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.