Things You Think are Normal Until You Live in Nicaragua


“Normal is an ideal. But it’s not reality. Reality is brutal, it’s beautiful, it’s every shade between black and white, and it’s magical. Yes, magical. Because every now and then, it turns nothing into something.”
― Tara Kelly, Harmonic Feedback

Before ever placing my gypsytoes on Nicaraguan soil, I expected “normal”. Without the opportunity to live here for a year ( 2004-05) in our experiment with “pretirement”, I would have expected many of the items I have listed below to be available in Nicaragua.

However, our year in “pretirement” in Nicaragua taught us to expect the unexpected. Normal is not reality. And I prefer it that way because it fits my personality. Nicaragua is an oxymoron with bitter-sweet moments, normal deviations, and fictional reality. It provides us a quirky and unconventional lifestyle, where we can turn nothing into something. And I wouldn’t have it any other way!

“Normal” Nicaragua

Entertainment on the chicken bus when it broke down.
DSCN1255Can you guess what this is? A gift lovingly crocheted by a local friend.
Guess what this is

Calling the Orkin man.
3Candy apples anyone?
IMG_4579An old typewriter museum in Esteli
IMG_4753A duende and a horse
IMG_4453Princesa loves to eat mangoes
princesa copy
Things You Think are Normal Until You Live in Nicaragua

… outlets in the bathrooms
… bedside lamps
… listing the month before the day
… keeping eggs in the refrigerator
… ice-cube vending machines
… 24 hour pharmacies
… faucets for both hot and cold water
… dishwashers ( the machines in your kitchens)
… free soda and coffee refills
… not using military time
… not using the metric system
… self-service gas stations
… temperatures in Fahrenheit
… wash cloths
… the server in restaurants actually bringing the bill to the table without having to ask
… American football
… escalators and elevators everywhere
… handicapped parking
… handicapped accessibility
… plus sized clothing
… huge parking lots
… mailboxes on your property
… over 50 mbps internet speeds
… free bread with dinner
… efficient customer service
… fitted bed sheets
… street addresses

I think I could continue this list forever. What things do you think are normal until you move abroad?

18 thoughts on “Things You Think are Normal Until You Live in Nicaragua

  1. Just found your blog – I love it! This post is awesome😀 I’ve lived “on the road” on the west coast of the US for about 6 or 7 years, in a tiny 10′ vintage trailer, most of that time without power (electricity) until I got a solar panel last year, with no running water, and no flush toilet or sink that drains. When I’m passing through a town where I have friends and I stay with them in their regular houses, the things that are odd to me now are things like turning on the kitchen or bathroom faucet and having water run out, turning on the shower and standing under the hot water, turning on a light switch and having lights come on, flushing a toilet (with or without paper!), washing dishes in a sink that drains, turning on the stove without having to check the fuel level, making toast in a toaster… I could go on and on. Life is very different away from what we call “normal” in the States, isn’t it? In fact, isn’t “normal” just a setting on the dryer?

    (I’ve recently had to find temporary accommodations in a friend’s spare bedroom in her apartment and it has taken me a few weeks to adjust to being in a real bed, in a real building, with a real bathroom. I’m not sure I’ll ever completely adjust to what is known as normal🙂 )

    • Oh, I never thought about flushing toilet paper. I guess it is because I always flush the toilet paper here. It is so gross to see a basket full of used toilet paper, and sometimes there are no baskets and no paper. YUCK. There are trade-offs everywhere, right? If it is a priority for me to have something that is not normally found in Nicaragua, I make it.

      • As part-timers, with a home on a septic system in Canada, we have carried that Nicaraguan practice to our home here, as have my parents. Into the wood stove it goes.

  2. Oh my! This is eye opening and tells me just how much we take for granted daily. Most of us never think about the possibility that there are places without these things, unless we’re talking about real poverty stricken third world countries, which to me Nicaragua wouldn’t be on that list before I started reading your blog.

    You do make people think about how we all should appreciate the simple things in life and not take anything for granted.

  3. Addresses like the ones my Grandparents had in rural Iowa.
    Instead people give specific directions such as:
    You will come up to a “Y” Junction – turn right.
    Pass on a small bridge, turn right on to next street with a bus stop and small statute of Virgin Mary on your right.

    • Nice list, Nora. I am not sure where you live, but I couldn’t survive here without email and screened windows. We just have to make our own window frames for the screens. In fact, we just returned from town today to buy some more screen. Here is a tip on buying screens. Living in the tropics, don’t buy the metal screens because they rust something horrible. Only buy the plastic screens.🙂

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