Other Cities/Towns to Consider?

Hi, new here. I'm 50, hoping to take my pension early at 55. Problem is my company terminated our pension plan so I'll be getting about $13.5k a year instead of in the low $20's at 55. Have been doing alot of reading but am only familiar with Mexico. I like what I've read about Granada and the northern cities. I'm curious about Boaco, read that an American owns a pizza place there. And it looks great scenery wise. As much as Granada offers I'd prefer a cooler climate. Esteli seems to be a good compromise between weather and infrastructure. Any other places with milder weather worth considering? Thanks!

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Sex Tourists and Sexpats in Granada?

I'm a mid-50s single gringo considering a move to Nicaragua after living in Costa Rica for several years. Among my motivations is to avoid the stereotype that all gringos my age as "Johns" or "mongers," which is prevalent in Costa Rica owing to its large sex tourism/sexpat industry. I'm not a prude and don't have a problem with prostitution. I'm just am weary of living where the sex industry dominates and being stereotyped as a participant.

My experience is that Managua remains mostly free of this stereotype. Oh, women do often assume that all gringos are rich, and this interests some, plus of course there are red light districts and all the rest. However, I found that I was able to navigate in Managua without being saddled with the sex-tourist stereotype, and I liked that.

What I don't know is the situation in Granada. My sense from visits a few years ago was that Granada wasn't given over to the sex industry to the extent that Costa Rica is, and that most of Granada's expats weren't involved in the industry (or at least didn't prioritize it). However, during a more recent visit, I had the sense that Granada was becoming infested with the sex tourists and sexpats. I was personally propositioned by hookers on the average of every couple blocks in the evenings, the buildup of the restaurant/bar area seems to be attracting sex tourists (some of who I know from Costa Rica), and I have heard rumors that Granada is the destination of choice for gringos in search of sex with children.

Can those familiar with Granada comment on the trends? If the sex tourism/sexpat imprint on Granada remains small, I think I would prefer to try living there over Managua. Although I like Managua, I find it too large and confusing, and I would prefer a smaller town nearby. Also, while I speak halfway decent Spanish and don't absolutely need the company of my countrymen, a decent English-speaking community is a plus. Add that Granada is charming. However, if Granada's sex industry is heading in the direction of Costa Rica's, I won't waste my time there.

And please, don't bother to tell me that it is "personal choice" how people live, and if I don't want to participate in a sex industry I don't have to. I am aware that everybody has a choice, but this philosophy misses the issue. When lots of people in one easily-identifiable ethnic group (e.g., gringos) are making one choice, the rest of us in that same ethnic group get grouped together with them and stereotyped. My interest is in avoiding the stereotype, not in "personal choice."

Granada is cleaning its image up

They busted a few and closed a few places down, if only to send a message.

SJdS closed the whore house and now all the hookers and trannies are in the street and in the bars, bad move.

I can usually tell the CR Ex Pat sex trade creeps looking at moving up here. A few tried and left. Its not as easy here as they think.

One thing the CPC may be good at, when nudged in the right direction.

If the heat doesn't bother you, check out Leon

It's bigger than Granada but smaller than Managua.

I'd assume that you saw what you saw, probably fairly accurately since you had seen the same thing in Costa Rica and didn't see the same thing in Managua.

You might want to move this to another thread as this one is quite full of several other discussions flying in a rough cloud.

Rebecca Brown

Thanks Hubie, your advice is

Thanks Hubie, your advice is pretty good. The more I read here and elsewhere makes me think Nicaragua is exactly what I want. Just have to be patient for a few years.

Other Cities

Personally I do love Granada as it offers my wife and I what we want and locals have been wonderful. Mind you I'm not yet retired so only get down one or two months a year to our 'Casa'. More expensive to purchase a really nice place in Granada than some other places but also a lot easier to rent it out when not there.

El Rosario and Ave Maria

Having Ave Maria less than a half hour away is a major plus ... wish it was closer. Students and faculty come from all over the world ... there are English Speaking Only zones on the campus ... so many students and residents bilingual. Lots of energy and beautiful people, Plus course and activities available to the public. The Town Square is two blocks away and the energy poours out there.

MN Hacienda Iguana, Tola, Rivas SKYPE: QWLCrew

Sounds Really Nice

It just goes to emphasize that you need to find a place that pushes YOUR buttons!

Endless possibilities, something for everyone, from hermit (out in the RAAN next to the Honduran border) to dilettante (San Juan del Sur), and plenty of in-between.

How close to the beach is El Rosario?

Esteli v. El Rosario

I've lived in Nicaragua for over six years (half time). The ONLY town where my car was broken into and my luggage stollen was in Estili... in front of a local, popular restaurant mid day.

El Rosario. I, too, love this little town. It is immaculate because the local Alcaldia takes pride in the town. They've just completed a huge sports complex in front of the church. They continue to pave (brick) roads throughout the community. You can buy a small house for less than $7000 if you are OK with outdoor plumbing. One good sized pulperia, Eskimo ice cream store, famous old bakery. Small pharmacy and hardware store ... couple of restaurants ,,, not much else.

Jinotepe, the capital of Carazo, is just ten minutes away and is not flooded with gringos... so prices are fair. They still grow coffee nearby and at one time, because of the altitude was a coffee growing center. While El Rosario is not as high as Jinotepe or nearby Dolores or Diriamba, it is not as hot as the lower cities.

The University of Ave Maria is nearby in San Marcos and iJinotepeis the gateway to the La Boquita beaches. Managua is less than an hour away.

MN Hacienda Iguana, Tola, Rivas SKYPE: QWLCrew

San Marcos

I've gotten a number of great tips on this thread but San Marcos/Jinotepe appears to be what I'm looking for. Both have student populations, and San Marcos has the added benefit of many English speakers connected with Ave Maria. Plenty of cheap cafes and rentals, some very good restaurants, overall services of a larger town in a smaller town. Reasonable weather and close enough to Managua for airport, movies, and medical. It might not be perfect, no place is, but from this viewpoint it looks pretty good. Thanks to you and others for mentioning the area, wasn't aware of it, skipped that part in guidebooks because it was near Managua. I now see that as a plus, but still want to explore the country by bus. Going to Costa Rica for tourist card renewal will be easier too which I'll probably do until pension kicks in.

Ave Maria?

Is the presence of Ave Maria a plus or minus in the overall calculation?

Jinotega, Ocotal, Somoto, San Raphael del Norte

I think you need to come down and check things out to see what the different cities and towns feel like. We've got one guy here who keeps moving back to Jinotega (hates it when he's here, misses it when he's away). He, however, does go to Matagalpa to shop (30 minutes or so away by bus, and buses run every half hour or so).

Every reasonably sized city or larger town is going to have computer shops, cell phone service, clothing stores, and grocery stories. I've even heard a rumor that someone is making bean curd in Jinotega (if this turns out to be true, I will be very amused). Pizza is as naturalized here as it is in the US. Quinoa is not to be found anywhere. No laundromats in the north, but you can hire people to do it for you or do it yourself.

I've yet to find a professional camera store anywhere in Nicaragua -- spent some time running around Managua looking.

You might check the minimums for Peru and Chile -- my understanding is that they've got more infrastructure and are doing better economically. If you're looking for a city more or less like Granada, but cooler, I think Peru has some options.

Rebecca Brown

I've done alot of research

I've done alot of research on South America and for me it comes down to cost to see the family in the States once a year. Spirit Airlines flies into Colombia and Peru but even they are a bit expensive compared to their flights in Central America. There are two places I'd consider if I did move down there, San Gil, Colombia and especially Huanchaco, Peru. For now though I think I'll look at Central America and southern Mexico. Chile is, except for Arica, too expensive, but then you get what you pay for.

I was looking at Guatemala and Honduras. There's alot to like about both countries but the violence is just too extreme, even if it rarely touches gringos. I ran across a blog several weeks ago that mentioned an article in the Economist about Nicaragua's surprisingly low crime rate relative to other Central American countries. I'd seen International Living write-ups in the past but never even considered Nicaragua. Remembered the war years and knew about the violence elsewhere so just assumed. I know it's not perfect but then I've chosen to take transfers to several locations on the Mexican border so I'm used to seeing some rough conditions. You are right about the heat. I grew up in central Florida, live in east Texas, and have lived in some of the country's hottest towns including Eagle Pass, TX and Bullhead City, AZ. I don't need cool, just reasonable. So I guess I'll concentrate on the northern cities. Thanks for the advice and any opinions of Ocotal?

Wade

Granada

Is place to start when you decide to visit or stay a few months while you look elsewhere. It is reasonably priced despite being Gringo central. There is reason why many Gringos live there as is most place that feels like home in Nicaragua for Gringos. Nicas and Gringos have best relationship in this city by far.

Masaya is another city that has a few Gringos and is very inexpensive. Is hot like Granada and is not for me but I know a few Gringos that live there very well indeed. Unless you have a face like Lou Ferigno there are tons of young pretty ladies in this city who like gringos. Probably best in whole country for access. I know Matagalpa and Jinotega have pretty girls but not as accessible as Masaya.

Nagarote & Leon are dirt cheap but very hot with 2 great beaches nearby. I tell you this if Leon was 10 degrees cooler would be the best city in Nicaragua. Certainly the Leon Market is the best in all Nicaragua.

Ocotal

In a word, ugly. It has a great park but the town itself is pretty ugly. To put that in perspective, no one is going to call Estelí or Jinotega pretty but Ocotal is just in a different class. I am not sure why.

Hi Fyl

Was reading through the archives here yesterday and realized you started this forum. Thank you for such a valuable resource! Went to the start and worked back to page 697, so plenty of reading left to do.

My first opinion of Ocotal

My first opinion of Ocotal was the same. I walked into town on foot from the bus station and saw the L.A. gang graffitti painted on the statue of St Francis, then looked around the town and thought it was just a cheap, dirty version of Esteli. But , as time has gone on and the quality of life in Esteli has deteriorated so much, Ocotal looks less bad. It would probably be worth looking into as it has all the basic services. Most of the small towns are ugly unless a foreighn aid project has completely rehabbed the central park.

Somoto, Pueblo nuevo and Cd Antigua have a certain old fashioned just out of the 17th century look with a certain pride of ownership, but if that is not to someone`s tastes they are just another old farm town.

I think reliability of the services, climate, low crime and noise level would be the things to look for. Ugly can be ignored if its decent otherwise.

"You can avoid reality, but you cannot avoid the consequences of avoiding reality." Ayn Rand

Nicaragua has a low crime rate because a fair amount

...of basic petty pilfering isn't reported. Violent crimes do appear to be low. If you freak out because someone stole your mangos out of your back yard, Nicaragua isn't the place to be (the local patrol guys seem to have spotted the mango thief coming over the wall and the thief dropped the bag of mangos and ran -- I found them rotting in the plastic bag on the street side of the wall later. I had wondered what happened to the mangos). The average thieves aren't particularly sophisticated (they don't appear to pick locks or break in when someone's home). The professionals come around during festivals (good time not to leave the house for extended times and it's worth it to have a dog -- I feel marginally safer with mine).

I think Phil's been to Ocotal; I've just seen it in the movies and read about it.

The trick question is what do you consider necessary infrastructure? For me, it's an aquarium store -- and I can buy fish food at two different places in Jinotega. We've also got a good vet. Someone else might want to make sure the town had a movie theatre (Esteli, don't know about Matagalpa). If you want a community symphony orchestra, Mexico has more cities with those (a French horn player friend of friends had to go to Mexico to get a job).

I can get down to Managua for the day from here -- the 9 a.m. bus is a real touring bus with comfortable seats. This would be true of Esteli and Matagalpa. Ocotal and Somoto would be further away.

A friend of mine spent something like five weeks traveling by herself in Guatemala (three weeks of language classes in Antigua). She felt safer away from areas with lots of tourists. I feel safer here than I'd felt in Esteli, though nothing happened to me the two or three days I was in Esteli.

Esteli and Matagalpa have more expats than Jinotega, and Jinotega probably has more than Somoto or Ocotal. My ideal was enough to be able to speak English from time to time without having to like all of them, but not so many that I wasn't under some pressure to learn Spanish. If you know Spanish well enough to get around, then a city with fewer expats might improve your Spanish more than one with more expats. Some Nicaraguans are bilingual, but not many, so you need at least basic market Spanish (Cuanto vale, carne, gracias, no, mejor precio).

Rebecca Brown

Hi Rebecca

You ask very good questions. A place I'm still considering is Oaxaca, Mexico. What attracts me are reasonably priced apartments, huge markets with cheap produce, hundreds of cheap eateries with very cheap lunches as well as excellent, cheap street food and market stall food. It also has a good English language library, a good English bookstore, two multiplex theaters playing current movies in English, a mild climate with only two months a year getting a little hot, many cultural events, and one of Mexico's best colonial centros. I could get by there, but I'd rather be able to set aside some money every month to visit family during the Holidays. Plus Oaxaca is in danger of becoming a Santa Fe type place that's loved to death and becomes too expensive. Lived in Santa Fe for two years in the 90's. But it has great infrastructure, even a Walmart and Sam's Club.

Huanchaco, Peru, which I'm guessing you know, is walkable, cheap, safe, very mild climate, and has good transport to nearby Trujillo. Has an almost new American style mall with big Cinemark multiplex nearby. These are the type of places I've found that are either a bit too expensive or just too far from the States. Something that very much appeals to me about Nicaragua is that due to choices like the above it's not likely places like Jinotega will be overrun any time soon.

If I can get decent broadband Internet, can find cheap produce and affordable restaurants, and do it on less than $800 a month I'll be happy. Less than $600 I'll be really happy. I've already found a way to get good tv if I've got good Internet. Thanks again.

Check the minimums for residency

Nicaragua has the lowest I know anything about: US $600 a month. Mexico is something like $1200 a month, maybe less if you own property there. I suppose it's possible to do extended tourism without applying for residency, but some of the countries are getting upset about that.

The three southern CA countries (NI, CR, and Panama) have lower crime rates than the northern ones, but it's not zero and people do get robbed in all of them depending on where they are and which bad guy crosses their paths.

You might want to look near Jinotepe as someone else suggested. Being closer to Managua than 3 hours by bus has its advantages.

Rebecca Brown

Hush your mouth!

or you will deplete Nicaragua of all its expats. Come visit, outside of the best neighborhoods of Managua you will find Nicaragua very primitive. Great for hobby farmers and dreamers, short on comfort, convenience, and culture. You are right-- Jinotega will not be the next Santa Fe. It will be a farm town in the mountains for along time. Warts, nice weather, and enough good restaurants to keep you busy for 3 to 4 days.

"You can avoid reality, but you cannot avoid the consequences of avoiding reality." Ayn Rand

LOL

Sounds perfect!

come visit

but skip October if you are afraid of clouds in a cloud forest. I haven`t stayed in Jinotega for years, but I went thru there last week on the way to Selva Negra and it is still there.

"You can avoid reality, but you cannot avoid the consequences of avoiding reality." Ayn Rand

I too liked Oaxaca

When were you last there? It's 7 years for me. Monte Alban is nothing short of spectacular.

Oaxaca

That's strictly from reading and talking to people who've been there. I've been all over northern Mexico down to Real de Catorce. But the only region I believe I can afford is southern Mexico, especially Oaxaca and Chiapas. My international experience is limited to extensive travel in southern Canada and northern Mexico. That's why I love talking to people on country specific forums who truly know a particular place.

Opinion #1

You will probably get quite a few. I said #1 only because I am the first.

Boaco: It is not cool there and while no expert, I didn't see that much infrastructure. I found Juigalpa more interesting but way too hot for me.

In the north, the two places with the most infrastructure are Estelí and Matagalpa. Depending on what you need/how often you need it, somewhere else along the Pan American Highway in tthe north may offer good access to infrastructure without the pollution and such of Estelí. For example, I actually like Somoto. You can also look near the cities and get easy access to banking and such but stay out of the general city mess.

It sounds like most of Nicaragua is too warm for you (and me as well) so there really are not that many options with more moderate weather and serious infrastructure.

Looks like I got you mixed

Looks like I got you mixed up with Rebecca about the heat. Thanks for the advice about Boaco. Guess it's safe to say if it doesn't have a mild climate you probably won't find too many retirees there unless it looks like Granada. Appreciate it, Wade

My #1 advice

Ignore International Living write-ups!!

Have you considered living cheap in the US, in an acceptable climate within easy reach of the people you need to visit annually, and working part time?

I guess I didn't sense that living abroad was your number one priority.

Without a residency you can only live in Columbia for 6 months and then have to be out of the country for 6 months. Check it out and see if you even qualify, I don't know what the income level requirement is.

Living Abroad

Definitely a priority. I'm fascinated with Spanish Colonial architecture, the Mayan region, the entire Andes. After Social Security kicks in I'll look at my options, might just backpack through the region for awhile. Not looking to live in South America at this time, but very interested in places where I could live on savings for a couple of years until my pension starts. 50 now, might pack it in at 53. Thanks, Wade

Go for it ... "in Nica"

Wade,

I have been visiting Nica since the mid 70's. My wife, from Managua, and I have been together 37 years now. We have been thinking about retiring in Nica for a long, long time. About a year ago we decided to do it. This January we will be making the move. Renting first and possibly buying when we decide on a town. From 2000 to 2005 we visited just about every town in Nica. We really do love Granada. The White Towns are lovely also. But this is part of the adventure. If you can retire at 53, I have one question for you. What are you waiting for? We just got our last daughter out of college and now we are ready for some "us time."

I am not much on advice Wade but as soon as you get that retirement income flowing, go for it! No regrets Wade!

Hubie

That sounds like Guatemala

...or Mexico. The Spanish Colonial architecture is in the hotter parts of Nicaragua and there's nothing like Mayan ruins here (petroglyphs and some sculpture are about it). That would be Guatemala to northern Honduras (Copan).

Minimum income for residency in Nicaragua is $600 a month in SS or $800 a month in investment earnings or a private pension.

The advantage of here is you can set up a living space for not that much money (I haven't asked my neighbors to watch my house when I'm gone but I rather suspect that they would), and travel.

If you've got the time and energy, traveling through the region would probably give you a better sense of what you would and wouldn't be happy with.

Rebecca Brown

I worked on golf courses April to October

Then cleared off for the winter. Regular 7 day week work, lots of O/T with still being done by 2 to 4pm. You could be an old man by the time you find the right spot! Then you get to cut fairways on a big ride on while dreaming of winter!! (The young guys smoked pot and we all had a plan for the winter or something!!.)

Nah...

...I'm really not looking for perfection. I would like some inspiring scenery though. And preferably not sweat profusely while just standing outside. I am a little surprised at the opinions of Esteli. I was under the impression it's at least livable, but descriptions here sound pretty rough.

Estelí

It's a perfectly OK city if you want to be in a city. I lived there for 6 years and still have a house there (which is for sale because I don't need it). I lived in two different places in the city. I by far prefered El Rosario, a low-budget barrio but I had to live in Estelí for a few years to figure that out.

My main complaint is the air. It is certainly not as bad as Los Angeles (where I grew up) but it is not what I want. Statements like "the traffic is horrible" and "there is high crime" are just not correct. Yes, there are two streets with a lot of traffic for being only one lane. BFD. If you actually live in Estelí (as opposed to suburbia) you don't drive those streets. You walk, take an Urbano ($13) or a taxi ($40).

To put that in perspective, it is like someone in a US town being irate that where they want to shop doesn't have a parking lot. With walking, bicycles and extremely cheap public transit being readily available options, people are just trying to import how they are used to living into a place where it does not fit.

As for crime, other than "theft by convenience" (you leave your bicycle in front of your house and someone steals it) there is little crime in Estelí. That which seems "abnormal" really is. That is, you probably won't understand the reason behind the crime because, for example, the family does not want do damage their name by the facts coming out. When you see an armed guard in front of what appears to be a private house, it is much more likely to be a cigar factory "hidden" in a private house. Home invasions are not something you will find in Estelí.

The main reason I live in the country rather than the city is because I want to. I like the country. This is not a Nicaragua thing--it is just that I don't want close neighbors, traffic, ... I have been in Estelí three times this year. Unless I need to bring back a bunch of stuff, I will take the bus. If I didn't have a truck already I would not buy one as I can get someone to bring stuff back here for me for far less than the real cost of operating the vehicle.

As I said before, it is pretty easy to live "near" Estelí to get all the convenience with none of the negatives. For example, Santa Cruz is south of Estelí on the Pan American highway. There are buses to/from Estelí all the time and you can be in town in 10-15 minutes. But, no pollution, low costs, sense of community. My only suggestion is that if you elect to be "near" a town rather than in it, find an area that is well-established. I don't mean heavily populated, just that it has existed long enough that there is "a community".

Little crime in Esteli, and just harmless stuff...

A neighboring finca was sold to a local family who didn`t move in their guard soon enough--it only cost them their well pump, electrical wiring , and damage to the house.

My stepson was walking to his grandmothers house by the Public Library when a knife to his neck convinced him to give up his $15 neck chain

Twice in the last year thieves have tried to steal cattle from the neighboring farm. In the last incident the caretaker was chasing them down the road throwing rocks at them when they finally gave up and ran.

Both a maid and a niece have lost their cell phones to the knife to the throat routine-- both in broad daylight on well traveled public streets.

A friend of the family was beat to death in her own home in a strange ( no robbery/no rape) murder that has still not been solved.

2 women broke into a house in our old neighborhood and attacked the housewife who they thought was alone. Her husband responded and shot and wounded one.

A money changer who works on the streets all day went home to be robbed at gun point in his own house.

A local businessman was pistol whipped and robbed in his own house of about usd 3000. getting robbed going or coming to the bank is also common.

My motherinlaw has been robbed several times in her pulperia, for very small amounts of money, including one time when she had just barely gotten out of the hospital 2 days earlier.

A muchacho was killed and another one his his lung punchered in a robbery attempt while sitting on their front porch in the evening. In response, the police set up a nighttime kiosk in the neighborhood to push the crime somewhere else.

A kidnap team from out of town kidnapped the owner of a downtown jewelry store on her way to work. In the confustion he drew a gun and shot a bystander in a crowded farmacia before he was subdued by the crowd.

There was some sort of a major group shoplifting attemp at the new MaxiPali. Now the guards walk around and write down the license info of all cars in the parking lot.

I don`t make this stuff up or go looking for it. It`s just there. But by all means don`t be so careless as to leave your bicycle unattended. I`ll go you 1 better--with the horrible traffic, poor roads , and sad emergency medical care don`t ride a bycicle!

"You can avoid reality, but you cannot avoid the consequences of avoiding reality." Ayn Rand

update

You would think they would learn, but... another relative lost a cell phone while walking downtown in broad daylight playing with the cell phone. If you are anywhere near Farmacia San Sebastian, keep your cell phone in your pocket unless you like knives pointed at you. Not really my problem, other than living in this environment, because I had recently decreed that cel phones have a useful life of 5 years, so I am not buying anymore cell phones for 4 more years! anyway! (Except to switch over to Moviestar, which requires new phones).

Another head's up from our old neighborhood Centennario. Seems a woman and her children were walking to the bus station at 4 am to catch the early bus. She was assaulted and her kids ran to Shell/uno esquipulas gas station for help. She received a machetazo but was released from the hospital about a day later. Robbery does not seem to be the issue, it was probably an attempted rape or mindless violence. I suspect alcohol abuse was a key factor. It is best to stay off the streets from about 9 pm to 6 am. If you have to catch an early bus, take a cab to the station.

"You can avoid reality, but you cannot avoid the consequences of avoiding reality." Ayn Rand

Esteli is something like 100,000 people

It has all the problems any city has especially when some are very rich and most aren't, and some are poor and have no interest in not having stuff because of that.

I realized why all the dog breeds here are bred to be sharp (even the cocker spaniels and collies, and if they had pugs, those would be fierce, too). Is it as dangerous as a bad neighborhood in a US city? Nope, just don't expect middle class suburbia.

A Honduran born woman told me to get a dog, like a German Shepard, and iron gates on the windows, and "they will respect you." I feel more relaxed with Lola (and her judgement is on the order of my best previous dogs -- time to play and time to raise the hackles and stand back barking).

I think Jinotega has less crime because the income differences aren't so great or obvious here and it's not on the main road from here to there.

Rebecca Brown

Today's La Prensa will disagree with you Rebecca...

http://www.laprensa.com.ni/2012/05/01/departamentales/99860-mas-policias...

Armed robbery, domestic violence and sexual abuse are most prevalent crimes in the city of Jinotega-

In the city of Jinotega, where insecurity is rife in the neighborhoods Germán Pomares y Carlos Rizo II Etapa, El Panorama, Roger Hanguien II Etapa, Linda Vista Sur o Tanque Rojo and Proyecto Linda Vista

"I live here in the neighborhood Roger Hanguien II Etapa....you can no longer go out at night...

Press blowing it up maybe?

And there are some neighborhoods where nobody goes at night

Barrio German Pomares is near here -- I've walked over to the monument to take photographs -- and I didn't have any money or phone with me as I heard it was a dodgy neighborhood.

I see that Barrio Centro America isn't on the list, but there are parts of it that I wouldn't walk around in at night. I don't walk around much at night here; nearest I came to being mugged in NYC was walking home a bit drunk late on a sleety night with not many people around.

One of the gringos here was robbed last year at knife point. A Nicaragua guy was stabbed to death over a cell phone. Another guy was killed when some crazy threw a rock in front of Pali, if I remember correctly. Another gringo had his laptop stolen from in front of his house -- while back.

But I compare this to watching a neighbor robbed in the hall, two other neighbors burglarized, and having to stop some guys from following me into my apartment building (put my foot on the outer door), in one building in NYC, with no more than 22 units.

Yeah, the outlying barrios are not as safe as the core of the city (I know of someone who leaves a house simply locked up for six months of the year in one of the better neighborhoods. She hasn't had problems according to the person who told me the story).

What I've heard is that no neighborhood is dangerous during the day, but I tend to avoid neighborhoods where people look significantly poorer than I am, or leave valuables at home.

And I feel safer for having the dog.

Where I lived in NYC was perhaps an order of magnitude more dangerous than where I lived in Philadelphia, but it was in Philadelphia that I was burglarized, not Mott Street (better dog perhaps).

Plenty of places in the middle class US exist where people are simply never burglarized -- my parents lived their whole lives without having their main residence broken into -- and never were robbed at gun or knife point (I've managed to avoid that one so far even living where I lived in NYC and Philadelphia. And my parents didn't take any more precautions than locking the house when they were gone, maybe asking neighbors to keep an eye on it, and maybe the neighbors did. No security system, no bars on the windows.

I got the impression that Jinotega is safer than Esteli by how people behaved. But as safe as a middle class neighborhood in Charlotte, NC, or Chestnut Hill in Philadelphia? No, not at all.

I don't think people have to live in terror here, but they do have to do things like lock up securely and have a dog or two, and not take up with the wrong people.

Rebecca Brown

So the Key Seems to be...

...to identify the better neighborhoods in the bigger cities and, along with the precautions you cited, stick to those areas for most of your business. In a city where most conduct business on foot seems inevitable if you are walking in dodgy areas that you'll meet the wrong person. I'm college football lineman big, not worried about most of it. But a guy sticking a pistol in my face is another thing. I'm liking the idea of a smaller town with a sense of community more and more.

Curious about San Fernando near Ocotal. The guides I've read all mention it as a nice place but what's notable is the citizens are known for light skin and even blue eyes. There's speculation it might be due to U.S. Marines being stationed there in the 30's. Not a big deal, but if you've just traveled all over the country and then come into San Fernando it would probably make you wonder if you took a wrong turn somewhere.

Get along with your good neighbors; be civil to the others

Another useful rule is stay out of entanglements with people who are doing illegal things. In Jinotega, everyone knows who's doing coke, sniffing glue, drinking too much, or smoking pot even if those people don't get busted.

The advantage of a small town is being on a first name basis with your local thieves, I suspect, and knowing more about their family lives than you'd know in a larger city. See Phil's posts on Javier.

Rebecca Brown

don't believe the guidebook hype

about US Marines--these books have the historical maturity of 12 year olds and an axe to grind with the US.

The Spanish preferred the higher elevations. Visigoths were quite blond and blue and they got around, leaving the northern highlands not racially mixed but more racially blended. Most families here have predominately Indian blood lines (although not necessarily from the same tribal groupings) with a generous mix of African and Spanish features.

I've been thru San Fernando. It looks ok and is rumored to have some people with coffee money, which makes for a better town than people with no money.

"You can avoid reality, but you cannot avoid the consequences of avoiding reality." Ayn Rand

Thomas Belt says the blue eyes were there when he was there

Late 19th Century, so the genes may be from Morgan's pirates (Belt's speculation). Belt also noticed that a lot of working class white guys went native, married local women, and lived like Nicaraguans of the day. More spoke Nahuatl/Spanish creole then, and there are still Nahuatl loan words in the local dialects of Spanish in the north. The main culture is Mestizo, but the indigenous doesn't appear to be far below the surface in the North.

Somewhat like the highlands of Kenya, the highlands of CA attract cheles (apparently another Nahuatl loan word for blue, though some give it as kin to the Spanish for milk, leche). Some of the kids here are blonde -- Germans and Danes settled in the area in the 19th Century to grow coffee.

Shop at the local shops if possible. Shopkeepers know the neighborhood. Spending a little more money with them is good insurance.

Rebecca Brown

Fascinating Stuff

Guatemala's premiere coffee town, Coban, was settled by Germans who established large coffee fincas. Most were forced out during WWII due to pressure from the U.S. because of their open support of Nazi Germany. But there are still alot of light skin, blue eyed Guatemalans with German surnames there.

Is all this Aryan stuff coming out of your research?

Or your actual travel experience?

Either way its a bit weird to me.

Is skin and eye color that important to you?

Wow, wasn't expecting that...

Sorry, read about San Fernando and just asked about it out of curiosity. Rebecca mentioned about Germans and I recalled a similar situation in Guatemala. For the record two of my great-grandparents on my Mother's side were full-blooded Cherokee, another was 3/4ths, and the 4th was half and half Irish. Have Creek Indian on my Dad's side but mostly Scots-Irish. My Dad's first cousin married a Mexican-American and I grew up with their 3 bilingual kids. One of my first cousins also married a Mexican-American who is currently sitting in Federal Prison for major drug running. I've transferred to 3 locations on the Mexican border to learn more about Mexico and to travel into it. I haven't mastered the secret handshake yet but I hope the above are good enough credentials to get me into Nicaragua. Thanks for asking!

P.S. For some reason the PM's in my inbox have all disappeared so Vic if you read this thanks again for your suggestion, really like what I'm reading about it.

Regards, Wade Kilpatrck

1/36 Cherokee

Elizabeth Warren claims native american status.....

"Maybe, just once, someone will call me 'sir' without adding, 'you're making a scene." -Homer J. Simpson

faucahontas!

heap big pile of lies....

All my PM's are gone too..

Even the Mujer Magnetica ones, dang they were vintage too.

That's true

I plan to write up more about this on a-zLiving (once I get back to working on that site) but I think we (usanos) continue to want to compare apples to oranges. I grewup in a white only (really) Los Angeles suburb which, at the time, was about the size of Estelí. People were almost always in a car -- not walking to a destination, there was about 10 times the number of police officers on duty there at the time and, in general, it was a time of less crime everywhere. Yet, if you look at police reports (they were actually published in the local newspaper until about the mid-1960s) there were lots of crime events.

We also tend to use US value standards for what is worth stealing. If we instead look at value compared to average income (I tend to do this by just thinking that $1 in the US is about equal to C$1 in Nicaragua) the picture changes a lot. Something with a value of a weeks wages puts its value in local economic terms a lot better than some arbitrary currency number.

I have been robbed at knife-point in Seattle Washington and have had my car broken into in Alajuela Costa Rica. In Los Angeles where my dad was in charge of part of a private technical school wheels (all four) were stolen off student's cars during the day while parked 100 feet off a main street and he carried a gun when working at night. But, neither he no I were ever assulted or robbed in LA. The difference was that we would never venture into 90% of the areas.

As much as many people don't like to hear this, the US is much more Socialistic than Nicaragua. Much more common money goes into protection of individuals and individual property. If that's what you want/expect, you are not likely to be happy in Nicaragua. On the other hand, if you would rather have an under-funded police force that is more likely to be open to working with you rather than being a quasi-military force to fear, you probably will like Nicaragua.

San Patricia in Jalisco was settled by the Irish

Down to the green flag with gold 'Guinness' harp on it. The Irish fighting for the US turned on them when they got to Melaque and settled next door with the Mexican ladies.