After nearly two weeks in Nicaragua, here’s a list of my first impressions.

Don’t strain your ears for the ends of words, especially Ss. They aren’t there (como eta’ u’ted? Quiere’ ma’?).

Don’t count on relying on street names and numbers. Instead, your directions will sound more like “go to church San Juan, turn left four blocks and up (east) one and a half.” If you are lucky, the numbers of blocks will be correct.

Lots of corn, and lots of plantains. Corn chips, corn tortillas, corn flour in drinks and to thicken soups, and of course corn syrup in all the sodas and sweets. Plantain chips, fried ripe plantain, fried green plantain, boiled green plantain.

Plastic bags. Every color, size, shape, in the markets, and in all the gutters. When you want a drink to go – water, watermelon juice, lemonade, iced coffee, even beer – they put it in a clear plastic bag and stick a straw in it. Unless it already is in a sealed plastic bag, like water, in which case you bite the corner off and start hydrating.

Real cat calls. Not whistles, but more like the loudest kissing noise you can make (like you would call a cat) interrupted by “ay, chelita rica!”

You will be taller than just about everyone here. For all my short friends (and grandmas!), this is a good place to experience what it is like to be tall.

Nica time. That doesn’t just mean that people come whenever they want or can even if you have set a time before hand, it also means they close and open their shops whenever they want, despite the posted time. Roll with it, or you will be really frustrated!

Everybody is connected to whatever you need. Just ask anyone who has already helped you and they will introduce you their neighbor/family member/friend who has what you need. It may not always be the cheapest, but you will make many friends, and of course then you have another person to ask next time you need some advice…

Iglesia La Merced

Iglesia La Merced