Q: Is it safe? I heard there was a revolution there.
A: There absolutely WAS a revolution...in the '80s. No revolution now. Safe? Depends on your definition. If you take the same precautions here as say, visiting a bad neighborhood in a U.S. metro city, you'll be fine. Don't flash expensive jewelry or electronics, don't leave things out to be easily stolen in the house, and be aware of your surroundings. According to reports (and what I personally see on the news here), the worst crimes are petty theft. Rapes, murders, and kidnappings are very seldom.
Q: What languages are available to serve in?
A: Currently there are either congregations or groups in Spanish, Nicaraguan Sign Language, English, Mandarin Chinese, Miskito, and Mayangna.
Q: Do I need a car?
A: No. Although a very poor country, Nicaragua has a very extensive bus system. It may not be the cleanest or the most comfortable but it's cheap and gets you there. In general, transportation is very inexpensive here. The need greaters who I know who have cars often have them more in the repair shop than in service. Because of the excessive dust and "mechanics" they break down really fast. Plus they're quite a bit more expensive here than in North America.
Q: I'm looking online and all the places to stay are really expensive! Can I afford it there?
A: Remember, Nicaragua is a third world country and most people have never been on a computer much less the Internet...even business people. Therefore, most likely you'll find your place to stay once you're here rather than booking it ahead of time. Or if you have friends here, give them your budget and have them search out a place for you so it's waiting when you arrive. Only vacation homes are online and that's why they're so expensive. A normal Nica house will be a fraction of the cost of a vacation house.
Q: Is it cheaper to furnish my house once I'm there or export everything from home?
A: MUCH cheaper to buy here...as long as you're willing to shop where the Nicas shop. Nica customs is notorious for being corrupt and people often have to pay EXORBITANT taxes and bribes to get their packages once they make it here. By the time you add it all up, it just isn't worth it. Plus, aren't you coming here to simplify anyways?! :)
Q: I don't know Spanish. Can I still make it work?
A: There are many brothers who have moved here without a word of Spanish (some who still don't know a word after years of being here) and they make it a-okay. Just don't get angry if occasionally you're charged more or don't receive exactly what you asked for. For living cheaply, I would recommend basic Spanish because that way you can negotiate and understand if someone is trying to take advantage of you.
Q: Is there Internet?
A: Yes! For instance, we have service in our home and it costs about the same as it did in the U.S. for strictly Internet service. However, if you're in a very rural area, it may be hard to get. The rule is that if you can get cable, you can get Internet.
Q: Can I drink the water?
A: Only if you want to be sick. Because of parasites, water must be filtered and any fruits/veggies of which you'll eat the skin must be disinfected first. You can buy good clay filters here which are much cheaper in the long run than buying filtered water; compare a one-time cost of $20-$25 vs. spending $4-6 per week for 2-3 jugs of water. Also, just bring GSE (Grapefruit Seed Extract) for your foods OR just a few drops of bleach.
Q: What if I get parasites?!
A: Not if....when. It WILL happen to you. Come to terms with that now. However, medicine is cheap and easy to find and starts to act quickly. You'll probably have only 1-2 days of discomfort before you start to feel better.
Q: I don't do well with heat. What are my options?
A: There's a ton of places here that aren't hot. There are mountainous areas like Estelí, Somoto, Matagalpa, etc. which only have a couple months of heat. There's also very beachy areas like San Juan del Sur, Corn Islands, etc. which are hot but you have that sea breeze and the ocean to cool off in. Here around me there are small communities around the Laguna de Apoyo which are very comfortable because of their high elevation. Take Catarina for example...it's ADORABLE and currently has no local congregation.
Q: How can I make my budget go further?
A: Try to imitate how Nicaraguans live and shop as much as possible. Stop going to the big grocery store and shop at the outdoor market instead. Buy fruits like oranges, guava, mango, avocados etc. directly from your neighbors (there are fruit trees EVERYWHERE). Don't make AC a necessity and try to tough it out with fans instead. Cut down on dining out in restaurants and go to your neighborhood fritangería instead. Don't buy fruit juice, make fresco. Don't eat meat at every meal, substitute beans--VERY cheap, delicious, healthy, and versatile. There's a lot of changes you can make that will have a BIG impact on your budget. Be prepared to work a bit more for your meals, but your budget and health will thank you.
If there's any other questions you readers have, either contact me using the private email to the right of this blog post OR send me a question here in the comments section.