My wife and I visited Costa Rica in 2008, and decided that we wanted to move to Central America permanently. Costa Rica had endless natural beauty and warm weather. So we worked hard and saved our pennies and five years later here we are. Except we are not living in Costa Rica; we are living in Nicaragua.
If you have ever seen any travel shows on T.V. like Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations, they usually make some quasi spiritual statements that seem cliché at the end of the programs. Often times they are along the lines of “The reason why I do this is because of the people (locals) I meet along the way.” It often times may seem corny or presumptuous, but there is a grain of truth to that: Nicaraguans may be the friendliest people on earth.
A little background may be necessary for me to justify a statement like that. In the winter of 2012-2013, I traveled around most of Nicaragua, by bus, with my wife and 1.5 year old boy. We wanted to get a good feel for the people and the country and figured that doing it by bus would be the best way to achieve this. I am not going to lie, we were a little nervous about doing this. I think any parent would be.
We were pleasantly surprised at how well we were received by the locals, no matter what part of the country we were in. It didn’t matter if it was a Big City, Port Town, or a Small Village. The same experiences kept repeating themselves. Men at the local park, gesturing us over so that our child could play with theirs. The National Police personally giving us a ride to the next town after our bus broke down. If our son was crying on the bus, locals would pick him up and console him. Over and over again, we were amazed at the genuine human kindness that we experienced on an almost daily basis.
Then there is the cost of living. Costa Rica has become very popular in the last few years with tourists, and as a result, prices have gone up almost across the board. So hotels, restaurants, property, and homes cost almost as much, if not more, than they do in the US. Nicaragua, on the other hand, is much more cost effective and has a similar infrastructure system. While traveling by bus in Nicaragua, we noticed a great deal of investment on infrastructure from outside countries: US, Canada, European Union, Japan, and China.
Prior to coming to Nicaragua, I had read that Nicaragua is the safest country in Central America. Of course being an American, and remembering the mid-eighties, I was a little skeptical. Over time, I have become quite comfortable living here in Nicaragua. Take it from a guy who has traveled in Nicaragua, with his family, by bus. As a tourist, you have to be aware of your surroundings and Nicaragua is no different. It is best to live by “Big City” rules when you travel/live in Nicaragua, or anywhere in Central America.
Let’s not forget about what Nicaragua offers in natural beauty. “The land of lakes and volcanoes” is in no shortage of showing off its assets. We are outdoorsy people, you could say, and Nicaragua offers the perfect backdrop for us. Hiking in a cloud forest and seeing a dozen waterfalls. Scuba diving in the bluest water you can imagine off of The Corn Islands. Do you enjoy surfing? International surfers venture to a handful of beaches near San Juan Del Sur constantly.
Then there is the shopping! (or window shopping) There are Artesania crafts that have been traded in Masaya from before Spanish Colonization. Certain regions of the country have their specialty craft that they have been performing for hundreds of years. Festivals, festivals, and more festivals! Architecture and culture, like in Leon and Granada, have been around for over 500 years. Nicaragua truly has something for everyone.