Easily 90% of Nicaragua can be gotten around by plane, boat, panga, bus, colectivo, taxi, caponera, bicitaxi or horsecart, but sometimes there is none of the above. That’s when you have to stand out in the elements and hope for the best. That means hitchhiking.
Hitchhiking in Nicaragua isn’t as dangerous and one might think. In fact, in rural areas where buses are infrequent (if at all) hitchhiking is a common practice. It is usually the last resort when local people need to get from point A to point B so while it is common in the campo, the only people stopping for hitchhikers in the city are buses and taxis.
Usually only trucks stop to pick up hitchhikers, who just hop straight into the bed and hang on. When their stop approaches, local hitchhikers will bang on the side of the truck to signal the driver to be let off.
It is customary to thank the driver and ask how much pasaje (fare) is owed. Usually it is nothing but sometimes they ask for a token amount. Pay it, smile and say thanks.
In Nicaragua they hitch with two fingers outstretched in a slight waving motion.
It is not advised to throw your bags into the trunk if getting into a car. That gives the driver a two-second head start to step on the gas leaving you more stranded than before. Do not sit on the tailgate of a pickup truck. While there is only a small possibility of it opening while en route, there is a greater chance of the truck taking off faster than you expected which would leave you laid out on some dirt road in the middle of nowheregalpa. That’s when you might get the opportunity to experience Nica healthcare at its finest.
One of my hitchhiking stories
I was traveling with a frenchman from Puerto Cabezas to Waspam and was lucky enough to catch a ride the whole way there in the back of a pickup truck. With us were two Miskito guys from Honduras; they were on their way to Puerto Limpira. It’s a long, bumpy ride to Waspam, and after dropping off the guys in some little village on the Rio Coco, we stopped to pick up some local workers who were looking for a ride back to the city. All the sudden the truck went from just the two of us to about twelve of us. Some were loggers working the pine forest, others worked for ENEL (the electric company) and two were police officers. It was another half hour to Waspam and if we hadn’t stopped for those guys I don’t know how they would have gotten home.