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Thread: Matagalpa

  1. #1

    Default Matagalpa

    Hi Folks,
    I'd like to pick your brains a bit if that's OK. I'm married to a Nicaraguan lady and have visited Nicaragua 5 or 6 times. She's from Matagalpa so that's where I've spent most of my time there.
    We met in Costa Rica but she's here with me in New Mexico now.
    I'm seriously considering retiring in NIC in 2 to 4 years. I like Matagalpa (the cooler temps) pretty well but would consider other parts of the country as well.
    Do any of you have any opinions or experience living in Matagalpa?
    What about experiences with ladrones? I've walked the streets there quite a bit alone while my wife visited with her family and have felt safe. Never at night but then I wouldn't do that here at home either. My experiences have all been positive so far. Well, except for some of the bus rides.
    I'm a large blonde, blue eyed man so I realize I might be a target.
    We would be buying a house. How about home security. Do the steel bars and razor wire do the trick?
    Any input would be appreciated.
    Thanks,
    Jay

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    TRN Science officer bill_bly_ca's Avatar
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    Default Re: Matagalpa

    Quote Originally Posted by jbirdvaughn View Post
    What about experiences with ladrones? I've walked the streets there quite a bit alone while my wife visited with her family and have felt safe. Never at night but then I wouldn't do that here at home either.
    I am 6.1' and 245, blond with coloured eyes as well.. Boisterous talk ends with look and a nod there way .. Just keep your ears open.. Seems quite a few assume you do not understand and crap talk amongst them selves out of your field of view until you acknowledge.

    It is the smart Ladrones and the Crazys that are most worry some..
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    Para aquí para acá Jonh's Avatar
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    Default Re: Matagalpa

    Also 6'-1" with northern European appearance, never got the stink eye. Lots of curious glances from chicas, but no bad guys. Not that I know of, at least.

    Keep your wallet in your front pocket, don't walk around with anything that can be grabbed, dress to fit in.

    In Esteli, I bought a large pocket knife that I sometimes take out to play with, just to look too crazy to mess with.

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    Viejo del Foro Just Plain John Wayne's Avatar
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    Default Re: Matagalpa

    .... Playing Crazy works just about anywhere you go.... Damn good Defence, nobody want a part of a nutjob.
    To be called a "Has Been" I must surmise, is much Greater than to be called a "Nevah Been"... JW...



  5. #5

    Default Re: Matagalpa

    I have made a habit of trying to look a little angry, like I won't take your crap, when I'm walking alone.

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    Dog Whisperer cookshow's Avatar
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    Default Re: Matagalpa

    Honestly, there is a much better chance that the ladrones will see you walking around and ignore you, but knowing you have left your house unattended they will rob it. Crime here tends to be of the "cowardly" variety, crimes of opportunity. Occasionally you will hear of muggings, beatings, home invasions of gringos etc, but they still seem to be pretty rare. Every few years the taxi hijackings pop up and it has been a while since I have heard or read of one so it may be about time for that to start up again but that seems to mostly be in MGA. Time to time you hear about robberies on isolated beaches or hiking trails, ask the locals before venturing into unknown territory.

    Having lots of stuff can cause lots of problems. Your maid or workman tells a friend "you should see all the nice things this Gringo has" not meaning any harm, just bragging on "their" Gringo. The friend tells a friend and so forth, eventually someone gets the idea to part gringo and his nice things. Be very careful who you let in your home.

    A little common sense will go a long way.
    ‎"You know what you say when people tell you you can't do something? Fool, shut your mouth up!"
    Ernie K Doe

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    The Bard of Jinotega MizBrown's Avatar
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    Default Re: Matagalpa

    Quote Originally Posted by jbirdvaughn View Post
    Hi Folks,
    I'd like to pick your brains a bit if that's OK. I'm married to a Nicaraguan lady and have visited Nicaragua 5 or 6 times. She's from Matagalpa so that's where I've spent most of my time there.
    We met in Costa Rica but she's here with me in New Mexico now.
    I'm seriously considering retiring in NIC in 2 to 4 years. I like Matagalpa (the cooler temps) pretty well but would consider other parts of the country as well.
    Do any of you have any opinions or experience living in Matagalpa?
    What about experiences with ladrones? I've walked the streets there quite a bit alone while my wife visited with her family and have felt safe. Never at night but then I wouldn't do that here at home either. My experiences have all been positive so far. Well, except for some of the bus rides.
    I'm a large blonde, blue eyed man so I realize I might be a target.
    We would be buying a house. How about home security. Do the steel bars and razor wire do the trick?
    Any input would be appreciated.
    Thanks,
    Jay

    I recommend Matagalpa because the two other northern cities have had problems with gringos in the last two years (one FBI most wanted, one who murdered a local because he didn't like being dumped for a woman, apparently). It's prosperous enough that people aren't desperate. There are some beggars (we were there yesterday) who are aggressive. Rent for a while first -- better to pay gringo prices as a renter than as a buyer -- unless your wife's family is helping.

    The big problem here is your very own employees and friends of your gringo friends. I live in Jinotega and feel pretty secure now; knew someone who was in Matagalpa renting (very obviously white woman living alone with a dog). I think having a dog helps. A good block makes or breaks things. Also, if kids jump your wall to steal fruit out of your backyard, keep your reaction in proportion.


    Basically, it's where I'd live if I wasn't living in Jinotega. If your wife has family there, that's going to be a real plus unless she's got some problematic cousins.

    I got burglarized here my first year because I didn't realize precisely how problematic some gringa's then boyfriend was, but I'd moved most of the valuables out because I had noticed he seemed to be casing the place and knew he had had a drug problem. I didn't realize how valuable gas tanks were.


    The custom here is prevention and restitution -- not retribution. Also, messing with gringos tends to bring down more than usual heat unless those gringos are also breaking Nicaraguan law fairly flagrantly (one family tried to smuggle a Nicaragua baby back to the US -- so when they have problems, stuff doesn't get done; another woman smokes dope so the cops don't bust her for dope and don't bust anyone for stealing from her).



    A man with a Nicaraguan wife will do better than a single white guy here. Friends of mine are a German (blonde, blue eyed guy) and his Nicaraguan wife with local family.


    I think the hustlers and such are more looking for people who will leave the country before the case goes to trial. If you haven't had serious problems as a visitor, you won't have problems as a resident.


    My quick check on safety is to watch what residents do -- if mothers are sending the kids to the store with money in hand (visible), it's safe. If mothers keep their kids indoors after school and before 8 p.m., it's really not safe. If I see women walking alone after dusk to about 9 p.m., I feel safe enough. Checks appear to be good world-wide where people walk a lot.

    I don't live there, but took Spanish classes there, walked around during the day.

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    Viejo del Foro Just Plain John Wayne's Avatar
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    Default Re: Matagalpa

    Quote Originally Posted by MizBrown View Post
    My quick check on safety is to watch what residents do -- if mothers are sending the kids to the store with money in hand (visible), it's safe. If mothers keep their kids indoors after school and before 8 p.m., it's really not safe. If I see women walking alone after dusk to about 9 p.m., I feel safe enough. Checks appear to be good world-wide where people walk a lot.
    Excellent indicator there Mz Brown, never thought of it that way but it is spot on.
    To be called a "Has Been" I must surmise, is much Greater than to be called a "Nevah Been"... JW...



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    Active TRN Member RGV AG's Avatar
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    Default Re: Matagalpa

    My quick check on safety is to watch what residents do -- if mothers are sending the kids to the store with money in hand (visible), it's safe. If mothers keep their kids indoors after school and before 8 p.m., it's really not safe. If I see women walking alone after dusk to about 9 p.m., I feel safe enough. Checks appear to be good world-wide where people walk a lot.
    Really good way to look at things, had not thought about that. Great advice. I always look for small stores in an area, when there are none in a Latin American neighborhood it means they are getting robbed so they opt out.

  10. #10
    The Bard of Jinotega MizBrown's Avatar
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    Default Re: Matagalpa

    Quote Originally Posted by RGV AG View Post
    Really good way to look at things, had not thought about that. Great advice. I always look for small stores in an area, when there are none in a Latin American neighborhood it means they are getting robbed so they opt out.
    They hate the ladrones since they're more likely to be targeted (open during the day, so easier to case). Talk to them and see who the bad guys are. Sometimes, they don't have options for moving away.

  11. #11

    Default Re: Matagalpa

    Quote Originally Posted by MizBrown View Post
    They hate the ladrones since they're more likely to be targeted (open during the day, so easier to case). Talk to them and see who the bad guys are. Sometimes, they don't have options for moving away.
    And carry a "Perp Sticker" in plain site, but do it consistently.

    They'll find someone else if they think that you are serious about fighting back. Most ladrones are cowardly predators, prey on the weakest . . .

    Pic of Perp Sticker attached. Also useful for butchering pigs if no perps are available.
    Attached Images Attached Images

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    Viejo del Foro Just Plain John Wayne's Avatar
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    Default Re: Matagalpa

    Quote Originally Posted by KeyWestPirate View Post
    And carry a "Perp Sticker" in plain site, but do it consistently.

    They'll find someone else if they think that you are serious about fighting back. Most ladrones are cowardly predators, prey on the weakest . . .

    Pic of Perp Sticker attached. Also useful for butchering pigs if no perps are available.
    AMEN...

    The first thing I do when going into the "Oriental Market" is buy something zackly like that as a deterrent, be it a hammer, a screw driver or a blasted nice wrench.

    And I keep it in my, as I am right handed, in my right hand for all to see...

    I know some old men here that have a long shanked screw driver ALWAYS in their belts like the good old day's of Texas in 1880....

    Pancho wore his gun outside his pants....For all the honest World to see....

    But then carrying concealed you must be more on the observant side of surroundings going on about ya...
    To be called a "Has Been" I must surmise, is much Greater than to be called a "Nevah Been"... JW...



  13. #13
    The Bard of Jinotega MizBrown's Avatar
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    Default Re: Matagalpa

    Quote Originally Posted by Just Plain John Wayne View Post
    AMEN...

    The first thing I do when going into the "Oriental Market" is buy something zackly like that as a deterrent, be it a hammer, a screw driver or a blasted nice wrench.

    I think running around with a weapon visible can turn into "who's got the biggest balls?" My favorite story along these lines was a guy from Brooklyn who bought land in Wyoming where people had been hunting for decades before he came. He refused to allow anyone to hunt on his land, and people shrugged and hunted anyway. He started to patrol with a rifle. They knew rifles better than he did, and killed him. Case never solved.

    Most of the theft here ends in conversations like "But they didn't take everything in your store" between someone who knows the perps and the store owner (gringa married to a Nicaraguan told me this story). It's basically crime of opportunity and stealth. This woman and her husband didn't live over or behind the store. Most Nicaraguan store owners do.

    The most likely thefts are from people who've been in your house. I trust middle class Nicaraguans as much as I trust middle class Americans. Never had problems when my landlord's sister-in-law was showing the house that I lived in. Expats with a penchant for rescuing bad Nicaraguan boys or girls, mheh, don't let them bring their little friends in. Maybe don't let them in either.

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    Para aquí para acá Jonh's Avatar
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    Default Re: Matagalpa

    My father in law open carries a S&W .38 in Nicaragua, which is supposedly illegal (no open carry) and has no problem. The wild west fear is virtually never reality.

  15. #15
    just diggin' it Outstanding in the Dirt's Avatar
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    Default Re: Matagalpa

    I'm thinking to share a little here. Last November my wife and I spent 2 weeks in Matagalpa. We drove or walked everywhere we went. There is a small but noticeable quantity of white English speaking people who live there. I noticed that none of them were 'carrying'. The only people who I saw carrying a weapon were police or those in military uniform - and not all of them. I walked around a little (not far) after dark in the downtown area on Avendia del Bancos. Most of people I saw were couples - it was not late, maybe 7 or 8 pm.

    We were cautioned however about going to the mercado on the north end of the city, but went a couple of times to the one on the south end and had no problem whatsoever - everyone was friendly.

    My suggestion is to take it easy don't carry a weapon and don't look like a thug. Probably that way the real thugs won't think they need to affirm their power over you. Keep your eyes open and be quick to make sense of what is going on around you. If the people of the city give you specific reason to visibly carry self defense, then do it. But unless you realize that you may be putting yourself in danger by being in a place, just act naturally and enjoy yourself. Give the people a chance to act like the warm, kindly people they are. Another thing I did while we were there is to rent a Geely car while we were there. Everyone knew how poor I was jajajaja.

    BTW taxi in town is 10 C to go anywhere you like. The taxi drivers we met were honest and without intent to harm, while the taxi drivers in MGA were not honest. A ride from the airport to the city was $40 USD. We were unable to find a driver who would tell us the price before we got into his car.
    Last edited by Outstanding in the Dirt; 02-06-2014 at 07:44 PM.

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    just diggin' it Outstanding in the Dirt's Avatar
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    Default Re: Matagalpa

    Nicaragua is said to be not only the cheapest country in Central America, but also the safest. My guess is that MGA, Granada and probably a few others are an exception to the safest part. Also it is the Caribbean coast that is often referred to as the DAC (Dangerous Atlantic Coast).

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    Dog Whisperer cookshow's Avatar
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    Default Re: Matagalpa

    Quote Originally Posted by Outstanding in the Dirt View Post
    Nicaragua is said to be not only the cheapest country in Central America, but also the safest.
    Cheap and safe are relative. Not so cheap for a person making $100-$150 US a month.
    ‎"You know what you say when people tell you you can't do something? Fool, shut your mouth up!"
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    Para aquí para acá Jonh's Avatar
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    Default Re: Matagalpa

    How does one trust statistics in a country with a corrupt government?

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    The Bard of Jinotega MizBrown's Avatar
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    Default Re: Matagalpa

    Quote Originally Posted by Outstanding in the Dirt View Post
    Nicaragua is said to be not only the cheapest country in Central America, but also the safest. My guess is that MGA, Granada and probably a few others are an exception to the safest part. Also it is the Caribbean coast that is often referred to as the DAC (Dangerous Atlantic Coast).

    Basically, the people who make that claim are careful to say "reported crimes." A lot of crimes are solved by the victim or the victim's friends punching out the perp. I recommend having a dog and moving valuables out of the house if people are away for any length of time. Everyone who's been sentimental about helping the poor has been robbed. (Help the poor, but don't invite them into your house).

    If anyone wants to wade through a book on how cities work -- Jane Jacob's "The Death and Life of Great American Cities" is excellent. My rules about seeing other women out or children running shopping errands for their mothers come out of doing a paper on that book and walking all the Lower East Side streets she mentioned. Executive summary: cities are safest if they have short blocks and no foot traffic bottlenecks (like a pedestrian bridge with no other exits), if they have mixed use streets with bars and other things where people are out (here, shop keepers who live behind the shop), not too many newcomers, not too many strangers. MGA has safe parts. Crime always goes up in tourist areas since there's generally a perception that they are careless, have money and stuff, and won't come back to prosecute. All this tends to be true. I suspect that crime goes up in gentrifying neighborhoods, but haven't seen studies.

    The one family I know personally who lives in the country has problems with theft by their employees where the denuncias get lost.


    What Jacob observed in Boston, NYC, and Philadelphia pretty much holds anywhere humans have cities. I worked in a black neighborhood in Charlotte, NC, that was low crime -- again, short blocks, stable neighborhood, stores and shops mixed in with the homes.


    Suburban life is probably safe because people drive cars. Rural crime rates are amusingly high per capita because everyone knows everyone well enough to know precisely when they'll be at church or out of town. They look low because the population is lower.

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    TRN Science officer bill_bly_ca's Avatar
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    Default Re: Matagalpa

    Quote Originally Posted by MizBrown View Post
    If anyone wants to wade through a book on how cities work -- Jane Jacob's "The Death and Life of Great American Cities" is excellent.
    While I did not know it at the time, my college rooming house was just down the block (She was on 69 Albany ave, my rooming house was #36)

    Probably passed her on the street numerous times 85'-87'

    It was only later in life when I realised how much she had to do with " 'Tranna" (Toronto) not ending up like the empty cores of so many other large US and Canadian cities..
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    The Bard of Jinotega MizBrown's Avatar
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    Default Re: Matagalpa

    Quote Originally Posted by bill_bly_ca View Post
    While I did not know it at the time, my college rooming house was just down the block (She was on 69 Albany ave, my rooming house was #36)

    Probably passed her on the street numerous times 85'-87'

    It was only later in life when I realised how much she had to do with " 'Tranna" (Toronto) not ending up like the empty cores of so many other large US and Canadian cities..
    Her observations and analysis were just amazing. A less well known book ("Cities and the Wealth of Nations," I think) talks about how vital cities made for vital countryside. I used to think that if the back to the landers hadn't abandoned the cities that both the countryside and the cities would have done better.

    What I like about Jinotega is that it works as an urban space (at least where I live). Many Nicaraguan towns and cities are still walking spaces. Managua over all isn't and Managua has the higher crime rates.

    I'm still very amused by the promotional literature about Nicaragua -- it's cheap because it's poor. The reported crime rate and the real crime rate are not in sync because almost nobody has insurance which was about the only reason burglaries in NYC got reported (and in areas where insurance was impossible to buy, even burglaries didn't get reported as often as they happened). Street robbery? Whoever bothered to report that in the 1970s in NYC? I think what makes a place safer is the neighborhood. Also, possibly not being on the Pan American Highway. Esteli struck me as less safe than Jinotega, judging on when the women were off the streets there.
    Very few make their livings as professional thieves (probably not anywhere). It's a way to have some nice things. The person who robbed two expats here gave a stolen camera to his sister who recognized it and returned it to the victim. I still don't know who got my parka.

  22. #22

    Default Re: Matagalpa

    Thanks for all the input folks. I'm really not much worried about the walking around part. I stay alert. More of the home invasions. My wife confirms to me much of what you all have said here. She did point out that is important to know the block you're planning on living on. Occasionally my sister in law there will mention something to my wife about a home for sale, then tell her about the safety of the neighborhood.

    I've known my wife since 2010 and since then everyone of her brothers and sisters have had something stolen from them. One sister had her home broken into and stripped. I'm pretty sure her policeman ex-live-in boyfriend had something to do with that. Her home is adjoined to her mother's and is in a safe neighborhood. Her mom hasn't had any problems. Same sister had her cell phone taken from her purse while on a bus. The younger sister had her cell jerked from her hand while walking in Matagalpa.
    Her brother who is a Professor for the University (agriculture) and travels the country a lot had his satchel taken from him by a couple of guys with knives a couple of months ago. I believe this was as he was walking to his house after dark from the bus in Juigalpa.

    Like I said I've walked the streets of Matagalpa quite a bit over the last 3 years without problems. That's been mostly on the Main streets between the two parks and in to my M-I-L's neighborhood from there.
    One night I got a little spooked walking from my M-I-L's to the motel. It was just getting dark as I left and the power went out all over the area. It got jet friggin black! I walked past the street I needed to turn on and went a block or two too far. Made a right to get back to Main St. so I'd know the route to the room. Walking down the street I encountered a large group of young men standing around talking and had to elbow my way through them on the narrow sidewalk. Maybe it was a good thing it was so dark. They didn't seem to notice. The 3 blocks from there to the motel made me pretty nervous.

    It's a different world there but I'm pretty excited to get retired and live there. Just have to live a little more cautiously. I can deal with it.

    Jay

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    Default Re: Matagalpa

    Wait, Miz Brown - you had a parka in Jinotega? And a Nica wanted it?

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    The Bard of Jinotega MizBrown's Avatar
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    Default Re: Matagalpa

    Quote Originally Posted by Jonh View Post
    Wait, Miz Brown - you had a parka in Jinotega? And a Nica wanted it?
    Rain jacket, with one of those magic linings like Goretex, just not as expensive. I really miss it when I have to walk my dog on rainy cold days. I'm still pissed about that since I'd gotten it on sale at REI in one of the DC suburbs. With a fold down hood. Perfect for here when it's chilly and raining -- and I'm sure whoever has it now is quite pleased.

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    The Bard of Jinotega MizBrown's Avatar
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    Default Re: Matagalpa

    When I buy cameras or phones, I think, "how hysterical will I be if someone wants to take this from me." So far, nothing bad has happened, but it's important to pay attention. Or have a very good dog who can pay attention for you.

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