What makes Nicaraguans and their culture what it is today? Let’s start with the food. Nicaraguan food staple is beans and rice in the form of gallo pinto.
Nicaragua also has tamales but it’s not good enough to just call them “tamales” they are instead called “nacatamales”. In Nicaragua fried is always better and oil or as “aceite” as its called locally is used generously in the food prep. If your fried food isn’t nice and shiny coming out, not enough oil was used. If something isn’t fried then it’s doused with cream like a delicious quesillo. In Nicaragua the cheese of choice isn’t cheddar, provolone, or cream cheese. Instead there is queso seco, cuajada, queso de crema and queso frito. Cheese isn’t a sandwich ingredient but rather a side dish to enhance the flavors of your meal.
Next what will you see that you won’t in any other country? For starters in Nicaragua something isn’t cool its “tuani”. Something isn’t awesome, its “deacachimba”.
Driving across Managua is a chess match. At each stoplight you have to be on guard for window washers. You may have your window washed ten times driving through town which is ok if you have enough change to tip the young guys washing your window. Otherwise when you are at a stoplight, be on the lookout before they spray water on your windshield to tell them your window has already been washed several times. Also do you wonder if Nicaragua has any laws for billboard advertising? Drive around Managua for thirty seconds and that should answer that question. Billboards cover any empty space around the city.
For Nicaraguans pointing with their lips instead of using their finger is perfectly normal. If you stop on the side of the road to ask someone for directions, don’t be surprised if they use their lips to point you in the right direction. If you’re not sure what this is like just wait and see. You can practice by puckering your lips and pointing at something. Like we said this is perfectly normal, don’t be alarmed.
Nicaragua has many traditions that can be a little unnerving if you’ve never seen it before. One of these is the Gigantona. The Gigantona is usually a man who dresses up as in a woman’s costume with a large dress and he parades around the neighborhood. The top of the costume can reach up to ten feet which is where the name “Gigantona” comes from, giant woman. The tradition also includes a big headed midget but he’s not nearly as famous.
If you are in Nicaragua on Christmas Eve or New Years Eve do not be alarmed by what may seem like war going on at midnight. It is just the normal celebratory fireworks blown at midnight. Most Nicaraguan fireworks are not full of bright lights but rather loud bombs. The city may feel like a war zone on those nights but don’t be alarmed, perfectly normal.
Other fun things:
- The meat deli at a grocery store has many different parts of animals you aren’t used to eating.
- Nicaraguans have a funny habit of staring at people, especially foreigners. Don’t be alarmed.
- Stoplights don’t just have window washers but they also are like a walking market. Things sold include sunglasses, windshield wipers, snacks, watches and more. You can get a great pair of fake brand sunglasses.
- If you show up to Nicaraguan party on time, chances are you will be the first one there probably an hour before anyone else.
- Expect to negotiate a price in the artisan market Huembes. If you go with the first price they give you chances are you overpaid for it. It’s kind of a fun back and forth with the seller until someone gives in.
- Where else do passengers clap when they land at Managua International Airport.
- Té (tea) that you may see on a menu is always ice tea and made from powder mix bought in the grocery store. Hot tea lovers may have a hard time finding tea to drink in Nicaragua.
More about Nicaragua…
- Frequently Asked Questions About Travel in Nicaragua
- Things You Might Encounter in Nicaragua
- Nicaragua Safety Precautions
- Nicaraguan Cuisine
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