Baby Boomer Gringos in Granada Nicaragua

Granada Cathedral with Lake Nicaragua in background www.eiu.edu

Granada Cathedral with Lake Nicaragua in background www.eiu.edu

Baby Boomer Gringos in Granada Nicaragua enjoy the good life.  Are  you a  “Baby Boomer Gringo” considering a visit or move to Granada, Nicaragua?  If you don’t speak Spanish and security is your concern – read here.

Lately, some folks have been asking me about Nicaragua as a place to consider visiting or relocating.  There are newspapers and lots of blogs out there talking about how it’s either good or bad – mostly good.  In my search for a balanced approach to gathering good information, I came across many articles and blogs.

Here I render a brief analysis of my findings up to this point concerning Baby Boomer Gringos in Granada, Nicaragua.

When I consider a country to visit for any length of time, I always scan the available information that is prevalent out there in cyberspace.  I also talk to people who have visited, lived, or are natives of that country to get a overall picture.  Obviously room does not allow for a comprehensive review here, but hopefully you will get a “taste” of what to expect if you do decide to visit.  Of course, check it out yourself which is always the best way.  I certainly plan to do so.

If you’re wondering about what I mean by “gringo,” check out the Wikipedia definition.  Although the word “gringo” in American movies usually has a negative connotation, and there are places in the Latin world where it may be a pejorative term, “gringo” really is a slang word out of the Iberian peninsula (Portugal and Spain) which means foreigner.  So, in the context of this article,  “gringo” simply means foreigner.

Panorama of Granada, Nicaragua commons.wikimedia.org

Panorama of Granada, Nicaragua commons.wikimedia.org

Granada is a huge tourist attraction, but it’s also one of the oldest colonial cities in the Americas.  It reflects many Latin cultural influences.  This city rests on the banks of Lake Nicaragua and the San Juan River, in western Nicaragua, and is the capital of the Granada Department (state or province).

Town Square, Granada, Nicaragua www.commons.wikimedia.org

Town Square, Granada, Nicaragua www.commons.wikimedia.org

It’s founder, Francisco Hernández de Córdoba (1524), named it after the province of Granada, Spain and the city took on the architecture of that period and type, namely the influence of both Moorish and Andalusian culture.

 

La Iglesia de la Guadalupe Granada, Nicaragua www.flickr.com

La Iglesia de la Guadalupe Granada, Nicaragua www.flickr.com

Today,  Granada reflects in its architecture and structure a rich colonial heritage originating from that great city of Granada in Spain.  As you travel the streets, you’ll see a mixture of colonial and modern, but the arches and columns of the colonial style stand out as its unique feature.

So why would you find a “Baby Boomer Gringo” in Granada?  There are several expat blogs coming out of Granada and many more travel blogs these days.  It is always a challenge to find out what the real story is with so many blogs that are pushing their point of view for various reasons.

After reviewing many boomer blogs, here are a few opinions from some gringos about their experience in Nicaragua.

Horse drawn carriage for tourists or when you're not in a hurry      www.flickr.com

Horse drawn carriage for tourists or when you’re not in a hurry
www.flickr.com

First, there’s a baby boomer gringo couple from Canada who decided to make their retirement/vacation home in Granada instead of Florida.  They seem quite happy with their choice.  Apparently the positives outweighed the negatives; for example, the low property taxes. They bought a home for $225,000, remodeled it with local help and still came out ahead with custom made furniture and property taxes of about $200 U.S. a year.  When they leave for any length of time, the local rental agency keeps it rented in their absence.  According to the couple, socially, things in Granada are “warmer and friendlier,” and you get to know your local craftsmen and tradesmen on a closer more intimate basis.

More carriages lined for paying customers www.horizonsunlimited.com

More carriages lined for paying customers
www.horizonsunlimited.com

They say the living is more convenient there, with shops just around the corner if you need something and most are within walking distance.  You don’t need a car since you can hail a cab to get you just about anywhere in town, for about 50 cents U.S.  Car rentals are available if you want to wander and see the scenic sites just outside of town.  Dining out is relatively inexpensive, if you want a nice experience.  You may pay up to $12 U.S, as opposed to roughly $40 in other destinations around the world. Breakfast is around $2 and lunch around $5.  Of course, fresh fruit and vegetables are available at “bargain” prices.

The negatives?  Apparently, there aren’t many.  Politeness is the norm.  It’s basically a no confrontational culture.  There is not a lot of English spoken there, so you might want to review a few phrases in Spanish, to a least look like you are trying to communicate.  You can find people who do speak English, but the advantage is yours if you learn a bit of Spanish.  You can read the whole article entitled, “Forget Florida, I’ll Take Granada”, here:

http://www.nicaraguadispatch.com/news/2012/11/forget-florida-ill-take-granada/6163

Iglesia-Convento San Francisco, Granada, Nicaragua by Hans Sterkendries www.panoramio.com

Iglesia-Convento San Francisco, Granada, Nicaragua by Hans Sterkendries www.panoramio.com

In a local Nicaraguan newspaper, a business owner laments about the trash in the streets of Granada.  He writes an article entitled, “Litter is Giving Nicaragua A Trashy Image.” You can hear his frustration of wanting a cleaner city but finding the lack of help from city officials.  He chronicles the aftereffects of a strike by trash men who have not been paid by the city for a number of weeks.  Apparently their is little cultural awareness about placing your trash in a bin, therefore many just drop it on the ground.  The author seems to think that education is the answer, and  he and others like him are trying their best to address the issue.  Here is the article:

http://www.nicaraguadispatch.com/news/2012/11/litter-giving-nicaragua-trashy-image/6038

Then, there is an expat named Robert Skydell, who has written about his five year plus experience in Granada, Nicaragua, called “Searching for Expat in Paradise.”  He offers a most sensible and balanced view of living as a gringo in Granada that I have seen so far.

Street Scene Granada, Nicaragua www.featurepics.com

Street Scene
Granada, Nicaragua www.featurepics.com

Robert begins his article by describing the “expats” that come and go for various reasons.  Eventually they return to what they know in their respective native countries, after a short term.  Apparently the newness runs out and they discover that the local surroundings are not as “idyllic” as they first imagined.  He lists the everyday irritations that one tolerates and later begins to accept.

Street Market Activity in Granada, Nicaragua www.tripadvisor.com

Street Market Activity in Granada, Nicaragua www.tripadvisor.com

He details all sorts of noises going on at different times of the day and night.  For example, car alarms, small unknown explosions of various sorts, and yes, the perennial favorite – the early morning (3:30am) crowing roosters.  They also crow at all times of the day.

So why does this baby boomer gringo like living in Granada?   Well, first there is the laid back atmosphere that people demonstrate daily- there is no hurry to get somewhere.  He likes walking to the local market and picking up fresh fruits and vegetables about every day.  He says it’s a nice walk and very convenient walking a few blocks to purchase what you need.  The daily stroll is something he enjoys daily.

Patio Gardens en.wikipedia.org

Patio Gardens
en.wikipedia.org

Some days Robert doesn’t have to walk far – just to his patio where an avocado tree drops its ripe fruit on to his porch.  He loves seeing the beautiful gardens and plazas with all the greenery as he walks down the street.  He avoids driving.

Local Marketplace www.memykidandlife.blogspot.com

Local Marketplace www.memykidandlife.blogspot.com

Why drive a car and make a trip to the “supermarket,” when the local store is just around the corner?  Besides, when you have fresh fruit falling from trees in your backyard or courtyard, why would you shop anywhere else?

He says there is a rhythm to it where you soon expect and accept all those noises, but they seem to blend in to all the surroundings like some type of live concert.

One Way to Get Around in the Streets www.travelwritelive.com

One Way to Get Around in the Streets www.travelwritelive.com

Robert sums it all up when he states: ” It is a more contemplative life, less filled with distraction and so many of the other artificial burdens we place on ourselves.”

He doesn’t seem to be concerned about personal security.  Yes, don’t tempt the some of the locals by leaving your personal items on display – i.e. in plain sight, because you may lose them.  Other than that he moves around without worries.

Here’s the link to his entire blog:

http://www.nicaraguadispatch.com/news/2012/12/searching-for-expat-paradise-in-nicaragua/6284

Map of Nicaragua www.hotel-granada-nicaragua.com

Map of Nicaragua
www.hotel-granada-nicaragua.com

Here are some “Frequently Asked Questions” about Nicaragua that may interest you.

1. What is the currency in Nicaragua?

It’s the Córdoba – currently 23 C’s to 1 U.S. dollar.

2. Where is Nicaragua?

It’s located in Central America between Honduras and Costa Rica.

Nicaragua

Map of Nicaragua

3. Isn’t it a communist country?

No, it currently has a democratically-elected government.

4. Is English spoken there? No and Yes.

No, the official language is Spanish.

Yes, there are folks who speak English, but you’ll

manage much better if you speak a bit of Spanish.

5. Population: Approximately 6 million (2012)

6. What is the standard of living there?

Most Nicaraguans are poor by U.S. standards, but there is a small but slowly growing middle class. Wages are still low compared to the U.S. For example, a factory worker may earn about $200 U.S. a month, but the cost of living is relatively low compared to the U.S. Unemployment is still relatively high, but some progress is being made. Since the currency exchange is about 1 U.S. dollar to 23 Córdoba, folks with U.S. type income can live in Nicaragua at a higher standard than in the U.S.

In conclusion, Granada is indeed a tourist city, so if you hate tourists you might want to consider that, but if you looking for an introduction to city that can ease you into the Latin American experience, it’s not a bad place to start.  Again, do your “research” and go check it out for yourself.  You may be missing something that makes your life better.  Maybe you’ll be the next baby boomer gringo to arrive in Granada.

Mark (Marcos)

Subscriber Notes:

Want to start speaking Spanish in a few days?  Here is a Super Thinking + Spanish promotional event.  Please check it out below:

http://superthinking-spanishaugust2013.eventbrite.com

Next Sunday our issue of the “Hispanicus” Newsletter is due.  Our Hispanic country focus? 

Many think this Latin Caribbean island nation has only beautiful beach resorts to offer.  How about cutting edge medical technology in an public and private educational system that is not free.  How’s that?  Don’t miss this one.

 

 

 

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