5 Ways to Spot Nicaragua’s Latin Lover
There is this romantic image of the perfect Latin lover: dark eyes, smooth skin, whispering sweet nothings into your ear, the fire of revolution burning in his eyes as he seduces you from the dance floor to the bedroom.
This romantic image prevails in a country like Nicaragua, where the men like to consider themselves as such perfect lovers and are not oblivious to foreign woman’s tendencies to fall hard for them. They even have a name for men who go for “chelas” or light-skinned women (which is often just used for any foreign looking woman). They are called cheleros, and most Nicaraguan men watch in awe as many foreign girls fall desperately in love with cheleros, only to find out in the end that most of it is a façade.
So after consulting my male Nicaraguan friends, here are the five ways to spot a chelero:
1. He talks about the sandinista revolution all the time and with passion.
He sits across the bar from you with a guitar in his hand, strumming out the notes to “Comandante, Che Guevara.” He catches your eye as he finishes the song and lifts his beer “Vive Sandino” he says, lighting the fire in your loins. Contrary to what the current president and his first lady are trying to promote, the Sandinista revolution has run its course with a large percent of the population. People still see it as their cultural heritage and proudly sing songs from that era but anyone who is staunchly sandinista is more often than not seen as either brown-nosing to the party, corrupt, or crazy.
2. He has long hair/multiple wristbands/excessively loose clothing.
Okay so basically he looks like a hippie. Nicaragua is still a very conservative country, especially in the clothes department. I don’t mean conservative in the sense of non-revealing. It is not unusual for my boss to show up to work in a sheer blouse and a black bra, but the point is that the blouse will be nice, well-fitting, and without spots, stains or tears. Everybody takes pride in his or her appearance and while the alternative movement has caught hold in the larger cities in Nicaragua, people who dress outside this norm are far and few between.
3. He speaks English very well.
“I only learned English from reading the books that tourists leave here,” he says in his smooth American accent. “Will you let me practice with you?” It shocked me to the core when I first came to Nicaragua at how little English is spoken until I actually started working with some of the schools and realized that many of the teachers spoke English only a little better than the students they are teaching. As Nicaragua does not have a large reading culture, nor any TV channels in English, there is little possibility for them to actually learn it well. In fact, most likely your guitar-strumming friend has picked up his smooth accent from the lips of his last lover, rather than the pages of a book.
4. He dances really well…. and compliments you on how well you dance.
He asks the bartender to put on some Salsa and despite your protests drags you onto the dance floor. His hand is sturdy on your back as he swings you around like a pro and softly whispers in your ear, “You dance like a Latina.” First of all, you probably don’t. That hip-gyrating-perfectly-in-
Dancing is extremely common here, many men do dance extremely well, and it is not uncommon to ask strangers to dance. However, especially when dancing with strangers, there is no excuse why his hand should be that low on your back. Additionally, it is very rare to dance to a slow song with someone you just met, and while normal Nicaraguan men might try to cop a feel or two while dancing, they will at least have the decency to make it look like it was a mistake.
5. He probably has multiple partners, and maybe a wife and a kid or two.
The reality of your loose-shirt-wearing, guitar-strumming, English-speaking, revolutionary salsa-dancing god is that at the end of the day, or night, he probably will go back to his wife or girlfriend, and think nothing more of the encounter. Some men will go after foreign girls because of the thrill of it, because they are genuinely curious in another language or because they hold the hope that you will fall in love with them and whisk them away to a different place.
However the majority suffer, like many men in Latin America, from the Madonna-whore complex, which, from the lips of my Nicaraguan male friend means: “They like pretty women who are independent and fun and don’t mind showing some leg but in the end they are gonna wed some chubby girl who stays home with the kids, never asks him where he was, and cooks like his mother.”
It is not impossible to find a genuine and nice Nicaraguan man who speaks English, dances well, and is sympathetic to the revolution, but next time you do meet one, consider very strongly the possibility that you might be walking into the arms of yet another one of Nicaragua’s famous cheleros.