Surprises in a Nicaraguan Market


Going to Nicaragua on the weekends has become something normal for me. Every time I cross through the border town (Peñas Blancas), I see and say hi to at least two people I know. One of them works for the border and helps people through, and the other is an employee of TicaBus which is a luxury international bus service. I talk to both every time, they’re always surprised to see me. We smile and nod, give a thumbs up, but it’s a funny thing because I’m an anomaly. Three times over the border and back in one month is a lot. Even the employees who approve my passport look two or three times because they can’t believe how many stamps I have. Hell, even the security guards who stop me and check my passport struggle because they’re looking for just the November date but they end up finding six of them. It’s a funny thing. One guy kept flipping through and decided to give up after about 30 seconds. The guy couldn’t be bothered with a crazy traveling man.

I’ll write more about this specific adventure later, but now I just want to focus on walking through a market in Nicaragua.


I’m not one to spend my money on souvenirs, but I love to walk through traditional markets because they’re so colorful. They excite the senses. The smell of freshly cooked food or produce hits you in the face quite often.



I haven’t been through that many. I went through a few in Morocco a couple years ago, that was quite the experience. It was so easy to get lost, but that’s the fun of it. The Nicaraguan market was a little bit smaller but just as colorful. The one thing I noticed was that sellers are very aggressive.


This is a common thing you find when you travel. Common people, ordinary people, who have certain goods that they make or buy, are just trying to sell them. It should go without saying, but this is an important point: this is how they make their living. They don’t work for a large corporation earning an hourly wage or a salary, like people in the USA are used to. These people have to be aggressive when selling because their very life depends on it.


It has taken me some time to get used to that. When and if I ever go shopping (I hate shopping), I like to take my time and browse. I like to be quiet while I’m looking or making a decision. And in the case of the markets, I like to be quiet because I’m trying to find the picture. I’m constantly screaming in my head “Leave me alone!!!!” but it really isn’t that bad..


It’s safe to say I stand out in Nicaragua. I’m 6’4, clearly from the United States, and I’m carrying an expensive camera around my neck. Instinctively, when vendors see me, they automatically assume that I have money. That’s unfair, because first of all it’s a stereotype, and second of all they’re wrong. I have no money. They swarm! For some reason as my friends and I walked into the market, two locals accompanied us. One guy kept asking me, in English, if I was going to buy something. I told him yes the first time but kept shrugging him off towards the end saying “I don’t know”. It’s sad because that got him a little upset. Again, the guy is trying to make a living, and it ain’t easy. They depend on the income from tourists who want that extra souvenir to bring home and show off.

Sorry bud, but I ain’t that guy.


No, I’m the guy looking for the picture. I want colors in my pictures, interesting things. Pictures that will make you say “wow, I’d like to be there, just because it’s so different than what I’m used to”.


Well, I found a few pictures. Interesting things to say the least. You’ve already seen a few, but there was a common theme that I found that I’d like to share with you. Don’t judge me, I’m just the photographer. Maybe you can figure this one out for yourself because I haven’t the slightest clue why these exist or who would buy them. Hold onto your butts.

I’d really like to ass that artist a few questions. Why in the world would someone want to illustrate this shit?

John DeSarno


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