Thursday, September 24, 2015

Snapshots of Nicaraguan Life

Welcome to the sole tropical edition of Snapshots : )

Les presento a Nicaragua- let me present to you Nicaragua- and a few of its six million inhabitants.  And its dozens of volcanoes. And green jungles. And oversized fruits. And friendly pets. And towering palms. And holiday parades. And... you'll see!

Most of these pictures are from San Juan del Sur, a once-sleepy fishing port that's now a party hotspot for surfers, language students, and backpackers. I swear I heard more German than either Spanish or English there!

San Juan del Sur is usually home to around 15,000 people. It overflows with people during the holidays (Easter week, etc) as Nicaraguans leave the interior en masse and rent up every living space available on the coast. Year-round it's pretty easy to find wealthy families from the capital in their San Juan del Sur vacation homes or in a hotel.

The cruise ships also bring visitors to the city- there's even talk now of building an actual cruise ship terminal. During the two weeks I was there, though, the season hadn't started and the main bay held nothing but small fishing boats and sailboats.

There's MASSIVE disparity in Nicaragua. It's often labeled as either #2 or #3 when talking about the poorest countries in the western hemisphere. What's most shocking is not even the poverty of some- it's the wealth of others. (Maybe I spent too long in Ukraine, but it often seems like wealth for some isn't possible without poverty for others...) Behind high walls there are homes of such beauty and grace that any architect would weep tears of joy. Along the roadside there are homes built out of whatever limited materials could be scrounged up and patched together. And then there's a wide group in the middle, not wealthy, not insanely poor. I've never made any rich or poor friends in Nicaragua, only people from this middle group. Here's an example of a "middle" street, followed by signs pointing to an upscale subdivision:

And speaking of money, it feels like everyone is always shopping in Nicaragua. I think this is because so many shops and markets are open-air, like these ones:

Here's San Juan del Sur's sole supermarket, for comparison:

After a trip to that dark cave of a supermarket, there's only one remedy- wide open spaces!

This is the beach that separates the main bay (and all its small boats) from the city. It's not considered a very good beach- there are plenty of gorgeous places just a few minutes north or south of here for swimming and surfing- but it can still attract a small crowd on the weekends.

It's a great place to grab a drink and escape the midday sun.

40 cordobas, $1.50 USD, for a rum & coke.

I like Nicaraguans. They're very open-hearted people. Here's a friend's daughter with the typical Nica smile:

You can see where she gets it from ;)

And see that guitar player in the photo above? That's another thing that is everywhere in Niacaragua: noise. If it's not a truck driving around with blaring loudspeakers that advertise fruit and dance parties and cell phones, then it's a parade.

Or it's non-stop practicing for a parade. Since a big holiday was coming up...

...we got to enjoy several hours of drumming from these students. Every single day :p

Here are a few more snapshots of Nica life:

A Flor de Caña rum truck, clearly my favorite kind of truck on the planet.
That is an avocado, can you believe it?!

What do you think?

Does Nicaragua look like a place you'd enjoy visiting?

Would you ever consider joining the thousands of expats who live in the country? (If so, you should definitely check out this woman's very realistic blog on how to adapt to and participate in Nicaraguan society.)

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