- Where to Go
- The Best of Nicaragua
- Nicaragua’s Best Surfing
- Hiking Nicaragua’s Ring of Fire
- Nicaraguan Arts & Crafts
- Nicaragua’s Great Green North
- Sportfishing in Nicaragua
- Down the Río San Juan
- Nicaragua’s Celebrations & Fiestas
- Volunteering in Nicaragua
- Diving & Snorkeling in Nicaragua
- Managua’s Revolutionary Driving Tour
It is generally assumed that foreigners with the leisure time to travel to Nicaragua have lots and lots of money, no matter the actual size of your bank account or how much you scraped and saved for your trip.
Expect poor children and adults to occasionally ask you for spare change wherever you travel, usually by either a single outstretched index finger or a cupped, empty hand, both accompanied with an insistent, “Chele, deme un peso” (“Whitey, give me a coin” though in Granada, this has evolved into “deme un dolar”). It’s low-key, nothing like the aggressive beggars in India, so don’t be worried or afraid.
Another poignant sight, encountered at sidewalk restaurants and market eateries, are wide-eyed, hungry children watching as eagerly as the skeletal dogs standing behind them as you finish your meal. Your leftovers will not go to waste here as they would at home—a small concession.
In many cities, including Granada, many children and adolescents asking for money are huele-pegas (glue sniffers) and your money will only go to buy them more of H. B. Fuller’s finest. Huele-pegas are identified by glazed eyes, unkempt appearances, and sometimes a jar of glue tucked under a dirty shirt. Do not give them money, but feel free to give them some time, attention, and maybe a little food.
In general, giving money to beggars, especially in tourist centers, is a bad idea which perpetuates dependency, bad habits, and children skipping school (sometimes at their parents’ request) to ply tourists for coins and dollars. There are many other ways to direct your good intentions.
© Randall Wood & Joshua Berman from Moon Nicaragua, 4th Edition