San Juan del Sur is very safe. The only people that you hear getting into any kind of trouble are foreigners who get drunk and silly and messy and get taken advantage of the same way that they would if they were in their hometown, if in their hometown they were going out to get blitzed in the bars.
Petty theft is the biggest and most often occuring crime here in San Juan del Sur. The victims of petty theft tend to be those who are not completely in control of their faculties at the time. Otherwise it’s very safe to walk around,; very safe to walk on the beach. Yea, I don’t hear or feel unsafe at all.
One has personal feelings as to safety. As articles in Nicaragua get out there and people take a look at the facts rather than relying on other people’s gut feelings and they have their own experiences, Nicaragua’s reputation is improving.
Personally, I decided to look at the facts and compare apples with apples from the variety of countries I was considering. I looked at the reports from the United Nations say about safety, what do reports from Interpol say about safety, etc. And the facts are, surprisingly for many, Nicaragua is the safest country in Central America and considered the second safest country behind Canada and all of the Americas.
There are plenty of reports now, including a recent one by the director of the International Monetary Fund with all the facts and figures about how little crime there is in Nicaragua and a deeper analysis as to why that is so when Nicaragua is bounded by countries that still suffer from quite serious crime—Honduras and El Salvador to the north and even in Costa Rica with the growing disparity between expats who live in highrises on the beach (which you don’t see in Nicaragua; it’s prohibited), and the Costa Rican locals behind the beach, who are blocked from access. I’ve learned that the growing disparity is leading to more and more crime in Costa Rica that we don’t have here in Nicaragua.
The facts speak for themselves. There are plenty of reports and we have a whole list of those reports on our website so that people can read for themselves what the facts say and you can compare country to country on a whole variety of different criminalities—violent crime, rape statistics, murder statistics, gun crimes, all these kinds of things, and you can receive a deeper analysis as to why that is the case. It’s quite fascinating and it causes so many people to have a paradigm shift in their thinking. It occurred with me when I learned that Nicaragua was not what I was expecting and got me to step off the plane and come look, and instantly I felt at ease with the friendly, safe, place here.
I’ve been here for nine years and never have I been concerned with anything. I did, however, have my car robbed once, which was on Easter weekend, Semana Santa. Semana Santa in San Juan del Sur is absolutely crazy. It’s the center of all of Nicaragua for partying. People from Nicaragua and other countries come to San Juan del Sur and camp out on the beach, so it’s absolutely packed. It’s the party central holiday of the year. Consequently, it’s also when the bad guys are going to be here looking for drunken people to take advantage of and pickpocket and do minor petty theft.
It happened to be that weekend. I went to the grocery store and I was sauntering around, super relaxed. I was in the middle of planning doing something else and had left my Roots leather bag on the passenger seat of my car, open with my computer, and a couple of thousand dollars in cash that I had taken out to pay someone. I never had that much money but I did that day because I was off to pay somebody. I also had out my Nikon camera, which was only about 4 months old. Everything was in my Roots leather bag and I sauntered into the Pali grocery store having left my car open with an open bag on the passenger’s seat right there, and lo and behold, when I got back to the car, it was gone. I didn’t actually notice until I was driving back home. When I was five minutes into my drive I noticed my little white dog, Lily, was on the passenger’s seat. I looked at her and I thought, “She’s not supposed to be there. Why is she there?” Almost immediately, I realized, “Oh, God. The bag that was there was gone.” So I was at least pleased that they didn’t take the most expensive thing in the car, which was Lily. She’s a Coton de Tulear, a very rare breed and my baby of 7 or 8 years. They didn’t take her, so that pleased me.
Just to cap off that story, what I thought was a wonderful reflection of what Nicaragua is, is that in my bag also was my wallet with my passport. After the theft, I started the process of recording my passport stolen and getting in touch with the British Embassy in Costa Rica and going to the whole bureaucratic process to get a new passport which was a nightmare. About 3 weeks into that process, I walked into Dona Gloria Sanchez grocery store, which is a little grocery store in the middle of town. Dona Gloria held up my passport and said, “I have something for you.” I thought it was absolutely incredible but my passport had been tossed out onto the side of the road, someone has found it. I’m not a well-known person in town but obviously known enough that it found its way to Dona Gloria, which is where I do my grocery shopping, and she saved it. It brought a tear to my eye that that would happen.
I thought it was amazing and it still to me feels like a really good solid reflection of the people of Nicaragua and how this place actually works. It encompasses everything I’ve written so far about safety and crime. It’s a really good ending to that story, even though I lost money and my computer and I had to save up to go buy a new one.
The Coton de Tulear is the royal dog of Madagascar. She’s good dog, but not a watchdog. She’s a white fluffy lap dog. Has they noticed her, she would’ve licked them to death.