I was going to continue my attempt at doing an HDR photograph a week until we came across some disturbing news this week.
Two sets of couples we know have been robbed in and around Managua over the past 2-3 weeks. Normally I give a location the benefit of the doubt but this is just getting absurd. I want to make sure that you know what to look out for when you are traveling through Nicaragua.
The Tica bus station in Managua is in a somewhat shady part of town. Many backpackers find hostels in the area as a base camp but the streets are absolutely deserted after 7pm. This is never good.
The couple went to grab a taxi to take it to another side of town. After getting into the cab, 2 other people squeezed onto the sides of them and proceeded to take them for everything they are worth. All money, all cards, electronics… everything was taken. Tied up and held at screwdriver point, they were taken 20km outside of town and dumped there with nothing but enough money to get back into town.
Couple number 2 were out near Lake Apoyo outside of Managua. A couple of guys came out of the woodwork and started a polite conversation with them. After a while and getting them to trust them, they hopped into a tinted window car to continue up the road to their location. This is a travelers dilemma. Sometimes you put yourself out there to be rewarded with some of the best experiences of your travels, to trust that the world is good, and you get burned.
They were pounced upon, hands tied with cables, and took all their money, cards, electronics… everything. They were driven outside of Managua for 2 1/2 hours but were “polite” enough to leave their bags, passports, and enough money to get back into town. $16k in cash and items was taken in a matter of 3 hours.
- Only use authorized taxis. They have a RED license plate. There are two red stripes – one on the top and one on the bottom of the plates. Check them. Review them. Love them.
- Write down the number of the taxi you are in.
- Lock your doors as soon as you are in the car.
- Do not get into any non-taxi car. People are nice but the scams are a problem.
- Do not carry your credit cards if you can avoid it.
- Call your bank and make sure there is a limit on daily withdraws in every country (as there are loopholes in Nicaragua, for instance).
- Only carry your daily budget with you (or how much money you need for activities).
- Only go out in Managua during the day unless your hostel calls a taxi cab for you, ensuring that your ride is safe (Shaun went out even during the day to the ATM and was intently stared at. Someone also did try to scam him.).
- If someone asks you for change, say you do not have any. Run!
- Get out of Managua ASAP.
- Be smart. If it feels off, it probably is.
Hopefully this plague will be bitten in the ass. I’m tired of hearing friends getting the short end of the stick.
Be safe travelers. We all just want to experience life. Do it smartly.