Friday, December 11, 2015

8 things to keep an eye out for in Nicaragua

We've got a trip to Nicaragua planned. D was a little reluctant- "Where??"- but agreed after I promised him all the fresh fruit and ocean he could stand.

As we get closer to the trip, I've been telling him a little about the country. Here's the result of that-

8 Things to Keep an Eye Out For in Nicaragua

A cheap and easy snack! A famous poet! A dessert you'd better eat fast! A thing you need for air conditioning! A dinner with a face! A place to sit! Red-and-black painted anything! Painted buses!


#1. The fruit

Dragonfruit and avocado

Every fruit you could ever imagine- it's all here.

#2. Ruben Dario

The Nicaraguan poet who introduced modernismo to the world. Next year will be the centennial of his death.

#3. Power lines

According to Wikipedia, in 2006 only 55% of the country had electrical coverage (the uncovered areas being mainly out in the campo). Things have probably changed a lot since then, judging by these crazy tangles.

#4. Rocking chairs

Imagine this: everyone sitting in rocking chairs each night, trying to cool off, talking to neighbors, and giving the babushka-stare to people walking down the street.

#5. The fried fish

You will eventually encounter it. Begin mentally stealing yourself now. (Hint: avoid the eyeball.)

#6. The choco banana

For sale everywhere, good for treating yourself after that fish :p

#7. Security

Barbed wire, bars on windows, a night watchman, guard dogs- whatever people can afford, they'll use.

#8. The President

The face of President Daniel Ortega is plastered across the country.

Meet Daniel Ortega.

As a young man, he fought against the dictatorship of Somoza family. The Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN) overthrew Somoza in 1979 and Ortega became the new head honcho.

"We go forward! In Christianity, socialism, solidarity!"

Now some people claim he's become a dictator himself. He's 70 years old and has been the President of Nicaragua since 2007... and not for the first time. He was President before from 1985-1990 and in power before that as "Coordinator of the Junta of National Reconstruction". After being elected in 2006, he stayed on for another term in 2010.

L: Daniel Ortega campaign office in 2006 (that's his pic on the wall). R: Same building in 2015.

You might think being the President three times already sounds like enough, but he's planning to go for presidency #4 next year. (There used to be a law against this but guess what... not anymore!)

He definitely has his supporters, though, since his party has made a lot of improvements in the country.

Every city I passed through this fall had a billboard of President Ortega with a local politician.

The first time I visited Nicaragua (2002) was in the midst of a huge scandal- the new President had arrested the old President for stealing millions of dollars from the country. The old President was arrested, imprisoned, and sat in prison until 2009, when he was released early by (surprise, surprise) the then-and-still President Daniel Ortega's government.

So, in short, the last 40 years of Nicaragua go something like this:

Dictator - Ortega - A lady! - The guy who stole a lot of money - The guy who went after corruption and arrested the guy who stole a lot of money - Ortega

Rivals even Ukraine's tales of political woe.

In Nicaragua this fall, the red/black colors of the FSLN were on almost every lamppost and people were starting to talk about next year's election. Most felt like Ortega would be President again no matter who they voted for. People were also very interested in the 2016 US Presidential election: if you watch Nicaragua news, Donald Trump is 1000% guaranteed to be the new President ;) "Everybody's going to vote for him, right?", they'd ask.

#8. The colorful buses

Just as colorful as promised!

Not quite as vibrant once you get inside:

And that's pretty much everything I've told him so far.
I know that some of you guys have been to Nicaragua yourselves before: anything to add to this list?


  1. Wow, never been, but it looks interesting! Have a great trip!

  2. 1. Merchants/taxis will try to rip you off whenever possible.
    2. Streets dont have names. Getting to an addresses is hell.
    3. Cops would accept bribes any day of the week
    4. Tip is mandatory in restaurants(10% total bill). Just crazy

    1. Yeah, the street name thing... "Our address is 2 blocks east of the gas station, in front of the sunglass store":p It's funny when you're sending mail to such a vague address.

      Haven't encountered any cops yet , luckily!

  3. Just catching up on your blog, and wanted to say I LOVE NICARAGUA! We were there a few years ago, and had a blast. :)

    1. How cool, Nick! I didn't know you guys had been there :D Now I'm off to read the Nicaragua posts on your blog!

  4. Just catching up on your blog, and wanted to say I LOVE NICARAGUA! We were there a few years ago, and had a blast. :)