It's not lying, really. It's making people comfortable.

One thing I've learned is that many Nicaraguans often will try to figure a person out and tell them what will make them comfortable.

I don't meet that many people now who are anti-FSLN; I imagine the word's out that I was pumping fists in the air when the parades went by. I met some before I did that. It's probably how people who've been through a civil war best live with each other, and then that's extended to other things.

The other thing I figured out this morning when paying this August's rent was that the first rent of C$1600 was probably pro-rated since I didn't move in on the first of the month. Gringo paranoia can be infectious. People who think they have to tell a vendor why they're not buying at the higher price underestimate both the intelligence and the desperation of most street vendors. Gringos can bargain, can decide that they won't pay an even slightly higher price than what Nicaraguans pay, but getting angry about that, as I've seen one person get here, is foolish. Lecturing a street vendor is simply meanness. Bantering, not a problem. "Yo no soy gringa rico, por favor," with a smile. The homeless woman is going to pay even less than an average Nicaraguan and the gringo is never going to get that price, either.

Sometimes, I think us expats are like two-legged kudzu with money for leaves.

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it is best to learn how to play the bad most gringos..wont or dont want too

Big Difference Between

helping out a homeless woman who needs a hand, offering a street kid a handful of M & M's, and bending over for a street vendor who is over charging. It has nothing to do with the money, everything to do with the principle and your self-respect.

The problem is, once you begin bending over the word gets out and you will then pay considerably more for everything. There is no legitimate reason why a gringo should be charged more for the same item -just because he has more money. Once this becomes common, then every gringo is charged more, for everything.

I agree, you have to bend to the situation at hand. There is no point to standing on principle if it's not in your best interest. You have the luxury of walking away (except when dealing with the traffic police). And you have to be confident of your position: perhaps the bigger, nicer, avocado was offered to you, and that's why it's a few cords more.

It IS a game, and you won't win every time. You just want to win more than you lose :)

Bluntly, my little indigenous cheating vendor

...also isn't doing so well. If I feel like having lemons at my doorstep is a good thing, and if the price isn't too outrageous, I buy them. If not, not. But I'd never assault her dignity by accusing her of cheating me. It would not be pleasing.

My point about the house rent -- I was willing to overpay for a pen (my Chinese pen was $100, not $260 that the German pen was) and had a fit about C$100, which today I realized was simply that the first month had been discounted since I didn't move in until a few days after the first. I'd been infected with the Gringo paranoia. It's like preferring to be cheated with all the customers at Pali rather than maybe get cheated by a market vendor.

If I mastered Spanish, I could pass (Mi familia se fue a Miamá en 1985, es por eso que hablo español tan mal). That would be much more fun than Keeping Up the Side for The Gringos.

I rather like how things have gone so far, and I see no need to be as paranoid about the Nicaraguans as some gringos appear to need to be.

Rebecca Brown

And once you give up on the Anti Gringo prodding ...

It will be better too...besides it sounds too relentless to be true.

Basically, I have met some Gringos I like

Key West seems to be relentlessly intent on giving me advice when his experience was with Mexico, not Nicaragua. For all the damage the US has done to Nicaragua, we didn't steal a third of the country to preserve slavery and get gold, so I would expect Mexicans to have a rougher attitude about USAnos than Nicaraguans do. The US sent more Sandalistas than the CiA sent mercenaries, and the Sandinistas finally won while the US was busy making a prat of itself in Iran and Afghanistan. Go Social Democracy. A bas los derechos.

Despite the similarities in skin color, this is Nicaragua, not Mexico. I think you know this. I'm not sure Key West does.

You knew I couldn't resist the bait, didn't you? Thank me. I cut stuff to make this shorter.

I don't hear people talking about their Nicaraguan friends, the local lawyer, the local doctor, the local judge. It's all focused on other Americans or the help, though perhaps it would be rude to talk about knowing people who aren't the help. The ones who are in completely expat circles or who only know the help, I don't really think they have advice for me. I'd listen to the Russian vet for advice on living in NIcaragua if my Russian were better; I do listen to some other advice from Nicaraguans I've gotten to know.

Most Nicaraguans I've bought things from, or who I hired to make me things seemed to have treated me fairly and finished projects on time. Most Nicaraguan bureaucrats have been helpful. Even one guy at Aduana warehouse that had given Suzanne a hard time earlier was helpful to the both of us when I went to pick up my Kindle. Prices from the vendors have gone up and down again. I think that when someone wants to warn me about the Nicaraguans, the message I get not to trust him, not to do business with him, and definitely not to introduce him to my contacts..

The Nicaraguan who did burglarize the place also warned me about dangers and tended to focus on the glue sniffers when he used the binoculars that were not in the house when he came to steal them. I saw that coming. He did get some things that I would rather he hadn't gotten, but he didn't get the laptop, the camera, the binoculars, the battery rechargers, and he was gracious enough to leave the knifes and pan behind.

I've met people who were members of a Nicaraguan community the way the Russian vet is, or the way the Chinese who own the Chinese shop are (several generations of life here, though), or that a German guy married to a Nicaraguan woman is, and perhaps that you are. I tend to be more cynical about people's real understanding of where they're living (whether it's Jinotega, San Juan del Sur, or Managua, if they don't have Nicaraguan friends more or less on their level.

I don't trust any Gringo who gives me advice that stereotypes Nicaraguans. They're more likely to be a pain in my finances if I did business with them than my dentists.

Rebecca Brown