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

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Apr 14th, 2014, 06:41 PM
  #1
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Nicaragua trip on 5/22...Need help, pls

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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Apr 14th, 2014, 06:48 PM
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P.S. Will many be able to understand English? As mentioned above, it wasn't much of an issue on our trip to Costa Rica, despite traveling all over. We could generally find someone that could speak English, if we'd really needed to. Is it about similar in Nicaragua?
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Apr 14th, 2014, 09:29 PM
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I'm not saying you can't or shouldn't do this, but Nicaragua is not Costa Rica by any stretch of the imagination. Many fewer people speak English. The people you encounter every day will not know a word.
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Apr 14th, 2014, 09:35 PM
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And where on the NW coast is this? If you were nearer a prime tourist area like Granada or San Juan del Sur, you'd find more English speakers because those places have more of a connection to the tourist industry.

I'm as adventurous as anybody. I just think you have to be prepared to find very creative ways to communicate your needs on such a trip.
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Apr 15th, 2014, 05:38 AM
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I think your best bet would forget the car, Google Spanish schools, use the "adventurist" inclinations to learn the language first, then go exploring.
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Apr 15th, 2014, 10:57 AM
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Jeff, we are staying in Las Penitas, West to the ocean and a smidge south of Leon. Agree on the "very creative ways to communicate" need.

we're seriously considering using buses and taxis for transportation, but, without knowing the language, I'm not sure that will be any easier than driving ourselves. The people that we are renting the house from for the week are from out of country themselves. So, they won't be available to help, but they did recommend we use a friend of theirs that runs a hotel 5 houses down. He speaks English. So, that should help.

Thanks a ton for the response!
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Apr 15th, 2014, 11:02 AM
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Busman,

It'd be hard to argue against your suggestion/logic. Unfortunately, that just isn't practical. I had a typo and we are really leaving on 4/22, not 5/22. We'll likely pick up a translation pocket guide book, but even that won't do much good when it comes to understanding responses.

No doubt, not speaking the language presents a challenge and will eliminate some opportunities. I'm afraid it is what it is at this point and am confident it will still be an enriching adventure.
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Apr 15th, 2014, 11:30 AM
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I know nothing about Nicaragua, but spend time in Mexico. It's a LOT harder to get into trouble using taxis and public transportation (imo) than it would be in your own rental car. Regardless of speaking the language or not.
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Apr 15th, 2014, 01:44 PM
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Suze, as far as getting lost and eventually pulling into a drug cartel's compound, I agree (obviously, extreme example for emphasis). I just meant missing your stop, not being able to determine how to get back, figuring out which bus to get on, even determining where the bus stops are and when they run, how to get a taxi and stuff like that.

All that said, thanks for the opinion from someone that's "been there, done that," regardless of if it was in the same country, no doubt good advice.
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Apr 15th, 2014, 02:00 PM
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Well actually I've never done it, because I've never rented a car in Mexico!! I figure the chance of me having an encounter with the police while I'm on foot, in a taxi, on a local bus are pretty much slim to none. Not true once you rent a car and hit the highway.

I agree with your list, all that stuff IS tricky about public transportation where you don't speak the local language. But I still feel (and maybe this is emotional more than logical) that it's easier to stay out of trouble and have less stress when you aren't driving around in a rental car in a foreign country.
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Apr 16th, 2014, 08:06 AM
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Just wanted to say thanks again to Jeff, Busman and Suze. Based on this feedback, we are going to rely on public transportation.
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May 21st, 2014, 06:24 AM
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How did the trip go?
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May 28th, 2014, 07:41 AM
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Why not rent a car with GPS?
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May 28th, 2014, 11:39 PM
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ManaAhuac: The trip is past tense . . . .
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May 29th, 2014, 04:52 PM
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Ah...

Did you rent a car with GPS?
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Jul 6th, 2014, 07:46 PM
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I'm a bit curious what you decided too. I self-drove in Nicaragua but wondered about buses and just got curious what your experiences ended up being like.
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Aug 18th, 2014, 06:29 PM
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Topping.
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Mar 6th, 2015, 10:40 AM
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My husband and I have been to Nica twice (mid 50s).

"rent a car and do some exploring"
We hired drivers for transportation between cities. For example, Managua airport to Granada; Granada to Ometepe; Granada to coast; Managua airport to Leon; Leon to Las Penitas. They are relatively inexpensive, and they speak the language. We were stopped on the drive from the airport to Leon for a passport check. Certainly happy we had a driver to interpret.

With that said, personnel in hotels, restaurants and some shops speak English about the business they are in. For example, we found that the hotel could check us in, bring us pillows, etc., but probably not talk about food.

Is there anything we really need to be concerned about? I wouldn't drive there. Once you leave the city areas, most roads have no road/street lights. And there's no shoulders or sidewalks, so people walk on the road.

Are there areas we should avoid? We've been to Granada, along the Pacific coast to a Barceló Resort, Ometepe, Leon, Las Penitas. These were all safe.

"hidden treasures"
Volcano boarding outside of Leon was fabulous!!

"understand English? As mentioned above, it wasn't much of an issue on our trip to Costa Rica"
There's less English spoken in Nicaragua, but we didn't have a problem. The Nicaraguans are very helpful, very friendly.

We used Tierra Tours both in Granada and Leon. Very small groups; about six people; very inexpensive. In Granada, for zip lining, and in Leon for the volcano boarding. And also had them arrange some of the transportation for us.

We enjoyed Nica more than CR because it was less touristy by far -- really by far. You're going to have a GREAT trip! I'm jealous!!
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Mar 6th, 2015, 04:24 PM
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kwood1955: >>You're going to have a GREAT trip! I'm jealous!!<< (And all the OP's questions you took the time to answer)

. . . the trip was last year . . .
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