Short Stories

Abduction, Assault, and Robbery in Nicaragua

by Glenda Czerwinski Kent


Note: This article was published in the Nicaragua section of the “Tico Times” newspaper in San Jose, Costa Rica, as a warning to other tourists.


Because Nicaragua was one of two countries in Central America that I had never explored (El Salvador being the other—too dangerous), I decided to spend a couple of months in Nica in 2009.

After wandering the beaches and streets of San Juan del Sur for a few days, I hopped a "chicken bus" to the Colonial town of Granada. Near the bus depot, I got into what appeared to be a legitimate taxi and gave the driver the name of my hotel. Within seconds, a senorita jumped into the back seat on my right side….OK, I had seen taxi-sharing before in Central America, but then a mean-looking guy jumped in on my left side, followed by a teenage boy who got into the front passenger seat.–There was no way out. The taxi sped away, but not toward the hotel.

The senorita asked (in Spanish) if I had friends in Granada. Instinct told me to lie. Thus, I told her (in my rusty Spanish) that my fiance was waiting for me at the hotel.

Within minutes, we were on the outskirts of town and I was looking at nothing but dense jungle and an occasional bus stop. Suddenly, the senorita and the guy on my left grabbed my hands and arms, held me down, and yelled, "Asaulto! Asaulto!" I told them that that wasn’t necessary and that I wouldn’t fight them, so they let go.

Cooperation seemed to be my only chance to get out of the situation safely. While the guy searched my fanny pack, I reached into one of the five pockets in my cargo pants, took out all the cordobas (about $4 U.S.), and gave them to the kid in the front seat, who was holding out his hand.

The guy next to me demanded to know where my credit cards were. I told him I was not a rich American and didn’t have a credit card, that my fiance was paying for everything. He didn’t say anything and didn’t search my other pockets or anywhere else on me. Thus, he didn’t discover the small plastic baggy pinned inside my underwear in which I had hidden my credit and ATM cards and about $200 in cash. He then started searching my backpack, from which he took a pint of rum and a combination lock (which was locked, but he didn’t ask for the combination)


While having an ordinary conversation with the senorita, she told me the name of the national park she worked for and said I should visit it! I played on her sympathy by lying to her that I had had lung cancer (at which time the guy next to me handed me the asthma inhalor from my fanny pack), that this was the last trip of my life, that I had lived and taught English in Mexico, Guatemala, and Costa Rica (all true), and that I was going to teach English in Grenada for a few months.

Without a word from anyone, the driver suddenly made a U-turn and, just before a bus stop, turned up a narrow gravel road into the jungle.—I thought they were going to kill me. However, they were only turning around so they could make a quick escape after they let me out of the car.

Amazingly, the kid in the front seat turned around and handed me back half of the cordobas he had taken from me so I would have bus fare back to town!

The senorita got out of the car to let me out; I played tug-of-war with the guy on the other side of me to get my backpack; I then started running toward the bus stop while they sped off.

I hailed a legitimate taxi (i.e., one with a red stripe on its license plate), got dropped off at the Tica Bus station, and hightailed it back to the safety of Costa Rica.

A couple of years later I went back to Nicaragua, took chicken buses all over the country for two months, and had no problems. However, I did not hail any taxis.)


Glenda Czerwinski Kent, a 1955 graduate of Etna High School, is a fifth-generation Siskiyou County resident, with the first of her ancestors arriving in the county in 1852 to search for gold. Her paternal grandfather had a mining claim on the Salmon River in 1928, and between 1938-1940, she and her family were living in Eddy's Gulch near Sawyers Bar. (See photo.)

Several other relatives arrived in the county in the 1930's and 40's, many of whom opened businesses in Etna. Although Glenda retired to Nashville, she still considers Etna to be her hometown. Having traveled to 17 countries and living and teaching in four of them, her special interest is in writing travel stories.

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