When a country is in political turmoil,
a tourist can never be 100% sure of their safety.
When a country isn’t in political turmoil,
a tourist can never be 100% sure of their safety.
Don’t let your worry overrule your desire to see and experience the world.
We had been in Costa Rica for 2 weeks when we finally decided we wanted to come back to Nicaragua (we were here in 2013). The number of stares, laughs and dropped mouths we received from Tica’s and internationals alike, were countless. “Why would you go there?” was the most common response.
It made ‘pushing the red button’ all the more enticing. “Why not!”
I’d be lying if I said we each didn’t have our own moments of apprehension. When I was freaking out, John was calm. When he was worrying, I had the steady hand. We were going into a country where the US and Canadian embassies had pulled out months ago, and the NZ, Canadian and US Travel advisories still say “avoid non-essential travel.” There had been politically fuelled protests and rioting back in April and May, and too many Nicaraguan nationals had been killed in the process.
We struggled to find enough reliable news online about the unrest. It made the apprehension stronger and the mystery greater. Was it better or worse than its online portrayal? After reading a number of journalist reports, I took to instagram, searching #nicaragua. It seemed silly, but I felt it would give us a more accurate view of the day-to-day life of the Nicaraguans.
My search showed a few political posts, but there were thousands more photos each day of Nicaraguans leading normal lives, out with friends, at the beach, having a drink. With smiles and sad eyes, they captured moments where they and their country are working to find their way onto their feet again. It was inviting. We were sold.
In no country, is a government solely responsible for the safety of the individuals within it – whether they claim it or not. It is up to the individual to take responsible action in order to have a better prospective of safety.
We decided to book an AirBnB for a month in a town called San Juan del Sur.
Travel Tip: During low seasons, private message owners to negotiate a better price for long term stays
San Juan del Sur is near the border, on the coast, dependent on tourism, a road well-traveled by foreigners, and has had no political drama during the unrest. It is a highly recommended spot for your first Nicaraguan location, as it will ease you into the culture of the country, with all of the luxuries of your home country available to you if need be. We even found a bar that served Caesars (only truly exciting if you’re Canadian).
If you’ve been following our instagram you’ll have seen that we are beyond happy about our decision to come into this beautiful country. We have felt safe every minute we’ve been here.
We are inspired by the Nicaraguans. Their positive spirits, their friendly demeanour, their hope.
They need tourism to come back to their country, and we feel so privileged to be a part of the movement. We want to help in any way we can, to bring it back! It is a beautiful country filled with beautiful people, and truthfully, you would be remiss if you didn’t visit Nicaragua.
The struggles for the nation are not over, but as a tourist you are more welcome and safer here now than ever before. The people are not playing political games. They need an economy to survive. You will not feel like a walking dollar sign. You are a sign of hope. Of restoration. Of the future.
We’re so excited to share with you our experiences through our blog and our instagram, and some of our tips and tricks, to help you feel safe about exploring this wonderful country.
Fly into Liberia or San Jose. If you can get to Liberia, we recommend this. It is a smaller town, and it is closer to the border. San Jose airport is actually about 40 minutes away from San Jose city – and the city itself isn’t very inviting. If you fly direct into Liberia, you can catch a bus across the border the same day and be at your destination in Nicaragua by the afternoon.
If this is your first time heading into Nicaragua and you’re a little apprehensive about the land-border crossing, we recommend booking with TicaBus. You can book your ticket online, direct from Liberia or San Jose.
Have a read through our Guide to TicaBus, from Costa Rica to Nicaragua post for more important information for your journey.
Chances are, your bus won’t take you directly to your accommodation. That’s ok!
There are many local buses you can hop on too if you’re feeling adventurous. Now that we’ve been here awhile, we wouldn’t take anything but! They are between $1-$2USD (30C-60C) for the whole ride, and there are many stops along the way. Drivers are friendly and if you let them know where you’re headed, they will let you know when to get off! Also there are vendors that bring food on board from time to time – buy the food!!! It is cheap and incredibly tasty! Now that we’ve been here for awhile we feel very safe riding these buses, and would recommend them to even the newcomers.
If you’re not in the mood for a local bus, there are taxis everywhere. Prices are generally fair without needing to negotiate – but if you’re feeling up to it, you can always barter down. It is roughly $1/minute for a taxi.
You’ve made it! Even the safest journeys are still journeys, and demand some rest and relaxation after a day of transit. So have a $1USD Tona or Victoria beer, get a cheap and fresh ceviche or plantain chips, and cheers to your next greatest adventure!
Then get amongst. Practice your Spanish (or help the locals practice their English). You will meet so many wonderful people, kind and welcoming, ready to yarn and share their beautiful country with you. Enjoy.
//stay tuned to our blog for more posts on our adventures in honeymooning, our travel experiences and our personal, professional and marital growth.//