What Happens When CBS’ ‘Survivor’ Goes to Nicaragua?

Travel Blog  •  Jim Benning  •  08.26.10 | 1:53 PM ET

For starters, the television company hypes the country’s “savage wildlife.”

A crew has been filming the next season of the hit TV show in the beach town of San Juan del Sur—it will debut on CBS next month.

Reports the Los Angeles Times:

Government officials apparently think “Survivor” could be good for foreign business investment and tourism, even though the CBS commercial for the show proclaims Nicaragua a land of “impenetrable terrain, smoldering volcanoes and savage wildlife.” (Savage wildlife? The mosquitoes?)

Yes, tourism to Nicaragua could skyrocket—and so could unfathomably horrific mosquito bites.

7 Comments for What Happens When CBS’ ‘Survivor’ Goes to Nicaragua?

David Paul Appell 08.26.10 | 3:19 PM ET

I just got back yesterday from San Juan del Sur and elsewhere in Nicaragua, including a Managua interview with tourism minister Mario Salinas. And yes, hopes are indeed high—not necessarily that there will ensue an immediate rush of norteamericano tourists, but that the show will help change misperceptions about the country, that there’s a war going on, that it’s dangerous, and so forth.  It’s taken Colombia a while to start turn around its own image problem, and Nicaragua is right now embarked on a similar path.

Joshua Berman 08.26.10 | 5:02 PM ET

Here are my two centavos on this subject: Prime-Time Nicaragua: loud, proud, and still rough around the edges: http://blog.joshuaberman.net/10-07/prime-time-nicaragua-loud-proud-and-still-pretty-rough-around-the-edges.html

Nicaragua is no skull-sucking monster ... It is, in fact, the most hospitable place I have ever visited; it is unlike any other country in the region. I just hope Nicaragua gets a fair shake during its close-up with the world, as Survivor’s 13 million viewers tune in (PLUS millions of viewers of the Spanish and Italian versions of Survivor, both of which were also shot in Nicaragua this past year). Maybe a few of them will see past the hyperbole—or be intrigued by it—and decide to come see for themselves.

Aaron Perkinson 08.26.10 | 10:11 PM ET

It is going to be real interesting to see Nicaragua through Hollywood’s over-dramatic eyes.  It will probably be worth a good laugh, especially to those who know the real Nicaragua.

Ironically most Nicaraguans will not see the program.

Hey, Nicaragua is not Club Med but it will be one of the most interesting and gratifying travel experiences you will have, especially considering the ease with which you can get here.

Check out my blog about daily life in Nicaragua: http://www.nicatourism.com/

Chris Kingry 09.15.10 | 2:21 PM ET

Former political prisoner of Nicaragua and author, Eric Volz is a REAL Nicaraguan Survivor.

He warns that while plenty of natural beauty and elite pockets of privilege do exist in Nicaragua, Survivor’s glamorized image couldn’t be any farther from the reality of struggle and oppression faced there today. .

He endured a harrowing experience and was used by corrupt Nicaraguan government officials as a political bargaining chip…

“I found myself wrongfully accused of my ex-girlfriend’s murder, imprisoned, and ultimately sentenced to 30 years in Nicaraguan prison. I suffered subhuman conditions, illness, deadly riots, a lynch mob, and torture at the hands of Nicaraguan officials who enjoyed using my case as a political touchstone in backroom negotiations with Washington. It wasn’t until a former CIA operative got involved that I was freed in December 2007, after spending more than a year in a maximum-security prison.”

Read more at: : http://www.huffingtonpost.com/eric-volz/why-did-jeff-probst-of-su_b_716568.html

El Chele 09.15.10 | 2:31 PM ET

I’ve lived in Nicaragua for 15 years.  Despite it’s idiosyncrasies, it has been a wonderful place to live.  It is not Club Med, true, but it also is not a place where a person gets harassed just for being a gringo.  Petty thievery is common and crime has increased but there are a big majority who are good people and willing to help anyone out.

I have documented the good and bad (in a much narrower sense than Survivor or Erik Volz) at my blog: http://www.nicatourism.com.  Come by and visit and get to know the real Nicaragua.

David Paul Appell 09.17.10 | 11:23 AM ET

As with many, many countries blithely visited by Americans and other westerners (oh, where shall I start—China, Cuba, Mexico, Morocco, Vietnam, Russia, Egypt, Brazil, etc etc etc), Nicaragua suffers from plenty of controversial problems and political/economic/social ills.  And by the way, we have no shortage of poverty, danger, and injustice here in the U.S., either. 

But travel can be broadening and liberating, and Nicaragua is an eye-opening diamond in the rough which is well worth visiting—and is, I’m told by local expats (maybe “El Chele,” above, can attest to this), safer than much of the rest of Central America in which to travel.  Personally, as long as I have a reasonable expectation of staying safe, I love to travel to places that are a little edgy, to experience as many facets of the world unlike my own that I can. Those who can’t handle that might as well stick to Disney World—which is also fine with me!

Anyway, as I wrote above, I recently visited San Juan del Sur, where Survivor was taped, and if anyone’s interested, here’s my just-published take on both the show and the destination:


Houston Divorce Lawyer 10.11.10 | 8:46 PM ET

Well, I would guess that there will be Survivor fans that will want to travel to Nicaragua as a challenge. I would tend to think though that the show is definitely not putting the thought into people’s minds that the country is a lush tropical paradise. Hopefully though people don’t make travel decisions based on Survivor!

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