It’s tough to share a story of getting robbed in Nicaragua because it’s one of my favourite countries. I don’t want to discourage anyone from visiting. But knowledge is power and this story helped me avoid getting robbed by a similar scam.
I met Jeremy at the hostel bar while enjoying a Toña and another traveler’s guidebook. He seemed nice enough but quite quiet, although he is Swiss and they aren’t known to be the most brash of people. However, within the next few minutes he told me one of the scariest stories I have ever heard. He was robbed in Nicaragua.
Nicaraguan Food: 25 Foods You Can’t Miss
Like most travelers and locals, Jerome had taken a microbus from Leon to Managua with the plans to then switch buses and travel onto Granada. When he arrived in Managua he hopped in a cab to take him to the other terminal across town. Once he got in, a woman and a man jumped in leaving him in the middle and then another man got in the passenger seat.
While this would be extremely unusual in Canada, it’s common for taxi drivers to pick up other passengers unless you specify you want to go alone. In Honduras, Geof and I shared a cab with an old woman and her grandchild and while it was rather annoying it’s a very normal occurrence.
Jeremy thought to himself that the people, who had been on the microbus as well, looked like shady characters but said nothing. The cab set off and the man and woman grabbed each side of him while the man in the front seat put a knife to his throat and said in Spanish that it was a robbery.
In the next 40 minutes Jerome sat in the cab, ordered to keep his eyes closed while the robbers dropped off the woman with his bank card and password so she could empty his bank account. Fortunately Jerome speaks Spanish well and they told him they would not hurt him if he gave them his money, but understandably that wasn’t very reassuring with the threat of a knife to his throat for over half an hour.
The woman called and said she had the money and they looked for somewhere to drop him off. At one point one man exited and it sounded like they threw his bag out. With his hands covering his eyes he was completely disoriented and had no idea if they were telling the truth or were looking to get rid of the evidence – namely him. He demanded to see his bag but they explained it was too crowded an area to let him out.
Finally, they found a place and true to their word, they let him go. After taking his money, iPod and camera they made a joke about the Swiss to lighten the mood and left him on the side of a road with $15, backpack and the following advice:
“Do not get into cabs. They are all thieves.”