Matagalpa, Nicaragua

By Ira Stephenson

A little known place well off the tourist trails and for me was one of the many secondary reasons I chose to retire here. My primary reason was the friendliness of people in this small mountain town. I was looking for a place that fit like Carlos was looking for his spot to fit and to sit in the book by Don Juan. It had to be unique, a place where I could be at my very best, a place that fit. When I first arrived, I instantly liked the town but on that first day when a man learned I was considering living here, with total sincerity, he put one hand on my shoulder and shook my hand with the other and thanked me for choosing his town to live in, I had found my “spot”.

Matagalpa is actually in the mountains and not just surrounded by mountains To go anywhere in town is going up and down hills so that brings me to one of the other reasons I love my town. I love walking and in this mountain town, I have lost 40 lbs in my 7 years here. Third reason and not by far the last, I am able to live here very comfortably on my $1300 a month Social Security check and care for my family of 5. If I care to ride a bus across town it is 15 cents or I can catch a taxi to most everywhere for 30 cents. To go up some steep streets may be double but still very cheap.

Matagalpa is also a hub for most all produce that is grown in the east to be stored and to pass through to the more populated western side of the country so that is another big plus for me. In Matagalpa, I live in the Guanuca Barrio which is the open street market which means I can get first pick at the fruits and veggies. You name it and it is here for pennies. For 30 cents I buy a dozen bananas or a bag of tomatoes or peppers. One dollar pineapples fresh from the field, to the truck and then to me. Lettuce, onions and on and on. Meat is also here….chicken less than $1 a lb or how about New York steak at less the $2.50 a lb, 30 eggs-$ one dollar… get the idea. 

To move here because of the cheap life is wrong, it should be a bonus. Life here is slow and is like stepping back in time. I know all my neighbors, walking my dogs in the market I will literally be greeted by dozens of friends each day. Stress is a word I no longer use. 60 to 90 degrees year round and most always have a cool mountain breeze. Shades of green everywhere. Walking to town and seeing parrots in the trees, having every…every person you see greet you like an old friend.

This is now my life, I really did find my spot. As you can tell.i love my town and my life. I have found the American dream, just had to move here to find it.  What a reward for the life  have lived. I am sitting on a rainbow.


  1. mike

    November 20, 2017 at 2:53 pm

    Uhmmm … sounds better than Rivas and the outlandously loud noises of motorcycles swarming like pesty flies …. electriity is off half the time but improving and city water is off from 8 am until 4 pm every day .. in a heavy rain the sewer lines back up into the street and homes .. and to join these infringers on peace of mind there are the churches that turn up their kaoke music amplifiers and blast the whole barrio with horrible sounds five nights a week and Sunday twice (9am-12am & 6PM-9pm) … so loud to where neighboring people cannot talk or watch the news on TV

  2. David Hart

    November 27, 2017 at 2:18 pm

    Thanks for the testimonial on Matagalpa. Have never spent time there but am considering it after your vivid story. I usually hang out in Esteli but would prefer less people and motorcycles. I will ask around for you. I would really like to have a few minutes of your time. Be there in late Jan. or early Feb.

    David Hart

  3. Mike Davis

    December 17, 2017 at 6:32 am

    I know some or all countries do not allow those with mental problems. Mine is depression and general anxiety, I take medications for these but am not a threat to anyone. Are medical services close? My wife has COPD and has to take inhalers, she is bothered by too hot weather and too cold. Would this be a problem in Matagalpa?

    Thanks so much for any help.