The Surfer's Guide to Nicaragua - Nicaragua Surf Travel News
Counterfeit Cordobas? (Don't take the plastic money.)

It might seem like common sense, but think twice about taking the new "plastic" bills recently issued by the
Nicaraguan Central Bank. You may have trouble using them for payment.

On May 15 the Central Bank issued a new series of 10 and 20 córdoba bills made from a plastic-like material.
The bills are meant to replace the ratty, old cordobas currently in circulation. The new bills were a surprise to
most Nicaraguans, as there was no announcement, and has caused confusion in the marketplace, which
grew more serious when several economists said the new bills are illegal. Further, the new bills don’t have the
signature of the Minister of Finance, as required by Nicaraguan law.
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Walking distance from world famous Popoyo. No one out.
Some have gone so far as to label President Daniel Ortega a counterfeiter, reported The Tico Times.
Others are more worried that the backlash itself will cause more harm. Whatever the legal situation,
many merchants are wary of the plastic currency and aren't accepting those bills.

Since the Nicaraguan Central Bank is saying they're fine, they probably are. But for now it's probably
best to just use your US Dollars (everyone takes them) and ask for the old cordobas (cordobas de
papel, no plasticas) when getting change. And don't forget the calculator.
Be Careful if Heading to San Juan del Sur

It was just a matter of time. Frequent San Juan del Sur visitors and residents have seen the signs - more glue
sniffers, the infamous rock-throwing guy, and increased "traditional" crimes - but one could say it's now official:
Crime is up in San Juan del Sur. The good news is the police are taking this seriously, so enforcement has
increased too, and maybe it's working. The first five months of 2009 all saw increases in reported crimes.
Since June, however, the rates have been down from 2008, but the increase in armed home invasions, with
shootings and beatings, is cause for caution and concern. The bottom line for surf travelers is, be careful if you
plan to stay in or near  San Juan del Sur, especially if you plan to rent a house. These home break-in guys are
armed and not afraid to pull the trigger.

Follow these links to a couple of stories about recent home invasion robberies, with shooting and beatings.

Home invasion robbery, shooting, beating in San Juan del Sur.

Home invasion robbery in Remanso.
Police Shakedowns Get Serious

Paying off cops has always been part of the deal in Central America. They hide in the dark shade of a big tree
just over a hill or just outside town and just as you come into view, boom, they got ya. You didn't notice it, but
the speed limit dropped just before you reached that cop. The sign was difficult to see, or not even there, but
the 80km limit was now 40, and you gotta pay. Twenty bucks was the norm. It could be as high as $35, or as
low as $5, "lunch money." It wasn't enough to get too angry about, as it's part of the deal. Besides, the cops are
nice, get paid dirt, and often go over a month without a check while the government figures out something or
other. So whatever your travel budget was, you would add another $50 to cover shake-downs.

Now you need to quadruple that. They're hiding in school zones now, because the speed limit is only 25k, and
they're often part of 80km highways. And they don't always have signs. And the "fine" is typically around $75
bucks. "Fine" because that money goes into their pockets. You pay them on the spot, as you always have,
because if you don't they keep your license and send you back to Managua to pay your ticket at a bank. You're
not going to do that, as you just flew nine hours and you're going surfing. So you pay on the spot. Cash. Always
been that way, but the cost is much higher.

Then there's the scam where they say you did something you didn't. A favorite spot for that is at the T junction
between Tipitapa and Masaya. The charge is not applying your blinker. After you argue that enough the charge
morphs into not stopping at the line. (What line? It's dirt.) Since the cop has your license - always the first step
in the shakedown - you're screwed. That's a $40 fine.

Seventy-five here, forty there, that's over a hundred bucks before even screwing your fins in. What to do about
it? When going to and from the Managua airport don't take the Masaya route. Take the Highway 1 to the west
side of Managua. You have to cut across town, and you'll probably get lost, but you'll still have your shorts. And
some dignity.
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Sandinista-sponsored Violence Limited - Not to Worry

April 2010 - Days after photos of angry citizens firing amateur mortar rounds into Managua's Holiday Inn
splashed newspaper front pages worldwide (well, primarily in the Americas) signs of violence or unrest are
nowhere to be seen (except at the Holiday Inn, of course). This writer has driven through Managua twice in the
past two weeks, and back and forth from the major surf zone in the southwest, and other than an early start to
the rainy season, all looks the same.

In other words, don't let those headlines fool you. Yes, Nicaragua has problems and political unrest, but
nothing to worry about. The news is bigger than the reality. Go surf. Enjoy the smaller crowds.
"Sandinistas firing
mortars? The only firing I
see is this left barrel
about to hammer me. And
no one out!"

Reports of political
uprisings keeping the
crowds down in
Nicaragua. Maybe the
Sandinistas are really just
a bunch of surf-starved
locals looking to clear the
Nicaragua ISA World Masters Surfing Championship

After months of searching, the ISA has announced that the
fifth edition of the ISA World Masters Surfing
Championship will c
ome to the land of constant offshore
winds. I
t's scheduled for July 14-22, the Veranillo, or "little
summer," a time known for g
ood winds and great waves.

"We're very excited to be bringing an ISA event to
Nicaragua for the first time," said Fernando Aguerre, the
President of the ISA. "The country has many quality waves
that have been attracting surfers for years, but in small
amounts. Hopefully this event will help spread the word to
surfers around the world, so that they can learn and come
to appreciate the nice waves, the nice weather and the
warmth of the Nicaraguan people."
The event is supported at the highest level of Nicaragua government. Negotiations were held with the
Minister of Tourism, Mario Salinas, who confirmed the full support of the President, Daniel Ortega.

"We, the people of Nicaragua, are very excited and proud to have won the bid to host the 2012 ISA World
Masters Surfing Championship. Such a prestigious event is a wonderful opportunity for our country, where
tourism has become one of the most viable economic sectors with great potential for investment and
employment," Minister Salinas said. "It gives us the chance to show not only our beautiful natural
landscapes, beaches and waves, but also our culture and warm hospitality. This event will be a historical
landmark in Nicaraguan beach culture. This event will also contribute to the growth of Nicaragua and to its
positioning in the world of surfing and tourism."

Though the host country and the dates are selected, the site venue is still being finalized. Three waves on the
Pacific Ocean side of the country are being considered, all of which are exposed to the Lago de Nicaragua
effect. Due to the lake's large expanse of water, winds blow offshore on the Pacific side of the country more
than 300 days out of the year.

The Masters event brings together the top over-35 surfers in the world. Many of the competitors are former
professional surfers and some are even former world champions - and those particular surfers are
continuing to prove themselves of championship caliber. Past Masters division champions include three-
time ASP World Champion Tom Curren (USA) and seven-time women's ASP World Champion Layne
Beachley (AUS).

Other Masters standout competitors include four-time ISA Gold Medalist Juan Ashton (PUR), two-time Gold
Medalist Heather Clark (RSA), and two-time Gold Medalist Chris Knutsen (RSA), along with former ASP
World Tour standouts Ross Williams (HAW), Rob Page (AUS) and Fabio Gouveia (BRA).

Avoid Horses, Use Deet

June 2010 - Costa Rican authorities issued a warning due to an outbreak of horse encephalitis, a viral
disease which can be transmitted to humans. The outcome of encephalitis varies. Some cases are mild and
short with full recovery. Others are severe, and permanent impairment or death is possible.

Encephalitis is not exceptionally unusual in NW Costa Rica,
Guanacaste, but the warning was issued
because it has been detected outside Guanacaste in the northern zone as well as Panama to the south.
Guanacaste and the north border Nicaragua, and both borders have stepped up cross-border horse
transport monitoring.