Nicaragua-Miles of Smiles

After travelling through most countries in the Caribbean and Central America the one thing I have discovered is that the residents of any country can contribute significantly to your experience as a visitor.

After all, the first thing you notice when you step foot in a new country are the people. Are they friendly? Warm? Inviting? OR do they make you feel like the stranger you really are?

One thing is for sure , you will enjoy being immersed in the vibrant culture of the people (Approximately 6 million) who live in Nicaragua. Nicaragua is abounding in wonderful festivals, theater, restaurants, and activities for nearly all interests. The American author Mark Twain wrote after visiting Nicaragua in 1887:

“What a home one might make among their shady forest, their sunny slopes, their breezy dells, after he had grown weary of the toil, anxiety, and unrest of the bustling driving world.”

The social culture of Nicaragua is varied in different regions due to the European influences that were forced upon their culture. For the most part, the majority of the people show a strong Spanish influence. However, there are a few parts of the country that are more influenced by the English culture. Spanish is the native language and Catholicism is the most widely practiced religion in this country. But the culture is not without native or indigenous influences. Modern day Nicaragua is a mixture of both Spanish and native Indian (mestizo) culture. They have managed to maintain many of their indigenous tribal customs and languages and prove to be quite intriguing to visitors who are interested in finding out more about other cultures.

Even paradise has its flaws and Nicaragua is no exception. Managua, the capital city with around 2 million people is the second largest city in Central America. It is a bustling metropolis where you can find just about anything you could possibly imagine. The crime rate tends to be highest there.

Nicaraguans are naturally friendly but unfortunately for some travelers and expats it does have that stereotypical Latin American culture that can get on your nerves like the “mañana” attitude, long lines at the bank, and a general disregard for the importance of time. Overall though you will find Nicaraguans to be very curious, fun loving and hard working people.

The citizens of Nicaragua are lively and engage in year long festivities in their honor. The fiestas are a time of joy and fun and usually begin with a parade wherein a statue of a particular catholic saint is displayed. Traditional dances, plays and ceremonies can also be part of these festivities. Rockets and firecrackers are burst and drinking and feasting add to the merriment at these events.

When planning a visit to Nicaragua, May is a great month to do it! May is usually when the biggest celebrations take place when the rain is still a month away. A celebration you are sure to enjoy is The May Pole Festival.One of the most over-the-top parties in the country and is still “undiscovered” by many of the travelers passing through Nicaragua. This is a great opportunity to discover the Caribbean coast, and its unique Afro-Caribbean community.

During the Nicaraguan Revolution in the ’80s Nicaragua was not even remotely regarded as a place to travel much less go for a vacation and caused a steep decrease in tourism. With the public perception that kidnappings and Sandinista guerrillas regularly terrorized citizens along with other political strife’s, it was years before the country could finally shave this false perception from the global travel community. Today, Nicaragua’s tourism-driven economy has been significant, with the nation welcoming one million tourists in a calendar year for the first time in its history in 2010.

The April 2012 issue of Organic Spa magazine calls Nicaragua, “The Next Costa Rica”. From the Cordillera Los Maribios to adventure base camps in colonial Granada and León, from San Juan del Sur on the Pacific to Little Corn Island in the Caribbean, Clearly, there is every reason to plan a vacation to this land of miles and miles of smiles!

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