Well, there is definitely a "g," "r" and an "n" in Nicaragua, but I have so far failed to find an "e."
I have been studying abroad in Managua, Nicaragua, for the past month, and it has amazed me in both good ways and bad. First, the good.
Nicaragua is an amazingly gorgeous place, with volcanoes, lakes, jungle and surf. The people are mostly friendly and accepting, and studying here has been a total adventure.
The green side? Apart from being saturated in that color as a country filled with flora, I have seen CFL bulbs in almost every lamp and they have a huge public transportation system that I know would be super useful in rural places in the states. Their buses run every 20 minutes (approximately — there is no set time in Nicaragua, only the "Nica hour," where everything runs an hour late) from different stations, either as an express or a local, which stops everywhere. And the best part is that it's ridiculously cheap, so everyone can take it and not have to get a car or a taxi! Although travelers may worry about the security, my adventures have found that everyone on the bus is friendly and tries to accommodate those who are confused about the route and how much to pay. This is by far the best means of transportation instead of adding to the smog that litters in the city due to all of the traffic.
However, from the green point of view, life could be a bit better, especially in the capital. As stated above, there is traffic. Always. Having a car here to get around is pretty essential at night, so those who like to go out have to add to the congestion. And the worst part of Nica's culture is that I have failed to find a single recycling bin. Not even at school. I don't know if it is part of their culture, but coming from a state and a school where recycling is everywhere is a total shock, and I'm still having a hard time throwing away certain things. This has reminded me of how great some things in Vermont are, and has kept me from buying drinks at the cafeteria, even though I somehow lost my refillable water bottle (a tragedy under these circumstances).
So if you are planning to wander down to Nica, I'd suggest bringing your water bottle, your umbrella and some Spanish, so you can utilize the few things that are green and great about the city and the country.
Photo: Alyssa Kropp