For US Citizens, your Embassy would like you to stop being stupid was the take home message. Liked the new Ambassador, ended up feeling better about the Consul General than my very first impression.

The new Ambassador started working as a medical technician which is not typical of people in the State Department from what I heard from a friend who'd worked as an officer in it (most come from upper middle class and better, regardless of their places on the political spectrum). She showed some patience with questions it should have been obvious that she couldn't answer candidly, and showed some wit.

Take home advice: Basically, register with the Embassy if you're a US citizen, and regularize your standing with the Nicaraguan government if you've been doing perpetual tourism were the most stressed messages. Otherwise, don't buy property here, but if you insist on buying property here, don't buy beach property. The US embassy also advises that you not expect them to pay your fines for over-staying your visa, or getting you out of jail if you leave the cut up pieces of your translator in the trash. The Consul General said, "Stay out of trouble."

There was a sense that they'd had to deal with so many property disputes that they'd have preferred that no American citizen buy any land ever, and if you did and the deal went wrong, they couldn't fix it by sending in a gunboat, already. I imagine they'd love it if US citizens stopped doing stupid gringo tricks.

The State Department warnings on Nicaragua have been revised and have gone to DC for approval. The new warnings will be softer for most of Nicaragua but stronger about the problems on the southern Pacific Coast. The folks explained that those warnings weren't for seasoned people like ourselves, but for people who were so clueless they didn't take reasonable precautions (and who apparently expected the US to do something like shell San Juan del Sur for not having saturation policing). Having had to explain to a friend who was going to leave several thousand dollars worth of camera gear in a hotel lobby while she went to the bathroom that while most people in Jinotega were honest enough to ask if I'd put stuff out on the street as give-aways, some weren't, and having one of those walk by while you were in the john could be nasty, I sympathize with the Embassy.

The other things were: sometimes, Embassy intervention only hardened the local position and some things they simply couldn't do.

On not buying land -- I suspect most of the people on either of the expat forums have some clue about due diligence and adverse possession, so know how to make sure the title is real and know not to invest in land they're not living on, but I suspect that those who did due diligence and have good titles don't show up expecting the Embassy to fix things.

I don't know if they know something about future restrictions on perpetual tourism, but that came up and seemed to be something they felt they should stress.

About 15,000 US citizens living in Nicaragua are registered with the Embassy. The Ambassador guessed that there were probably another 5,000 who weren't.

It wasn't at the bus station that one member here thought. It was across from the old Cotran Norte, which is the biggest of the two bus stations in Jinotega, so not near Soda el Tico at all. Another expat gave me directions. The building that it was in is like a maze -- through here, up these stairs, through that hallway, and then by these computer stations and around the corner to get to the meeting.

Probably half the people there were dual citizens; one man was a Peace Corp worker; number of long term missionaries; and a few others. I knew six US citizens in the area who weren't there, knew of a couple of others.

I got advice from the Consul General on how to handle being dead here (cremation is cheapest unless you have Nicaraguan friends and family and a funeral plot here; whole bodies sent back to the US must be embalmed and the airlines charge considerable money for this) and how to handle setting up a will that would be honored here and in Virginia, but with a warning to check VA laws.

Other thing -- yes, you don't have to pay for an exit visa if you're traveling on a residency cedula to other C4 countries, but you do have to have your US passport with you (since you're still traveling as a US citizen) and whatever fees Honduras or any other C4 country want to charge you, neither the Embassy nor the Nicaraguan government can help you avoid those if the other C4 countries decide to charge something for transiting their country as a foreign national. Just pay it.

I'm not sure anyone needs to go to these meetings more than once, but I'd suggest that people go to them once to see who's representing the US to the Nicaraguan government and what current issues might be. This was the ambassador's fourth Town Meeting since arriving, and she said she finds them useful to her.