Nicaragua Recap

I didn’t quite know what to expect from Nicaragua, but by the end of it all, I found I really liked the country. It was relaxing and beautiful, and far cheaper and less touristy than its neighbor to the south. And even though it was technically the rainy season, we managed to arrive during the one month window where it doesn’t rain in Nicaragua, which made our time there more enjoyable.

I was also worried about getting sick, being back in the territory of having to drink bottled water and not eat fresh vegetables, but that turned out not to be a problem. A lot of the places we stayed had these awesome big blue tubs with water filters for everyone to use. At $40 per year for a new filter, it seemed like a great system that we didn’t see in any of the other countries with non-potable water. Nicaragua also wins the award for the most versions of the plantain that we’ve seen thus far; we found them in chip, tostone, sweet and fried, steamed and french fry forms – all delicious. All in all, Nicaragua really left nothing to be desired.

Below is the map of our route through Nicaragua and some fast facts.



And some takeaways:

  • There were far less smartphone owners in Nicaragua. I was surprised to find that people in the other countries we’ve visited were not only as addicted to smartphones as Americans, but they also consistently owned nice iPhones or Androids. In Nicaragua, though, we saw a lot more flip or otherwise old school phones. Given that it has the third lowest GDP per capita in all of Latin America and the Caribbean, this sort of makes sense. What was strange was that this was really the main sign we saw that made Nicaragua seem poorer than other countries we’d been to, but perhaps that’s just because we stuck to the tourist trail.
  • More than anywhere else, the people here struck me as being exceptionally nice. So many people went out of their way to help us or generally seemed glad that we were in their country.
  • There was surprisingly good wifi throughout all of Nicaragua, including in the remote areas of Ometepe and Las Peñitas. In general, it was far better than the wifi we got in Peru, Bolivia and the upper half of Chile.
  • Baseball is huge here. Instead of seeing kids playing soccer in fields, we saw them playing baseball. We also saw both Nicaraguan and American team games being broadcast on the TV’s at bars or in the houses of locals, which is not something we saw anywhere else.
  • There are so many Canadians here. Maybe it’s the drastically different climate? I haven’t been able to figure it out. We met Canadian expats and business owners in San Juan, there was a Canadian who started the homestay program we used in Ometepe, our hostel owners in Las Peñitas lived in Canada for 30 years… the list goes on.
  • We saw a lot of environmentally bad practices in Nicaragua. People threw trash onto the ground as they walked, or out of bus windows to the street below. They also loved to burn their trash, including plastic bottles, on the sidewalk or road. We saw a lot of this in Peru and Bolivia, but I had kind of forgotten how commonplace these practices were.
  • Nicaragua was our first major introduction to chicken buses. As the name implies, these things are oh so fun. While we had taken these a couple times in Panama, we took them almost everywhere in Nicaragua. For those unfamiliar, chicken buses are old American school buses that have been converted for local transport throughout most of Central America. Although the seats are actually pretty comfy, the luxury stops there. The drivers will cram as many people as they can on to these things, and they aren’t air conditioned, so you wind up sweating profusely until the breeze kicks in. They also stop anywhere and everywhere: they’ll quickly grab your bags, throw them to the guy on the roof to load them up and then speed off until someone asks to get off.

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