All posts by Andrew

Home is Where the Holiday Is

For our last holiday season in Nicaragua, we wanted to be at home in Esteli and spend Christmas and New Years Eve like most Nicaraguans do: in family.  We had two main goals, one of for each holiday.  For Christmas I wanted to try the seasonal dish lomo relleno, and for New Years Eve Emily wanted to make our own viejo. Continue reading Home is Where the Holiday Is

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Dicho for Enthusiastic Agreement

One of the most common expressions you’ll hear among Nicaraguans is the following:

Dale pues! (pronounced dah-lay pw-ace) – Yes.  Absolutely!

Few dichos are as simple and effective at signaling your Nicaraguan street cred as dale pues.  Two main characteristics of Nicaraguan Spanish are their abundant use of the filler word pues, and also not pronouncing the “s” at the end of the words.  Therefore, if you really want to impress your Nica friends, get rid of that s!

Nica: ¿Querés ir al cine? (Wanna go to the movies?)
You: ¡Dale pue! (For sure!)

Nica: Nos vemos mañana a las 9am. (See you tomorrow at 9am)
You: Dale pue. (Sounds good.)

Nica: ¡Estás más Nica que gringo!  ¿Querés un cafecito?
(You’re more Nicaraguan than American!  Want some coffee?)
You: Dale pue.  🙂

Dicho for Karma

Regardless of how people feel about the recent election results, this phrase may apply equally well to solace or celebration:

A cada chancho le llega su sábado – For every pig his Saturday will come.

Yet another dicho full of cultural depth and deliciousness!  Chancho is the more common term used for pig in Nicaragua (and eight other Latin American countries), and, along with corn, is an important dish is many Nicaragua typical foods.  Back in the day, Saturday was slaughter day for the chanchos of Nicaragua, as many pork dishes were (and still are) mainly prepared on the weekends.  Nacatamales are a great example.

The equivalent saying for this dicho in English could be “what goes around, comes around.”  In these times of political change in the U.S., it can be trying to be a representative of the American people when all of our dirty laundry is being aired out to dry.  However, I have to keep hope that the arc of history is bending towards justice, and that my work and relationships here in country help, in some small way, to move it closer.


For more Nica slang, visit Gringo Guide 200.  Cred for the awesome pig picture goes to them!

National Treasures – The 50 Córdoba Bill

This is a post in our series On Culture and Currency: History Lessons in the Palms of our Hands.

Cañón de Somoto

Cañón de Somoto
Cañón de Somoto

The Somoto Canyon is one of the true treasures of Nicaragua. Only recently has this natural wonder been utilized as an eco-tourism destination, so it still feels off the beaten path. In the department of Madríz, in the northern most section of the country, the Rio Coco has formed this beautiful feature. When my sister, Kari, came to visit last year, Continue reading National Treasures – The 50 Córdoba Bill

Dicho for Being Undecided

It’s election season!  While true for the US, it’s also true for Nicaragua.  As an apolitical organization, whose tenure in the country only lasts for as long as we have the invitation of the government, we are instructed not to give our opinion on Nicaraguan politics. Therefore, if this dicho gets directed our way, we must be doing something right:

Ni sos chicha ni limonada – You are neither a fermented, raspberry-flavored corn beverage nor lemonade.

Basically, this means you’re unaffiliated, or on the fence.  If Ken Bone’s overnight celebrity status extends to Nicaragua, this dicho could be used to help orient the crowd to why he was selected to be on the debate stage in the first place.  It can also be used for someone who changes their opinions on an issue.  For so many reasons, this is the perfect dicho for this October.

Dicho for Being OK

As Emily mentioned in some of her previous posts, this period in our service can feel funky, an in-between phase.  For example, I wrote in my journal yesterday about wanting to be present and savor every last moment here, but instead of going over to visit Nica friends I spent 3+ hours emailing different graduate school programs in school psychology.

One thing I’ve definitely been making sure to savor is the delicious, in-season corn.  Nicaraguans are corn people.  Two of their national monikers are Hijos del Maiz (Children of the Corn) and Pinoleros (Pinol People, pinol being a corn mixture used in drinks).  There are countless corn dishes, drinks, desserts, etc. in the national cuisine.  In my opinion, they are all quite scrumptious!

To celebrate Nicaraguan corn, and give voice to how we’re feeling at this point in our service, I give you the following dicho:

Entre camagua y elote – Between baby corn and full-fledged corn on the cob.

Chances are, if you’ve taken any Spanish classes in your life you know at least one way to answer the question “¿Cómo estás?”.  While bien (well/fine) works perfectly well here, you’ll gain some serious points for invoking the corn.  The closest standard Spanish equivalent to this dicho would be más o menos (pronounced má’ o meno’ here in Nica), meaning you’ve been better, but overall things are OK.

Whether it’s baby corn, corn on the cob, güirila, rosquillas, or tortillas, we’ll keep taking it in whatever form it comes to us.  It’s all Nicaraguan, and it’s all delicious 🙂

The Power of Compliments

Baho

I love food.  I love cooking it, eating it, thinking about it, talking about it, everything.  As a cook, I also know how good it feels to have someone expound on the scrumptiousness of my creations. Therefore, I have no shame in showering praise on people that make my barriga llena y corazón contento.  I’ve successfully wooed the lady that prepares our lunches for STEP.  She often writes my name on the boxed lunch destined for me, and I’ll be treated to a special surprise (an extra piece of chicken, an extra portion, a special side, etc.).  Sometimes I get really lucky, and when she’s cooking up special dishes during the week, she drops a serving off at our house.  This beauty is a baho she made last Friday.  SOOO GOOD!!!!