Ah! They say if you´ve nothing nice to say, don´t say anything…. but someone has to; the backpackers we encountered this past weekend are way too obnoxious for the world to go on like this.
We went to León for the weekend, the first colonial city in Nicaragua. On our first night we stayed in a quaint family-run hostel, but decided to move elsewhere for the second night, since a drunken relative of the owners showed up around 2am to threaten us and tell us to get out of his sovereign nation… or else.
The owner´s response to the threats was to tell us to lock ourselves in our rooms… not to tell the man, who I will call drunk threatening guy, to leave. I got the idea they dealt with this frequently – perhaps even nightly. “No, we can do nothing, but we know him. You just have to go in your room, go! Ignore him! Go in your room and lock the door! Now!”
Stay out of the Hospedaje Viejo.
So the following day we moseyed over to the Big Foot hostel to see if they had beds. They not only had beds, they had an American college dorm building going on there, complete with irresponsible belligerent gringos not wearing shirts, who were burping loudly and laughing hysterically, and all the girls who were swept off their feet by such behavior. And screaming. Screaming a lot.
Couldn´t you do this at home???
As my friend and fellow volunteer Maddie noted, “We are in a different Nicaragua than these kids” who, upon further inspection, knew nothing about Nicaragua, flaunted their inability to speak Spanish as if they were proud of their ignorance, and dressed like they had been scrounging for garbage in La Chureca – which is, as I understand it, pretty offensive to Nicaraguan people, who take pride in their appearance, no matter how poor they are.
Why would you come to a country you have no real interest in?
I cringe to say it, but I understood the drunk threatening dude from the previous night a bit better after meeting the backpacking crowd. I don´t understand his threats, but I do understand his anger and frustration at some gringos continued exploitation of his country.
The most frustrating part for me was the backpacker´s stated conception of themselves as some sort of counter-culture, a group of kids who were “sticking it to the man” just by being in Central America. It seemed to me like they were a bunch of self-indulgent kids without responsibilities, jobs, any need of income, or any interest or concern for the people who´s country they were in … they went to cockfights for God´s sake! Could one travel any more irresponsibly? Probably, actually, but cockfights are pretty up there on the irresponsibility scale.