A Quick Note on Granada and Nica Safety

Initially we had heard and I had written that Granada might not be a safe place to walk around at night. This proved to be unfounded and had we followed that advice would have spent all our time lounging at the hostel pool drinking. Don’t get me wrong, we did our fair share of that to be sure but each night we ventured out around town and never felt unsafe.

The perception that Nicaragua, and for that matter Latin America, is a dangerous place to avoid traveling in is to be taken with a grain of salt. This is definitely the least developed of any of the countries that I’ve been too but safety and getting around hasn’t been a problem. True, things take awhile longer here but honestly what’s the rush anyway (and I say that even as someone with limited time in country). You can enjoy being in the moment more when you accept the pace of where you’re at and go with the flow even if you don’t like the pace. One piece of advice I can give based on the 5 days we’ve been here is don’t put yourself in a position where feel you need to be rushing to catch your boat, taxi, etc. The taxi will wait, the boats rarely leave exactly on time and the buses…..well I’m sure we’ll end up on one at some point.

All of our interactions with any of the local folks haven’t been negative and the few people we spent a longer time speaking with (Robinson, who rented us our motos, and Jorge who drove us to the port at Altagracia) were very friendly and extremely helpful. It does help tons to have a decent grasp of Spanish because the further you get outside of the cities the percent of people who may know how to speak some English decrease….a lot. The women who owned the hotel we stayed at in El Castillo were extremely friendly and even said we could use the Internet in their lobby and hang out on their deck even after we checked out. They even went to a hotel next door and found us a room because they were booked completely full the second night we were there and knew we needed a place to stay.

A smile will get you one in return most of the time, if you don’t expect things to be like they are at home then you’ll get along a lot easier here. It’s hot, people share the roads and sidewalks with bikes, cars, stalls, buses, dogs, scooters and food vendors. The smells can be potent. Be agile and not afraid to jaywalk. The transportation can be limited and the schedule inconvenient and subject to change. Take the same precautions you would at home, don’t flash money, don’t wander drunk alone at 3 am, be friendly. If you’re here to enjoy yourself don’t let preconceived notions of what may happen prevent you from experiencing the best that can happen.

I’m not looking forward to the 12 hours of traveling we’re going to have to undertake to get to León, I doubt very much that what we’re doing is what most people would consider “vacation”. There is no swim up bar, no fruity tropical drinks or spa treatments. Our spa is a lake in the middle of a volcano crater, our fruity tropical drink is our bottle of rum mixed the whatever soda we decide to grab. We signed up for adventure, for something different and we’re definitely getting it. The fish comes fried whole, you have to ask for or buy ice for drinks, air conditioning is at a premium.

What we consider roughing it is how people live here, we get to go back to air conditioned homes and Mad Men. We get to have food whenever we want it and hot water and electricity are reliable. The third world is no place to complain about your first world problems. There are pigs and chickens everywhere, there are barefoot kids and shabby looking schools. Yet…..I haven’t seen anyone who looks unhappy or angry. In Latvia almost everyone we saw on the street looked surly and mean, here I don’t know what it is, but something is different and I like it.

Anyhow, the sun is about to set and I need to fill my glass with more rum and fresca. The group is walking around and the festival is still going on so it’s time to see what’s going down on the one main street here in El Castillo.

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1 Comment

  1. This is excellent. Well done, friend.


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