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    Nicaragua: a country full of traditional culture and hammocks


    Nicaragua: a country full of traditional culture and hammocks


    When I hear the word Nicaragua, I think of a large hammock hanging in the shade with natives resting in it. There's always time for a siesta, and there's no shortage of quiet spots either. The people here are friendly, as in most of Central America. Perhaps they are not so "spoilt" by tourism here, as Nicaragua has not yet been overwhelmed by mass tourism.

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      Communicative local people

      Those who can speak Spanish will get along without a problem. The only downside to this might be the time delay due to the long conversations they like to engage in with the locals to learn about our part of the world or just to chat about everyday life. If Spanish isn't your forte, you can also get by with English, a helping hand and a smile on your face.

      I made it from Mexico through Central America to Chile with just English, a Spanish conversation book and a friendly easy-going attitude towards the locals that no "backpacker" should leave at home. So from my own experience I can say that it is possible, you just need to have a little patience.

      Laguna de Perlas - Nicaragua: beach in the shade of palm trees.

      Buses are not a problem

      Travelling around Nicaragua by local means of transport is not difficult. Buses can get you pretty much anywhere in the eastern part of the country and to some places in the western part. There are few, if any, access roads to the Caribbean coast. Connections are frequent and you just have to walk into the bus station where the conductor of each bus shouts out the final destination. It's very easy to hop on the right one because they already know what the popular destinations of foreigners are, so if they're not going there right now, they'll very willingly pass you along to friends heading your way.

      School bus and local man in Nicaragua.

      It's just a bit more challenging during holidays, like Easter, because there aren't as many connections, but the amount of people who want to get somewhere is still the same. Hence the fact that when you do get on a bus, you won't always be standing on your own and you have to expect to stand in a crowded aisle for several hours. Buses are cheap, and there are ex-American school buses running, colourfully painted with all sorts of kitsch and not always entirely comfortable. But it's not a problem to find air-conditioned buses with padded seats, usually on longer routes. To boot, there is never a shortage of loud local music to accompany you throughout the sometimes interminable journey.

      Cheap accommodation

      Accommodation in tourist areas is easy to find, even without prior booking. It depends on what type of accommodation you are looking for. Classic family-run "hospedaje" are everywhere. They are simple hostels with rooms for two people, with usually little or no difference in the price for one or two.

      Streets with colorful houses in Nicaragua.

      Bathrooms can be shared on the floor or in the room, it all depends on the price. For such accommodation you would pay something between 100–⁠300 Cordobas per person. In the bigger cities you can find more comfortable and high end hotels with air conditioning, and there is no shortage of luxury, but then everything is reflected in the price.

      Experience Chicharrón

      Food is not a problem to find throughout the day. On the streets you'll find stalls selling grilled meats and fried side dishes, and especially countless mobile stalls where you can enjoy classic "jugos" or fresh fruit juices. Quite often, the drinks are just sold in plastic bags with plenty of ice and a rubber straw.

      Gallo Pinto, Nicaragua –⁠ rice and beans usually served with an egg and a fried banana.

      A specialty of Nicaragua is the Gallo Pinto –⁠ rice and beans usually served with an egg and a fried banana and "vigorón s chicharrón". Vigarón is steamed cassava and chicharrón are fried pieces of pork with skin. Everything is served on a banana leaf with coleslaw. If you don't dare to try the local specialties or you're homesick for something that reminds you of home, it's not a problem to find a restaurant with international cuisine, especially in the more touristy places.

      A country full of tradition

      If you're looking for a country that still retains its traditions and culture today, if you like to admire colonial architecture, if you want to enjoy exotic fruits on the beaches of both the Pacific and Caribbean coasts, and if you're tempted to climb a volcano, then Nicaragua is your destination.

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