Nicaragua: Expectation vs Reality

Nicaragua: Expectation vs Reality

The week before I left for my solo trip to Nicaragua, I was so excited for my upcoming adventure! Unfortunately, many of my friends were not. I received many texts begging me to cancel my trip immediately to avoid certain disaster:

“There are riots going on over there. It’s not safe for you to go there right now.”

This was true at one point in time. I have friends who live in Nicaragua. When I originally wanted to go in Fall 2018, they said it was not safe. They suggested waiting. I ended up going in February 2019. I was in close contact with them while planning my trip. I waited until they said it was safe, instead of listening to fear-mongering by people who have never been to Nicaragua.

While I was there, the locals mentioned that few Americans come to visit. I told them Americans are scared to go to Nicaragua. They were surprised, and said Nicaragua is only dangerous for people who live there or people who recently left who are trying to come back. They said if you are a tourist or Nicaraguan who moved away years ago, you will be safe.

“There is a lot of human trafficking over there. They will scoop you up off the street so fast, nobody will ever know what happened.”

This sounds like a generic solo woman traveler fear. Sure, this could happen. But it could also happen in your hometown. Or anywhere. It’s not more likely to happen in Nicaragua. To ensure safety, my friend sent one of his drivers to pick me up from the airport. I asked him about potential scams to look out for. I never felt unsafe during my trip.

“Nicaragua?! Get ready to rough it. It’s a third world country. They might not have water there.”

Wrong. They had water there. The water out of the tap is not potable, but everywhere I went had filtered water available. Bottled water was also available in stores. I drank the filtered water and it was fine.

“Don’t eat the meat over there. You might actually be eating guinea pig.”

Nicaragua is known for their meat – carne asada. It’s amazing and you have to try it if you go (unless you are vegetarian or otherwise goes against your dietary restrictions.) I didn’t meet anyone there who had heard of eating guinea pig.

“Don’t go in the water with open cuts. They have bot flies that lay eggs in your wound.”

Botflies look similar to small bees. They can’t breathe underwater. Or swim. They deposit their larvae on mosquitos. If you get bitten by an infected mosquito, it’s possible for the larvae to be injected into your skin. Though they are native to Central America, I never heard of anyone getting botflies during my trip. If you do get infected, it looks like they are easily removed with petroleum jelly or iodine and tweezers. Keep in mind, everywhere you go will have bugs. They may be different from the bugs you are used to back home. Whenever you hear a crazy story about bugs you’ve never seen before, it can seem like a horror/sci fi come true. But when you see it, you realize it’s just another bug.

So what did I actually do? I went to the beach, surfing lessons, ziplining, ate local food, and went swimming. It was an amazing time, and I’m so glad I went! Check it out:

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