The Lay of the Land
Nicaragua is the largest country in Central America and occupies about the same amount of land as England. It is located in the heart of the Central American isthmus between the Caribbean Sea on the east and on the west by the Pacific Ocean. Nicaragua is bordered by Honduras to the north Costa Rica to the south.
With 54,054 square miles, Nicaragua is divided into three very distinct geographical regions: the Pacific lowlands, the north-central mountains, and the Caribbean lowlands also called the Mosquito Coast or Mosquitia. The Pacific lowlands are interrupted by about 40 volcanoes (the country has a total of 58) of which San Cristóbal and Concepción are the largest and most imposing.
The country’s most prominent feature is Lake Nicaragua, the largest lake in Central America and the 10th largest fresh-water lake in the world with a surface area of about 8,157 sq. km. The lake is also famous because in it live the world’s only fresh water sharks. Scientists think the lake was originally connected to the sea and was cut off by an earthquake or changes in the land formation.
Lake Managua is the country’s other important lake. There are several smaller volcanic lakes near or right inside the city limits of Managua. Laguna Masaya and La Laguna de Apoyo are interesting lakes which lie in volcanic basins.
Like other areas in Central America Nicaragua’s climate varies according to altitude with different regions of the country having distinct climates.
The Pacific lowlands are always extremely hot. The Pacific dry season or summer becomes very dusty, especially when the wind begins to below in February. The mountainous region in the north is much cooler than the lowlands. The Caribbean part of the country is hot and wet, and rain can fall heavily even in the “dry” season
As in most tropical regions, Nicaragua has a dry season (la estación seca) or summer from November to May and a rainy season (invierno) which roughly runs from May to October. Nicaragua can be called the land of eternal summer in that there is not much difference in temperature from month to month and from season to season. In general, average temperatures range between 80 to 90 degrees F during the dry season and between 85 to 95 degrees F in the rainy season. The lowest average temperature is 77 degrees F and the highest is 104 degrees F. Managua and Pacific part of Nicaragua are usually far less rainy than most of Central America.
Where to Live in Nicaragua
Since we have just discussed Nicaragua’s geography and weather, now is a good time to talk about some of the things to consider before choosing a permanent place to live.
Deciding where to live in Nicaragua depends on your preferences. If you like the stimulation of urban living you will probably be happiest living in Managua, León or Granada. Living in a foreign country represents a big change for many people because they often find themselves with more free time than usual and sometimes get bored. As we mention later in this book, there are sufficient activities to keep everyone busy and happy in Nicaragua. You are more likely to find more to do around larger cities and towns than in rural areas. However, laid back types can find it easy to get away from it all by living in the countryside or at the beach.
Managua is the country’s largest city and is spread across the southern shore of Lake Managua. It is also country’s capital and main commercial center. The city is crowded with more than a million people — a quarter of the country’s population.
A number of natural disasters have devastated the city and left parts in shambles. The colonial city was destroyed by an earthquake in 1931. It was rebuilt only to be destroyed by another earthquake in 1972. After the 1972 earthquake, the city’s center was not rebuilt. Thus the city has no real downtown. Much of what was formerly the center of the city has been decentralized with shopping centers, markets and residential areas now located on the outskirts of the city.
Like most cities in Nicaragua, Managua has few street names, although some important streets are named. People get around by using landmarks and cardinal points. Locations will be given in relation to famous landmarks. To compound matters, locations are sometimes given in relation to where landmarks used to be before they were destroyed by the 1972 earthquake. A typical direction might be given like this: “From the corner store two blocks north and one block south.”
The city has its share of banks, a post office, hotels for all budgets, first-class restaurants, hospitals and other basic services. There are also universities, foreign language schools, museums, baseball games, a large central market, and much more. The city is currently undergoing a building boom and many locals are beginning to refer to the city as “The New Managua.” A number of new luxury hotels, like the Intercontinental, have been built with more on the way. International cuisine as well as fast food chains like McDonalds, Subway, Pizza Hut, Domino’s Pizza and Burger King are found all over the city. There are couple of new shopping centers including the mammoth Metro Center Mall which rivals any U.S. shopping center. Numerous upscale stores, a CineMark movie theater from the U.S. and food court can be found at this state-of-the-art mall.
The country’s international airport, Augusto Cesar Sandino is located about 8 miles from the city.
One of the best things about Managua is that many of the country’s best attractions are conveniently located nearby, making the capital a good home base from which you may explore the country.
Managua is not our first choice for living because of its hot climate, but as you can see from the above, there are adequate infrastructure and plenty to do to keep busy and happy.
One of the potentially best places to reside is Granada — the country’s third-largest city after Managua and León. Located on the shores of lake Managua, Granada is without a doubt the country’s most colorful city and has a cozy, laid- back ambiance. This charming colonial city is tourist friendly and, therefore, has become one of the country’s main tourist attractions.
A long-time expat who lives in Granada boldly boasted, “Granada is not Nicaragua nor Latin America. It is the way Latin America used to be 100 years ago. Granada is the oldest and culturally richest city in Latin America. Among the people there is a type of old family unity not found in other places in the modern world. The place seems to be caught in a time warp. ”
With a population of only 75,000, Granada has managed to maintain its historic atmosphere and feel of a small town. The city is so quaint you can even travel around the city in a horse-drawn carriage. Foreigners have realized this; there is a growing expatriate community taking root. In fact, a new American Legion Post is currently being organized with expats welcome to join.
One of the salient features of the city is its strong colonial character. The churches and homes of the city have conserved their original colonial flavor. Spanish-style homes with beautiful interior courtyards abound.
We know of a couple of Americans who are restoring some of these beautiful homes. One plans to covert his home into a small hotel for his travel business.
Granada has its share of supermarkets, a couple of places to see movies, banks, a post office, an affordable country club and a basic infrastructure. Believe it or not there isn’t a traffic light in town.
Some of the city’s interesting sites are Casa del Tres Mundos, Iglesia Convent of San Francisco, La Polvera, the Cementerio and a train station located in a beautiful, Neo-Classic building.
Despite being a small city Granada has its share of cultural events including the annual Latin American Film Festival and Book Fair.
Hospedaje Central, La Fábrica, Las Alemanes and Charly’s Bar are local hangouts where you can savor a Victoria, the local beer, and find some expats and locals with whom to talk.
Since the city attracts people from all over the world you can expect to meet a variety of interesting people. A definite bohemian atmosphere pervades the city. Stop by the Hospedaje Central and talk with the colorful owner, Bill. He’ll fill your ears full of information about the local scene.
Every Friday night, an entertaining festival is held in Parque Colón, the main plaza. It is the most important cultural event of the week. Cesar’s is a popular disco found in the Centro Turístico next to the lake. The place really rocks on the weekends.
The city also offers a beachfront park where you can swim in the lake. You can tour the off-shore islands (Las Isletas) which are found in the area. The nearby Mirador de Catarina is a memorable spot situated on the top of a volcano overlooking the Laguna de Apoyo. The pristine volcanic crater is filled with water (sort of a mini-Lake Tahoe). Beyond the lake you can see the city of Granada in the distance. It is truly a sight to behold.
There is e-mail and Internet service available at Computadoras de Granada (552-3368) where you can keep in touch with the outside world and can arrange to have an Internet line installed in your home or business.
Masaya (population.100,000) is located 11 miles west of Granada. Known as “the city of the flowers,” the city is located on the edge of a crater lake, Laguna Masaya. On the opposite side looms the Masaya Volcano with a plume of steam spewing out of its crater. It is the most visited of all the country’s volcanos, having become popular with tourists in recent years. Adventurous souls can even reach the crater and get a first-hand glimpse of volcanic activity. The volcano’s many lookout points also afford spectacular views of the surrounding countryside. On a clear day you can see all the way to Lake Managua Managua and Granada. The city boasts two large markets where local artists sell their wares.
León is Nicaragua’s second largest city. It is on the shore of Lake Managua. León was founded the same year as Granada, in 1524 by Francisco Hernández de Córdoba and is one of the country’s oldest cities. It was the capital of Nicaragua throughout the colonial period, until Managua became the capital in 1857. León is traditionally the most liberal of Nicaragua cities and remains the radical and intellectual center of the country.
The city continues to maintain the grandeur and splendor of the colonial period. Its narrow paved streets, adobe homes with their gardens, red-tiled roofs and weathered buildings have made the city’s architecture its main attraction. Gorgeous traditional country homes can be found in neighborhoods like San Felipe. Monuments to the revolution, including some Sandinista murals, abound. León is the home of the largest cathedral in Central America. In recent years there has been a lot of restoration going on. Restaurants, a post office and other basic services are found in the city.
Despite its rich historical past, León is primarily known as a center for artesanía or handicrafts. The best place to see handicrafts is at the Mercado de Artesanías or Artisans’ Market. Since the city is also famous for music and festivals together with its handicrafts, it is sometimes referred to as the “Folklore Capital” of Nicaragua. One “can’t-miss” attraction is the Museo Rubén Dario, the house where the country’s most famous poet spent his childhood.
Outside the León, one can find other interesting attractions. As you will see in this section there are a couple of warm, surprisingly uncrowded beaches within an hour’s drive from the city. Nearby rivers also offer a place to relax and pass the time fishing.
For those of you who don’t like hot weather, the city of Matagalpa might just be the place you are looking for. The town is located in a verdant mountain valley with a river beside it. The climate is cool and refreshing compared to the warm lowlands. Many foreigners say that the climate is similar to the spring-like weather found in some parts of Costa Rica’s Central valley. This area is really beautiful and an abundance of fauna and flora make it a great place to walk or hike.
Estelí is another nice town in the mountains. There is a lot of tobacco grown in this area. Some of the best cigars in the world are said the come from there.
Nicaragua is often referred to as the “land of water” because its landscape is dominated by its lakes, rivers and beaches. Without a doubt the country’s lakes and beaches are definitely reason for considering moving to Nicaragua.
One foreigner we interviewed, who plans to move to Granada, says he can’t wait to buy himself a boat so he can explore the lake and its islands. Another expat we talked to has built his dream home on the Pacific coast so he can partake in watersports.
Speaking of the Pacific coast, there are several beaches about an hour’s drive from Managua. Pochomil is a clean swimming beach with a few hotels and bars in the area. Because of its proximity to Managua it is very popular with Nicaraguans. Masachapa to the north is not as nice as Pochomil. It tends to be a little run down for foreigners’ tastes.
About three miles up the coast from Pochomil is Montelimar. It used to be the famous beach house and summer retreat of the dictator Somoza. When the Sandinistas took power they turned Montelimar into a resort. Recently it was refurbished by the Spanish hotel chain Barceló. Despite being upscale the resort is surprising affordable by international standards.
To the north, about 30 miles south of the city of León, are two beaches worth exploring. El Velero is a decent beach with water which is ideal for surfing and swimming. El Tránsito is another beach to visit. Moving south are La Boquita and Cesares, Huehuete, Veracruz and El Astillero It is difficult to get to some of these beaches because of either their remote location or the condition of the roads. Salinas Grande and Jiquilillo are good beaches.
Located in a large curved bay, San Juan del Sur is considered a leading beach resort. The town has hotels, good seafood, sportfishing and surfing. Check out both Marie’s Bar and Restaurant. and Richard’s Bar and Restaurant. Hotel Casa Blanca (505) 045-82135 is a clean place to stay right on the main drag. A small number of foreigners live in this seaside port on a permanent basis.
It must be pointed out that residing at the beach can grow old after a while. There is not a whole lot to do and little infrastructure. Beach combers, sun worshippers, surfers and fishermen, however, will feel right at home in a beach area.
If the beach isn’t to your liking there are always the lakes. Isla Ometepe is an imposing beauty. It is purported to be the largest fresh water island in the world and sits roughly in the center of the Lake Nicaragua. This spectacular island is of volcanic origin and its two volcanos, Volcán Concepción and Volcán Madera dominate the panorama. Concepción is considered to be a perfect cone and rises to a height of 1610 meters from the lake. Volcán Madera is smaller at 1310 meters high.
The lakes warm clear water, gentle sandy slopes and small waves make for optimum swimming conditions. A rain forest, an abundance of wildlife, including several types of monkeys, parrots, iguanas and many kinds of birds, are found on the island.
The island doesn’t offer ‘big-city’ type of attractions but is suitable for walking or exploring on horseback. There are several hotels and restaurants on the island. Ometepe is really for those types of people who are tired of the urban hustle and bustle and want to get away from it all. Life here is so slow that during the turbulent 1970’s and 1980’s life on the island remained virtually unaffected by events which transpired on the mainland.
We have not included all of areas of the country, but only those which we feel offer the most potential to expats. We suggest that before choosing a place to live that you explore the country and read all of the books we have listed in Chapter 10 of this book in the section titled, “Suggested Reading.’
Nicaragua’s History in Brief
The earliest vestiges of humans in Nicaragua date from about 10,000 years ago. During the pre-Colombian period the Nicaraos, Chortegas, Chontales and Miskitos were some of the native inhabitants of the country. Indigenous people from Mexico immigrated to the country’s Pacific lowlands. Eventually the Aztec culture was adopted by many indigenous groups when the Aztecs moved south during the 15th century to establish a trading colony.
The first contact with Europeans was in 1502 when Columbus sailed down the Caribbean coast. In 1524, with the arrival of Francisco Hernández de Córdoba, the first two cities, Granada first and then León, were founded. Eventually Nicaragua moved its capital from Granada to León and finally to Managua in 1858.
In 1821 Nicaragua as well as the rest of Central America, was freed from Spanish rule. Complete independence was finally obtained by 1838. Shortly after that, Britain and the U.S. became attracted to Nicaragua in search of a shortcut across the Isthmus via the Río San Juan and Lake Nicaragua.
In 1855 the infamous American, William Walker, appeared on the scene and his saga began. Walker, with his band of rag-tag mercenaries, attempted to take over Nicaragua. He proclaimed himself president, but was eventually driven from the country and executed in Honduras in 1860.
Different personalities governed the country afterwards. Among them was the dictator José Santos Zelaya. He refused to give the U.S the exclusive right to build a canal from the Pacific to the Atlantic. Consequently, the U.S. signed a canal treaty with Panama. Due to political instability, Nicaragua remained under U.S. occupation for the first half of the 20th century. In 1934, General Anastasio “Tacho” Somoza, head of the country’s U.S.-trained National Guard, had the liberal opposition leader, Agusto Sandino shot. After fraudulent elections Somoza became president in 1937.
Somoza ruled Nicaragua as a dictator for the next 20 years, amassing a personal fortune and land holdings the size of El Salvador. Together with his family he virtually owned the whole country. His personal fortune was estimated to be around 50 million dollars by the mid-fifties. General Somoza was assassinated in 1956. His two sons each served a presidential term and the younger, General Anastasio Somoza Debayle, dominated the country from 1963 until he was forced from power in 1979. He was later assassinated in Paraguay.
In 1972 Nicaragua was devastated by an earthquake. Unfortunately, international aid went straight into the pockets of Somoza while thousands of people suffered. As a result, opposition to Somoza’s rule spread to all classes of Nicaraguans. Soon a general revolt united moderates and the more radical FSLN (Frente Sandinista de Liberacion Nacional) to oust Somoza on July 19, 1979.
The government headed by the Sandinistas quietly nationalized the Somozas’ large land holdings and established farming cooperatives. They reduced illiteracy from 50% to 13% and instituted widespread health care.
Fear spread of Soviet influence through Central America. The U.S. then tried to undermine the Sandinista government because of its left-wing tendencies. Aid was suspended to Nicaragua and 10 million dollars were allocated for organizing counter revolutionary group known as contras. In 1985 the U.S. even imposed a five-year trade embargo in an effort to rid Nicaragua of the Sandinistas. What this essentially did was to destroy the Nicaraguan economy.
Nicaraguans, unhappy with the Sandinistas unfulfilled promises for an improved economy and peace, voted against them in the 1990 elections and elected Violeta Chamorro president. However, she proved ineffective as president and failed to revive the economy. So, in 1997 Arnoldo Alemán was elected president.
Peace and stability were the country’s main accomplishments in the 1990’s. In an effort to improve the economy and promote private enterprise, many of the country’s state-run corporations were privatized. The government also tried to promote tourism and foreign investment with a whole slew of attractive incentives. Unfortunately, the majority of Nicaraguans have not yet reaped the economic benefits causing thousands of Nicaraguans to emigrate to Costa Rica in search of work.
If political stability and foreign aid and investment continue the country is bound to move forward.
The Nicaraguan government is a constitutional democracy with executive, legislative, judicial branches of government. Executive power is vested in the president, who is assisted by a vice president and an appointed cabinet. The president’s term is six years. The legislative branch is made up of a unicameral 93-member National (constituent) Assembly, directly elected to a six-year term, by popular vote on a proportional representation basis.
Nicaragua is divided into 16 departamentos (Departments or provinces) in two zones, and one special one. The Pacific Zone consists of: Nueva Segovia, Madriz, Estelí, León, Chinandega, Managua, Masaya, Granada, Carazo, Rivas, Boaco, Chontales, Matagalpa and Jinotega. The Atlantic Zone: Atlantic North Autonomuos Region, Atlantic South Autononmous Region, and Río San Juan special zone.
Nicaragua has had 11 constitutions. The new constitution provides for freedom of speech and press, peaceful assembly, freedom of assembly, freedom of religion and movement within the country, as well as foreign travel, emigration and repatriation.
Under the Chamorro government the size of the army was reduced from 80,000 to 15,000 and the military draft was ended. Attempts are being made to reduce the military’s power by placing it under civilian control.
Traditionally Nicaragua has always been an agriculture-based economy. Coffee has been the most important crop. Bananas, sugar cane, rice and tobacco have also contributed to the economy.
As of 1999 the growth of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) was 6.3%; per capita income was around $450; and inflation was around 11%.
Nicaragua’s present and past economic woes can best be summed-up by a Nicaraguan citizen who related to us in Spanish, ”Nicaragua es un país salado” (Nicaragua is an unlucky country). The word ‘salado’ means unlucky or cursed. A combination of natural catastrophes, external events and the legacy of the Somozas have impeded the country’s economic progress. The Somoza family turned the country into their personal fiefdom. It is estimated the family controlled ‘a lion’s share’ of the country’s import and export businesses, a national airline, a construction business, a huge portion of the country’s arable land and much more. On top of that Somoza further enriched himself by taking the relief monies after the 1972 earthquake as we alluded to earlier.
The Sandinistas tried to improve the economy but fell short because of the embargo by the U.S. and the war against the contras which ate up all of their budget. However there were some surprising economic gains during the first years of their regime. On top of all this hurricane Juana forced the government spend huge sums of money on emergency aid. The Chomorro government tried to stimulate private enterprise, but came up short. Alemán has tried to improve the economy but has been plagued by a corruption scandal. As of May 2000 unemployment is still very high.
To make matters worse, in November 1998 hurricane Mitch caused massive destruction along the Atlantic coast of Central America. The hurricane, a class 5, caused mudslides, washed out bridges and roads and killed thousands of people. In Nicaragua heavy rains in the wake of the storm caused a huge mudslide that buried several villages. Thousands of people were left homeless or died as a result of the hurricane, one of the strongest recorded this century.
At present, foreign investment, private enterprise and a growing tourism market seem to be the keys to improving the economy. Since the Sandinista era the democratically elected governments have made significant progress in attracting foreign investment. An incentive-packed Foreign Investment law which includes a tourism section is bound to help the country in the long run. Tourism became Nicaragua’s third most important source of foreign exchange by 1998 and is expected to grow by 25%, to around a half million visitors, by the year 2002. Major hotel chains like Holiday Inn and Barceló have taken advantage of Nicaragua’s new tax law providing tax breaks for the hospitality and lodging industry.
The country is ripe for foreign investment because it is so underdeveloped. It abounds with opportunities for creative entrepreneurs.
Besides its excellent weather and natural beauty, Nicaragua’s warm-hearted hard-working people are probably the country’s most important resource and one of the main factors to consider in selecting Nicaragua as a place to live, retire or invest. The country’s friendly and humble people will go out of their way to make foreigners feel at home.
Nicaraguans proudly call themselves nicas. About 77% of the country’s people are mestizo, a mixture of Spanish and Indian ancestry, make up the majority of the population. Other ethnic groups include Spanish and other Europeans 10%; blacks 9%; Indians 4%. The largest concentration of Indians are the Miskitos who live in the north eastern area.
Nicaragua society is a society of classes. This stratified society has virtually existed in one form or another since pre colonial times with little social mobility. As in Mexico, the lighter one’s skin, the higher one is likely to be on the social scale. People can improve their social status by marrying lighter-skinned people. Those of European ancestry have traditionally made up the upper rungs of society and business.
The country has a population of around 4,200,000 people and this amount is expected to reach 5,000,000 within the year. About 500,000 Nicaraguans have emigrated to Costa Rica over the last 15 years in search of work. Until the country’s economy improves there is no reason to believe this trend will change.
Family ties are very important in Nicaragua. There is a lot of nepotism with the man ruling the roost.About 95% of the population is Roman Catholic and 5% is Protestant. Freedom of religion does exist.
As far the arts go, Nicaragua is often said to be a nation of poets. Poetry is considered to be one of the country’s most important and beloved arts.
Nicaragua’s literary tradition dates back to the colonial era. No other Central American nation comes close to Nicaragua’s literary output.
The most well-known literary figure is Rubén Darío (1867-1916). He was know as the “Prince of Spanish American Literature.” His works inspired poetry movements and literary trends through Latin America.
Ceramic arts are part of Nicaragua’s artistic traditions and can be found for sale in many markets. Masaya has a market where local artisans exhibit their wares.
Music is an integral part of daily life in Nicaragua. Nicaraguans, like most Latins love salsa, merengue, reggae, Spanish rock and American pop music and don’t miss the opportunity to party and dance.. Everywhere you go music fills the air. Like Costa Rica and Guatemala, the national instrument is the marimba. Reggae music is popular on the English-speaking Caribbean coast, especially in Bluefields.
Despite all their admirable qualities, there is a negative side to the character of the Nicaraguan people. Nicaraguans suffer from many of the same problems endemic to all Latin American societies. Corruption and bribery are a way of life; bureaucratic ineptitude and red-tape thrive; the concepts of punctuality and logical reasoning are almost non-existent by North American standards, and the “Manaña Syndrome”—of leaving for tomorrow what can be done today—seems to be the norm rather than the exception.
Like most countries in Latin America manliness is well-entrenched.Unfortunately, as in most Latin American countries, machismo is prevalent to some degree among Nicaraguan males. Machismo is the belief in the natural superiority of men in all fields of endeavor. It becomes the obsession and constant preoccupation of many Latin men to demonstrate they are macho in a variety of ways. Fortunately, the Nicaraguan version of machismo is milder than the type found in Mexico but it nevertheless exists.
There is no telling to what lengths some men will go in order to demonstrate their virility. A man’s virility is measured by the number of seductions or conquistas he makes. It is not unusual for married men to have a querida or lover. Many even have children with their mistresses. Since many married men don’t want to risk having a lover, they sleep with prostitutes or loose women called zorras. For this reason many Nicaraguan women prefer foreign men to Nicaraguan men.
Foreign women walking along the street will be alarmed by the flirtatious behavior and outrageous comments of some Nicaraguan men. Many of these flirtations or piropos, as they are called in Spanish, may border on the obscene but are usually harmless forms of flattery to get a female’s attention. Foreign women are wise to ignore this and any other manifestations of Latin men’s efforts to prove their machismo.
Sadly, many Central Americans have misconceptions about North Americans’ wealth. A few people seem to think that all Americans and Canadians are millionaires. It is easy to understand why many nicas think this way because of the heavy influence of the U.S. television and movies which depict North Americans as being very affluent. Also, the only contact many Nicaraguan’s have with Americans is primarily with tourists, who are usually living high on the hog and spending freely while on vacation.
It is therefore not surprising that some individuals will try to take advantage of foreigners by overcharging them for services and goods. Others will use very persuasive means to borrow amounts of money ranging from pocket change to larger sums of money and have no intention of ever paying the debt. Please, take our advice: don’t lend money to anyone, however convincing the sob story.
Some foreigners, who have married Central American women, have been “taken to the cleaners.” Because family ties are so strong and there is much poverty in parts of Central America, you can end up supporting your spouse’s whole family. We talked to one retired American in Costa Rica who couldn’t live on his two thousand dollar a month pension because he had to support not only his wife and stepchildren, but his wife’s sister’s children as well. Furthermore, he had to lend his father-in-law money to pay off a second mortgage because the bank was going to repossess the latter’s house.
This is an extreme example, but we have heard many similar stories while living in Central America. Not all Nicaraguan families are like this one, but it doesn’t hurt to be aware that the situation exists. Be careful with whom you get involved. (See Chapter 5 “Finding Companionship” for more on this subject.)
We suggest that you don’t dwell on these negatives and hope you realize how difficult it is to generalize about or stereotype any group of people. After you have resided in Nicaragua and experienced living with the people, you will be able to make your own judgements.