Is Nicaragua Really Dangerous?

On the dark León avenue behind the gigantic cathedral, a taxi man called out to me while driving by: 

Yankee Imperialista.”

This man had a conditioned political view, and couldn’t refrain from generalizing.  Perhaps, in his eyes, I could have been a modern-day William Walker.  That’s a scary thought.  Mr. Walker was a confederate southerner who declared himself president of Nicaragua. He was eventually killed when plotting to dictate and enslave all of Central America.

Also in León, while sitting on my computer in the lounge of La Siesta Perdida, where I stayed, three Nicas struck up a conversation with me.  After finding out where I was from, one grimaced and shook his hand up and down a couple of times.  I instantly called him on his generalization by spewing out:

If I were against your country because of the passport that I was involuntarily given, then why would I be here?

He instantly changed his view and was as friendly and humble as most of the other Nicas that I’d interacted with while in Nicaragua for five weeks.

Considering the atrocities that the U.S. has caused Nicaragua throughout past centuries, how can it be possible to fault these guys for their slight animosity?  Both episodes were the most perilous I’d had with the countless people I came across in Nicaragua.

Nicaragua seems to provoke a negative view in people abroad.  In the U.S., upon telling a man I was going to Nicaragua, he shockingly and loudly retorted:

Nicaragua!  Why don’t you go to Costa Rica?”

Now, in San José, Costa Rica, I’ve talked to European tourists who have told me that they’re traveling in Costa Rica and not Nicaragua, because Nicaragua’s dangerous.

The capital of Managua is supposed to be dangerous. This is according to the Managuan people.

In Managua, it probably wouldn’t be wise to walk in the wrong neighborhood, especially at night.  Or, if you must, walk briskly, with confidence and authority. I walked around during the day and took pictures, went to a market and snapped shots, and went to the Malecón alone at night.  I took taxis around the city and had absolutely no problems.    I also walked at night near the Backpacker’s Inn where I stayed.  Granted, I didn’t go to the hotel barrio of Martha Quezada, which has a reputation for petty crime.

At a baseball game, feeling that I possessed a keen pair of eyes on either side of my head, I had my camera out in a crowd.  I even tried to be patient with the device by letting it focus.  There didn’t seem to be anyone that had an interest in swiping my camera.  The same held true on crowded buses and in markets.

The worst things I’ve heard of happening is small-time crime.

There’s a  Canadian travel blogger who had her camera taken while threatened with a knife in San Juan del Sur.  Like anywhere, unfortunate things happen.

In Nicaragua, there are dangers that don’t involve people.  I had the unfortunate experiences of coming in contact with a stingray and a tick.

My big toe is still slightly tender from the stingray that bit me 32 days ago.  It would  be better if I hadn’t done so much walking.  Nonetheless, it was a deep bite that’ll take time to get back to 100%.

I still have a tick’s antenna trying to push its way out of my skin.

Like many places with beaches, Nicaragua possesses dangers like riptides.

Great big spiders exist in tropical places.  Many aren’t dangerous.

If you engage in certain activities like hiking without a guide, increased danger exists.

Renting a motorbike is a risk for travelers everywhere.

Be careful walking on narrow sidewalks.  DON’T step into the street without turning around and looking first.   You may be inclined to do this out of courtesy for pedestrians walking towards you.

Perhaps one of the greatest dangers in Nicaragua is stepping into a hole between the sidewalk and the street.  Locals seem to evade these holes with a sixth sense.  Their feet come so close to potentially slipping.  This is while they’re not looking. It’s possible to twist an ankle or maybe even break a leg, or worse.  I haven’t heard of a tourist slipping into one of these holes; but, my guess is that it’s happened on countless occasions, especially if the foreigner was walking at night, or worse, inebriated.

Now!  Are you ready!

According to the Global Peace Index (GPI), Nicaragua is the second safest country in Latin America.

Personally, in my five weeks in Nicaragua, I found it to be as safe as any place I’ve  been on the entire earth, and just in case you weren’t aware, the revolution ended 31 years ago, while the counterrevolution has been over for more than 20.


6 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by David Marcinkowski on March 4, 2011 at 15:53

    The raw chicken sitting out is probably the most dangerous thing. It may have ecoli.
    What is the local beer they drink?


    • DAVID: The chicken looked fresh, down here they eat way more insides of things compared to up north.
      The local beer of Nicaragua is OK. There are two types, Toña and Victoria. Victoria, more than likely named after the 1979 Revolution, is slightly better. I never saw either of them on draft. The best thing to drink in Nicaragua is the world class Flor de Caña rum.


  2. Thanks for linking to me. I´ve been in Latin America for 11 months now and can say Nicaragua is by far my favourite country still.

    It is incredibly safe (outside Managua) and it was such a shame I was robbed in San Juan del Sur because otherwise the 5 weeks there were uneventful.

    The only thing I´d say is that like every other capital, Managua is dangerous and people should read my post about a friend being robbed there as it´s a very common scam:


    • AYNJELINA: I read some of your Nicaragua posts before my trip and your San Juan one popped into my head, seemed like a perfect link. Nicaragua is your favorite of all so far: WOW!
      I just read your post about Jeremy, sad story, luckily he was OK.
      I noticed that you have nothing on Costa Rica, like so many others you must have blown straight through. I’m there now and understand as I plan on getting to Panama very soon. I look forward to reading your posts on that country momentarily.


      • Two days in Costa Rica all on a bus. I wasn’t interested in paying 10 times the cost for what I could see in Southern Nicaragua and Northern Panama.


        • I remember crossing the border into Costa Rica from Nicaragua and asking the man who charged me for a water and something to eat if he’d made a mistake. He said, in very good English: “Costa Rica is two to three times as expensive as Nicaragua.” I originally wanted to slowly travel through. I remember checking some potential places to stop and they were geared only towards short time vacationers who are willing to pay the same or even more for what a vacation costs in the states or Europe. These prices were actually 10 times that of budget-friendly Nicaragua. That’s when I decided to blow through Costa Rica quickly.


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