Must I know Spanish to visit Nicaragua?

A visit to Nicaragua is a great opportunity to practice your Spanish. Don’t know any?…stick to English and the larger towns, but start learning a few words, and make sure you’ve got the off line version of Google Translate, it’s so handy!Decorative Nicaraguan hammock. Artisan made in Masaya, Nicaragua.

I’m taking this opportunity to introduce my good friend Sara who shares “Funny Spanish story number 213” in this guest blog.  Why 213 you ask? …because, she’s got at least that many!  Besides her fancy degree in Latin American studies, multiple visits to Nicaragua (some with young children in tow!) her stories are just one more reason why I invited her to join me in leading our December retreat.  Read on, this will leave you wanting to hear more from her collection!

Funny Spanish story #213:

¿Cuánto cuesto? Or how much Spanish do I really need to know?2015-03-26 15.05.31

I was wandering through an artisan market, one of my favorite things to do. I love the bright colors and evocative masks. Hammocks, stone carvings, it’s like a museum where I can touch stuff. I found the perfect straw hat. Hand made by Nicaraguans using locally sourced fibers. Even better it was a cowgirl hat that fit me perfectly. I admired myself in the mirror, the perfect combo of roguish and adventuresome, I was ready to buy.

Unlike my mother who can bring down the price of items at a grocery store in the United States, I do not relish in bargaining. Besides this was early on when my Spanish sucked. So I approached the seller, a husky man with a delightfully large belt buckle who was chatting with some friends. It was time to find out what this thing cost. “Er, ¿Cuánto cuesto?” I managed. He and his buddies stopped and looked at me with bemused smiles. One of them answered, “No sabemos, ¿Cuánto cuestas?” and they all roared with laughter. That’s what I asked you, I thought, as my Spanish hearing was not quite fine tuned enough for me to catch the end of words.

Turns out, they are important. After several rounds of this exchange, with them laughing raucously each time, one of them explained, in rather clear English, that I was asking, “How much do I cost?”, instead of “How much does it cost?” (¿Cuánto cuesta? If you need to know), and they were answering “We don’t know, how much do you cost?”, he assured me it was all in good fun. And I bought the hat. Still have it, in fact.

Don’t worry, I ended up getting a degree in Spanish so if you travel with us, I’ll help you out. For now, here’s a verb chart so you get the basic idea:

Cuesto: I cost

Cuestas: You cost

Cuesta: He/She/it costs

Costamos: We cost

Cuestan: They cost


You’re welcome!


One thought on “Must I know Spanish to visit Nicaragua?

  • September 6, 2016 at 2:27 pm

    Loved it. I will use narrations with my kids and friends. I will write my own in the USA. jijijiji. Why do you think I got a week earlier to the airport?


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Want to feel comfortable and confident on your next trip?

Find out EVERYTHING a first time traveler to Nicaragua should know, Including...

 Staying Healthy  + Cultural Knowledge  + Traveling with Kids  + Longer Term Stays
100% Privacy. We don't spam.