took down all information including the license plate
in order to broadcast it all over managua(or even the country)
including the license plate number.

at the same evening i met the irish boys and a young couple who told
me and the other people who were gathering in one of those soda
gardens about their robberies. the irish boys got almost robbed in the
same situation as myself but as they were in a group, they ignored the
policemen and moved on. they told me that they had exactly the feeling
that they would get robbed but they pretended not to speak spanish and
just ignored them.
the young couple from england told me that they had to surrender their
money to a gunman who poined a gun to their had just one block from
there.

i went back to costa rica because i had no interest in more trouble.
i felt safe everywhere in nicaragua. not in managua and definitely not
in the ticabus-area. there are many crooks including policemen waiting
for targets. this should be common knowledge becasue it is exactly the
information that you get from any first -world embassy.

We look forward to hearing your impressions in person

We look forward to hearing your impressions in person...

Take a good look at these pictures from yesterday before you think about venturing too far from the hotel.

http://www.laprensa.com.ni/archivo/especiales/galerias/interno/index.php...

-Peter

 

Arrival to Managua

I will for sure tell my story even maybe daily for the few first days.

I would be concerned too

Hi Gerardo,

I would also be concerned.  What about spending your first month somewhere more chill - say, Chinandega, Nandaime, or Granada, or Ocotal/Condega, depending on your preferences? On the other hand, if you do move straight to Managua, you'll definitely have bragging rights and a story to tell!

Peter

 

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