It turns out whistling is an essential life skill…who knew? (Picture:Ometepe)

My seven year old can’t whistle, so I am constantly reassuring him not to worry as it is not an essential life skill. However this was before I arrived in Nicaragua. Here everyone whistles. The bus drivers mate whistles to tell the bus driver he is ready or not ready. The bus driver whistles to tell his mate to look sharp. They all whistle at other road users. Cyclists whistle at people in the markets and stall holders whistle at each other. And it is not just any whistle. They all seem to be able to do that really shrill loud whistle that really goes through you. Which, to be fair, is probably the point. And when they are not whistling, they let off firecrackers at all hours of the night for no adequately explored reason. When they are not doing this they drive around in pick up trucks with 500 watt speakers on the back loudly advertising, well goodness knows what really. Sadly my Spanish never really progressed far enough to figure it out. In short it’s a very noisy place. However it’s also inspirational and interesting. It’s also not noisy everywhere. The noise is confined to the cities. The places we stayed in the countryside. El Largatillo, where we went to do intensive Spanish, the beautiful island of Ometepe, where we stayed for Xmas and the coastal resorts of Las Penitas and Tuani are peaceful and tranquil. The cities of Estelli, Granada and Leon are colourful and exciting as well as noisy. Granada was my personal favourite. Mainly because of all the fantastic food places it had. Being on a strict budget we were limited as to what we could try but I would love to go back as a proper tourist and eat out somewhere different every night. The bus system was awesome (once we got the hang of it) basically one can get anywhere reliably for very little money. But what of the inspirational bit. Well the place is full of people running a business or trying to create a dream. Nearly every house is selling something out of the front door. Now, maybe some of this is driven by the financial poverty and to be fair not all of these folk were locals. The place does seem to attract a lot of Canadians in particular, all trying to set up hotels of surf shacks and live their personal dream. The US embargoes Nicaragua because it is concerned about their Socialist government. However if you defined a capitalist as someone who uses whatever capital they have, be it money, personal drive, the social capital of their friends and local community to go out and provide for themselves and their family, then I am willing to bet that there are more capitalists in Nicaragua per head of population than there are in the USA. I found all that quite refreshing. Other great stuff you can do includes lots of volcanoes, where you can get as up close and personal with lava as is sane for anyone who isn’t a volcanologist, Lots of amazing beaches with great big Pacific rollers (mind the riptides though), and lots of great nature including the ever present Howler monkeys.

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