Getting Robbed in Nicaragua

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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.

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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.”

Join the Conversation

  1. Yikes. Pretty scary. I think I’ll request and pay for my own cabs if I travel through that area.

    Glad it’s not something that happened to you, but it’s good to know that you’re competing with Wes on freaky road stories.

  2. Ryan Smith says:

    Well, you have reassured me never to leave my comfy land of fuzzy bears and happy little beavers.

  3. Uhhhh WOW. That really sucks. A lot.

    Also, Jeremy’s cute.

  4. That WAS a scary story….!

  5. Yikes! Though it could just be a pickup line…where did he get the cash for that apple juice?

  6. Josh | the Wander Project says:

    Yikes! This is the third time I’ve heard of this little scam. I’m on my way to Central America myself… I’ll be careful with the cab rides!

  7. Nomadic Chick says:

    Honey, the people you’re meeting and writing about – love it. 🙂

  8. You missed the best part re: the cabbie…

  9. Carmie Brogan says:

    I hope his mother never hears about that story until he is back home…and you know I would not heed your advice and read the entire post!

  10. ann wellwood says:

    Hi Ayngelina
    I just bet your mom wished she hadn’t read that little story!!!
    Now,do you and Geof understand why I have night terrors when you and he are travelling!!I know you have to be smart in these countries, but…..

  11. Ant Stone says:

    Wow. If that’s not a good enough reason to learn a little local lingo, I don’t know what is! At least he had the benefit of knowing (most) of what was going on. Sorry he had to go through this trauma though.

  12. Camden Luxford says:

    Hee, Candice, great minds…

    One of those horrendous Latin American travel stories – there’s a few doozies out there. A vital reminder that you can never be too careful.

  13. DTravelsRound says:

    That is one scary story! Glad he was not harmed. I would much rather lose all of my material belongings than be hurt.

  14. That is so, so scary! I can’t imagine going through something like that — alone.

  15. Dave and Deb says:

    That is one scary story. Always my greatest fear when travelling. Glad he is ok, but it really sucks to have everything taken. Yikes! That is one reason we have a very low daily limit on our bank cards. We called the bank specifically to make our withdrawl limit lower just in case something like this every happened.

  16. Note to self: Use my pata-mobile whenever possible.

  17. A scary story indeed- glas I’m not the main character!

  18. Ayngelina Author says:

    @Nicole

    I hope you didn’t take this post to mean all of Nicaragua is dangerous. In fact, it is my favourite country in Central America and it is only in Managua that people have this issue. In fact, many Nicaraguans will remark about how dangerous the capital city can be – much like the other capital cities in Central America.

    I took the bus more than once from Leon to Granada and while one couple tried to tell me I needed to get off and get a cab, when they realized I wasn’t going with them they just got off alone.

  19. I was in Nicaragua a few months ago and took a cab from the border all the way to Granada. When I got the hostel there I opened my email and a friend forwarded me a State department warning to watch out for this scam. I heard it also happens in Bolivia.

  20. Ryan - PauseTheMoment.com says:

    Wow, scary stuff! Getting robbed has to be one of the scariest things to happen while on the road. I can only imagine.

  21. Another option is to hire a driver. There’s a company in Granada that we used and was very reliable and probably not much more $ than a cab, but drivers spoke only Spanish. Also, is it the red license plates in Nicaragua that are the official taxis? We traveled all over the country in hired vehicles, taxis, and rides from friends of friends w/o problem, and this can happen anywhere really. I wouldn’t write off Nicaragua completely, we found it an awesome place with wonderful people.

  22. scary, scary stuff. glad he is ok. i got a real bad vibe in managua when i was there, but just around the bus stations. other than that, i felt safe everywhere else in nicaragua. i heard a couple of stories of people getting literally kicked out of cabs and the driver leaving with all their possesions. unfortunately its bloody tough not to get a cab.

  23. What a terrifying experience!

  24. Ahh, that’s so scary. I’m not all that afraid to get robbed, but when weapons are involved (ie a knife) I would have died of a heart attack!

  25. Whoops! Not a great experience – I’m sure it will stick with Jeremy, you and whoever reads this for quite some time.

  26. That sounds awful! I’ve heard way too many horror stories from Bishkek as well, from pickpockets on the minibuses (cameras, cell phones, and passports have all been snatched) to straight up getting mugged, beaten, and stabbed in front of the parliament building in the very center of town! My apartment even got robbed while I was out to dinner (although, luckily I wasn’t hurt)

  27. LeslieTravel says:

    Scary! Glad he’s ok. at least he wasn’t harmed

  28. Lisa E @chickybus says:

    That’s scary…poor guy! I’m glad he spoke Spanish. I think it would have been a lot more traumatic if he didn’t.

    Shame that Managua has so much crime (I met plenty of travelers there who had similar ‘stories.) The rest of the country seemed quite safe to me when I was there. I did avoid Managua, though.

  29. Earthdrifter says:

    Wow: What a horror story. Sounds like the sketchy man and woman followed Jeremy from the bus to the taxi.

  30. Earthdrifter says:

    Wow! What a brutal story. Sounds like the sketchy man and woman followed Jeremy from the minivan to the taxi. Apparently I was very lucky with the handful of taxi rides I took around Managua as the drivers were honest.
    I also want to stress that outside of Managua, Nicaragua is very safe. If you come into Nicaragua by land, Managua is easy to avoid. If you fly in, you can easily hire legitimate transportation services to take you from the airport to another city an hour or two away.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Yeah sharing a cab in Nicaragua is common but I´d always insist in Managua to go alone.

  31. Wow, Scary, I found this article on FB about nightlife in Managua and the guy from this article recommends to use one of those Taxi services

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