Nicaragua, the Next Costa Rica? Enough Already!
I Have a Confession to Make
I’m a sucker for “Top 10…” and “Best of…” articles even though I know that they are nothing more than click-bait for ads. I especially hate the ones that make you click “next” to continue reading the post. I normally get half-way through and go “ah, fuck it” and leave the page and move on to another article.
Why are we attracted to these types of posts? Maybe because they are simple to read and easy to skim through to find the relevant information without having to read through a full page of paragraphs. Perhaps it’s the perfect cocktail for info junkies, garnished with a whisper of OCD or ADHD.
As you might expect, I follow several travel and expat blogs, I joined a few FaceBook expat groups as well to keep abreast of what is going on in Nicaragua, León, and Central America. Many pages are filled with “Top 10…” posts. Many of them are filled with articles promoting all that Nicaragua has to offer: hiking, ecotourism, food, surfing, and affordability; I hate it when Nicaragua is described as “cheap”. For me anyway, when I hear people use the word cheap, I think inferior, chintzy, or common.
And the Winner Is
Nicaragua finds itself on many “Best of…” and “List of the (best), (cheapest), (hidden gem)” type articles as well. Sometimes it is #1. Sometimes it is #29. Often, it doesn’t make the list at all.
Which list is right? Which list should I believe? Why should I believe any of them? I can’t help wondering if the authors have even been here or to any other spots on their lists. I can’t help wondering if they just aren’t pulling information that they gather from other sites. A city or country or its culture is more that just data that has been crunched and interpreted in some office cubicle.
I have to admit that I am getting really tired of reading articles about Nicaragua being The Next Costa Rica. Sites have become overrun with them. I understand the point that they are trying to make, but why not just write an article about how beautiful the country is without making that comparison. Nicaragua has enough positive characteristics that allow it to stand on its own on an international stage. Besides, nobody wants to be someone’s little brother.
I get it, Costa Rica is beautiful. I’ve been there, it is beautiful. Pura Vida! It offers great travel destinations. It has a huge expat culture from all over the world and Los Ticos seem to embrace them. It is expensive though. Costa Rica is more industrialized and it provides a more Euro-American experience for its guests. So go ahead and write your lists, just stop measuring one against another.
Even If You Win the Race, You’re Still a Rat
The last thing I want is for Nicaragua to morph into just another cookie-cutter country. I moved to Nicaragua to live a new, simpler life. I could have chosen to move to any number of other beautiful countries that I’ve visited in the past but I didn’t want to just move to another country that, for all practical purposes, mirrored my lifestyle in the States save for the language barrier.
The people of Nicaragua are wonderful and live a clean, simple, and low stress life. I abhor the fact that U.S. stores, restaurants, and shops are open 24/7 even on holidays. The simple fact is that someone has to man those stores, ergo, those people are not able to spend time with their family and friends. The family bond here is held sacred.
Though Nicaragua is home to some of the poorest people in the world, it is also home to some of the happiest as well. It’s people truly enjoy life. A local friend said to me last week, “If you have your health, family, and food, what else do you need?”
It is true that Nicaragua is affordable, for now anyway. That is changing slowly, and will continue to do so as more travelers, tourists, and investors discover it. I feel that Nicaragua will become the premier Central American destination in the years to come.
I’ve only moved here a year ago so my soapbox isn’t that big, though I have been traveling here regularly for the last thirteen years. In that time I have witnessed the investments that citizens, foreigners, and corporations have made here. I think that one reason for this is that many European and other American countries (ahem, Costa Rica) are oversaturated and prohibitively expensive.
Simply put, I done being a rat.
Viva León, Jodido!