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2 Travel Mistakes That Have You Paying Extra in Nicaragua

Article Summary:

Do your due diligence and figure out the exchange rate before you travel. In Nicaragua the exchange rate is roughly $1 to 24 Córdoba’s and it’s often easy to be had, as one surfer found out as he took a multi-month long hiatus in Central America.

Photo Credit: OSVI

Original Article Text From Outdoor Community Daily:

On the Road in Nicaragua

First Steps and a Guide to Foreign Transactions

I arrived in the Nicaraguan beach town of Playa Gigante just over a week ago for a multi-month hiatus in Central America. Fresh from quitting my job and subletting my San Francisco flat, I situated my responsibilities stateside and prepared for the adventure of a lifetime. The process has been both never wracking and liberating, but I knew the time was now. No more planning, no more “maybe next year”, just cut ties and go forth!

Nicaragua was chosen as a strategic launch point for multiple reasons– most notably its warm water and consistent off-shorewinds, which make for well-groomed, barreling waves. The country is also home to a variety of hulking volcanoes, lush jungles and a colorful variety of wildlife.

Rolling into Gigante on a balmy Wednesday evening, my back was fully loaded with two boards, mask and snorkel, mosquito net, camping pack, trail shoes, spear fishing sling and a SteriPen. The settling in process has been easy, as the local Nica’s are quick to offer help and the ex-pat/surfer community is well entrenched.

Every morning I’ve awoken somewhere between the hours of 6 and 8AM, applied copious amounts of sunscreen and made my way to the nearby breaks. Though the surf has been on the small side, I’ve certainly had a fair amount of luck and a few highly memorable sessions. It was following one such session, that I had my first stumble of the trip.

While life here is fantastic, whenever I arrive in a foreign country I undoubtedly make the common gringo mistake of gross negligence with the local currency and end up on the short end of a wholly straightforward transaction. I was fresh out of the water, bliss radiating from my face after beholding in the sunset’s impressionistic display of yellow, orange, purple, and pink, when I sauntered down to the local Pulperia (general store) to grab a few items for dinner. Lining up a nice mix of fresh fruits and veggies, tortillas, a beer and a small tub of peanut butter, I handed the cashier a fresh new 500 Córdoba bill.

Giving me a quick opportunistic look, the seniorita quickly returned 225 in change. I walked out, my head thick with that odd sensation that something was amiss. Going over the math a few more times in my head, it soon became clear that I’d been had. I’ve been the target of swindles large and small and this time felt no different. A bit of frustration, then the realization: yep—I’m an idiot.

While these sorts of losses should be chalked up to a local donation (they most likely need it more than you do), minimizing the number of occurrences can’t hurt, especially when you’re adventuring on a budget. Here are a few things to consider when learning the local currency in order to avoid being that gringo.

Do your Due Diligence. Figure out the exchange rate before you leave the country. Here in Nicaragua the exchange rate is roughly $1 to 24 Córdoba’s.

Devise a straightforward equation system. When you get your exchanged currency, spend some time getting acquainted with it. What does their smallest bill relate to? What do the coins correspond to? For example, the Nicaraguan 20 Córdoba bill is slightly less than one America Dollar, the 50 Córdoba is roughly $2, and the 100 Córdoba is just short of $4. It is with larger bills, such as the 500 Córdoba, that things tend to get confusing.

If an item does not have a visible price tag, ask the cost before you get to the counter. Then take a few moments to perform some math in your head before checking out. Once you have the rough total in mind you’ll know how much change to expect. Quick tip: the less items your buy at a time, the easier it will be to do this pre-purchase check.

In addition to your close-to-body travel wallet/passport satchel, carry a “fake” wallet containing a limited amount of money in your back pocket or bag. Other items to consider carrying in this wallet could include an expired credit-card, old season passes, business cards and a picture of your guinea pig. This will reduce the amount of cash you have to present when making a purchase and gives you an expendable wallet to forfeit should you have the unfortunate experience of being pickpocketed or fleeced.

Link to Original Article:

From Outdoor Community Daily

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