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Nicaragua trip on 5/22...Need help, pls

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Hi,
I know I should have posted this earlier, but I have a gift for procrastination.

Here's the situation. My wife and I (both in 40s) are taking our first trip to Nicaragua, arriving on 5/22. My wife is an adventurist do-it-yourselfer and has rented us a house on the NW coast. Both of us only speak English.

Here's where I could really use some help:

She really wants to rent a car and do some exploring. Is this something we can realistically be able to pull off without speaking the language (we drove all over Costa Rica 10 years ago without incident)?

Is there anything we really need to be concerned about?

Are there areas we should avoid?

Mainly, the trip reports I've read have done a great job of pointing out things we should do (thanks to those that posted and replied to them), but are there hidden treasures for do-it-yourselfers that may have been missed and, even more importantly, are there things we need to be careful of (outside of the obvious, like don't walk around the streets at 3 AM waving $$$$ in the air)?

Thanks a ton in advance. No doubt this will be a great anniversary adventure and I'm sure the info those that choose to respond will help ensure it is just that.

Steve

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