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Thread: Driving Tips for Most of Nicaragua

  1. #1
    Pinolero De Cepa!! FisherCigarman's Avatar
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    Default Driving Tips for Most of Nicaragua

    I have been driving in Nicaragua,since I firts went back in late 1989. I have not had a single accident,Knock on wood, I have however, several scares and dodged a couple of would be tickets.

    There have been numerous upgrades to many Nicaraguan roads that now make it not only safer,but more enjoyable,yeah there is still a handfull of roads that still need fixing, it took a disaster like Mitch to fix our primary roads, but hey, at least they DID get done,but that is another story behind how it actually got done with the money donated by U.S.(I must admit that Arnoldo had started to get a bit fatter with the money though).

    My main driving experience covers the routes Managua-Esteli,Esteli-Jalapa(where we grow most of our Tobacco) Esteli-Jinotega(Asturias) Esteli -El Rama, Esteli-SJDS all the way to Ostional.

    Nobody should be intimadated(or scared) about driving in Nicaragua,taking a few precautionary steps will help you get use to the difference between U.S or any other Country vs Nica.I have always hate driving in Managua,I try not to go in to downtown Managua unless I have to,I limit my driving in Managua to Airport and Customs,therefore I have not much experience in Managua,I have gone into downtown Managua maybe 10 times in 16 years.

    One of the main things Nica drivers lack is "Courtesy"(specially taxi drivers) this can be very frustrating until you get use to it.You ALWAYS have to constanly be AWARE of Taxis,specially the ones in front of you,they will slam on the brakes to pick up a rider without even stick his tongue out as a signal, ALWAYS keep your distance and witts about them,since they will also run through red light signs(in Esteli there is only 3 woohoo) in Managua there is way more.

    The other one is Bikes, yes Bikes! specially when you are going to park,eventhough you have your signal on, bike riders will invade your ride side,therefore run into you(advantage vehicule) check your rear view mirror and visually do a overthe shoulder look behind before you pull in to your parking space, this problem accurs mainly in 2 of Esteli's bussiest Streets.

    Courtesy: What Courtesy!! poor pedestrians when I give them the right of way on intersections,they look at me Funny,they think I am crazy and they dash across making sure I am not trying to run them over,this is because most of the Drivers(again taxis) in Esteli Do Not do this often,heads up for Pedestrians in Esteli in INTERSECTIONS,Cross with Caution.

    Panamerican Driving: Most of Nicaragua's fatal accident accur on the Panam, here you must drive both, offensively and deffensively. As most of the accidents accur when people try to pass on No Passing zones, only to see a Semi truck or Buss coming full steam head on. From Managua to Esteli, BEWARE if you are speeding,Managua's Policia de Transito have started using Radar Guns,and if you get pulled over for speeding,get ready to pay a 1,200 cordobas ticket you should have no trouble driving at about 50MPH or 85 KPH, One more thing to watch out for in this route is the Cuesta Del coyol, this is the hup hill where there is 2 lanes going up and 1 coming down, the signs advice "Trafico pesado,Mantenga su Derecha" meaning heavy traffic,vehicules such as buses trucks,keep you right, So what one thinks right away, cool! I can just keep on the left and speed ahead, Watch OUT, incoming traffic WILL invade you lane coming down,trying to pass the slower trucks coming down,Watch Out specially on the curves on this up hill.

    Esteli- Jalapa: Jalapa valley is the Tobacco harvesting Capitol of Nicaragua, this route gets a lot of tourist wanting to see the vast tobacco fields,lots of folks come down from neigboring Danli (Honduras) to see the Famous Jalapa Valley crops and its explendor with its curing barns to go with their fields. you should have no problem on this road, half way there is Pan Am, the rest of the way is newly concrete blocks constructed road, it used to take me almost 6 hours to reach Jalapa from Esteli,before they built the new road, now about 3.

    Esteli-Jinotega: from Sebaco to Matagalpa: One word for you" Path Holes or Pot Holes" uff this road is got to be one of Nicaragua's worse. drive slowly these pot holes remind me how the Pan am was before Mitch, From Matagalpa to Jinotega, is not as bad as the one to Matagalpa, is not in great shape either, both of these road are" supposed" to get Re done, at the end of May, based on a report by El Nuevo Diario, but thanks to "Los Boludos Diputados", it may take longer it should look nice once is done, due to the deterioration of these 2 roads, when I go to Apanas, I prefer to take the Dirt road from Esteli-San Rafael Del Norte,right now is has been re surface, nice ride all the way to "El LLano de Las Cruzes" a lil town north of Jinotega.

    Esteli-SJDS all the way to El Ostional. This is one of my Fav routes,once I pass Tipitapa and Masaya,here you must watch out for,Carretones and motorcycles without lights,if you happen to go by there at night(which I don't recommend), I have. Other than that smooth sail, EXCEPT if you are Driving right about now in "Semana Santa"or Spring Break, there are a bunch of Locos usually there will be a bunch of cars from Managua and Granada passing like crazzy,creating hazzardous conditions,trying to get a better spot than you at the beach in SJDS.

    Esteli- El Rama- Nueva Guinea.

    This road is heavely used by semi- trucks coming from the port of el Rama, used to be used heavely for Lumber trucks coming from Nueva guinea. Only thing to watch out for is"Cattle" yup lots of cattle being herd on the highway, the ranchers will let you know by having a rider way before you see the cattle,he will be waiving a red flag, this means "Don't run over my Ganado (Vacas mainly) brother" I actually enjoyed this event when I go down there.

    Well I hope this helps you in any shape of form,like always I will try to help in whatever I can our fellow beloved folks visiting or living in Nicaragua.

    Long live el "Gallo Pinto,con Crema Fresca"

    Regards. Su Servidor

    FAP

  2. #2
    Viejo del Foro Just Plain John Wayne's Avatar
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    Default You young man

    Are getting very good at explaining things...

    Keep it up and I might learn something...

    I am a slow learner but I do get there

    Your input is Priceless...
    To be called a "Has Been" I must surmise, is much Greater than to be called a "Nevah Been"... JW...



  3. #3
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    I had no idea the police were using radars. While I'm a defensive driver, I drive fast (must be a California thing). I was doing 155KPH going o the Pan Am from Managua to Cuidad Dario and back slowing down in the pueblos. Thank god I did'nt get pulled over.

    I just knew I would be pulled over at the rotunda at Km 13 or so going back to Managua because we always do. The officer said I crossed the solid white line while going through the rotunda, which I didn't. My wife came out and said, "do you want U$5 ?" I was thinking that this is not how to offer a bribe. He said that he doesn'y do that and wanted my Driver's License and Car ID. After giving it to hom he came back and proceeded to tell us that it was a C$400 fine and we would have to go to the bank, pay the fine, get a receipt, and come back for my license. Well it was 5pm and the bank was closed, so I told him that it was no problem, so give me the ticket because I have a plane to catch (which I didn't). I could care less if he keeps my license, I would get another one upon my return to CA.

    Finally, he said knowing that the fine was about U$22, he said to put what we thought was fair in the envelope and he would give me my license back. We put in U$5 and were on our way. I was looking at him in my mirrors as we left and he didn't open the envelope until I was out of sight. I could have put in 1 cordoba.

    Next time I go through that rotunda, I will be recording my drive through it as well as the "please give me your bribe money". I will then show the business card from the Minister of Tuorism and show him the video. He will either let me go or take me to the prison a short drive away to Tipitapa. I hope they have Guapote a la Tipitapa on the mune that evening.

  4. #4

    Default

    I was pulled over recently by this Lady Cop, she spent some time studying my license and reviewing I had everything in my vehicle needed. I asked her how her day was going and tried to be real nice, cause she was really looking to give me a ticket for something.

    So I happened to have a bottle of soda and some fritanga food, that I didn't necessarily need, I asked her if she ate yet, and she said No, asked her if she wanted what I had and she said Yes. and I was on my way.

  5. #5
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    Guess I should have a stocked up cooler in the vehicle the next time.

  6. #6
    Para aquí para acá Jonh's Avatar
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    Here is my account of driving in Managua, from December, 2004:

    We were to be met at the airport by a cousin from Managua, but a different cousin from Estelí showed up. That's how things are in Nicaragua. It turned out that he was there to pick up someone else. Our cousin Paul had not arrived yet. As I fetched the rental car, Paul pulled up to the curb.

    I drove behind Paul’s tiny green Toyota Yaris in our tiny beige Toyota Yaris through the morning rush hour traffic of Managua. Having slept briefly and uncomfortably on the redeye flight, I was already mentally and physically drained. I knew what I was in for, driving through Managua while not losing sight of Paul. We do not know our way through Managua and there are none of the big friendly green signs with white reflective lettering to guide our way like those on American roadways. I faced my mission with a sense of duty and just enough mix of confidence and innocence to be considered either brave or foolhardy.

    Driving through a bustling third world city is not for the faint of heart. In Managua, in particular, there seem to be no rules or at least no enforcement of any rules except by the horn blast of other drivers scorned by one’s indiscretions. The streets are traveled by all manner of transport – pedestrians, newspaper sellers, bicycles, motorcycles, cars, taxis, pickup trucks, flatbed trucks, busses, and large semi-trucks. Even the occasional horse and cart can foul the flow of traffic. Roads often have no lane markings. Roundabouts, or rotondos, are more like getting caught in a whirlpool than a civilized form of traffic intersection, and we were flung through several roundabouts.

    I managed to stick to Paul rather well. Only on one or two occasions did I inadvertently allow a vehicle to come between us, an oversight I blamed on fatigue. My brief training in formation flying came in handy though it had been twelve years earlier with no practice since then. The other comparison that occurred to me was aerial dogfighting. Through the lane changes, turns, roundabouts, and passing maneuvers, Paul would have made me an ace fighter pilot. Many vehicles tried to nose their way between us, but my aggressive hunting instinct, or maybe my fear of being left behind, left them all in our wake. Maria even complimented me on the feat.

    We got to Paul and his wife’s house safe and sound at about eight in the morning, and when Paul offered us refreshments I jokingly asked if he had any whiskey. It turned out he had quite an extensive liquor cabinet, but I thought orange juice would be a wiser choice.

  7. #7
    Viejo del Foro Just Plain John Wayne's Avatar
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    Default Hey Guys

    Strummin' my six string...

    On my front porch swing...

    Smell those Atlantic Coast shrimp. beginnin' to boil...

    OH Sir, Mam,

    Gee I need a help, I had no idea I was doing something wong, look, you know where I live, come by my house next time you are not working.

    We'll have a good get together.......
    To be called a "Has Been" I must surmise, is much Greater than to be called a "Nevah Been"... JW...



  8. #8

    Default Beep beep'm beep beep yeah

    Baby you can drive my car
    Yes I'm gonna be a star
    Baby you can drive my car
    And maybe I'll love you

    I told that girl that my prospects were good
    And she said baby, it's understood
    Working for peanuts is all very fine
    But I can show you a better time

    Baby you can drive my car
    Yes I'm gonna be a star
    Baby you can drive my car
    And maybe I'll love you

    Beep beep'm beep beep yeah
    All this for a flag? Michelle Obama http://hotair.com/archives/2011/11/0...our-years-ago/

  9. #9
    Viejo del Foro Just Plain John Wayne's Avatar
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    Default You dont play fair

    You dont play fair...

    That was a Coffee alert, and you cheated...LOL
    To be called a "Has Been" I must surmise, is much Greater than to be called a "Nevah Been"... JW...



  10. #10
    House SOB Little Corn Tom's Avatar
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    Default On my first

    On my very first visit to Nicaragua, we rented a 4 wheel drive, diesel, 4 passenger truck. Very cool vehicle and we took it all kinds of places in the countryside.

    Well I did this for 2 weeks with no problems at all. Then we left Jinotepe for our flight back to Miami and got pulled over by another kid with a gun with 3 other cars. They all kind of ran over to him...handed him some Cordobas (I guessed) and left. Then it was just us there.

    Well, he wanted my license and wanted to write a ticket. I speak no Spanish. Next thing I know, Maria jumps out of the car and is screaming (I mean screaming) at this kid with a gun. It went on forever and my son and I knew for sure that this was going to end up with us being somebodies boyfriend in a Nicaraguan jail.

    Next thing I knew the kid hands over the license to Maria and she gets in the car and we go on our way!

    I asked "What got us off the hook?". She said that she told him her mother was a "Pasos from Granada" and Maria was going to call her.

    I think that Nica women have more balls than the men.
    Life's different here ... It's a whole 'nother pace.

  11. #11
    Viejo del Foro Just Plain John Wayne's Avatar
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    Default

    You better belive Nica Women have balls, they are the stabilataing factor in this country.

    and would fight against a chain saw, if they thought they were in their rights....
    To be called a "Has Been" I must surmise, is much Greater than to be called a "Nevah Been"... JW...



  12. #12

    Default Big Balls (AC/DC)

    Big Balls (AC/DC)

    I'm ever upper class high society
    God's gift to ballroom notoriety
    I always fill my ballroom
    the event is never small
    the social pages say I've got
    the biggest balls of all

    (chorus)
    oh, I've got big balls
    I've got big balls
    and they're such big balls
    dirty big balls
    and he's got big balls
    and she's got big balls
    but we've got the biggest balls of them all
    All this for a flag? Michelle Obama http://hotair.com/archives/2011/11/0...our-years-ago/

  13. #13

    Default

    This video is real funny http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eZvbLQDrUoo

    Someone riding in a cops truck full speed dodging traffic with the sirens on, Late for a dinner!

  14. #14

    Default Do you know the way?

    to san jose?

    do you know they were going to lunch? or guessing?
    All this for a flag? Michelle Obama http://hotair.com/archives/2011/11/0...our-years-ago/

  15. #15

    Default

    I just read the caption "You think we drive bad here in the U.S.? I got to ride shotgun in an unmarked cop car in Nicaragua, and these guys drive like crap. We almost side swiped, and went head on with several cars.The only reason we were rolling code was we were late for a dinner reservation."

  16. #16

    Default too....

    funny!
    All this for a flag? Michelle Obama http://hotair.com/archives/2011/11/0...our-years-ago/

  17. #17
    Viejo del Foro Just Plain John Wayne's Avatar
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    Default Who says Nicaragua is not into traffic Safety?

    I saw this today and could not help but take a picture of this.

    They go around selling vegitables and such in a push cart traffic complyant...



    I don't know if lights and reflectors are required on the viechle but the bright orange cone is what they are now using for safety...
    To be called a "Has Been" I must surmise, is much Greater than to be called a "Nevah Been"... JW...



  18. #18

    Default

    and the extinguisher?

  19. #19
    Para aquí para acá Jonh's Avatar
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    Default

    I was about to ask that!

  20. #20

    Default

    Thought I might mention an experience on the way from Boaco to Managua.

    Usually I go with a driver, mostly because I like to help out a good friend and I find it easier. I hate driving in Managua, but feel a little better in Los Departamentos.

    Some mix ups in Managua and this trip to Chontales and Boaco I drove myself. (I love to drive, at least outside Managua)

    Used to be that this road (all the way to Juigalpa) was wide open, but last year on my way back to Managua, almost got ticketed by Teustepe. This is the town past the lake from Managua. Off the road but with bus stops.

    He had me on radar dead to rights through the bus zone. Usually I slow down but there was no one waiting. So I didn't slow down.

    We explained that we hadn't been in the area for several years and with a US License he let me go and I didn't end up paying a bribe. I guess it was more trouble than it was worth!

    A driver friend had warned me, but I ignored him. I will be more careful next time!

    If you are worried, I recommend a driver. I have a driver, because he is a good friend and needs the money. I can refer if needed. He is a great driver!

    Conan Witzel

  21. #21

    Default

    I think they pull people over just to make their day go quicker! Have a chat with someone just for the hell of it, and sometimes a bribe or two.

  22. #22
    Pinolero De Cepa!! FisherCigarman's Avatar
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    Default Re: Driving Tips for Most of Nicaragua

    Revised below in Bold letters: Sebaco-Matagalpa Road!

    Quote Originally Posted by FisherCigarman View Post
    I have been driving in Nicaragua,since I firts went back in late 1989. I have not had a single accident,Knock on wood, I have however, several scares and dodged a couple of would be tickets.

    There have been numerous upgrades to many Nicaraguan roads that now make it not only safer,but more enjoyable,yeah there is still a handfull of roads that still need fixing, it took a disaster like Mitch to fix our primary roads, but hey, at least they DID get done,but that is another story behind how it actually got done with the money donated by U.S.(I must admit that Arnoldo had started to get a bit fatter with the money though).

    My main driving experience covers the routes Managua-Esteli,Esteli-Jalapa(where we grow most of our Tobacco) Esteli-Jinotega(Asturias) Esteli -El Rama, Esteli-SJDS all the way to Ostional.

    Nobody should be intimadated(or scared) about driving in Nicaragua,taking a few precautionary steps will help you get use to the difference between U.S or any other Country vs Nica.I have always hate driving in Managua,I try not to go in to downtown Managua unless I have to,I limit my driving in Managua to Airport and Customs,therefore I have not much experience in Managua,I have gone into downtown Managua maybe 10 times in 16 years.

    One of the main things Nica drivers lack is "Courtesy"(specially taxi drivers) this can be very frustrating until you get use to it.You ALWAYS have to constanly be AWARE of Taxis,specially the ones in front of you,they will slam on the brakes to pick up a rider without even stick his tongue out as a signal, ALWAYS keep your distance and witts about them,since they will also run through red light signs(in Esteli there is only 3 woohoo) in Managua there is way more.

    The other one is Bikes, yes Bikes! specially when you are going to park,eventhough you have your signal on, bike riders will invade your ride side,therefore run into you(advantage vehicule) check your rear view mirror and visually do a overthe shoulder look behind before you pull in to your parking space, this problem accurs mainly in 2 of Esteli's bussiest Streets.

    Courtesy: What Courtesy!! poor pedestrians when I give them the right of way on intersections,they look at me Funny,they think I am crazy and they dash across making sure I am not trying to run them over,this is because most of the Drivers(again taxis) in Esteli Do Not do this often,heads up for Pedestrians in Esteli in INTERSECTIONS,Cross with Caution.

    Panamerican Driving: Most of Nicaragua's fatal accident accur on the Panam, here you must drive both, offensively and deffensively. As most of the accidents accur when people try to pass on No Passing zones, only to see a Semi truck or Buss coming full steam head on. From Managua to Esteli, BEWARE if you are speeding,Managua's Policia de Transito have started using Radar Guns,and if you get pulled over for speeding,get ready to pay a 1,200 cordobas ticket you should have no trouble driving at about 50MPH or 85 KPH, One more thing to watch out for in this route is the Cuesta Del coyol, this is the hup hill where there is 2 lanes going up and 1 coming down, the signs advice "Trafico pesado,Mantenga su Derecha" meaning heavy traffic,vehicules such as buses trucks,keep you right, So what one thinks right away, cool! I can just keep on the left and speed ahead, Watch OUT, incoming traffic WILL invade you lane coming down,trying to pass the slower trucks coming down,Watch Out specially on the curves on this up hill.

    Esteli- Jalapa: Jalapa valley is the Tobacco harvesting Capitol of Nicaragua, this route gets a lot of tourist wanting to see the vast tobacco fields,lots of folks come down from neigboring Danli (Honduras) to see the Famous Jalapa Valley crops and its explendor with its curing barns to go with their fields. you should have no problem on this road, half way there is Pan Am, the rest of the way is newly concrete blocks constructed road, it used to take me almost 6 hours to reach Jalapa from Esteli,before they built the new road, now about 3.

    :REVISED: Esteli-Jinotega: from Sebaco to Matagalpa: One word for you" Path Holes or Pot Holes" uff this road is got to be one of Nicaragua's worse. drive slowly these pot holes remind me how the Pan am was before Mitch, From Matagalpa to Jinotega, is not as bad as the one to Matagalpa, is not in great shape either, both of these road are" supposed" to get Re done, at the end of May, based on a report by El Nuevo Diario, but thanks to "Los Boludos Diputados", it may take longer it should look nice once is done, due to the deterioration of these 2 roads, when I go to Apanas, I prefer to take the Dirt road from Esteli-San Rafael Del Norte,right now is has been re surface, nice ride all the way to "El LLano de Las Cruzes" a lil town north of Jinotega.
    The Road from Sebaco to Matagalpa is Brand New,Furthermore,the Road from Sebaco to Jinotega,better known as "El Guayacan" is NOW OPEN

    Esteli-SJDS all the way to El Ostional. This is one of my Fav routes,once I pass Tipitapa and Masaya,here you must watch out for,Carretones and motorcycles without lights,if you happen to go by there at night(which I don't recommend), I have. Other than that smooth sail, EXCEPT if you are Driving right about now in "Semana Santa"or Spring Break, there are a bunch of Locos usually there will be a bunch of cars from Managua and Granada passing like crazzy,creating hazzardous conditions,trying to get a better spot than you at the beach in SJDS.

    Esteli- El Rama- Nueva Guinea.

    This road is heavely used by semi- trucks coming from the port of el Rama, used to be used heavely for Lumber trucks coming from Nueva guinea. Only thing to watch out for is"Cattle" yup lots of cattle being herd on the highway, the ranchers will let you know by having a rider way before you see the cattle,he will be waiving a red flag, this means "Don't run over my Ganado (Vacas mainly) brother" I actually enjoyed this event when I go down there.

    Well I hope this helps you in any shape of form,like always I will try to help in whatever I can our fellow beloved folks visiting or living in Nicaragua.

    Long live el "Gallo Pinto,con Crema Fresca"

    Regards. Su Servidor

    FAP

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