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For Educators

Where In God’s World is Nicaragua?

Fascinating Facts about Nicaragua

The largest country in Central America, Nicaragua is bordered by Honduras and Costa Rica. While outsiders use the word “Nicaraguan,” the locals call themselves “Nicas.” Most live in the western lowlands along the Pacific Ocean.

Eastern Nicaragua is mostly rainforest. Many exotic animals can be found in the rainforest including toucans, monkeys, wild boars, two-toed sloths, jaguars, boa constrictors, and 12 kinds of poisonous snakes.

Nicaragua’s bull shark is one of the few shark species that can live in freshwater. Measuring up to 11 feet, the bull sharks travel up the San Juan River from the Caribbean Sea into Lake Nicaragua. The large lake shelters younger bull sharks from predators.

Of the country’s many volcanoes, the youngest—Cerro Negro (Black Hill)—provides daring visitors a rare opportunity: volcano-surfing. Surfers suit up in coveralls to protect their skin from the abrasive rock, hike up the still-active volcano, and then race down on wooden sleds.

Baseball is the most popular sport in Nicaragua. The country has four national teams, and every town has a baseball field and many active amateur leagues. Kids often play baseball in the streets, sometimes using dried-out fruit as a ball and thick sticks as bats.

The school year here runs from February to November. Elementary education is supposed to be free and required for everyone, but schools are often not available for kids in remote areas. Only about 30 percent of kids actually attend school through 6th grade. Many families are very poor, and kids have to work to help their families survive.*

In Nicaragua, “fast food” refers to meals from roadside stands or street cart vendors. Some favorites include: vigorón, cassava and cabbage served with chicarrones (deep-fried pork rinds); quesillo, a corn tortilla stuffed with soft cheese; and fresco, a fruit drink similar to a smoothie served in a small plastic bag fastened around a straw.

The city of Granada hosts an annual international poetry festival in February. Poets from around the world read their poems in city squares, churches, schools, museums, and streets. A microphone in Granada’s central park is available for anyone who wants to recite a poem.

Learn the Language

 

People here speak Spanish—or Nicañol as the Nicaraguan dialect is sometimes called. Try these words and phrases:

Hello.—Adios.

I like to play baseball.—Me gusta jugar el béisbol.

Bull sharks live in the lake.—Tiburones toro viven en el lago.

Awesome!—¡Tuani!

Can I have a strawberry fresco, please?—¿Puedo tener un fresco de fresa por favor?
Thank you.—Gracias.

Goodbye.— Adios.

 

*To learn more about helping kids in Nicaragua with education and other basic needs, visit anfnicaragua.org with a parent.

 

mhooper

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