What is Nicaragua like? Part 1


People often ask me, what is Nicaragua like?  I usually tell them how great the weather is, how friendly the people are and that every day is an adventure, you never know what you will see but on a recent drive to Managua I decided it would be better to show what Nicaragua is like instead of trying to describe it, sometimes there are no words for what you see here.  This picture is a perfect example:


A guy riding on the back of a pickup truck driving down the highway.  He couldn’t sit up front because there are already two passengers up there and the law requires that each person in the front seat wear a seatbelt.  But this is not the strangest part of the picture.  If you look at what is in the left side of the truck you will see a pig.


I have seen pigs riding in the back of trucks, inside the 3 wheeled motos they use for taxis here and even tied to the back of a chicken bus in a sack.  You see them wandering out in the road, out on the beach trying to steal fish from fishermen and I even saw a girl walking a small pig on a leash.  I have been told that the reason you don’t see the really big ones is because once they get very large people will steal them so the owners keep them inside their houses.  I can’t wait to visit someone and find a pig in the living room .


But don’t get the idea Nicaragua is a completely backwards third world country, we do have our amenities’ as well.  We have modern convenience stores:


Large air conditioned grocery stores:


And upscale shopping malls:


But you can avoid all of these if you choose to because you can buy just about anything from your car window at a stoplight.


Hungry?  This guy is selling mango slices and several guys at the next light will probably be selling cashews and there will be someone with water as well.  The girl below is selling some type of cooked food prepared right on the side of the road.  You can tell she is planning on being there for a while; she brought her hammock with her.


 But don’t think food is the only thing available, if you drove around long enough you could probably find everything you need.


This girl is selling candy and window decals.  I have seen cell phones, medicine, car seats, stuffed animals and many more things I can’t remember for sale on the side of the road.  But vendors are not the only thing at stoplights, we also have entertainment


How often do you see someone juggling fire sticks at a stoplight?  I have also seen acrobats, window washers and just plain beggars.  Every stoplight is an adventure.



We have been here for almost 3 months now and today we reached one of the many milestones expats encounter, time to get our visa’s renewed.  There are several options for this, you can make the trip down to Costa Rica and get your passport re-stamped when you come back into Nicaragua, by law you are supposed to be out of Nicaragua for at least 72 hours but several people I know have just walked across the border, had lunch and come back.  That is what we will have to do next time if we don’t have our residency yet but since this was the first renewal we were able to do it here in Nicaragua.  There is now an office in Granada where you can go and drop off your passport, they will send it to Managua for you and you can pick it back up in a few days in Granada.  We were going to do this but we got a call from the broker handling our car saying we had to come to Managua and bring him our passport and the paperwork for our car because he would have to get an extension for the car and fill out the paperwork to get us a RUK (something like a tax ID number).  We get to Managua to meet with him and of course he is a few hours late and by the time we had finished with him we find out the main immigration office is closed (they close at 2 pm).  We had been told the main office was the only place we could renew our visas but a nica friend who was with us called someone he knew that works for immigration and he said we could get it done at any office so why not give it a try.  We head over to Las Americas shopping center and were able to get it done at the office in the mall.  When you walk in the door you have to buy the paperwork from the guard, it was 5 cords per sheet.  The form is in Spanish and you have to fill it out in Spanish so thank goodness we had our friend with us, if not we would have probably had to buy every copy the guard had.  Once you get this done you will find out you need copies of the picture page of your passport along with the page with the entry stamp and a copy of the small paper they give you when you come in the country.  Well conveniently the motorcycle shop next door to immigration has a copier and will make you copies for 5 cords per page.  You can choose how long you want your extension for, either 1 month, 2 months or 3 months and it is 500 cords per month.  I have heard in the main office you have to go through 3 different lines to complete the process but here at the mall office we did everything at one counter and didn’t have to wait in line at all.  The girl working the desk was very friendly and I’m pretty sure her and her friend were having quite a few laughs at our attempts at butchering the Spanish language, we were done in 20 minutes and out the door.  Before we left the cashier asked me if I wanted a receipt for the money we paid because if I did she would let me take her copy of the receipt next door and have a copy made….I couldn’t help but laugh.  After this we made our first trip to Pricemart.  A friend of ours let us borrow his card in exchange for bringing him back a box of cereal.  Everyone I know talks about all the things you can buy at Pricemart so I was expecting a really large warehouse, it was big but not as big as I expected and the selection was limited.  We were pricing freezers and they only had 2 to choose from.  I was also looking for a calculator; my options were a scientific handheld calculator or a large printing calculator that would sit on a desk.   We did break down and fill up our cart with beer, soda, frozen pizza and my personal favorite, cheddar cheese.  Now with our pockets about $100 lighter we are back on our way home.  Our friend asked us to drop him off at a local bar so we stopped and had a beer with him and a few of his friends.  One of the guys at the bar starts talking to me using our friend to translate and I try to respond back in Spanish only to have my friend have to translate my “Spanish” into Spanish…..all those hours spent on Rosetta Stone and I still can’t even have a conversation with a drunk in a bar.