Culturally Correct Chic

There are no foreign lands. It is the traveler only who is foreign.

                          ~Robert Lewis Stevenson

Walking down the street in Esteli, I spotted the Negro Barber Shop. It was early afternoon and the shop was empty, except for a black dog and a black barber. I wasn’t shocked at what would be deemed in the states as offensive and racist because the reality of Nicaragua is that color, physical characteristics, and lifestyles define everyone.

Nicaraguans are bluntly direct about physical characteristics and color. If you are not chele (white), then you are probably moreno (brown). All white foreigners are gringos or gringas. Asians are chinos. And if your skin is darker than moreno, then you are called negro. If you happen to be fat and black, then you are nicknamed gordo negro. If you are black and fat, and crazy as well, you are called el negro gordo loco. I’m not kidding!

I was watching the local news one day. There was a fight between two women. The camera rolled and the reporter gave a blow-by-blow description of the two women. Words scrolled across the bottom of the screen as the reporter announced, “A crazy, fat woman fights an old, ugly woman.” The crazy, fat woman tore off the blouse of the old, ugly woman exposing her breasts on the news…and the camera continued to roll like it was an everyday occurrence. Who knows? Maybe it was. Nothing surprises me anymore in Nicaragua.

On our way to Matagalpa, I asked our taxi driver to stop at the next gas station so I could use the restroom. I had no problem finding the bathroom because of the culturally correct chic signs posted above the doors.





Nicaraguans are generally accepting and tolerant of all lifestyles. Although the people are predominantly conservative in their views of homosexuality, it is my opinion that gays, lesbians, and bisexuals are naturally accepted in their communities.Their sexual orientation is simply a way to identify and name people. Every parade I have seen includes drag queens. In the Hipica (horse parade) in Matagalpa, this drag queen was the hit of the parade.

When we were invited to an elementary school dance and song program, two drag queens lit up the stage with their glittery costumes and dances!

I have joined the ranks of the culturally correct chic…and I love it. It’s reality in all its truthful glory with no offense taken or intended. Skin color, physical characteristics, and sexual orientation are simply a common way people identify one another. There is no need to redress historical injustices in matters of race, gender,or sexual orientation. No one appears to be overly concerned with ‘political correctness’ to the exclusion of other matters, like in the states. Life is simple, true, and real here, in the opinion of this loca gringa in La Paloma.


6 thoughts on “Culturally Correct Chic

  1. Aha! Now I know why those kids in Esteli were calling me corto gordito gringo!
    Seriously though, I loved my summer in Nicaragua this year, and hope to go back. It was really hot, even in Esteli, where it must have been a heat wave. I saw that Negro Barber Shop sign, but was too gringo to take a picture.
    Saw your Che photo on Facebook. I chatted with the muralista in the studio next door. I took lots of mural photos, as you did too.
    Sounds like you had a great time in the north!

    • Jim,
      That is so funny! “Too gringo to take a picture.” I figure that they are used to seeing gringos with cameras, so I just snap away! Aren’t the murals fantastic? I am sure that I only found a few out of many throughout the city. I was really impressed with the bus station in Esteli. It was modern, clean, and organized, unlike most of the bus stations (if you can call them bus stations) in Nicaragua. When you’re back in Nica, be sure to stop in to visit.

  2. Hola Debbie, Glad you are back from your trip. We found many similarities to what you have explained in this post about Nicaragua to our time in Panama and Ecuador. In Eucador the name Gordo / Gordito or Gorda / Gordita or Nigrita is very common as well. It was hard for me to get past it in the beginning but now I have gotten over it. That is what the person is called so that is what I call him or her. We are always learning something new about the culture and attempting in our way to fit in as best as we can. Thanks your blog is like a “life lesson” for Nicaragua. Nancy

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