Final thoughts on Nicaragua

Cows in Lake Nicaragua for their evening drink

Cows in Lake Nicaragua for their evening drink

Nicaragua was one of those countries we just couldn’t seem to leave.  We had planned on two and a half weeks; we stayed a full month.  And we have plenty of thoughts…

  • It was interesting to be in a country that still uses horses as a significant means of transport.  However, outside of Ometepe (where the horses generally looked quite healthy), it was incredibly sad to see the condition of many of the horses.  Particularly in Granada, many of the horses were skin and bones and looked like they were going to fall over.  Even worse, they spent all day hauling carts around and I never once saw anyone provide a horse with water.  Interestingly, the horses used to pull tourist carriages looked significantly better than the other horses.  I would like to think that is because tourists won’t hire a carriage pulled by an emaciated horse.  Unfortunately, I think it is because the tourists get charged $20 an hour to ride in a carriage, while the locals pay $2 per hour to have a horse cart their purchases homes.
Howler monkey on Ometepe

Howler monkey on Ometepe

  • This was the first place our lack of local language skills really seemed to put us at a significant disadvantage.  We ran into quite a few people who spoke virtually no English — even in bars and restaurants and hotels that catered to tourists.  Luckily, Robert is picking up Spanish at lightening speed.  I think by the end of the year he will be tourist fluent.
  • I think it is hilarious that instead of “buenos dias” or “buenas noches,” many people just say “buenos/as.”  So, effectively, you walk around saying “good” all the time.
  • Boy, do they like their drums here.  Seems like all the kids are in marching bands which consist nearly entirely of drums.  And little kids walk around practicing using plastic bottles filled with rocks.  All well and good in the afternoon, but we were woken up more than once by drum practice.
Ometepe butterfly

Ometepe butterfly

  • The mojitos here are pretty good.  Especially when the mint gets picked to order.  Frozen mojitos are amazing…
  • Typical Nicaraguan food is pretty boring.  Beans and rice, grilled meat, pico de gallo.  Boring.  But, there are a ton of pizza joints in Nicaragua.  And some of them serve pretty darned good pizza.  Yeah, I hated that…
  • I really, really, really hate countries where you can’t throw the tp down the toilet.
  • Many of the hostels here make their guests wear little paper wristbands (you know, like the kind you get at a street fair to prove you are 21).  I can’t count the number of backpackers that were proudly wearing multiple wristbands.  Seriously, I don’t get why you wouldn’t take them off the minute you leave the hostel…
Ometepe scenery

Ometepe scenery

  • Believe it or not, we never tried the street food.  Don’t get me wrong, there isn’t much street food — we really only saw cashews, shaved ice, ice cream, hot dogs and hamburgers.  But it is strange to be in a place where we never ate the street food.
  • We spent over half of our time on the beach.  And, yet, we never went swimming in the ocean or the lake.  How strange is that?
  • There isn’t much in the way of American fast food in Nicaragua other than Subway, Papa John’s and Pizza Hut.  We read that Nicaragua has refused to let American burger joints in because there is a culture of local burger joints and they didn’t want to lose that.  We both really hope that is true.
On top of the volcano

On top of the volcano

  • For some reason, many of the tourists here seem to hate Texans.  On multiple occasions, we were mistaken for Texans (I have a bad habit of saying y’all).  The look of relief when we said we were from Chicago was hilarious.
  • Visit Ometepe now, while it is still relatively unspoiled.  In 10 years, I suspect it is going to be a disaster.
  • Power outages are endemic here.  One night in Ometepe we were without power for nearly 12 hours.
Ometepe turkey

Ometepe turkey

  • The only beverages you can 100% count on a restaurant having is beer and Coke.  We came across places that had no soda water, no ginger ale, and no 7-up.  Diet Coke is nearly impossible to find — a couple of grocery stores sold it, but restaurants never had.
  • The public buses here are old U.S. school buses and they are referred to as “chicken buses.”  For whatever reason, we never got brave/stupid enough to ride them.  They looked even more uncomfortable and more crowded than the buses in Sri Lanka…
  • For some reason, this country is full of gaggles of girls.  Young female tourists totally travel in packs here.  It was the strangest thing.
  • They really like garlic here.  In fact, you can generally get your grilled meat smothered in a garlic sauce.  Yeah, you guessed it, we hated that…
Granada street scene

Granada street scene

  • I hope never to see a scorpion again (at least while in my hotel room).
  • Tsunami warnings aren’t much fun…
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One Response to Final thoughts on Nicaragua

  1. Mark says:

    I’ve always told people that, in Nicaragua, the difference between the “lower” and “middle” classes seem to be a roof on the house. Those people are truly poor

    Like

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