Help! Will language be a problem in Nicaragua?

Old Jun 24th, 2006, 05:22 AM
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Help! Will language be a problem in Nicaragua?

Want to rephrase my previous message! Planning a trip to Granada, Ometepe, Corn Islands & San Juan del Sur. Have very limited (very) of Spanish. Will this be a problem, guides, etc?

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Old Jun 24th, 2006, 06:41 PM
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I think the answer is yes and no.

As tourism grows in Nicaragua, more and more people connected with the tourism industry speak English. Most tour operators can find a guide for you who speaks English. Large hotels will have someone on staff who speaks English, even if it's not 100% of the employees.

Granada and San Juan del Sur have large expat populations these days, but even in those places, the majority of residents (a.k.a. the people you encounter on the street) will speak only Spanish. Nicaragua isn't Mexico or Costa Rica.

I speak Spanish, so Nicaragua isn't a problem for me, but I don't look on it as a real hardship to travel in a country whose language I don't know. There are ways to make yourself understood and the context of the situation often helps you. You walk into a hotel with your luggage. Even if the receptionist speaks no English, they know what you're looking for. (You're not there to board the bus, right?) Plus, at a minimum, learn some of those key words and phrases that a traveler needs: Good morning; good afternoon; good evening; goodbye; how much? where is? and numbers.
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Old Jun 26th, 2006, 06:03 AM
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and the two most important words (they have taken me many places where I knew nothing of the local language) PLEASE and THANK YOU (in Spanish "por favor" and "gracias&quot.
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Old Jun 26th, 2006, 07:04 AM
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I agree with Jeff's point about languages. This comes easier to some people than others (ability to make themselves understood without local language) for whatever reason.

Besides pleasantries and numbers... learn and practice in Spanish "I'm sorry I don't speak Spanish. Do you speak English?" until you are comfortable using the phrases outloud. This is a great ice breaker. And say the "I'm sorry" part sincerely with emphasis. Works for me.
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Old Jun 26th, 2006, 07:47 AM
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I've been visiting CA off and on since the 80s and now try to go somewhere every summer to study Spanish in an immersion environment. I've also taken 2 years of Spanish at my local community college. In addition to being a good excuse to travel (conversational Spanish is a plus in almost any job situation - my school district even covers some of the expenses) I find that the more Spanish I have, the more enjoyable and meaningful my trips become. I loved my early trips to Guatemala but now I realize it was an experience of observing the culture and the natural surroundings. During my trip to Honduras last summer I felt less like an outsider and had some really fascinating experiences and conversations with locals that I couldn't have accessed before. Also last summer, our trip was cut short when one of our kids was seriously injured in a car accident back home; having some Spanish in a crisis made negotiating the cancellations, new flight plans, etc., less stressful.

Guess I'm saying that I think you can enjoy travel to any CA country with limited or no Spanish, but consider working on your Spanish as a way to enjoy future trips more. Happy trails!
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