Former Enemies? Why not Potential Partners?

I was reading the replies to fyl's post about how to deal with the government and as usual it turned to Tourism and something caught my attention. Sra Oncidiumfan writes: Nicaragua probably sees this all as an experiment, with considerable risk considering that many of the people coming here are hostile to the government in power ( I am more amazed by their grace at allowing in their former enemies than anything else about the country, and think they should be more like Welsh and burn some vacation houses from time to time. As much as I dislike the current government, for their ways of managing Nicaragua's affairs as their own private company, I have to say that at least they are trying to lure foreign investments into the country, which we need desperately. The guys at COSEP and also the Nicaraguan association of the chamber of commerce in the US, I forget their name, recognized that much. As you say Nicaragua lacks many of the attractions that Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras and Costa Rica have, like mayan ruins, beaches and such, but that doesn't mean there is nothing that people wouldn't want to come and spend a few days in Nicaragua. If the people in charge of Tourism in Nicaragua do their homework they will do their job and carve a little niche by offering to the tourist not another run of the mill tourist stop. There are those that love to go to a place that is not crowded and overrun with the cookie cutter tourism destination. Tourism is not just about the scenery and beaches and old cities and almost forgotten towns and ruins, all good things to have for sure. There is also the tourists interested on the history and culture of the people. Nicaragua has a pretty interesting history and this may sound crazy to some but I believe that one of the things that makes people want to visit Nicaragua is our convoluted past and present Politics. Many like it so much that end up moving to Nicaragua because of that, and then they begin to discover the other things that make this little country a beautiful place. No enterprise is going to be perfect from the get go, but it has got to start somewhere and hopefully it will become beneficial for all involved in it. It is better to do something hoping for the better than do nothing because of didn't worked out so well some place else. I seriously doubt that the government, the Pellas and their peers see this as an experiment. Why be amazed by their grace at allowing in their former enemies ? Other nations do it, don't they? Weren't the Japanese former enemies with the US? The list is long. Why should we perpetuate the anger and sense of vengeance? What do we profit from it? I am not saying that we should close our eyes, bite our tongues and bend over. No I am not. Instead try to find a way to make it appealing to the outsiders without selling our souls. So instead of seeing a former enemy see a potential partner, if not equal at first but not as bad as in the past.

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Tourism is really better when it's locally run

I don't want to hear about how cool all the expats are; I want to meet local people, where ever. If it's run by a bunch of foreigners, you get local color only as a backdrop.

But even more than that, economic bubbles are toxic however they rise, and I'm seeing bubble behavior here -- lots of people running fantasy hotels (Nicaraguan and expatriate alike). I can run the numbers and see that with 50% occupancy and a 30% reinvestment cushion, this one will make $9,000 a year and that one will make maybe $15K a year. Good money for Nicaragua, probably. But I doubt seriously any hotel in Jinotega with the exception of perhaps the Hotel Cafe has a 50% annual occupancy rate.

People who know how to run a commercial kitchen, who can be civil to any guests, who know how to make people feel welcome (and it's not by telling them your story but asking them about theirs) can run a place successfully.

To make your tourism work, you have to bite your tongue a thousand times a year. If what the people are coming for is whores, then you have to watch your young boys and girls offer themselves up for that, or the tourists go somewhere more willing.

I saw a gringo talking to a young Nicaraguan woman a few days ago in Matagalpa. She looked somewhat scared; he was looming over her, talking at her (I was too far away to hear what he was saying), and she appeared to have some older people with her, parents, friends. I didn't know what it was about -- maybe he was hiring her as a maid -- but the girl was in no sense his partner. Whatever he wanted from her, she'd have to deal with it, and those older people with her would probably be the ones getting whatever she was paid for whatever it was he wanted.

What tourism is to me is a phone call from a guest asking me to locate some whores, finding out that these same guests asked the porter to pimp them the front desk worker. Tourism may not always be about bending over and taking it, but that's the way to bet.

Partners are equals. More expats and NGO types that I've met have been condescending to Nicaraguans than not.

A young man from here went to San Juan del Sur to be a bartender and came back to Jinotega after two months. Someday I'll talk to him about that, and get back to you, but I suspect his experiences there were not that different from my brother's at Hound Ears, which also didn't really do much to improve income levels in Watauga County despite the promises the developers sold to the local government.

Average tourism is like getting invaded in slow motion. Maybe that's something you have to accept because you're on a tropical island with nothing but beach and young ass to sell. Eventually the locals get pushed out unless they were the ones developing the resorts and hotels.

Rebecca Brown


That very well could have been me asking for directions by the timeing of your post. The way your post reads "he was looming over here" is absolutely rediculous. Hopefully I am wrong, but I'm probably not, you automatically think something wrong is going on. I am 6'1" and tower over most people in Nica. A few weeks back you also mentioned how the people of Esteli were not as friendly to gringos as they once were, I found that to be totally incorrect. Oh and by way, I am a middle aged white guy that isn't too bad looking and spent time in Managua, Matagalpa, La Dalia, El Qua, Esteli, Somoto, San Jose de Cusmapa, Leon, Los Penitos and wasn't solicited one time for sex. I spent time on the streets, all kinds of hotel, and bars. I have not posted a single negative post on here or the other website until now. I have wanted to but never done so, guess you pushed me over the edge on this one.

Let's hope he was hiring her as a maid

A friend here pointed out that Phil posted about a family across the street from him who hired/acquired a 12 year old as a maid, near slave. If the guy had been asking for directions, there were plenty of older family around. This looked more like turning the girl over to him as a worker.

What I said earlier was (a) expat men I know here said that after the murder in Jinotega, things had been colder to them than previously. (b) I hadn't realized how things had chilled off in the time immediately after the murder until they returned to normal (the effect for women was very subtle -- but I was asked if I knew the man who murdered the muchacho three different times, once by another expat). Jinotega -- not Esteli. I thought it was obvious that I lived in Jinotega and that the murder to which people were reacting had happened in Jinotega.

Apparently, the chill toward expatriates was just in Jinotega as one of the men who has a friend in Matagalpa said that the friend in Matagalpa said that this didn't affect how Matagalpa people dealt with gringos. I haven't talked to the third guy.

When I was at the market a few weeks ago, I realized that things were back to normal and I hadn't realized they weren't at the time that they weren't. One guy had his neighbor vouch for him; the other person hasn't talked about any thing recently; third guy I don't see much off -- he tends to be anti-Nicaraguan anyway and is going to move somewhere else again for a while.

This was a very specific incident in Jinotega.

All of us are people. What we do and think about others can be done and thought about us.

Jinotega is not Matagalpa and is not Esteli, or Somoto. No gringos have been busted for murder there; one has been here, of his drugging buddy who had kin and friends here.

No gringos have been killed by Nicaraguans in Jinotega. The reverse isn't true.

I'm not here to solve Nicaragua's problems. I think most of the people who imagine they can are like Milo Baughman in rural Virginia. They're unaware of how much their own successes had to do with their sociological circumstances and often are oblivious of what their cultures contributed to their successes, and imagine that their business skills will transplant seamlessly to a completely different culture.

Tech kids tend to be more globally acculturated than a lot of other people in any culture. They tend to be internationalists more than most people (one of my tech kid friends here had heard of Dr. Who and thought it was beautiful when he first got a DVD from me). Some of the personality type tends to be like other tech people I knew in the US and on line; some of it is peculiarly Nicaragua (they tend to be cuter than US geek kids). So that's what I'm optimistic about, including their own ability to figure things out for themselves (my friend who installed MacIntosh on his Windows machine knows how to Google).

I used to fantasy about running a small business the way small business people fantasize about becoming writers in retirement. I know better now, but I can still run numbers to see if something is going to be practical or not.

Rebecca Brown


Most of the times our percepciones are shaped by the events that have shaped our own lives. There is also another factor that too color our views and opinions and that is what or to whom we listen to. One of my nieces in Nicaragua about 2 weeks ago said something funny but so true. Here in Nicaragua, she said, we really don´t need the internet in order to be connected and sometimes missinformed, we have had the Lenguanet for the longest time. There´s no denying all the ills that ail this country in all aspects. It doesn´t take a masters on whatever or having to emigrate to acquire a clinical eye to see everything that is wrong here or only if one gets out your chances in life will improve. I have family and friends that come from the same background as mine and some have been able to make a good life for themselves and their families never having to leave Nicaragua through hard work, and then there are those that are having a rough time because they aren´t as disciplined as the others or so we think based on what we see and hear, again percepciones. Not everybody is here to have their darkest desires come true nor are here to exploit our working class. Nobody, at least any reasonable person, will champion the ideas that to become somebody´s maid or cuidador should be any person´s greatest aspiration and achievement in life. Given the circumstances that surround us presently those jobs are the best there is to solve their problems of the day, hopefully through that job and with discipline it could be the stepping stone for something better. Then again we are talking about persons that have walked this road for quite sometime now and with every passing day they feel their chances are getting slimmer and dimmer and life doesn´t wait for no one. It is tough. Then we have this surplus of youth that is coming along and realistically they are on the verge of being wasted and lost. A very small percentage is truly aware of what the future holds for them and are trying their best to secure a better future. The rest, the majority saddly, are more preoccupied with the latest fashion trends and the latest celebrity scandal. Who cares about Dr. Phil, for real? Tech savies air heads, that´s who. We the adults have made a mess here. Some by actually doing one stupid thing after another and others by not doing anything to prevent those morons from screwing us over and over. Yes we can see that the king, and in our case the queen too, have no clothes, and talk about it and even go as far to tell it to the king to his face. But he knows too well that we are too tired and separated by our stupid politiqueria that won´t allow us to unite and bring the changes we want and need. Lastly we need to realize that if that change came to pass, the road ahead of us will be one of hard work and discipline not one of illusory and make believe. There is no genie in the bottle nor hada madrina to grant us our wish and live happily ever after. We need to get off of our butts and talk less and do more.

I'm going to quote Ecclesiastes

"I returned, and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all."

Not all economically unsuccessful poets are undiscovered Emily Dickinsons; not all people who don't make serious money are shiftless people. Probably the most economically successful poet of the 20th Century, Allen Ginsberg, wrote his most successful work when he decided not to care what happened if he wrote it. Others of the best had day jobs all their lives. And some people lost what they could have had pursuing what they could never have.

I asked an old FSLN hand who was a diplomat now living in Frances when he was coming back to Nicaragua (I know him through Google Plus). Same question to you. When are you coming back?

This is my break from the US, and I don't know if I'll go back or not. Chances are not -- that if I end up making more money, I'll move to Mexico City or Spain.

Rebecca Brown

Ah Scriptures

Ecclesiastes, one of my favourites. Not a religious man but I like to read the Bible now and then. It helps me not to get too big a head. After all I am just a fool chasing after wind. The more the words, the less the meaning, and how does that profit anyone? For who knows what is good for a man in life, during the few and meaningless days he passes through like a shadow? Who can tell him what will happen under the sun after he is gone? " Meaningless! Meaningless!" says the Teacher. " Everything is meaningless! To answer your question I am happy to say I am back!

Precisely The Same

comments could be made about the US. The difference: there's enough wealth accrued in the US so that no one has to go hungry. I don't seen any fat kids in the Campo.

I don't think anyone aspires to be a waiter, maid, or similar, but a lot of people have used an entry level job to go to school, learn a trade, and so on. I've done a lot of low skill things in my youth. My first job was bagging groceries for tips. My second was picking tomatoes. That morphed quickly into managing the irrigation for the plantings -not because I was any smarter than the Mexicans working along side me, but because I spoke English and the owner could communicate with me easily, and explain what he wanted.

The young kid has to see the opportunity for something better. That sometimes requires someone else, like a missionary or NGO worker, to open his or her eyes to the possibilities. There's a lot of help extended to Nicaragua currently: missionaries do much more than they are given credit for; medical volunteers address health problems that might be neglected, and NGO's are doing all kinds of things.

Back to the landers want to try new and different crops, techniques, ideas. They typical small Nicaraguan farmer is one harvest from disaster. He can't experiment.

There are many things that can be changed for the better in Nicaragua, but the same could be said for any country in the world. Most of the ex-pats in Nicaragua could be somewhere else. They are here because they love the country, the people, and the "wild and wooly" aspect of not being to take their day for granted.

My first job was cleaning up after show dogs.

My second was working the switchboard at a Holiday Inn while I was in college the second time.

Where I live isn't wild and wooly. I never love all "the people" anywhere and think people who talk like that are very unobservant. People here are people, most just living their lives, going to work, doing the things that people do, listening to less FSLN marching music because the kid is growing up and the FSLN won again anyway. Or posting things about Martin Luther King in Spanish on Facebook. I'm sure others are complaining about the FLSN and other are sighing with frustration as yet another tourist pulls out a phrase book. And it's possible that in Tipitapa, one Nicaraguan set a chron job to rate limit most of the residential cable bandwidth so he could down load movies to burn to DVD for the street vender or is selling that bandwidth to Chinese spammers on botnets.

The idea that Nicaraguans can't be their own change agents insults every Nicaraguan I know, including a crack head ladron, who is now on his second gringa and apparently not pushing quite so hard for the goodies, but then I do live in a city. My experience of all people's plans for me is that they're far stupider than my own plans for me, and I wish I'd learned that at 24.

If there is a barrier between the rich and the poor in Nicaragua, then what you're doing if you encourage the poor to challenge the rich is running people into the prejudices of those rich. If the bright poor figure out for themselves how to negotiate the transition in terms of their own culture, they're likely to be more successful. And if the Nicaraguan rich are truly that serious an obstacle, then better for the bright poor kids to get out (as my father had to leave his region). But I don't think things are that rigid, as they aren't even for blacks in the US now (the first Mississippi black to get a Ph.D. in chemistry in Germany went mad because he couldn't get a job anywhere in the US; now black Ph.Ds work for IBM).

Somehow, both the rich and the poor have to negotiate that gap -- and outsiders assuming that one is impossible and treating the other like people in need of rescuing tends to muck things up. I also don't think that the Nicaraguan rich or better off are all one thing, either (and in the US, Dr. Edward Land and Henry Ford, and the Leitz family in Germany balance the Romneys and the Duponts).

My alternative agriculture friend said that every country needs land reform, breaking up large holdings into holdings worked by their owners. She said it's brutal and upsetting, but without it, land productivity goes down. That's actually why the campesinos threw in first with the FSLN college boys and then with the Contras, and serious land reform is the unfinished business of the Nicaraguan Revolution, despite the moans and complaints of people who own land they don't work themselves, including a fair chunk of the FSLN. The ancient Israelites had laws for returning land to the original owners, which automagically broke up any big estates.

Wonderful article about some Andalusians doing land redistribution here:

The Spanish spoken by Nicaraguans is Andalusian -- interesting to see if that movement spreads here.

We're repeating throwing stuff at each other that I don't believe is real (studies of charter schools show that they're more likely to be worse than public schools than better and most of them are just the same is one example -- and for profit education has degraded the teaching profession dreadfully).

I doubt seriously I can convince you that you're rather bigoted toward Nicaraguans, from trash talking about their own rich and well off to patronizing the poor. If no Nicaraguan can be a legitimate success who wants better things for Nicaraguans, including the poor, why question my own reservations about the benevolence of the rich in the US? A lot of old Southern money was made from whipped black backs. Some old Northern money was made from shipping slaves. A friend of mine said the Indians in the Sierras hated her grandfather -- probably with reason.

If it's always might makes right and to the victor belong the spoils, then the rich Nicaraguans simply played the game the right way. Except I remember a Nicaraguan kid I tutored at UNCC in 1981 or so who was obviously from at least well-off family and who wasn't a little monster of privilege. Same for a Guatemalan friend at Columbia.

Some of the rich here got their money from having ancestors who destroyed indigenous farming communities. And some of them are well off because both parents work as dentists or they're married to the Russian vet. One of the richest local families runs a pharmacy but has a finca on the mountain. By the end of the 19th Century, 17 percent of the coffee lands were in American hands, so those hands are as dirty as Nicaraguans and Germans in the same position. All the coffee land here that didn't end up restored to indigenous and Mestizo campesino hands is blood land.

The only other country we've done more "good" to is Haiti and the one thing we should have done, stopping the French blackmail payments that kept Haiti brutally poor, we didn't do. First and second most helped by the US in the hemisphere, I think. Costa Rica, which didn't get invaded by the US, is doing far better. Maybe that's just a coincidence? Maybe not.

For people writing books, the rule agents have is that if the writer is convinced that the book is the best thing ever, the book is really a disaster. If you don't question your plans, can't look at them from other perspectives, don't put them through constructive doubt, then there's a chance you're fooling yourself. Book or business plan, I suspect, or even running business. You know I'll attack your plans (and it's boring every one watching, both your grandiosity and my attacks). Why not attack them yourself, scrutinize them, wonder if they a waste of your time, wonder if you're really here to be a benevolent patron (and do you think that _any_ patron thinks he's not a benevolent patron?).

Some people do useful work here. I've heard too many people blame the Nicaraguans for why their plans weren't adopted, not asking if their plans were basically not well considered or their attitude toward their help repulsive.

I live in a city that basically just works. It probably works better or worse for some. Tonight, I watched a tropical kingbird hawking insects, flying out and then back, staying in the upper branches of the avocado tree. My neighbors were just living their lives. Not that different than Greenville, SC, just with what I think are far better politics.

Rebecca Brown

Wrong city

I intended to put Jinotega, not Esteli, so we are talking about the same place. And that is a good thing if it has returned to normal. As I mentioned, I usually take a deep breath when I read something I don't like and move on. I will try to do this in the future, it's better for everyone.

I'd say the peak of the chilliness was the week

...after the news accounts. There was a near riot at the guy's first trial, and I'm probably going to stay out of the center of Jinotega on the 20th when he goes back to trial (his first lawyer and interpreter resigned after dealing with the crowd and the murder victim's family).

For me, as a woman, the chilliness was so subtle, I only noticed when it wasn't there that things had been chillier for a while earlier. Some of the guys faced more overt reactions, including one kid saying "Gringos are killers" (his parents did shush him).

Rebecca Brown

I what?

A friend here pointed out that Phil posted about a family across the street from him who hired/acquired a 12 year old as a maid, near slave.

I did? Where?

While this is not abnormal here (having your 12 year daughter work as a maid tends to be better than having her sell candy on the street) I sure don't remember the event you describe and I have only live in one place in Nicaragua with "a family across the street".

I should have checked myself before posting that

As long as the 12 year old doesn't end up in a household with a young Strom Thurmond type, I suspect it is better, but we did also have a 14 year old girl, with her mother's help, deliver and then drown the baby in a toilet tank in the Jinotega market sanitary facilities. A Nicaraguan friend here said that most of the babies the foreigners were buying in Guatemala were the children of young indigenous women from very religious villages who'd gone to the city to work as maids and got pregnant (often by the sons of the household if not the head of the household). Their villages disowned them and their employers insisted that they get rid of the children if they were going to continue working.

I knew a whole family who were the descendants of slaves and the R.J. Reynolds family. Another family had kept a stud book during slavery and now has joint family reunions as they knew that "father was white" meant one of their own sons. (They're quite pleased at how accomplished the black side of the family is). The Jefferson family still doesn't want the Hemmings descendants showing up, even after a DNA test proved two male lines were Jefferson kin.

R.J. Reynolds considered anyone female in his employ to be sexually available to him, but did support his bastards.

So, yeah, perhaps I am unduly suspicious about people hiring young women as maids, but it's based on seeing how things worked in another culture with very rich and very powerless and poor. Not a Nicaraguan/gringo thing, but a powerful man and poor woman thing.

Rebecca Brown

This is sad to see oncidium

Living in Tola and seeing literally thousands of tourists come through every summer this statement makes me very upset. Sure a small percentage of people who come down exploit young boys and girls sexually but the vast majority of people I have encountered seem to be a benefit to the local economy. Not only through monetary means by eating at local restaurants and employing locals but also by affecting change in the mindsets of the youngest generation here. They see opportunity that hasn't existed in the area ever.

I wish this site could stop intentional posting out of order

Or any posting out of order.

This is a good example...Rebecca, being a self confessed professional at provoking readers into an emotional response should be stopped from doing this.

It messes up the conversational flow.

BTW, I intentionally posted this in order even though its out of order!!

What are you talking about?

I said I knew trolls when I saw them -- like you and the missing and not lamented AK-47 or whatever his moniker was, and NicaRealEstateSpeculation -- because I'd run a server for them (in an attempt to find out how to get one of them to be less toxic and to learn about them). I took a couple of surrenders from people who'd been utter net pests in the day, including a guy who attacked a military server.

If we could agree that tourism isn't an absolutely wonderful thing and has some drawback and some advantages, and is going to be more useful to Nicaragua if people don't deny the drawbacks and try to find ways to mitigate them, then all this would be over. I don't believe in other people cliches about how great maids jobs would be for the Nicaraguan people -- I've heard those cliches in other places.

Whole lot of things are people's romantic fantasies. Opening restaurants is another. Writing books that will be best sellers is yet another. Me, I just wanted to run a commercial Usenet server, but those jobs now are scarcer than jobs running art galleries or teaching in universities.

Rebecca Brown

So Rebecca, we are all failures then?

Not one successful tourism business amongst us.

Black and white thinking means you don't have enough data

One rather noisy guy who has been talking about what he's going to be doing someday for three years isn't a successful tourism business man.

So, is anyone here actually making decent money ($15K to $100K a year) running a hotel in Nicaragua and paying into their staff's INSS and paying say 20% over the minimum wage for hotel staff?

Rebecca Brown

You have a lot to learn.

QUOTE Rebecca:

So, is anyone here actually making decent money

Rebecca normally successful people do not go around talking & bragging about it. In fact very few that come here and start a business need the money.

You freely hand out business advice here - Why not help the less fortunate & report the results of all your successful money making business ventures where you learned this valuable information?

Dude, people here try to advise me all the time....

....including what books I should write, and expect me to listen to them. Hey, I'm just returning the favors from people who themselves have never written anything anyone would pay them for (other than perhaps technical writing, but then I've been paid for that, too).

Running numbers to see if an idea is remotely practical isn't running a business, but if people don't do that (and hopefully in more sophisticated ways than I do on my computer calculator), then they don't know whether an idea is practical or not. This is why the Small Business Loans folks want to see business plans. Maybe Jinotega has been particularly unlucky with its expat wannabe business types, but I've noticed a lot of magical thinking up here.

Rebecca Brown

So you avoided John's question then...

as you seem to avoid a lot of posts and people on this site.

So how many years are you going to show us? One or seven...

Lighten up its Romney joke!!!

He was being sarcastic.

I think I'm fighting the good fight against the forces of darkness here, if you want an equally sarcastic answer back.

Here's what I helped save in Charlotte, NC: I don't have a big track record for fighting government attempts to force development on landowners, but I did do more than many people did. Stopped an urban development project in its tracks, turned the group I was working with from enablers of the land grab to defenders of the people. Got hated -- so I knew I was working in the right direction.

Anyone trying to stop development from wrecking farm land, I'm up for it. References on request.

Rebecca Brown

Too Extreme

Your points of view are too extreme. Can´t go through life being suspect of everything and everyone. Must be pretty tiresome and quite lonely go around looking behind one´s shoulder all the time. I myself like to give people the benefit of the doubt, just like people has done with me. I guess I am more of a half full glass type.

Extreme And Weird

and totally not representative of Nicaragua at all.

It would give the casual reader a complete misrepresentation of Nicaragua. Why the hostility?

I've never seen Pimping and Whoring (as you so delicately put it) at the hotel I always headquarter at in Estelí. I've never been approached with any offers. I'm sure it's there, on some level. None of the people I met at Los Arcos were the Whoring and Pimping kind. I met a tobacco buyer from Hamburg, Germany, and lot of mission kids making a one-night stop there on this last trip. I've walked around quite a bit on the streets of Estelí at night, and haven't noticed ANYTHING like the activity you see in CR. A variety of Nicas stay there (the price is fair and includes breakfast, place is spotless, bright and airy, big open spaces). No Whoring and Pimping.

The fact is, I've seen the Los Arcos morph into a conference center, BIG Bingo on Wed nights, generally blossom, and the same people pretty much have been there since I started staying there years ago. Their prosperity has to be grounded on tourism. Their staff has gotten more capable, attentive, responsive, probably because of the demands by people like me. They have a bright future.

What difference does it make if a Nica or an Ex-Pat owns the tourism property? The help might be better treated and better paid by ex-pats than by Nicas. They still get a job and some decent money. What is the ex-pat going to do with his profit (if any)? Not repatriate it, certainly

As I remember, the owner of the Hotel Cafe in Jinotega in a returning Nica (when she's returned and not in Miami). She runs a shaped-up operation. It's an attractive place (except for the too-small guest rooms), and friendly staff. I WONDER WHY she runs the better occupancy rate ?? It's not just Gringos in the Hotel Cafe, a lot of Nicas go there. The place fills up on Saturday morning with Nica ranchers coming down from the surrounding hills.

Why the resentment towards success? Should everyone be miserable, consigned to a rural life on $4 /day?

And as far as the look on the young girl's face in Matagalpa: She was probably just straining to understand the guy's Spanish. Why write so much negativity into an encounter that you know nothing about?

It seems like we've moved from Gringo Pedophilia to Whoring and Pimping. I find neither representative of Nicaragua.

The owner of the Hotel Cafe doesn't appear to show up much

She hustles the mission groups. I don't remember friendly staff and we went to the Kiriaus the next night. Hotel Cafe is quite over priced for what it is. Same price will get you rooms at Don Franciscos that are huge and have wall screen TVs, though I'd have my doubts about the service after her very good manager left.

People need a lot of things -- working for gringos as maids isn't what I'd consider one of them.

People fought a war to have their indigenous way of life unbroken by the coffee farmers. They lost. They had another war to try to create communities as they saw fit, on their land. Somoza killed many of them and their leader. They rose again, but the FSLN decided to treat them as if they were factory workers and didn't give them the land they thought they'd fought for. So they fought for the Contras. And in the end, what? My neighbor has his small farm and his wife has a job in town. They've got a truck, television, lovely daughter, and are doing better than $4 a day.

Maybe what some of them want to do is own the land they work, and feed their families by working that land? And that's a better foundation for going on to get a good education than being poor and landless working for wages and having to buy everything they eat.

I don't see you as successful, frankly. I see you as a gambler trying to convince himself that the roll going through the air will land good.

Rebecca Brown

We Shall See

won't we? I've done well before. I have a good business plan, my expectations are reasonable, and I'm in it for the adventure rather than for the "big money". I have a beautiful wife who backs me 100%, and we're looking forward to putting on the harness one last time. I want to meet some interesting people (have already) and have some fun.

Shelley and I haven't been able to pursue our dream, as you say, for three noisy years, because our younger son got sick and died. Some of my NicaLiving friends know of this. We took care of Martin during his illness, he was diagnosed shortly after we returned from our first property buying trip. He fought bravely, but finally died in our home last July. It was a very hard two years. I took over his printing and publishing business, moved it, re-purposed it, with the hope he would some day be well enough to return. So, that's why I've been talking and not doing for three years. I've been doing plenty of doing, just not that much in Nicaragua. All that changes this November.

Reading your unrelentingly negative and inaccurate posts leaves me feeling depressed. I should know better than to allow myself to be provoked, but some of your statements are so outrageous that they have to be answered. I worry that someone who casually finds the site will get a completely twisted vision of Nicaragua, a Sodom and Gomorrah populated with Gringo pedophiles, most of which (country or pedophiles) you haven't even seen. People should know the truth about the Nicaragua. It certainly has its warts, as Jason Puracal can testify, but it's a beautiful country with gracious people who have deserved better than they have gotten.

What this site needs

Reading your unrelentingly negative and inaccurate posts leaves me feeling depressed. I should know better than to allow myself to be provoked, but some of your statements are so outrageous that they have to be answered.

I fall into the same stupid trap - A personal weakness maybe!

What this site needs Is an "Ignore" button so you can prevent someone from filling every thread with nonsense so you can't even follow it.

You are a dreamer so I hope you beat the old saying "If you want to leave Nicaragua with a million bring five with you when you come."

Juanno is the only guy that I know here in SJDS who did the opposite (Excluding Henry who is big time).

Tony did it

I forget who was pissing off Jinotega Tony but he wrote some code so he could just not see posts from those he didn't want to see. I am reasonably sure it was JavaScript. Unfortunately, the code died with him.

Divide the difference

...and maybe you get something more accurate. Tourism wasn't the panacea for the poor parts of the US; I doubt seriously it's an unmitigated good in Costa Rica, either.

I'm a "if I'm walking back to bed half-asleep, having the glass half fun is nice because there's less to spill, but when I'm trying to keep myself hydrated and I'm working at the computer, noticing the glass is half empty means it's time to fill the glass again" person.

Rebecca Brown

There are Realistas and then there are realistas

So if you are a Realista why is it so hard for you to see the real Nicaragua, not what happened somewhere in rural Virginia or Costa Rica? If the tourism industry can do more harm than good, who´s to blame for that? Somebody is not doing its job right, wouldn´t you agree? Could it be our fault for being to poor that we must resort to prostituting our daughters and sons? Or, could it be the governing bodies for selling us for a few dollars? Allowing abuses, cheap labor and not investing in education can only benefit those on top that lack vision and common sense. And that is the reality of Nicaraguans, the poor Nicaraguans.

That's the reality for a lot of Americans

It's a more prosperous country, but there are plenty of places in the US where education is skimped because "those people are just going to grow up to be mill hands," only the mills are gone now. The rich are trying to keep some of the poor at least from voting by setting up a poll tax by another name.

A lot on the top lack vision and common sense in any number of places in the world.

Rebecca Brown

Great Post

I couldn't agree more.

The potential is here. Nicaragua is a beautiful country with a gracious people who have endured much hardship. There are plenty of people who would like to explore the country and meet the people.

The past is the past. Usanos need a place to retire; tourists need a new place to explore; Nicaraguans need the jobs created by this investment.

Investment is key: some minimal infrastructure has to be in place for tourism. The locations in Nicaragua with this infrastructure in place, SJdS, Granada, get the bulk of the tourism. Whether this initial benefit accrues to Nicas, returning Nicas, gringos, is less important than the fact that the money comes to Nicaragua and stays here.

How much money stays in Nicaragua?

Thinking of 'Pelican Eyes' and other über-costly resorts that wisk tourists from the airport quickly past all the unsightly stuff that is in fact Nicaragua to some 'Fantasy Island' created by foreign speculators for foreign consumption.

Personally I hate what tourists represent: aliens who come to gawk. IMO the beauty of Nicaragua is unequivocally the people. Many have been through hell - overthrowing a fascist dictator, then pushing the Commies back & earthquakes & devastating hurricanes - and through it all have held on to what is truly valuable in life.

I'm a 'Yanqui' yet no one in Nicaragua treats me like an "enemy of humanity". Zapoyol, don't let the Flower Lady's verbal profligacy get to you. Appy a grain of salt. I employ a mental salt shaker on approaching her discourses.

Actually, I think we're on agreement on this

Nicaraguans don't treat me like "an enemy of humanity" either, because more US citizens came to help the revolution than kill it, so the whole thing with us is all over the place.

For tourism, either you do smaller, locally run, locally connected hotels that can take guests around and show them the country because the owners are connected to the place, or you have something that isn't about coming to Nicaragua but coming to a nice place to buy a good time, however you define a good time, and in the tropics because where you're from is all frozen at that time of the year.

I'd rather see Nicaraguans develop the place. Then the money stays in Nicaragua.

I didn't come here to live with Nicaragua as a backdrop. We disagree politically (I think the Nicaraguans tricked the Contras, waited, and came back to the party they preferred this year, but then I suspect I know different Nicaraguans than you do). However, I don't think either of us want to see Nicaragua turned into some place that average Nicaraguans themselves can't afford. Or where Nicaraguans aren't welcome. All the ads for Nicaraguan tourism in the US feature white people on the beach, no brown-skinned people at all. We have the people who want to be in gated communities with the only Nicaraguans either maids or a smattering of the rich to keep from looking like bigots.

Rebecca Brown


"a prejudiced person who is intolerant of any opinions differing from his own"

For some reason, I keep having to look that word up.

Two Nicaraguas

The real Nicaragua and the Nicaragua made up out of the person´s socioeconomic background. The Nicaragua of the rich and the Nicaragua of the poor. In the rich´s Nicaragua the poor can´t afford the luxuries of holidays, go to the movies, to a nice real restaurant, go to the theater, go shopping, truly shopping not window shopping, hell not even that because the truly poor doesn´t have the time nor the money for that. This is not something new. That´s how life has been in Nicaragua always. The good spots. the best lands have always been in the hands of the rich and the extranjeros. We don´t need the extranjeros to discriminate or make us feel unwelcomed in our own country, for that we have the rich nicas they are the worst. Please understand one thing the only reason Ortega, as Somoza and anybody in between, has the ¨support of the people¨is because is a matter of survival, convenience or pure sheer shamelessness¨ take your pick. But is not, and I couldn´t stress this enough, because his benevolence and principles. Anybody that can think for himself can see right thru the falacy and hipocrisy. He went from being one of the animals living in the farm to become like a human, a Mr Jones, living in the master´s house. I could spend the whole day trying to make you see the Nicaragua that we, poor but at least thinking Nicas want for ourselves and our kids after us, but it will serve no purpose because you have bought the whole facade with your eyes wide open but your senses shut. Nicaraguans are not about ideologies. We want decent work and wages and leaders that won´t lie as much, now Is That TOO Much to Ask For?

I've seen that tourism tends to not be that work

Where I come from has the same division -- "you're stealing our best workers" the mill owners would stay when the college prep program would ask them for money.

Tourism in the rural mountains of the US is crap wages and welfare or food stamps for half the year for most people, some money for some, and land prices going up. The counties that went for industrial development did better.

Some people from away and some locals who returned with high tech skills brought in the better paying jobs.

My father wasn't from a local elite family, but he got an education through the Federal government programs that Roosevelt started, and his MBA from Harvard thanks to the GI Bill.

While there are some significant differences between my father's rural Virginia upbringing and his own escape from it and Nicaragua's division between the poor and the rich, there are some common features. And we've gone ahead of Nicaragua on the benefits and drawbacks of tourism and retirees. What happened in rural West Virginia's Canaan Valley was that the locals can't afford it any more than the locals can afford San Miguel Allende in Mexico.

If I were to wish for anything here, it would be better schools, and the freedom to leave this country for opportunities in more resource-rich places, and that some of the kids who went away could return with better jobs and wages for Nicaraguans. Trusting foreigners doesn't work as much as building it yourself. Most people are oblivious to the advantages they have by birth into cultures that are richer than rural Appalachia or here.

And sometimes, you just have to leave where you were from and go some where else, as you did and as my father did, and as many people have done both here and in the rural South. Without a good education, a person is crippled.

And the charter for profits do worse than public schools more than they do better, and they only do better if the public schools are still active. The rich have no love for the poor in the US either, and lie about them, and to them.

Same, same. Here, there.

Rebecca Brown

Gotta love those old bumper stickers...


"You can avoid reality, but you cannot avoid the consequences of avoiding reality." Ayn Rand

One Size Doesn't Fit All.

Here's the thing : in Nicaragua, the problem had a common denominator with many variants and that common denominator was those on top, through government or money, crushing those on the bottom mercilessly. That is happening again as we speak. Throughout our history the elite struggled amongst themselves for the chance to rule the country and not for the benefit of those at the bottom but their own. The "wars" that you mentioned were more of the regional type than a national war. The government and landowners, then as now, were one and the same, although working together they distrusted each other, but agreed in one thing, and that was and is to keep the poor poor at all costs.It isn't until Sandino that the fight is about the country's integrity and sovereign rights and the welfare of the common man first and foremost, both in the city and in the fields. The fight for the campesinos was about getting out from under the landowner's boot, get a piece of land of his own to work for himself and his family and have something to pass on to his kids. For the city folks it was a little harder to come together and to the realization that things were really that bad that a war was necessary to bring about a change for the better. For the campesino the land represents life not a job. Owning your piece of land, no matter how small,means you own your life and that means freedom. For city folks there is no such attachment to the land. His sense of freedom doesn't come from owning a piece of land so he can work it and be self sufficient. Work means freedom, but work that is rewarding and fullfilling and dignifying. Seeing that through your hard work you and your family are moving closer to a better way of life. Sandino first and the Sandinistas were able to bring those two together to bring down those that were in the way of their dream. The core of the Sandinistas was driven first and foremost by their idealogies and presented such ideologies to the campesinos and urban poor as means to their ends. The campesinos first and the city folk later were not united not by the means but by the ends. After over 33 the Sandinistas, or better should I say the Orteguistas, cannot or don't want to accept the fact that Nicaraguans, both campesinos and urbanos, couldn't care much for their ideology. What they care for is a piece of land the campesino can call his so that he feels he owns his life, and for the urban folk a fair and better chance to move himself and his family through decent work and wages without to give up their basic rights in exchange for the basics. Without fear of losing their job or freedom because they don't happen to agree and support every arbitrary decision taken and imposed on them. For the campesino as time goes by and kids get older, most of them will see those kids migrate to the city, it's been happening only that now is more evident. The land will no longer represent life for this kids as it did to their parents or grand parents. Little by little it will fall again into the hands of the rich and corporations that can put that land to work. The city absorbs this wave and the empresarios rub their hands and say here we go again. More competition for the jobs, more profits for them. Abundance of hands equals cheap labor. And who is looking out for this people's welfare, not by allowing squatters and handing out scrap metal to cover four walls made out of crap, and feeding them all the BS from their advantageous and comfortable perch, not this guys for sure. All the money and effort to show that they are in control should be channeled to doing real things. Our situation, our problems are similar to having a nasty machete wound to the head that when going to the hospital the staff, ill trained and unwilling, will try to make you believe that a Cute Little Band Aid will take care of the wound and how fortunate you are that they are in charge of things now. You know the argument that "at least this guy gives us a Band Aid is better than what the other guys gave us Nothing" doesn't make the problem go away. As long as there is a foreseable supply of poor, uneducated and resigned to their miserable life people they, our governments and those allowed by our government to come and keep operating as if we are still in the not so long ago dreadfull days of the past, they will continue doing the same. As little as posible for the poor in return for as much as posible for those on top. Look at all the pretty colors, here this one has stars and unicorns on it. There, there, my little boy. Who loves you, who loves you more.

Not former enemies

Nicaraguans just needed a little help to save themselves from their communist countrymen.

As far as world class tourist sites, Nicaragua is short on them. Rio San Juan and Indio Maiz is one but the infrastructure is not there. Best bet would be to can the politics and encourage CR industry to invest and work their magic.

Caribbean beaches, at Corn Island or elsewere-- same poor infrastructure plus regional autonomy issues. They need a Mexican style megaresort to jumpstart it. Maybe seek Mexican capital and expertise? Let`s here it for Cancun Sur!

Bosawas reserve. By the time they get around to putting in the infrastructure, the squatters and illegal loggers will have destroyed it all. Land to the tiller, death to the environment.

Ometepe probably ranks here, too, but I haven`t been there.

Great cities to see? Not hardly, nothing compares to the Panama skyline, much less the Causeway. Granada is probably the best bet, but they need to clean it up and develope it further.

Archelogical sites, as mentioned on the other post, are just regional quality. Try hard and you could probably make Granada and Zapatera a major regional one.

wildlife tourism? To support the investment in boats/roads/etc. you need numbers of tourists that don`t exist. Selva Negra is the only one that has good yearround access that I know of, and they don`t have ``oh,wow`` species like crocagators or other big predators. Put in something like La Paz walterfalls in CR and you will be talking business.

Indigenous stuff--not much to offer, and not world class and most of the potential is oprobably on the east coast with its infrastructure problems I`d just as soon go to Zuni Village in New Mexico to hear about the Corn People. It`s a neat regional attraction but no more and no less.

Architectural wonders-- not much, not really unique, and in sad state of repair. Grenada probably has the potential if anywhere. Leon is too much of a traffic jam to enjoy.

Pacific beaches--San Juan del Sur area seems the place to start, but you need a megaresort to put it on the map

Community based tourism--it seems to run somewhere between doing the best you can with what you have and wasting your time. They don`t have the money to build the infrastructure and never will. They are dependent on foreign aid for this. The best hope is the little projects will attract the big corporations who can build their own infrastructure and market their product.

There is a fairly large internal market of city folk and foreign aid workers who want to see stuff. Regional attractions are being built for this market. Just don`t expect to fill jets of big spending foreigners to see these neat little sites. World class sites have to be developed and marketed. They just don`t spring up out of nowhere.

"You can avoid reality, but you cannot avoid the consequences of avoiding reality." Ayn Rand

Architectural wonders

Have you visited downtown Managua? By the Dario theater? If they could restore that whole area, or at least make it structurally sound enough to allow visitors into the cathedral, it'd be interesting. Then there are the other attractions... Tiscapa, the Sandino monuments, the New Cathedral, local mosque, etc.

Personally, I think Managua is underrated by many on here. Sure, it's crowded and busy. Good luck getting an ambulance to your house in a timely manner! But as a tourist destination I think it has a lot of potential. How many people here recall the Art Deco style of the Aduana/Correos building? Or the giant telephone outside TELCOR? Or...

Thinking about this

After my time in Guatemala City I have been thinking about what's wrong with Managua and what could be done to fix it. The hardest thing to fix is the weather. Unlike the other capitals in the region, it is at a low altitude and, as a result, too hot to be comfortable for most. But, beyond that, there are some things that could be done to make it more appealing.

When I lived in Olympia Washington I saw malls built in suburbia that sucked the life out of downtown and the recreation of downtown as a new, friendly area. That is what I saw happening in Guatemala City. For example, Avenida 6 where you find lots of old buildings such as ex-movie theaters are being re-created as business locations that face a pedestrian mall instead of a busy crowded street.

As a consequence of the 1972 earthquake, the center of Managua was turned into a wasteland and suburban locations distributed all over the area have created a network of inconveniences. What I mean by that is that doing something that should be in one central area tends to mean many trips to various suburban locations. This also means transport -- whether it is buses or taxis -- tends to be a confusing mess.

Putting some effort into rebuilding a desirable central core could do a lot to restoring Managua to a place people will find attractive. The space is still there and newer building techniques to protect buildings from possible future earthquake damage should make this possible.

So True

Tegus, Guatemala City and San Jose are all high enough to be very pleasant. places to live. I LOVE Antigua, but it's the epitome of a tourist trap -despite all the wonderful hotels and restaurants and the effort they've gone to in preserving the colonial look.

Managua does have the lake, and it would clean up in 10 or so years if the sewage were treated. It's all about money. Nicaragua just has to climb higher up the food chain. The resources are there; attitudes, education, investment, need to be added to the mix.

The Mega Resort

Isn't that what The Pellas development wants to achieve. I don't know how that's coming along-any news on the progress?

We just had a halfpage ad running.

They were looking for Spa employees

scroll down second page of pdf


I don't see the Sandinistas or Ortega as being communists. No more so than the Chinese and the Russians these days. They're just going for what works while trying to hold their own against the world's number one superpower (straining to continually feed the power-making machinery).

Nicaragua, under Ortega, is merely a couple of degrees more socialistic than the United States.

I Think Billy-Bob

was referring to the communist past, not present day Nicaraguan government.

So we agree, that Nicaragua is a long way from the Mexican mega-resorts. Both the east coast and west coast have potential; those all-inclusives really don't take up all that much space. Mexico created that industry from so much sand and brush. I stood on some of those beaches before they were popular (or even accessible). Breathtaking vistas, but no way to extract tourist dollars without infrastructure. Probably exactly like a lot of the east coast of Nicaragua.

Isla Mujeres has nothing on the Corn Islands except for the ferry service that brings thousands of well to do Mexican day-trippers over, and of course, a lot of Usanos.

How about the Usano retirement crowd? That bunch was devastated by the US economy in general, and by the decline in the value of US housing specifically. There are a lot of nice, inexpensive and moderately priced, places in Nicaragua to retire. This is a steady stream of money that could quickly exceed remittances. Some of the retirees - as we saw from a recent post from a viewer asking about optimal locations for a B&B-- will invest in a business as well.

Retirees will be increasingly faced with a choice of much lowered expectations, or considering an out-of-the US place to retire. Most will never leave, but many will. There are many places in the US where you could probably live as cheaply as in Nicaragua in terms of housing purchase or rent, but most have large energy costs. Either A/C in the summer, or heat in the winter, or both. I met a retiree who moved from Missouri to eastern California, purchased a very nice but moderately priced mobile home (about $50K) in a very nice full service park ($500 /Mo) but his monthly heating cost, using propane, was over $500 /mo the first winter. His electricity use is modest, and he fits into that "life line" rate of about . 015 /KHW. He would never come to Nicaragua, too old, with some health issues, but his son is interested.

Nicaragua has a lot of moderate temperature areas, either west coast beaches moderated by the Pacific, or mountains. The major cities with established infrastructure, Managua, Granada, Leon, are hot, hot, hot. Moving away from metro areas can be the stuff for true pioneers, as existing retirees living out of major population areas can testify.

Much of the exploitation of this potential is driven by the attitudes of Nicaragua's government. How genuine is their concern with the well-being of the country's poor people and nascent middle class? There's also a certain amount of "I've got mine, and tourists and retirees will just raise the cost of the cheap labor that makes my lifestyle so comfortable" among well-do-do Nicaraguans. But absent some truly negative turn of events, like Iranian terrorist training camps dotting the countryside, I see an inevitable increase in both tourism and retirement.