Written by RoBoNC on 20 Aug, 2009
I would be lying if I said I wasn’t a little apprehensive about taking my two year old son to a third world country. It is hard enough getting around and communicating in another language by yourself and then when you take a toddler…Read More
I would be lying if I said I wasn’t a little apprehensive about taking my two year old son to a third world country. It is hard enough getting around and communicating in another language by yourself and then when you take a toddler with you, it makes it that much more difficult. However, I was pleasantly surprised how easy the trip went although we did have the occasional hiccup. We planned ahead on some things and there were other things that we wished we had known before we went to Nicaragua. It is those things that we had to improvise and it became learning tools for us for when we plan our next trip. With any trip, it all begins with packing your luggage. Since we didn’t have pay luggage fees since it was an international trip, we took the max amount of luggage, four bags. Since our two year old child still wore diapers, we had to pack smartly. Instead of bringing ten days of diapers with us, we brought enough just to get us to Nicaragua. Once we were in the country, we went to the nearest grocery store and bought diapers, baby wipes, etc. to last us on our trip. I was expecting to get some local generic brand, but was impressed to find Pampers at an even cheaper cost than in the US. By packing this way, it allowed us not to have to fill up a whole suitcase full of diapers and allowed us to have room in our luggage to bring back souvenirs. We used the same concept for his food. Although he usually eats what we order at the restaurant, there are those times when we need a back up plan. We brought some pre-packaged meals for when our food choices does not suit him. We used the grocery store to stock up on fruits and snacks, since bananas are his favorite food for breakfast and cookies will always calm a crying baby. Nicaragua has some American fast food restaurants such as McDonalds for those times when only chicken nuggets and French fries will satisfy him. Nicaragua has a chain of restaurants located in most of the major cities called Tip Top. It is Nicaragua’s answer to KFC and Popeye’s. There are over 20 Tip Tops in the country (13 just in Managua) compared to only one McDonalds that I saw. We brought our own car seat which was a good thing because I don’t think Nicaragua has many child safety laws. I noticed two people on a motorcycle with the baby wedged in between. I reserved my vehicle with Budget and I was never given the opportunity to reserve a car seat. Whether they don’t supply them or you have to call specifically to reserve one, I cannot say. The one thing we did not bring was a stroller since it would have to be checked thereby counting as one of our luggage items and also we didn’t think we would need it. We were wrong because I was tired of holding my son after the first day. Across the street from our hotel was a mall and we were hoping to find a baby store where we could purchase a cheap umbrella stroller. We found a thrift store that had used strollers for sale. We bought one for $15 and it was well worth the money. On our last night in Nicaragua, we left it at the hotel where it will probably be donated to the same thrift store we purchased it from. One thing we did not plan for or I guess you can say we took for granted was the availability of milk. On our first night in Managua, we stopped in at a restaurant for dinner and we ordered a glass of milk for our son. The milk was served at room temperature and it didn’t taste like milk we were used to in the US. Believing that it was just a freak incident, the next day we ordered milk again this time specifically ordering it frio, or cold. They looked at us like we had two heads. We never found cold milk anywhere in Nicaragua, even in a convenience store. The only reason I can think of is that the milk is not pasteurized. So to prevent my son from dehydrating and to make sure he was getting some nutrients, we gave him a juice/water mixture. We were able to find Gatorade or the equivalent and mixed it with water, so he got some electrolytes and kept hydrated. The only other issue we had was reserving a crib at the different hotels. We solved this problem by staying at American brand hotels (Crowne Plaza, Best Western), however, there were those that did not have cribs. The only hotel we encountered this problem was at the Hotel Casablanca in San Juan del Sur. We were told that no one had cribs anywhere in the town. I guess the beach is no place to bring a toddler. Traveling internationally, especially to a third world country, with a child was a learning experience. It made us learn to be patient and when we encountered a problem, it forced us to find a solution. Close
Before we took this trip to Nicaragua, I did my research reading everything from Frommers to internet blogs. A recurring theme was crime and being safe as it is with all Central America countries. Nicaragua claims to be the safest country in Central…Read More
Before we took this trip to Nicaragua, I did my research reading everything from Frommers to internet blogs. A recurring theme was crime and being safe as it is with all Central America countries. Nicaragua claims to be the safest country in Central America. Although I couldn’t find any statistics to verify that, at no point during out trip did we feel threatened or afraid. Being a police officer in the states, I am trained to deal with a certain amount of stress as well as encountering a segment of the population that you would rather avoid. Nicaragua is by no means an exception; however, most of the people we encountered were very friendly even with the language barrier. Policing in Nicaragua is a lot different than it is in the US. You don’t see police vehicles patrolling the roads on a regular basis. The only police vehicles I saw were Toyota trucks that are usually filled with police officers in the bed. Policing in the major towns is done purely by foot. The vehicles drop off the officers at intersections throughout the city. To make a traffic stop, the officers point at you and motion you to pull over. Instead of receiving a ticket and appearing in court, you pay the fine to the officer. If you are unable to pay the fine, your license is confiscated and you must pick it up at the local police department until you pay the fine. On our second day in Nicaragua, we proceeded to leave Managua and travel up into the mountains. After getting caught in the market traffic, we eventually found our way back to the Pan-American Highway. I was stopped at the traffic light attempting to turn right. I made a right turn on red and I got no more than twenty feet before a police officer was pointing at me to pull over. He walked over to my vehicle and because of the language barrier it took a little time to figure out what I did wrong. Obviously, right turn on red is illegal in Nicaragua or it could be that I was an easy target. After presenting him my Indiana driver’s license, I asked him how much the fine was. He told me that it was 600 Cordobas or $30 US. I gave him 600 Cordobas and we were back on our wayLater that day when we got to our destination and made contact with a friend of ours who lived in the mountains, we discovered something very interesting. The fine should have been $10 instead of $30. I was told that because I was an American, I am viewed as having money. A police officer in Nicaragua makes about $120 a month so they make money anyway they can, even if that means preying on innocent American tourists. On our last night in Managua, we were trying to get in those last minute sites that we didn’t do the first day we were here. We were trying to go the National Museum and as I approached the intersection, I noticed that I had a green light. I turned right and as I did I noticed a police officer waving me over. Once again, he wasn’t stopping me to say hello. It appears that this time, I made an improper lane change. Since I already been through this before and after ten days being away from home, I was getting a little irritable. I thought that I might get a warning. After all, I give plenty of warnings to people that I stop. I guess the only difference is I make a lot more money than they do. He told me the fine was going to be $30. My wife, who has a temper, started yelling at the police officer about how we paid this fine before and found out later that the fine is supposed to be $10. She said we are not going to pay it. All I can think is that I am going to a Nicaraguan jail never to be heard from again. I don’t know if he understood anything my wife said, be he did understand a twenty dollar bill when he saw one. We gave him the twenty dollars and he was satisfied. He was nice enough to give us directions to the museum after he robbed us. Although my two encounters with the police in Managua didn’t go very well, I had some great encounters with the police throughout the rest of the country. Checkpoints are very common in Nicaragua, especially on heavily traveled routes. Drug trafficking is still a big problem throughout Central America and Nicaragua tries to reduce the amount of drugs flowing into the country. It is a pretty painless experience at the checkpoints. The officers check your license and vehicle registration and then send you on your way. It is when they point at you individually when you need to start worrying. Leave it to me to get to traffic tickets in a country where there are no traffic laws. Close
As my son approached two years old we wanted to take an international trip while he could still fly for free. While most families would probably choose somewhere in Europe or Asia, we decided to veer way off the beaten path. We settled…Read More
As my son approached two years old we wanted to take an international trip while he could still fly for free. While most families would probably choose somewhere in Europe or Asia, we decided to veer way off the beaten path. We settled on Central America, more specifically Nicaragua. It was a head turner when we told our family and friends. Our parents were terrified of us taking their grandson to a third world country. Co-workers first response was to ask if this was a mission trip. When I explained that it was a vacation trip, they joked in jest about raising money for my ransom. It was interesting to note how many people thought that there was a war going on in Nicaragua. Try twenty years ago when something called Iran-Contra plagued the television every day. Nicaragua has significantly improved since then, but they still have a long way to go compared to their Central American neighbors. We took off from Miami and landed at Managua International Airport. We traveled to Nicaragua during the height of the Swine Flu epidemic that was affecting the entire world. Every employee at the airport was wearing a face mask. We got stuck in a line as soon as we got off of the plane. The person in front of me informed that Nicaragua was trying to keep the Swine Flu out of the country since Costa Rica had already reported cases there. Everyone had to stand in front of these special thermal cameras that measured your body temperature. We were given the okay sign and we proceeded to Customs and Immigration. We encountered our first problem when we discovered that our son’s diaper bag was left on the plane. I found someone who spoke English and they helped me go back through the secured area and retrieve it. We were hoping that this was not a sign of things to come. We cleared immigration and paid our $5 tourist fee and proceeded to get our bags. There are only two carousels and it was crowded and hectic. We found two of our bags, but after thirty minutes, we were still two short. We found them eventually stacked against the wall. If you don’t get them when they are on the carousel, baggage handlers will take them off and stack them against the wall. After all the bags were accounted for, we went to the Budget car rental desk where we were taken to our small compact Suzuki Alto. Before we left, I asked for directions to the Crowne Plaza. He told me to go straight on the main road in front of the airport until I reached the statue. To explain the statue he was talking about, he started pointing into the air as if he was firing a weapon. Not really understanding what he was talking about, I said thank you and went on our way. After a few miles on the road, we started getting into the city and the statue that he was talking about came into focus. It was some soldier looking figure holding an assault rifle into the air with the initials FNT written on it. I turned left and a few blocks away, we found the Crowne Plaza. This statue became one of our landmarks as we drove around the city. Managua, like most cities in Nicaragua, does not have street names. Most locals give directions based on landmarks that may or may not be there anymore. Although we had a map of the city which has street names on it, it does you no good because there aren’t any names on the streets. We picked our own landmarks to use as well as the many roundabouts in the city. We checked into the hotel and had a crib delivered to the room for our son. After we began to unpack, we noticed that it was about 5 and we needed to eat dinner so we can get back to the hotel before dark. We drove a few blocks away and found a restaurant across from the MetroCentro, one of the malls in Managua. We were the only ones in the restaurant and I soon realized that it looks like they were tying to close, but they served us anyway. It was Sunday and it was also Mother’s Day which makes sense because of everyone was in the street trying to sell roses as you stopped at an intersection. We brought some food for our son to eat, but seeing how he hadn’t had any milk since Miami, we ordered a glass. The milk was served at room temperature and our son wouldn’t touch it. He had to settle for water. This was not a one time occurrence. We discovered milk is not the same in Nicaragua as it is in the US. It does not taste the same nor can you find anyone that serves it cold, restaurant or a convenience store. We ended up giving our son juice the entire time we were in the country. Milk probably never tasted as good as it did when we landed in Miami. We left the restaurant and walked to the car parked across the street. A security guard was there letting me know that he watched it for me. I didn’t quite understand until a few days later. If you park somewhere in Nicaragua, people will offer to watch your vehicle. Of course, this service is not free and they expect some type of tip. I just thanked the security officer and we sped away back to the hotel. We spent more time at the restaurant than we should have and it was dark by the time we headed back to the hotel. Let the adventure begin. Only a few blocks away, but it seemed like a world away when we got lost. I pulled into a Shell station and asked someone if they could tell me how to get to the Crowne Plaza. I showed them my map that I was given by the car rental company. Like I said before, the map I had looked foreign to them and they proceeded to tell me to take a few blocks here and then turn toward the lake. I gave up and tried driving by my instincts hoping that will get me there. After second guessing each other, we finally found the hotel and a sense of relief came over us. We got back to the room, put our son to sleep, and prepared for the next day’s adventure, whatever that might be. These are some tips to hopefully make a visit to Managua a little more enjoyable and a little less stressful. 1. Managua is a city with no street names. We found plenty of maps of the city, some better than others. The city has plenty of statues and monuments scattered about. When you are confident you know where you are on the map, write down a description of the statue on the map. That way if you get lost, you can located your own landmarks and get to where you are going from there. 2. Nicaragua’s currency is the Cordoba. At the time of this visit, 20 Cords (as they are called), equals $1 US. It is a good idea to carry small bills. Many places are unable to make change for the 500 Cordoba, which is $25 US. Most places accept US currency, but your change will be in Cordobas. 3. Begging on street corners or selling everything from papayas to candy is common. Poverty is still heavily prevalent in Nicaragua. Be prepared for people to come up to your car and try to sell you items. Just be stern and say no. Most people will move on. Whenever you park your car anywhere where there is no security, don’t be alarmed when someone asks you if they can watch your car. At the beginning I allowed it and usually gave them about fifty cents. Eventually, I just started saying no. Close
Written by celestemy on 21 Jan, 2009
My third trip to Nicaragua was in May/June 2008. In Nicaragua, I've mainly stayed in Managua, the capital, but have traveled to Granada, Leon, San Juan del Sur, Rivas, Masaya, and a couple small towns (Diria for one). From Managua you can do…Read More
My third trip to Nicaragua was in May/June 2008. In Nicaragua, I've mainly stayed in Managua, the capital, but have traveled to Granada, Leon, San Juan del Sur, Rivas, Masaya, and a couple small towns (Diria for one). From Managua you can do day trips to many other locales. Go to the Masaya artisan market in the small town of Masaya, visit a volcano or two (Mombacho and Momotombo), and spend at least a day at the beach (San Juan del Sur, Pochomil, or Montelimar). Pochomil Beach is a more typical Nica beach, although Montelimar has the all inclusive Barcelos resort and San Juan del Sur has a lot of luxury hotels and is popular with tourists. I would suggest taking more than a day to visit Montelimar and San Juan, especially San Juan, which is quite a drive from the capital. If you go to Pochomil, go to Bar Jessenia. There you can get a lobster dinner for like $6. If you're interested in zip lining, I think the best place to do that is at the Mombacho Volcano. It’s quite safe, costs about $11, and you can have a guide with you the entire time. I would also suggest visiting a small Nicaraguan town, such as Diriamo or Diria (I have family in Diria!). Diria has a lovely little church, Iglesia de San Pedro, in the central square. El Boquete is the name of an area of restaurant/bars that line the top of Laguna de Apoyo and you can easily get to el Boquete from Diria. The bars have a great view above the lagoon. Laguna de Apoyo is gorgeous lakeside as well. There are a couple of resorts around the lagoon, but Norome Villas is about the easiest to get to and they have a restaurant with great ceviche. And try or buy some Flor de Cana, it's a very smooth rum and there is a distillery in Chichigalpa. If you like coffee you should check out the Matagalpa region. Selva Negra is a coffee plantation with a lovely hotel. Close
A restaurant I highly suggest eating at in the capital of Managua is Cocina de Doña Haydee. It's my favorite restaurant (probably in the world). It's fantastic traditional Nica food with queso frito and tajadas verdes, which you must try. The cost…Read More
A restaurant I highly suggest eating at in the capital of Managua is Cocina de Doña Haydee. It's my favorite restaurant (probably in the world). It's fantastic traditional Nica food with queso frito and tajadas verdes, which you must try. The cost is inexpensive compared to US prices.Eat quesillo while you're in Nicaragua. It's a tortilla with cheese called quesillo, a sour cream, and onions. There's a place right outside Managua on Carretera Masaya called Mi Viejo Ranchito that sells great quesillo. Casa del Cafe is a little chain in Managua (and maybe elsewhere but I don't know) that has empanadas, coffee, cakes and sweets among other things. I usually order the empanadas. The service is good and food is inexpensive.There is a tasty little Taquito stand around Km 12.5 Carretera Masaya. I usually order the beef taquitos (3 flour tortillas with beef, onion, cilantro, and a lime) with a bottle of Coca Cola. Delicous! Close
Written by Tarmin on 21 Aug, 2006
Now, Nicaragua has some of the best beaches around. The pacific coast is abundant with beautiful beaches. Probably the most tourist-prone beach is San Juan Del Sur. You can be sure of crowded beaches and high prices there. If you want to go to a…Read More
Now, Nicaragua has some of the best beaches around. The pacific coast is abundant with beautiful beaches. Probably the most tourist-prone beach is San Juan Del Sur. You can be sure of crowded beaches and high prices there. If you want to go to a more secluded beach that few tourists know about, I suggest San Diego. It is about an hour away from Managua but is very beautiful, serene, and perfect if you want to be alone. There are many other beaches, such as Gigante, that tourists don't know of, but you will need four-wheel drive vehicles to get there. In all, Nicaragua has some of the most beautiful beaches around that are worth going to. Close
Well, since I used to live in Nicaragua, I can give you all the information that only the locals know. For instance in Managua, if you want to go to one of the mercados (markets) be sure that you don't go alone. Sometimes the mercados…Read More
Well, since I used to live in Nicaragua, I can give you all the information that only the locals know. For instance in Managua, if you want to go to one of the mercados (markets) be sure that you don't go alone. Sometimes the mercados can be dangerous if you go alone. I suggest going with a group of 3. Now, if you want to go to a good mercado that is relatively safe, then you should go to the Mercado Huembes. It is large and has a large selection of pottery, food and other goods for very cheap prices. You should always try to barter as the sellers usually will go down from their original price. One thing I don't recommend doing: try not to go to the Mercado Oriental as it can be very dangerous for tourists.
Now, there are many other things that you can do in Managua. You can go to the local nightclubs, a very good club is Hipa Hipa. You can go to the malls in Metrocentro, Plaza Inter and Galerias Santo Domingo. You can also go to the Palacio Nacional and catch up with the history of Nicaragua. Managua has many things to offer if you look closely and enjoy the flavor of it.
Written by tman630 on 12 Jun, 2003
Nicaragua. Some may not be immediately drawn to visit this once war-torn country. But to me, Nicaragua was an enjoyable destination. I admit, at first, I had some concerns in travelling there. But we went there as members of a mission team and thoroughly enjoyed…Read More
Nicaragua. Some may not be immediately drawn to visit this once war-torn country. But to me, Nicaragua was an enjoyable destination. I admit, at first, I had some concerns in travelling there. But we went there as members of a mission team and thoroughly enjoyed our stay. We saw beautiful lush vegetation, lakes with powerful waves near the Pacific, even volcanoes. I highly recommend this country to the serious and cautious traveller.
Nicaragua offers a range of interesting sights to see from boisterous city life to villages as unique as you will find anywhere. Also, there are natural wonders comparative to other tourist areas.
If safety is a concern, that is understandable considering the recent past of this country. But I never feel truly unsafe while in Nicaragua.
Written by celestemy on 16 Feb, 2007
Nicaragua makes me happy. Maybe it’s because it’s the home of my husband’s family or maybe it’s the people or the beauty of the land, or maybe I just like it there. The people are warm, kind, generous, and joyful. The country has it all:…Read More
Nicaragua makes me happy. Maybe it’s because it’s the home of my husband’s family or maybe it’s the people or the beauty of the land, or maybe I just like it there. The people are warm, kind, generous, and joyful. The country has it all: beaches, volcanoes, lakes, cities, countryside, even sharks in a lake! I think it’s a combination of these things that make me so happy to be in Nicaragua. Close
If you go past Masaya about 10 miles, it you get to Catarina. This is a little town with an enormous volcanic lagoon. Catarina itself is small, but you can purchase some fine artisan crafts here. The real draw is the lagoon. It was formed…Read More
If you go past Masaya about 10 miles, it you get to Catarina. This is a little town with an enormous volcanic lagoon. Catarina itself is small, but you can purchase some fine artisan crafts here. The real draw is the lagoon. It was formed millions of years ago when the volcano erupted and blew an enormous hole in the ground which became the lagoon. You can drive up to the lagoon and pay a small fee to go to the view points. There are also several restaurants with excellent food overlooking the lagoon. Close