Central America has always had quite a reputation for being an excellent tourist destination for those who dare to brave its subtle intricacies. What this means is that one should know what one is doing if one is to visit those countries because, in spite of their aesthetic grandeur, they are not without their flaws. So, without further ado, let us see the top five things to know before visiting one of the most interesting Central American countries: Nicaragua!
Tipping is quite a complicated thing in Nicaragua, so stay tuned for the bulk of the explanation. First of all, the best way to find out whether a tip has already been included in your bill or not is to look at it and try to locate the word “propina”. That is what the locals call tips and they are usually around 10%. If you see a “propina” on your bill, you should not worry too much about tipping. So, that would be the basic guideline for restaurants but know that sometimes, even if there is a “propina”, extra tips will gladly be accepted. What we are getting at is that if there is no “propina”, you should definitely tip, but if there is one, then only tip if you want. Now, let us look at how things work with taxi drivers. Since Nicaragua is plagued by pirate cabs, it is unadvisable to tip them, because you are going to be ripped off anyway – no need to slide in some more dough. Hotel staff may be tipped, especially if they carry your bags (that is the “polite” conduct there). Oh, and if you do not want to have your luggage lugged around for you, do not let them interfere, because they are going to be waiting for tips if they’re done serving you. If you are well on your own, just shake them off politely and tell them that you can manage.
Countless people attribute the allure of Central America to its fascinating climate and its Pre-Columbian grandeur. Nicaragua is no different than its neighbours in terms of temperatures and precipitation. Oscillating between a Monsoon and a Tropical climate zone, it is an excellent, paradisiacal place to spend your weeks at. Palm trees, warm breezes and tropical rain – they are all there to cause you an unforgettable experience. Mosquitoes are the only things that often irritate people but with adequate protection, you are good to go (wink)!
3. Language barriers:
Though located in the heart of the Spanish-speaking region of the Americas, Nicaragua is quite a multiracial and multilingual country. In fact, there are eight recognised official languages there: Spanish, English, Miskito, Miskito Coastal Creole, Rama, Sumo, Garifuna, and, last but not least, Rama Cay Creole. As you can see, English is widely-spoken and tourist-areas make you question whether English is the first language there or not. In spite of all this, it is good to learn the basics of Spanish because the locals are patient and will let you practice. Additionally, if you are visiting the more indigenous locations, Spanish is the gateway to understanding, as it is common grounds for the diversity in the country.
Even though you might think that Nicaragua’s position lands it right in a drug-trafficking hotspot, you are going to be pleased to hear that it is not as bad as it sounds. Though its neighbours are more troubled (Costa Rica and one of the world-leaders in terms of violent crime, Honduras), Nicaragua is relatively safe. Crime is still present but it is a lot less likely to happen around you than in the neighbouring countries. In fact, if you are interested in the exact statistics, Nicaragua is around 7 times safer than Honduras. That alone should appease your mind and let you focus on your heavenly trip. Of course, taking basic precautions is advised such as making copies of important documents and not carrying around too much cash.
5. Budget and haggling:
So, you should know right off the bat that travelling to Nicaragua is extremely cheap. Public transportation charges negligible amounts when compared to First World standards and restaurants are also perfectly affordable. Housing can range from cheap to expensive, depending on where you stay because there are a few hotel chains that are present in the country (which will be far pricier than their local counterparts). What you should keep in mind is that shopkeepers often overprice their wares because they expect you to put up a fight. Just remember the haggling lessons from our articles pertaining to Arabic countries and all will be well (wink)!
Did you enjoy our list? What experiences have you had in Nicaragua and what aftertaste have they left you with? Did the tropical experience make you want to revisit Central America? Hit the comment section below and tell us all about it! Safe travels!