Let’s buy an island in Nicaragua?? Hi, I’m Alistair. You may remember me from such IBG blogs as “Secret Island, Belize” and “Visit to Cuba’s derelict nuclear plant”. Recently (June 2018) I had a week to spare in Central America so I headed down to Nicaragua to check out island buying possibilities. Nicaragua seems like a good possibility. It’s had a very foreign investment-friendly environment for quite some time now, it’s easily reachable from the US and Canada with direct flights to hub airports in both countries, and importantly it’s (relatively) cheap.
There are islands for sale both on the freshwater Lake Nicaragua, the largest lake in Central America, and on the Caribbean coast. And Managua, the capital, is said to be the safest city on Central America. So far so interesting. Unfortunately, when I arrived things had taken a bit of a funny turn; the UK government was warning against ‘all but essential travel’ and the US State Department advised it citizens to ‘reconsider travel plans’… Such warnings don’t bother me too much so I carried on regardless. However, upon checking in to my flight, which was due to leave at 10pm, I was informed that it had been postponed until 5am the next morning, due to the ‘situation’. Gosh. The airline was good enough to provide a hotel, so I managed a few hours of sleep before catching the delayed flight, which duly arrived at 6am in Managua. The airport was pretty empty that early so I caught a taxi in to town. The streets were deserted, except for police carrying shotguns. Turns out there had been a general strike called by the opposition and everyone was staying indoors due to the ongoing ‘situation’… The ‘situation’ was that there was an ongoing conflict between the government in the shape of heavily-armed police, supported by equally heavily-armed hired thugs riding around in pick-up trucks wearing balaclavas, and what seemed like a large majority of the population who were fed up with the current government. By the end of my visit, there were some 200 people dead. Over the next few days I did get to see a fair bit of Managua. Many neighbourhoods had built roadblocks out of torn-up paving slabs to prevent police from entering their area. Students had barricaded themselves into universities. People behind the barricades had improvised home-made hand-held mortars to defend themselves. Most nights I was awoken by nearby explosions. Almost everyone I spoke to was extremely friendly, full of concern for my safety, full of horror at the ongoing ‘situation’, and at great pains to emphasize the beauty of the country outside of Managua. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able safely to get out of the city – on some days there was transport running, but there was a risk I might end up stuck between assorted roadblocks or otherwise stranded in the countryside. So, for the time being it doesn’t look like we’ll be considering Nicaragua as a location for our island-buying project. Maybe in a year or so once the ‘situation’ has been resolved then there will be big potential once again in this country for foreign investment. But for now, we do need a host nation that is safe and stable, and sadly right now Nicaragua is neither.