Traveling to Managua for work, any tips and/or advice?
February 27, 2016 2:33 PM   Subscribe

I got stuck with a work trip to Nicaragua, and have to admit that I'm a little concerned about the safety aspect among other things. Any tips or advice to stay safe and not worry so much?

Hi all! I found out that I'm being sent to Managua, Nicaragua for work in a few weeks. I was hoping to get out of the trip (partly safety concerns, but also because I'm really busy with other projects at the moment), but looks like I'm the only one available to go. I'm trying to keep the trip fairly short (5 days), and will likely be staying at the Intercontinental.

- Are there any security concerns I should be aware of? Most of the info I've found online seems to be from 2008-2009 and has a lot of rather scary warnings (robberies, taxi kidnappings, etc), I don't know what's changed since then, but I did notice that there's no more State Dept Travel Warning, which I take to be a good thing.
- Are taxis safe? I plan to mostly stick around the hotel when I'm not working, and take taxis to get between the hotel and my worksite.
- Any other security precautions I should take? Besides the usual precautions (using the hotel safe for laptops/passports/etc, being low-key, etc) I'm considering getting a money belt and maybe limiting what I carry on my person each day (no ATM/credit cards, etc).
- Any health precautions I should take? Not too worried about Zika (I'm male and not planning to have kids anytime soon), but not sure if there's anything else I should be concerned about.
- Possibly dumb question, but how's the infrastructure (power/Internet)? I have several other projects I'll be managing remotely so I'm really hoping the hotel will have at least usable WiFi.

FWIW I've traveled fairly extensively for my job the past few years, but admittedly I've lucked out and most of my experience this far has been in reasonably well-developed countries (Western Europe, East Asia, Kuwait, Russia, Azerbaijan, and probably a couple of others I can't recall). The exception was a weeklong work trip to Senegal several years ago - not a bad trip, but it did kind of made me realize that traveling to West Africa might not be my thing (I have co-workers who LOVE it, just not my cup of tea). Thanks!
posted by photo guy to Travel & Transportation around Nicaragua (8 answers total)
Best answer: Managua is not as bad as some capitals in Central America. The infrastructure is pretty solid as far as wifi goes, especially in hotels and so on. It's not as fast as in the US, streaming video is not that great, but you can Skype. If your hotel's wifi is too slow there are a ton of cafes with good wifi. If you want to be absolutely sure, you can do what I do: buy a USB modem and put cell data on it when you get there, I think they sell them at the airport.

I have heard some questionable things about taxis, but I've hopped into many and been fine. If you're concerned just have the hotel call one for you when you need to go somewhere, and then get the driver's cell number so you can call him when you need to go back.

I don't think you need any vaccinations other than an up-to-date MMR and tetanus/diptheria, If you're not planning on doing anything wild, I wouldn't worry about Hep A and Heb B, though it's usually recommended to travelers.

Be aware of your possessions like you would in any city. Keep your laptop in a backpack, and don't let it out of your sight. I travel a lot in this area and I don't use a money belt, I just have everything in a small bag I wear cross-body in front of me. I haven't had any problems. Keep a spare ATM card (and a photocopy of your passport) somewhere else -- I have two bank accounts for exactly this reason. Not so much for it being stolen as for the times when an ATM eats my card, or it doesn't work for whatever reason. It's nice to have a backup.

You'll be fine -- people in Nicaragua are really nice in my experience and as long as you're not waving your iphone and wads of cash around, I doubt you'll have problems :)
posted by ananci at 2:58 PM on February 27, 2016

The Intercontinental looks quite fancy and I would be shocked if they don't have wireless internet.
posted by ChuraChura at 3:35 PM on February 27, 2016

Best answer: I wouldn't fuck around with vaccinations; they're safe, and they're cheaper than dealing with the resulting diseases if by some chance you get them. Unless you have a really good reason not to get immunized, you should. Your work might also reimburse you for this expense if your regular insurance doesn't cover it (many insurances don't cover travel related vaccines, YMMV).

If the rains have started at all, I would suggest doing malaria preventions. Malaria isn't fun to mess around with. My wife actually caught malaria just outside of Managua, and it is reccomended by most travel clinics. During the dry season its less of a worry, but its still there. During April/May it can become a big deal.

But yeah, kind of echoing what Ananci says about safety; don't do anything you wouldn't do in like a shitty part of the US.
posted by furnace.heart at 3:50 PM on February 27, 2016

Response by poster: Thanks all! Ananci, very helpful points, thanks :) Up to date on my immunizations but haven't checked on malaria prevention, will ask my work if I need anything. Fortunately I think I'm traveling in the dry season (March) and don't plan on leaving the city.
posted by photo guy at 3:59 PM on February 27, 2016

Since your other concerns have been addressed: Managua is not the greatest city to visit (it was levelled by an earthquake in the 80s and then the revolution happened and it never really got properly rebuilt) but I do think you'd be missing out if you didn't take a weekend to do a side trip before or after your work trip. Granada is a beautiful old colonial town on a lake, and the beaches on the Pacific are great.

As for safety, I was a (solo) 24-year-old woman when I went and felt pretty safe, with the normal precautions that you mention. It's definitely not like Honduras, for instance.
posted by lunasol at 6:36 PM on February 27, 2016 [1 favorite]

I think I also found Managua (2012) safer feeling than Tegucigalpa (2003). I was staying in a rather nice little hotel (with adequate wifi) near a university and close to a large US-style mall. (I forget if the fancier hotel by the mall was the International, but it could well have been.) Walked around a bit, sometimes at night; side streets felt sometimes sketchy, but noone ever tried anything. (Caveat: I'm a big guy.)
posted by joeyh at 12:29 PM on February 28, 2016

I have visited Managua 8 times in the past year. My local contacts state that Nicaragua is the safest country in Central America. Crimes against persons are rare-- you'd have to flagrantly violate the rules of common sense. Crimes against property and crimes of opportunity are constant and pervasive. if you set down your phone to drink your coffee, the phone will vanish.

Wear mosquito repellent everywhere and always-- the Zica virus and chikungunya are carried a mosquito that survives inside and during the daytime.

I see lots of backbackers and hikers-- you should seek out natural beauty.
posted by ohshenandoah at 9:43 PM on February 28, 2016 [1 favorite]

Seconding the recommendation of a trip over to Granada. We were there last year and it really is a great town (and very safe as best as we could tell).
posted by JaredSeth at 1:28 PM on February 29, 2016

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