Monday, April 15, 2013


M is for el mercado or the market.

It's true that here in Granada, Nicaragua, we have 3 grocery stores (Pali, La Union, y La Colonia) but the best selection of local products AND the best prices is and always will be at the market.  In more rural parts of Nicaragua there is no supermarket, just local market, so it's best to learn how to navigate them.  There are a few principles to keep in mind when negotiating a Nicaraguan market:

1.  EVERYTHING is negotiable.  Don't you dare pay the first price they tell you!
2.  Don't eat before you go; a strong stomach will get you through the cheese and meat stalls.  Yep, meat that's been sitting in the Nicaraguan sun with flies swarming and hungry dogs looking on most of the day.  By the way, my meat ONLY comes from the supermarket, so I guess I'm not REALLY Nica.
3.  Don't wear flip flops.  Any fruit or veg that has gone bad will just be thrown on the cobblestone streets and in the sun it gets REALLY slippery REALLY fast.  One slip in that stuff and you'll learn the hard way.
4.  Patience.  It's a constant maze of stalls and screaming vendors, and they're hoping that confusion added to the sun beating down on you will cut your negotiation resolve down, but persist!  You can do it!
5.  Channel your inner Nica.  Let me explain.  Let's say that cabbage head looks good to you.  Stop!  Don't smile.  Don't look at it too long.  Linger over some other veg as you casually ask, "How much for the cabbage?"  The vendor tells you 20 cordoba.  You gasp dramatically "How expensive!"  They ask "Do you want it?"  You say "I think I'll keep looking; well, maybe I'd take it for 10 cordoba."  They make an excuse about the cabbage crop being bad, gas prices going up, or general economy crisis and tell you the best they can do is 15 cordoba."  You inspect it with a frown a say "dale pues" (go ahead then) while inwardly gleaming.  Now granted, you only saved yourself about 20 cents, but hey!  It's the principle of the matter!

You think you got it?


  1. How interesting! I've never been to Nicaragua but always wanted to go...
    A month of Blog...

  2. Wow, Nicaragua! I live vicariously through a friend of mine who frequents Peru (not the same, I know, but my guess is the general culture is somewhat similar). The only foreign country I've really spent any significant amount of time in is Botswana and lucky for me one of their national languages is English. Trying to communicate in Setswana, now that's a whole other ball game!

    Cheers from Brandy

    1. Wow, Botswana! The only thing I know about there is what I've read in the #1 Lady Detective Novel series (which I love by the way). But yeah, you should check out Latin America....definitely some similarities between countries but they're each all their own too.

  3. I always have trouble going to places where you have to negotiate. I hate negotiating. I don't like shopping in the first place, so having to negotiate is like a really long drawn out shopping trip that I wish was over already. :)

    #atozchallenge, Kristen's blog:

    1. Confession--I kind of love negotiating. When I lived in the States I had a job that required it and I really do enjoy it. Both sides feel good at the end of things and there's so much satisfaction in getting a lower price.

  4. LOL - This is my first visit and great minds think alike. My post today is the same as your number one tip. Negotiate everything!

    Visiting from AtoZ #41

  5. I'm glad you emphasized keeping your excitement on the inside until you've left. A lot of people forget that part and when they return they promptly get taken. Great post as usual! You're doing well on your first A-Z so proud of you.