What Nicaraguan Women Really Think about Foreign Women

September 5, 2014
Nicaraguan women on foreign females

pink pangea foreign correspondentWhen I first came to Nicaragua, I would always wonder about what that woman on the bus really thought about me. I mean really thought about me. I knew what I thought about her – I thought she looked done up, demure. In fact, I pitied her that she had to have the men help her put her luggage on the bus. I assumed that maybe deep down she envied me for my apparent freedom and independence.

Yesterday evening I talked to a group of my female Nicaraguan friends and the topic of foreigners came up. It was late in the evening and I was amused to hear about how foreign women’s behaviors really baffles them.

It was insightful to see how much of their traditional ideal of what a women should be still prevail – pretty, modest, dependent and a mother – and I feel that now, when I am on said bus and watching said woman watch me, I have a better idea of what she may be asking herself.

Nicaraguan women on foreign females
I was surprised to hear from Nicaraguan females that foreign women’s behaviors really baffle them.

Here are five of these perceptions:

What Nicaraguan Women Really Think about Foreign Women

1. “Why did you refuse that seat on the bus?”

Seating priority in public transport goes something like this: pregnant women, women with children, women, old men, male children and all other men. This unwritten cultural norm is deeply engrained and it is very common for a man to offer his seat to a woman, especially if she is carrying a backpack or other luggage. When you decline, she doesn’t understand that you are being nice, she secretly thinks you are a bit foolish for not accepting.

2. “Why don’t you have children?”

Nicaragua has the highest teenage birth rate and one of the highest fertility rates in Latin America. It is a cultural phenomenon here and it is uncommon for women above the age of 25 not to have a child. Children are cherished in Nicaragua, as are their mothers.

For a Nicaraguan woman, having a child elevates her status from being a girl, to being a mother. She socially gains more respect, more power, and more independence. In a country that values family above most everything else, having children and creating a family is extremely important. So when she asks you if you have children and you answer no, the look she gives you is not envy; it is pity.

3. “Why do you walk so fast?”

It is fair to say that Nicaraguans have a very relaxed sense of time. People will always stop to say hi to their neighbors and friends, and will wait out a rain shower, even if that means being an hour late to work.

Partially because they put so much value on appearance, there is virtually no reason to hurry if that means you will sweat or get wet. Especially for women, doing physically demanding labor is not necessarily seen as a good thing, especially if it can be avoided.

4. “Why can’t I have your eye color?”

In Nicaragua, blonde hair, blue or green eyes, and white skin is the epitome of beauty. When she sees you, she might be secretly wishing that she had your eyes or your skin color, and at the least thinks that your physical attributes are beautiful.

5. “Why do you all have such a bad dress sense?”

When I left for Nicaragua, I left all my nice shoes and blouses at home, and instead brought things that I figured I would just throw out in the end. Nowhere else have I been more mortified to have to wear Birkenstocks and jeans with holes in them than here, where people care a lot about appearance.

Nicaraguan Women Really Think about Foreign Women

And it isn’t so much about brands and quality jeans as it is as much the fact that you put in an effort. When she sees a group of sloppily dressed women, she is secretly thinking you lack self-respect. Because she probably also thinks you are beautiful so she is also a bit confused as to how you could let those clear eyes and long legs go to waste under such unshapely clothing.


What Nicaraguan Women Really Think about Foreign Women

Related Reading

Digging Deeper in Nicaragua

Photo credits for What Nicaraguan Women Really Think about Foreign Women by Sarah Sax and Unsplash.

Have you traveled to Nicaragua? How was your trip? Email us at [email protected] for information about sharing your experience and advice with the Pink Pangea community. We can’t wait to hear from you.

About Sarah Sax

Sarah Sax took her first trip from the US to New Zealand when she was 9 months old and has never quite stopped. She has lived in the US, New Zealand, India, Germany, Canada and is currently residing in Nicaragua where she works for CUSO International, researching food and nutrition security. She is fascinated by the similarities and differences of the various places she has visited and nothing lifts her soul quite as much as the view of an open road in front of her. Follow her adventures on her blog.

4 thoughts on “What Nicaraguan Women Really Think about Foreign Women

  1. Rul
    August 22, 2020

    Great read. Thank you.

  2. Danny Abarca Jr
    April 28, 2016

    I think you may have done your research in country areas where core values, morals & humility still prevail.
    Go to Managua the capital or San Juan Del sur the beach & the way other chics are gonna see you is normal, they will speak English & will be friendly combined with a bit of arrogance as well. Dress bad & smell bad & you will be ignored, most women backpackers smell bad & dress horrible.
    I have also met beautiful tourists mostly from America & Canada who dress nice & classy & yes they will be taken more serious by Nicaraguan females.
    This new generation is taking longer to make the decision of having babies, chics are becoming Americanized or more modern due to media & satellite cable. Our traditional woman is found in remote places.
    Just My opinion
    Fort Worth, Texas

  3. Anonymous
    March 18, 2016

    As a Nicaraguan, this sounds like you talked with old women about this topic, some of this things are right, but having kids young is not view as a good thing, if you are a young mother people will think that have waisted your life and that you fucked up but the thing is nobody would say something like that so they will express joy about it and be respectful. Sadly teen pregnancy is a big problem here (but you have also have to consider that is ilegal to have an abortion even if you were rape) and about the “why can’t i have your eye color?” thing, to be honest i usually find people with less education or a low socioeconomical level thinking that way (wich is sad). Apperance in Nicaragua, from the point of view i see it, It is not that important, but i’m sure you can find women like that, please don’t portrait us that way, most of people here are not that shallow. Of course i have to say it will always depend on where you are, if you are working you obviously cannot go looking like you just woke up but if you are haking or just visiting museums or backpacking people will understand that you are dressed like that being a tourist (except if you smell bad, if you smell bad people will give you bad looks). I really wonder with what kind of people you had this conversation with.

  4. Jared Trewin
    November 6, 2014

    you’re right! thats how most of nicaraguans think about foreigners.

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