Your experience of culture shock in Nicaragua

Hi,

Living in a foreign country implies to discover its culture, to learn and master the cultural codes.

How did you deal with that? Share with us your culture shock stories where you experienced a funny or awkward moment in Nicaragua.

What is your advice regarding the don’ts and what would you recommend to avoid any mistake?

Thank you in advance for sharing your stories,

Christine

Don't step on the property of another at night even if it is only to knock on the door or ring the bell.  The best that you can do id speak loudly or yell from the street.  Don't bother calling the police because they will not step foot on the property or speak loudly.  I am not talking a Capital Offense.  In my case it was a dog who was barking, woke me up and would not stop even though there was no one on the street.  I waited ten minutes to be sure that the dog was not responding to a perceived threat (view of the house from mine)until I went to awaken my neighbors.  I could have faced a "denuncia" if it were not for my local police officer with whom I have a good relationship and who is aware of the the dogs behavior.  I signed a statement saying that I would never step foot on my neighbor's property, day or night.

We moved here in 2006 from California, and for me, waffles were a must.  We lived in Las Penitas-Leon, just 13 miles from the 2nd largest city in the country.  Could we find a waffle iron?  No, then we went to the capital of Managua, went to as many places as we knew or were told MAY have THAT sort of appliance.  Did we find a waffle iron?  No.
My wife went back to Calif for 6 weeks and brought back two.  Wow, cultural shock, yeah, just one of many, but this was a surprise of wonder.

David
playaroca.com

I learn to do without.   :sosad:

Learn to live without waffles with extra butter, real butter?  No way, we found a way, and somehow have found a lot of things we would do without if we had to, but found most of them if you reach out, like this Expat.com, share!

My first experience was in 1967, Mexico.  Typical border town.  My second experience came in 1978, Nicaragua.  I've been to many other 3rd world countries since.  I have come to the conclusion that culture shock is a term made up and used by affluent countries to describe countries that have yet to come up to their, developed countries, standards. 

My wife and I make almost yearly trips to Nica w/out shock.  The shock wore off after that trip in 1978.  It's what you get.  When you speak to the people, you discover a different attitude.  They do not know they are poor.  They have similar interests.  They will ask:  What's it like in your country?  Where do you live?  What do you think about Bush/Obama?  Have you ever been to a Yankees game?  Common ground can be found across the country and in every Nicaraguan. 

Today you can get Burger King, Subway and Pizza Hut in Nica.  Now that's a shock from my first trip in 1978. Although if your in Granada, I would highly recommend Mona Lisa Pizza a few blocks past the church on Calle La Libertad.  Good Stuff!   

I guess if it's your first trip, yes, you will experience culture shock.  Today I'd rather be in NIca than the USA.  To me it's more calm and peaceful.  Here you never know when someone is going to brandish an assult rifle and kill everyone around you.  I believe deaths by gunfire is either the lowest or 2nd lowest in the Western Hemisphere.  More shock!!!  Like turning the clock back to the 50's in the USA.  Oh, did I mention that Nicaraguan's love American's?  It's my home away from home.  See ya next summer.

Did you try PriceSmart in Managua?

Thank you for your post I was truly shocked that I could find a pizza hut and other familiar restaurants. Also I love the people of Nicaragua so laid back and not stressed about the little things in life. I can't wait to back next year to live for six months.

Any thoughts on where or what city you are thinking of moving to?  Have you looked into the climate of the different regions?  If hot if OK for you....and you like city w/people....try Granada.  Too hot for my wife and I but then again we have stayed there weeks on end.  If your alone, this may be a good place for you.  It's truly an international city.  You can get Italian, Spanish, Mexican, Nicaraguan of course, German, Thai and almost any type of food.  We especially like the little mom and pops rest that are situated across from the Church at the town square.   There is also a great American Breakfast rest in walking distance called Kathy's or Cathy's I forget correct spelling.  It is across street from San Francisco Church.  Not same church by town square.   

Most of your fast food options will be in Managua.  Nice place to visit.  When we fly in we stay there one or two days then on to our destination. 

If you like beaches, try San Juan Del Sur.  Any taxi can get you there.  But, negotiate the price first.  Or call my wife's cousin, he drives a taxi.  I guarantee your safety w/Poncho.  That would be one thing you wouldn't have to stress over.  He has been our driver down there since 2002.  His uncle drove us around from 1990 to 2001.    Good people.  If you wish, I'll give you his #......

Regards,
Hubie

Hello
I just read your posting and as a 59 year old man looking for a nice, safe and warm place to live during winter i got quite interested in your opinion.  I speak fluent spanish and i lived for one month this last year in Costa Rica. I loved the country but it is a bit expensive for for my purse. Could you give some more information about how is living in Nicaragua as an expat?
I hope you can help me.
Thank you
José

Culture shock?

It was a shock, indeed.

First I was shocked by the sheer beauty.  I could swim as far out as I pleased and it was lovely.

The birdsong.  The sunsets.  Pelican Eye aqua aerobics to die for.  The simplicity of life.
Shopping for fresh, real looking food in the mercados.  The music.  The thatched roofs along
the seashore. The dancing.  The friendly people everywhere.  The fun.

Good Lord.  I had died and gone to Heaven.

But there is also a Hell.

And the heat began to drain my life away.  I became listless earlier and earlier in the day.
All I wanted to do was catch a breeze in the hammock.  Everything becomes "Manana" in
SJDS, but the next day is the same or worse.

Then the bug bites began to take their toll.  Scratching left scars.  There was no relief and
seemingly the bugs of Nicaragua love and adore me.  They were everywhere ! 

I would feel something running across my face and go bolting out of bed, my heart pounding.

Only to awaken in the morning and see the biggest spider ever....sprawled
across the bedroom wall looking at me.

Wasps.  One stung me on my tongue no less !!!

And scorpions?  Don't even get me started.

So between the heat and the bugs, I wanted to kiss the ground when I landed in America.

Thank you, Nicaragua !  For helping me to grow and to understand that it is true~ "There's no
place like HOME!"
: )

Small world, I was a Vaca Bulldog, UC Davis grad too.  Come north to Las Penitas-Leon, 25 miles west of Leon, the bugs are much friendlier, and a piece of paradise awaits.  My wife and I have been here for 10 years.  We are "ON THE BEACH.  see playaroca.com

Thanks!!

Will do.

(But what about the heat?  Mine was due to a sun-sensitive med I have to take so heat was twice as bad for me. Had to take cold showers all day to lower body temp.  It was hellish. )

But thanks again.

No problem Jose,

Oh gosh, I just went over this to proof read and I wrote way too much.  I hope you don't mind my ramblings.

At 59 your probably still agile and doing fine.  At least I hope you are.  I know I was still umpiring college baseball and keeping up w/20 year olds or so I thought I was, plus running a telecom business.  LOL..  At 63 I had a stroke that has seriously limited my activities.  I had to sell my Harley and quit umpiring, which I loved both since 1971.  And sell off the business.  The reason I tell you this is because my likes today my not be your same likes.  For example:  I find the older my wife and I get, the hotter the weather becomes for us.  My mom and dad got colder as they aged.  Not us, just the opposite.  Maybe being from and still near our home town of New Orleans and it's high humidity has something to do w/that.  But so were my mom and dad from New Orleans.  Maybe it is global warming after all.
Anyway I'll tell you of some towns we really enjoyed.  I'll also mention some towns we seem to always go back to no matter how hot it is there.  Then I'll mention a group of town in an area that maintains approx. 75 degrees year round.

Managua, the capital.  Nice place to visit for a day or two.  Get the heck out of there ASAP.  Head to Masaya (The outdoor market place of Nica...that is where you buy your hammock and Guyaberra shirts.  Right from the factories, its how you do things in Nica...at the factory.)  Continuing on to Granada, believed to be the oldest Colonial Town in the Western Hemisphere.  If you like history, you will love Granada too.  It sits on Lake Nicaragua, a fresh water lake inhabited by sharks and other species from the Atlantic Ocean.  Granada is a very international town.  You can get Italian, German, Thai, Japanese, Chinese, Mexican, true Spanish food too.  And yes and all American Cheeseburger in Paradise.   Kathy's is a great American Breakfast place across the street from The San Francisco Church.  Plus up and down the streets leading to and from the main town square there are many mom and pop restaurants.  Even more up Calle La Calzada, a must night time stroll.  There are inexpensive to expensive hotels.  My favorite is the Hotel Alhambra right across the street from the Parque Colon (main park).  Sitting on that balcony in the afternoon being waited on by waiters in tuxes w/white gloves and drinking Nica coffee and smoking a Nica cigar was one of the best times of my trip to Nica.  So relaxing and to watch all the people going and coming in the park was amazing.  You will think your back in your home town, USA but circa 1950's.  Couples pushing a stroller, a man selling ice cream from a three wheeled bicycle w/a ring, ring bell on his handlebars.  Another selling snow cones, they call them raspados, I hope I spelled that correct.  I think the name comes from our word for Rasp as in a wood workers tool.  What they use is more like a wood shaver and it scrapes the ice off the block then they use some local juice and pour over the shaved ice.  Great in the heat of the day.  On all four corners of the park are food vendors.  All selling something different.  There is also a huge Gazebo in the park that the children love to climb all over.....and lets not forget all the Lovers walking side by side holding hands.  Such a peaceful way to end a beautiful day in the Oldest Colonial City in our Hemisphere.  Did I mention the people are wonderful.  They absolutely love Americans.  Only once did I run afoul of a Nica person.  But that was a misunderstand back in 1978 and at the height of the war between Somoza and the Sandinistas.  We shook hands and had a few beers afterwards.  He thought I was with the Somoza regime. 

I recommend you go to a book store and purchase The Moon Handbook on Nicaragua by Randall Wood & Joshua Berman.  It breaks down Nica from it's history to todays towns and its potential for the future.  It's my Nica bible for travel. 

Granada is a must stop for a few days.  After than onward to the Pueblos Blancos.  The White Towns.  Most of the handcrafted items in the markets down there come from the White Towns.  You want a guitar, artistry, Hammocks, Terra Cotta Pottery.  If you wish to bring something home from Nica, this is where you will find it and at the least cost.  The White Towns are a little higher up from sea level, making the temperature there more bearable to my wife and I.  We stayed in Diriamba last time for about 3 months or so...  During the day it was maybe no more than 80 degrees but at night sometime you will need a light coat or sweater.  Rarely did we need the A/C at night to sleep.  In Granada we needed that A/C every night.  We rented a 1 Bedroom, 1 Bath w/Kitchen and living room for $175 a month.  Elec. never went over $50 a month, Wi Fi was $60 a month.  Water maybe $2.00 and gas maybe $5.00.  With out running the A/C the elec. was  $15 to $20 a month.  About $275 should pay your rent and all utilities.  The second night there we walked to the Market.  It was a normal grocery store but more like a smaller mom and pop.  We purchased some meat, two Filet Mignon steaks, a lb. of ground meat, bread, mild, eggs, mayo, mustard...since we had nothing we needed most everything.  The bill came to $45.  The meat, bread, eggs lasted us a week.  The next week we went back and the damages were $47.  But this time I purchased and 18 pack of Tonya canned beer.  That was about $2.50 for all 18 beers.   To take a taxi it's maybe 50 cents to go anywhere in town.  Our favorite restaurant was across town called Mi Bohia.  Wonderful owners and great service only surpassed by a wonderful chef in their kitchen that can prepare anything you can think of.....and cheap.  I used to order a 10 oz. Filet w/three sides for two and the bill was never over $15. Don't laugh but Fried Chicken costs more than beef.  A three piece Fried Chicken dinner w/all fixings was $12.  Go figure.  There is a hotel attached to the restaurant or a restaurant attached to the hotel...either way the same owner.  The son runs the hotel and the mother runs the Restaurant.  The wife of the son is from Mexico and I've never met her.  But everyone is so nice....even the help.  They treat you like they are the owners.  Wonderful people there.  It's also next door to the police station, just in case.  We have stayed there weeks and weeks over the years and never has there been any activity at that police station.  Crime is minimal in Diriamba.  Oh, in case your are a Catholic, Diriamba is home to the San Sebastian Basilica.  Basilica's are rare around the world.  This one is especially beautiful and old.  It's kept up quite nicely.  Every Sunday at 10AM mass you will walk to church w/your neighbors and see the owners of Mi Bohia and other establishment you visit during the week.  It gave us a sense of belonging in the community from day one. 

Many days we would travel to the next White Town down the road, Jinotepe.  Good restaurants and a huge market.  Plus you go there to renew your minutes on your cell phone.  Which is how everyone does it down there.

Other White Towns are Catharina Mirador.  A must to view the Laguna de Apoyo.  Breathtaking views overlooking the Laguna and the city of Granada w/Lake Nicaragua in the back ground.  This town is know for it's flowers.  Nindiri is home to a 1000 artifact collection in the Museo Tenderi on Pre-Columbian culture.  Further down the road is San Juan De Oriente known for crafts and potters in Pre-Columbian style.  Then Diria and Diriomo that face each other but on opposite sides of the highway is interesting for their bazar festivals that would make my hometown's Mardi Gras blush!    Then there is Niquinohomo (pronounced Niky-homo) is the valley of warriors.  They held off the Spanish Conquistadores.   Then you have Masatepe which is home to carpenters that make the most unique Mahogany furniture. Then San Marcos, home to the largest University in Nica.  Then you come to Jinotepe and Diriamba as you climb the hilly region.  I think our next trip we will stay in Jinotepe.

If you like seafood I highly recommend, if your in Diriamba, take the beach highway to the Carazo Beaches.  La Boquita is the first town you'll come to on the Pacific Ocean, about a half hour drive from Diriamba.  You can order freshly caught lobsters for $5.00 each.  Maybe less on a slow day.  Bartering is everything.  They respect that.  If you wish to spend the night at the beach, you can find accommodations at $15 and up. 

Those were my favorite places to stay in Nica.  If you wish I can tell you about the northern cities of Leon, Chinandega (my father in laws home town).   Or higher in the mountains there is Silva Negra (interesting history), Estelí (tobacco and coffee plantations), and Matagalpa and Jinotega's highlands.....much cooler than in the White Towns but a couple of hours drive from Managua in the opposite direction of Granada and the White Towns.  But, if you want to see a few Starbucks Plantations, this is it.  Especially in the Cloud forest of Silva Negra.  The cost of living is much less up here.  So many things to do if you love the outdoors up here.  This is the home of the real Nica Cowboys.  They still ride there mounts into town on cobble stone streets.  It will make you forget about finding that parking space at the mall back home. 

I haven't even mentioned Bluefield's (settled by Cajuns from Louisiana during the Civil War) on the Caribbean side.  And the beauty of Big and Little Corn Islands.  What a place to spend a week on a secluded beach at Martha's Bed and Breakfast on Big Corn Island.  Little Corn is like living in the 1800's because they do not have 24x7 electricity.  But still remote w/unspoiled beaches where you can actually find bottles and stuff floated up on it's shores.  These island towns are a discussion all it's own.  Maybe later if your interested.  It is a $100 flight out of Managua to Bluefield's than a $2.00 boat ride to Big Corn Island.  But be prepared to pay $5.00 for the trip back to the mainland.  LOL 

I hope I touched on something that will perk your interest in Nica.  If you would like particulars, like addresses and telephone numbers to restaurants or hotels, pleas ask as I have kept a nice journal over the years of our trips to Nicaragua.

The wife and I were discussing our next trip last night.  She wants to fly down in May and stay till September or October.  Can't wait!

Enjoy Life my friend.

Dave,

I purchased a piece of land on the beach back in the 90's near there Leon.  I purchased it from the Mayor.  Who at the time was the only place or person you could buy land.  He lost his next election and disappeared.  I lost my deposit on the land.  Oh well, lessons learned.

Dave,

My wife finds Leon too hot for her.  Mind you she was born in Managua.....

But as they say, "Happy wife, happy life!"  We have been married since 1980 and
we started dating in 1976.  So we compromise a bit.  She knows I don't like Managua and
she doesn't like Leon.  Those two places are not on the table for us.  Although we do spend
some time w/her cousin in Managua.   Two days at the most then is "outta there!" 

Although she did say she was open to spending some time on the beach up around Poneloya. 
How is the hotel there nowadays?  I believe it was the Hotel La Posada de Poneloya!  Have they
remodeled yet.  It was in dire need of some TLC in 2005, the last time I was there.  Have you visited
Old Leon yet?   If you like history, this is a must see.

Sabrals,

If heat is an issue like it is for my wife and I, look at the White Towns first.  We like renting colonial homes as close the Central Park as possible.  We love walking to the grocery, to restaurants, the park and to Church on Sundays.  The White Towns vary in temperature.  Most are cooler at night.  Some are cooler than others during the day time.  All are much cooler than Managua, Masaya, Granada or Leon.    I find Leon to be very hot.  Granada too.  But Granada has a lively xpat culture there.  Great food and a good night life if that is what you like.  We stayed in Diriamba and Jinotepe for some months.  Next time we go, we are going to Jinotepe.  They are very close together.  I find Jinotepe to be cooler during daylight hours.  Cooler than Diriamba.  And much more to do.  It is a bigger town.  It has a huge market and many restaurants.  Adjacent to the central park is an American hamburger joint owned by an American who has been there tor 20 something years.  I believe he is a retired school teacher.  The burgers are just like back home.  So are his fries.  Day time temp up to 85 degrees.  Night time it gets down to 60s.  Sometimes even cooler.  Definitely sweater weather at night. 

If this is still too hot, check out Matagalpa and Jinotega, not to be confused with Jinotepe.  Much, much cooler up there in the mountains.  About a 2 hour ride North from Managua.  The opposite directions of the White Towns.  We like the White Towns because it is a doable compromise.  Plus it's closer to the Pacific Ocean where you can get great seafood.  Lobsters, Grouper, black oysters and other seafood at unheard of prices.  Spend a day or two there in a hotel for $20 a night.  No A/C of course.  That would run you $50 or 60 a night.  But it's on the beach with the breeze and the sound of the surf.  So relaxing over there.  Forget about going there during the Easter holidays though.  It will be packed with families.  It is their big vacation time of the year.

The temperature is about 10 degrees lower, than the White Towns, up in the Northern Mountain area of Matagalpa, Estelí and Jinotega.  It is just a bit far out for us....

Also of note, the cooler the temperature the less bugs!  Try the White Towns first.  If still too hot, go to the mountains.

Let me know what you decide and how you like it.....

Nicaragua has the second lowest crime rate in the Americas after Cuba.

and you keep enjoying your food.

You don't have to move to a so-called Third World country to experience culture shock. I moved to the U.S.A. from England in 1987 and it took me quite a long time to find an electric kettle. And some things that we thought were unavailable, it turned out, were just called by another name. For example, it took us quite a while to find out that the corn flour we were used to buying back home is called corn starch here. Almost 30 years on and I'm still learning...

Sandra,  your right about that.  Even in the states there are differences in regional vocabularies.  If you really want to experience culture shock in the US I suggest you go down Southwest Louisiana and experience the various languages spoken within minutes of neighborhoods.   The people of this area speak a few different languages since the 1600's.  Settled by the Canadian Acadians from Acadia (Nova Scotia), Creole's from Caribbean islands and the French and English.  Louisiana's roots are deep into England and France.  Both controlled Louisiana for centuries.  They still speak a few different languages down here.  English of course but mix in a bit of Arcadian and w/some French background you have the Acadian French language.  Mix in the Creole settlers and another dialect of French and English mixed w/ Acadians and Acadian Creoles or French Creole comes to life.  Many of my college buddies and workers that would come down to visit experienced this culture shock.  So yes, it's not limited to 3rd world countries.  Then Cross Interstate 10, a local saying,  and head North into Louisiana or Mississippi and you have another culture shock when you first encounter the Rednecks.  And I say that lovingly because I know so many since I now live on the Gulf Coast of Mississippi.  But yet you will be baffled to understand what they are saying.  Kinda like going from Managua to Bluefields and the language and dialect changes then go to Big Corn island where English is the preferred language.

My mother in law, a Nicaraguan, calls Corn Flour Corn mosque.   That is how she pronounces it.  I believe only in the UK and Australia do they call Corn Starch, Corn Flour.  I use Corn Starch only for thickening.  I use Corn Flour to say bake a Lemon Meringue Pie.  We use Corn Mosque (a thicker grind of Corn Flour) to make Spanish tortillas.  I believe it depends on how fine you grind it.  Corn Starch is the starch derived from the corn grain.  The rest is flour.  But semantics being what they are in different parts of the world make life interesting for us travelers. 

Heck, just in the Spanish language you can get yourself in a heap of trouble using a certain word from Central America say in Cuba or Mexico and vise versa.   Words can mean something entirely different going from one Spanish dialect to the other.

I enjoyed your post, keep em' coming.

Hello Hey Blue
Thank you very much for all the information . I am planning to go for one month. Just to have the 2feel" of the country. Do you think that is enough time? I can go any time from january to april, Which month do you think is the best?
Regards
José

Hi.

I went for life, stayed a month.

Yes, that is enough time to get a feel for the place.  At least.

It was enough time for me to say, "Great place to visit but I WOULDN'T WANT TO LIVE THERE!!!"

:)

Jose,

Any time is a good time, even the rainy season.  The people are so warm.  If Jan - March is your window, I would choose a month w/a festival that appeals to me.  I have made a list of the biggest festivals month by month below.

I first went to Nica back in 1978.  And I went for a festival.  It was for the festival of Santo Domingo, in Santo Domingo.  Aug 1st thru Aug 10th.  It was during the War.  I was hesitant.  My fiancée, my soul mate for the past 40 years, told my not to worry.  She said that during the festival you will see Somoza's guards and the Sandinista guerillas drinking, singing & getting drunk, arm in arm.  I found that interesting.  Let me state for the record, she was right.  Amazing, these Nicaraguans take their festivals like my home town of New Orleans takes it's Mardi Gras, Very Serious Business.   The first 10 days were quiet, except for the excitement at the festival.  However, on the 11th day the guns were back out and people were getting killed all over.  We flew back to New Orleans on the 12th.   I will never be the same.  I have a love for Nicaragua and it's people.  Can't wait for my bride and I to move down in May.

They have 200 festivals a year.   In El Viejo, they have a festival to clean the Virgin Mother's silverware she has been collecting, from believers, since the 1500's.  That's a 500 year collection.  It must be huge.  I have never see that one but one day hope to.  Every town has a festival, during the year, for its patron Saint.  And every town has been assigned a patron saint.  Exactly when this tradition began, I am not sure.

And Nicaragua has come up with a name for this.  Toro Huaco takes place in virtually every town in Nicaragua in dedication to the town's designated patron saint. The Toro Huaco is no ordinary celebration. Visiting these Nicaraguan events will transport you to the 1500s, as Nicaraguans engage in mock battles and imitate characters from their Pre-Columbian Ancestors to Spanish Colonial folklore. 

JANUARY
There are no festivals that begin in January that I know of.  But I am sure some town in Nica is planning a Toro Huaco.


FEBRUARY
In February you have  the International Poetry Festival, 15th thru the 22nd in Granada mainly but it has spread to most towns across Nicaragua.  Granada is the epicenter for the International Poetry Festival however.

Nicaragua loves their poetry and this is the largest poetry events in all of Central America. Over 50 countries are expected to be represented by hundreds of poets during this week-long celebration of the beauty of the written and spoken word.  And how appropriate it takes place in the oldest Colonial City in the Western Hemisphere, Granada.  It would have brought tears to the eyes of Ruben Dario, Nicaragua's world famous poet..

Every year the work of a prominent Nicaraguan poet is featured. If you have ever wanted to rub shoulders with the heavyweights of literature, this is the place to be. Throughout the week there are readings scheduled in different churches, markets, city streets, schools, even the police station. The event is so popular that readings spill over into neighboring pueblos of Masaya, Diria, Masatepe, all the way up to Leon. It’s a definitely worth exploring to not just get a feel of the Nicaraguan poetry scene, but also the culture of the villages.

In addition to poetry recitals there is also a book fair and an artists fair as well as a “cultural identity carnival” that features traditional Nicarauan dancing and cultural manifestations like the Gigantona and her little indigenous suitor, the Inano Cabezon (big-headed midget).

Head to Granada during the week of the 15th – 22nd to experience or share in the celebration. The city thanks you. And as poets at heart they say, “De nada, Granada.”

Check out the festival’s official website for more information:    www.festivalpoesianicaragua.com 

Don’t miss exploring the city of Granada and the surrounding villages. The city in itself is a big draw for tourism because there is a lot to see and do. The artists villages of Masaya (also known as the folklore capital
of Nicaragua) and San Juan de Oriente are on their own “can’t miss”!


MARCH
On  March 22nd, you have the festival of San Lazaro..  This is such a light hearted festival sure to please every one and every age.

Every dog has its day. That is definitely true in Masaya on the 22nd when the dogs play dress up in honor of San Lazaro.

If you remember from your Catholic bible study, dogs licked the sores of Lazarus the beggar and he was miraculously cured of his ailment (sores eventually showed up on the dogs who were later killed by the local cats. There is a special place in doggie hell for Lazarus). Today San Lazaro is honored by residents who bring their pups dressed in their Halloween best to the Iglesia de Magdalena to be blessed by the local bishop. Not only does he bless them but he seals the deal by pouring an indigenous brew known as chingastuda on their backs.

All kind of costumed pooches wearing all kinds of costumes are walked, carried and dragged to the church. The church will be filled with people trying to either get their pets blessed or get a look at the lucky pups who have to go through the ordeal. There is also a small fair and market, as well as the opportunity to try some backwoods local dishes like guana egg stew.

Get to Masaya in the morning and take a taxi to the church in Monimbo. Please bring your camera or smart phone.

Don’t miss walking throughout the barrio of Monimbo where you will see small congregations of people and their pets forgoing the big celebration for a smaller, more intimate session with a local priest. Free bags of dog food are used to entice people to sit down and hear their sermon.


APRIL
Usually in April, depends on when Easter falls...... is Semana Santa.  Nothing to do w/Good ole St. Nick. 

The biggest holiday of the year is Easter week or Semana Santa. Festivals start the week prior to Easter Sunday and continue non stop all week long. Thursday to Easter Sunday are the official holidays with most public services shut down (most buses are still running) and thousands of people at the beach!

APRIL
Chaining of the Judases  On Good Friday......

The best celebrations this month are for the biggest event going on. Easter. Semana Santa is the week leading up to the big holiday, and out of the hundreds of celebrations going on one of the best is in the village of Masatepe on Good Friday. That is when the entire town turns out to watch the hooded crusaders find and capture the roaming Judases, then drag them around town in chains.

There are about two dozen crusading groups of masked men, each group sporting their own style of uniform but generally keeping with the bright, frilly space hat theme, who are on the hunt for Jesus’ betrayer. When they find him (and it isn’t hard since there are at least one per group), they hold him down, hook their chains around his belt, throw the chains over their shoulders and start pulling in all directions. Judas is lifted off the ground and carried by the chains through the streets.

It is quite a sight to see and exhilarating to watch. Expect loads of people there as well but very, very few tourists. This is one of the best-kept secrets of all the Nicaraguan festivals!

Get there early to see the groups departing the church dragging their chains and stay past noon to see Jesus Christ crucified on the church grounds.

I hope you enjoyed this tour of Nica's festivals during the First Quarter of the year.  Which ever you choose, you can't go wrong. 

Please let us hear of your experiences after you go down to Nica and visit the festivals.  We would be interested in your opinions of those festivals.

As we say during Mardi Gras in the "City that Care Forgot",
les bon temps ruler
Pass a Good Time Cher'!

Hello
Once again thank you for your advice. You really are a Nicaragua expert. I am sure that i will get back to you for more information.
Regards

José

Thank you so much for the wealth of information. I too am going back in May for two weeks and then I plan on going back for six months to immerse in the culture and learn the language. i have been considering Masaya but I am open to other locations.

Depends on what you want Jose.

Masaya has a great market, hammocks are made there and so are mens Guayabara Shirts.   Mesya also has a pretty good baseball team that plays in a very nice stadium.  There are also many subdivisions and some are privately gated and guarded.  If you can, find something near the town's square.  That way you can walk to almost everything.   But that's my opinion.  Its still hot in Masaya.

Granada is also very nice.  Much larger city.  Still hot.  It is the oldest Colonial city in the Western Hemisphere.  The Colonial Homes w/courtyards in the rear are very nice and unique.  In the city, everything is within walking distance.  You can rent bicycles, mo-peds or take the 3 wheeled taxis around town.  Granada has the most restaurants and things to do of any town in Nica except for Managua.  You can rent a 1 or 2 BR place from $250 up....  Probably around $350 to $400 w/utilities paid.   Or you could rent something in Granada near the beach or on the lake Nicaragua.  A fresh water lake inhabited by salt water fish.  The only such lake in the world.  If you like fishing, its the place to be while still be near civilization. 

The White Towns.....I do love the White Towns.  They are small little towns higher up in elevation which gives them a cooler climate during the day and even chilly on some nights.  You definitely want to be near the Town Square in any of these towns.   That is if you like walking out of your door and down the street to a restaurant or the grocery.  May I suggest Jinotepe.  There are American owned and operated restaurants there.  For when you get that urge for a Cheeseburger in Paradise! 

To find a nice place to stay,  $250 and up, try looking at the following web sites:
www.miterrenos.com
www.palmirabienesraices.com
RE/MAXColonialProperties.com
casanicaraguarealestate.com
xaltevagroupproperty.com  A property management company.
serenity21.com
And the one I have had the most success with:  www.encuentra24.com/real-estate‎

We may be putting off our trip in May....probably pushing it back a bit.  Health issues w/mother in law.

Buena suerte  (good luck)

Great post. I am new to this forum and I am finding that what I have read so far peaks my interest. I have spent most of the last year on the Expat.com (Dominican Republic) forum but was finding to many negative posts that has diminished my interest.

First a little on my back ground. I have worked in places like India, Bangladesh, and now Africa. Culture shock is not in my vocabulary.

The first place I considered was Panama. I went for a visit in 2014 but found it was not for me. Next I went to Dominican Republic. I liked what I seen but still was not convinced that this place was for me. The DR has a lot of problems with power outages. Is this also a problem in Nicaragua. If you live in a costal area where AC is required, is the cost to run AC high.

I have been traveling g to Nica since 1978.  I have experienced power outages only once. And that was on Little Corn Island.  Electricity ther is run only about 12 hrs per day. Big Corn, no problem.  If you like solitude, stay on Corn Island, English is their primary language, and make day trips to little Corn.   You will think your a castaway.   The coral reef is beautiful.  There are places to stay in the forested jungle, only steps from coconut lined beaches.  Flight from Managua to Bluefields is or was in 2012, $100.  From there it's a puddle jumper to Big Corn.  $50 if I remember correctly.   You can find affordable living, bed and breakfast and such, for $40 a night. Don't miss the Corn Islands! 

Back to electrify.  Remember Nica is the largest of all the Central American Countries. More than half is still jungle.  Probably a lot of that is farm land. Especially north of Lake Nicaragua.  Beef is their exported commodity.  In the North West it is bananas and coconuts.  My father in law is a Castillian Spanish son of a Guevara who was at court and given land in that Area. As other Guevara's were given land all over the new worlds.   They grew and shipped much back to Spain in payment for that land.  However in the 40's and 50's it was taken from them as part of the Somoza Empire.  A regime put in place by the US.  I visited w/him to his home town of Chinendega.   Very hot!  The beaches up there are also hot, but cheaper to live. Electricity can be an issue up there around Leon.

If you want beaches and first world electrical service, try San Juan del Sur.  A little more pricy but deals can be found.  $350-$450 for two or three bedroom. We used the AC at night only.  Cost ran $60-$80 a month, depending. 

We love the beach also.  But we found we liked mingling w/the locals at the town squares.  We don't like hot!  So, we decided to split the middle. We stayed a few months in Diriamba.  The Pacific Ocean and beaches was a half hour ride down the road.  Filet Mignon in town for $5.00 and at the beach $5.00 for Lobster. What a life!  You will not need much A/C in Diriamba. It's up high.  Maybe 2,000+ ft above sea level.  We were there from July thru December and used the A/C maybe three quarters of the nights.  Never during the day. You may find the nights are cool enough. Our apartment, one BR one Bath, living room and kitchen only had two windows up at ceiling, 20', height.  We had no crosswind at all. But we could open our doors and windows during the day time.  Breezes were daily. Our rent, $175 a month. We were a half hour to Granada, my favorite Colonial town in the Western Hemisphere. Also the oldest, circa 1512 or so.  Food from all over the world. An be found there.  Lake Nicaragua is at its eastern city limits.  Fishing is great in and around all the islitas.  Small islands created by volcano eruption a long time ago. This is a fresh water lake enhabited by sharks, bluefin, and many Gulf of Mexi o fish.  Take the time to read about this one of a kind lake. 

I stayed away from the Capitol, Managua.  Elec there has been know to fluctuate a few years back. I haven't herd anything from family down there concerning Elec shortages.

I hope this helps. If you need a trusted driver I can give you my wife's cousin's name and number. He owned a cab and knows so much about his country. We use him all the time.  He should be a tour guide.

Thanks for your reply. Very informative. I take it that you are not in Nicaragua full time. Is this in your plans one day. I am Canadian and tired of the cold winters. One day I will have to retire and sounds like Nica will fit nicely into those plans. One of the first places I will start with will be Diriamba. I will try to see for myself maybe in September. Your posts have helped me a lot to determine where to start my research.
Thanks again.

No, we don't live there permanently.  We like staying down there 3 to six months of the year.  The last three years have been busy in the states.  We sold our home in Long Beach, Mississippi and rented an apt. No more maintenance, yes!   I retired my business, telecom then had a stroke. That forced me to quit my hobby of 30+ years. Which was NCAA Baseball Umpire. Gosh I miss the comradery.  But I mostly miss standing at the dish w/my partners listening to the National Anthem before the first pitch. It gave me butterflies in my stomach. Just like before a game when I was 10 years old.  Who says you can't re-visit your childhood?  LOL

The stroke, corited arteries & not the heart,  left no lingering effects. But it has slowed me down at 65. I even had to stop riding my Harley. That hurts. 

In the recent three years we have been blessed w/our first Grandaughter.  AnnaClaire.  It's a Southern thing!  Our youngest daughter is expecting also. That in itself makes it difficult to vacation for more than a couple of weeks at a time. We love baby sitting.  And my oldest has been in college, my almamata, getting a masters,MSN, degree in Nursing. Nurse Practicioner, family practice. So, she needed all the help we coul give he what w/working at the local ER and studying. It all pays off this May. We were planing a trip at the end of May. But daughter # 2 changed that.

We do talk about Nica, weekly. Next time we go, plans are for the entire summer, our summer, of 2018.  We mostly discuss where and why. Today we are leaning towards San Juan Del Sur, Granada or the Corn Islands.  Maybe spend a month in each location.   It's a thought.

We also discuss staying some time in Cowboy country up in Matagalpa area. North west Nica.  Coffee & Tobacco plantations. Nica produces some of the finest cigars in the world. They are second to none.  Cubans have nothing on the tobacco areas in Esteli, Nica. One of my favorites is made by the Flor de Nicaragua company. Down there a box of 20 of my favs are $60. In the states they are $125 on sale!  Oh, the Rum in Nica is the best. Better that Purto Rico. I promise. Flor de Cana.  I'm a Scotch guy, but since 1978 I've added Flor de Cana to my preference list. The 7 year old is for mixing w/Coke or whatever.  The 15 year and up is for sipping like fine Cogniac.  I've got a half of a bottle left of 20 year old stuff. It's worth the trip just to stock up my liquor cabinet and my humadore. LOL.

When I think of Nica, I fondly think of 6 things.  The People. How they love their North American kin.  They love to talk to us. Such friendly people.  Flor de Cana, Cigars, all the volcanos.  Nica is also called "The land of Volcanos. Lake Nicaragua and of course the beaches.  The Pacific w/it deep blue color and the surfers.  Then the Carribbiean side w/it's aqua marine color and coral reefs.  Gosh I wish I were there.

Do you speak Spanish?  Picking up a few words will get you by.  You will pick it up if you stay for any length of time down there.

Well, gotta go. Today is Good Friday and time for our family Crawfish boil.  Cajun style.  Have much to do before noon today.
Take care and Laissaz les Bon Temps Ruler'.

I understand, I also have a Grand-son at 2 years old and another expected in November. As soon as I am old enough (I will be 68 in a few days)I will retire for good. I love my job and the work I do. It has spoiled me with being able to live and work in so many different countries. I have also been very fortunate not to have any health issues. I try to stay fit although some times this can be challenging.

I love my country and during the summer months it is heaven. What I don't like is freezing my ass off during the winter. With this I'm mind, I started into looking at retirement destinations. I sold my home about 1.5 years back and started my search. Because of family, it has to be somewhere in the Americas. Many Canadians choose to go to Florida for the winter, but this is not for me. 

My job keeps me working 8 weeks and 4 weeks off. My next available time off, I plan to visit Nica with my son. He wants us to have a vacation together before hopefully a new Grand Daughter arrives in November. This will be either June or September.

Again thanks for the info you shared. This will make my research a lot easier.

I'd suggest you quote Psalm 91 every morning. I was staying in Esperanza Granada, and they said, my room was the only one without bedbugs, and I've never experinced anything like bedbugs or ugly spiders ;-) Jesus must know I don't like that too much, and I'm quoting Psalm 91 all day long in Nicaragua ;-)
But, as for the culture shock, yes the first day I did have quite a shock when I saw all this poverty, and my soul was whimming "I want to go back to Switzerland, I want to go back..." but I told my soul to be silent, and nope, we won't go back ;-). I did even have some fears. But I calmed down very quick, and realized, it's normal to have a little shock, and after one day I started loving it very much. What I love the most about Nicaragua is the Holy Spirit being so happy everywhere, and exactly the poverty and simplicity of life. In fact when I returned to Costa Rica, back into this wealth, that was also a shock and it was also a bit disgusting, and I didn't like it at all. Right now I'm back in Switzerland, and I do also get used back to the wealth, but I can't wait going back to Nicaragua in some weeks.

Hello
My wife and I are from Ontario Canada and thinking of retiring in Nicaragua and would like to talk to someone like you for experience. Don’t want to make a mistake without consulting someone with a first hand knowledge. Any help would be  appreciated. Our emai: studentrental04[at]gmail.c
Thank you
Joe and Patti

You are replying to a old post. I never made it to Nicaragua. Instead I went to Dominican Republic. Fell in love with the place and its people. I have been going there for the last 3 years and plan to make it permanent at the end of this year.

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