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Masaya Market Warning

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posts: 82
reviews: 23
Masaya Market Warning

We took a day tour of Nicaragua from costa Rica today. This market was on the list of stops. However I didn't stay very long. I was annoyed by how aggressive everyone was about asking for money. First there was the guy who stood by the door and stared at us. He was holding a collection can for donations to a children's charity. When no one volunteered a donation he approached each one of us individually. Then it was the "tour guides" following me around, offering to translate for me. Then this old woman asked me for money. I said "no" and she walked away- or so I thought. When she saw that I had change in my hand from having bought my daughter an ice cream, she tapped me on my shoulder and asked for it. I gave it to her and pretty much ran to the tour van. As I was getting in the car a woman approached me and asked if I wanted to buy cashews. I said no and got in the car to wait for the other people riding the bus to come back. That woman stood beside my window for a good 5-7 minutes stairing at me. I also had people approach my kids and give them things and then try to extract money from me. I had been sitting in the van a good ten minutes when a new girl started knocking on the window. I had my back turned to the window because I didn't want to make eye contact with the vendors. When she knocked, I was startled by her boldness. Luckily soon after everyone else riding in the van came back, including the driver and we able to leave. Needless to say I didn't purchase anything at this market and I let my guide know that thought this was terrible place to visit.

23 replies to this topic
Granada, Nicaragua
posts: 1,726
reviews: 38
11. Re: Masaya Market Warning

Second poorest country in Central, North and South america. Lowest minumun wadge of the area, 55% of Unemployment, but the safest in Central America, this are some of the things I normally tell people when I’m leading tours and when we get to places like this I warn about this situation and let them know how to act so you can have a good time in Nicaragua.

But with out any offence what good can tell a Costa Rican about Nicaragua.

posts: 82
reviews: 23
12. Re: Masaya Market Warning

i let the hotel and the guide know what had happened. Both the guide and the management at the hotel were sympathetic and promised to make changes. The the thing is people didn't behave this way at the other two markets. The reason the guide was not around was because he was buying us presents. Each of us on the tour got a marraca with our names on it. It is so nice.Anyway we are home now and i've had time to get some perspective. This incident at the Massaya market is a funny story I tell my friends now. At the time i was really upset.

BTW - did you see this other post on Masaya?


posts: 1,113
reviews: 39
13. Re: Masaya Market Warning

I read the other post as well, and it's just strange to me how I could have such a completely opposite experience. I felt so comfortable there that I left my wife at the market by herself (with limited Spanish) so that I could go wander around Masaya on foot....I wanted to see some of the churches. We both had a great time there. Bizarre.

Miami, Florida
posts: 1,412
reviews: 283
14. Re: Masaya Market Warning

Six of us went to this Market in March and had no problem. We had a van and we had it watched while spending about an hour in the market. The vendors were friendly and no hassle. There's great juices and fruits offered as well as local goods for sale. It is located in what looks to have once been a fort or monastery.

New Orleans...
posts: 1,039
reviews: 78
15. Re: Masaya Market Warning

I just had an amazing trip to Nica and thought it impressive that I encountered almost no beggars. Sure, folks were selling cashews, but begging? Not like in India, not like in the Dominican Republic, and not like in other impoverished areas of the world. These people were so kind and humble and definitely were not angling for tips and such. I was so impressed.

Perhaps there were some cultural communication differences that altered your experience at the market? Glad to hear the rest of your trip was good.

posts: 1
reviews: 54
16. Re: Masaya Market Warning

I live in Catarina in the department of Masaya. The tourist market in the city of Masaya is a much more high pressure than most places in Nicaragua but there is a technique you can use to discourage beggars that doesn't involve running away and hiding in a bus. Here in Nica we employ the "finger wag" accompanied by a firm but kind "no gracias!" to indicate that we are not interested. Many times a verbal no without the finger wag (which is the same side-to-side index finger wag you use to tell a child to stop doing something) is considered a "maybe." It may seem rude, but all of us Nicas use it and it is definitely more polite than fleeing to a bus as if the beggars have a contagious disease.

The big tour buses are targeted more than the average tourist would be. So your warning would really only apply to those arriving on a tour bus from Costa Rica or from one of the larger Nicaraguan cities.

Another tip I would have for those traveling to Masaya would be not to take anything that's handed to you by a person walking around in the market because then you will be expected to buy it. This includes the little roses and grasshoppers made by the children who circulate inside the market. If you take it in your hand, you are expected to give them money for it. They will usually refuse to take it back.

For future reference, the mirador in Catarina has a tourist market also and you will receive far less pressure from beggars and vendors. Plus you will enjoy the cooler weather and the beautiful view of the lake.

To buy hammocks go directly to the hammock factories located near the mirador in Masaya. Any taxi driver will know where they are. You can see how they make the hammocks and buy them much more cheaply than at the market. Don't haggle too much with them though; they will usually give you a very favorable price to begin with. Save your haggling for your market shopping.

If you want to buy nice pottery, go directly to San Juan de Oriente where the nicest pottery in the country is made. You will get much better deals than you would at the Masaya market by cutting out the middleman. You will also get more of a feel of the real heart of Nicaragua which is friendly and generous. Masaya tourist market has been corrupted by the vendors unflattering interactions with foreign tourists.

posts: 33
reviews: 3
17. Re: Masaya Market Warning

Sorry, but you took a "day tour" to Nicaragua from Costa Rica? So you spend all day driving In a tour bus, to a large market with a bunch of tourists, to 'spend some of your money that those people need you to spend', and you are insensed that people tried to sell you things and beg from you? Sheesh!

I cannot wait to go to Nicaragua and spend time with the Nicas and immerse myself in their culture. I will try my best to learn from the people that I am visiting. And I will try not to impose any expectations on how they should accomodate me.

Cincinnati, OH
posts: 184
reviews: 34
18. Re: Masaya Market Warning

Sorry this happened to you. For the benefit of other travelers on here, we go to the Masaya Artesenias market at least once or twice a year and have never had any issues with this.

The only guy who's ever been persistent is the one guy selling honey, but he was charming in his own way (and no longer seems to be there, sadly).

We've also not had problems at the "real" local market uptown.

Cincinnati, OH
posts: 184
reviews: 34
19. Re: Masaya Market Warning

Also, no offense, but if you're really wanting to interact with the locals in Nicaragua, doing it on a giant tour bus from Costa Rica is not a method I woudl recommend.

La Libertad, El...
posts: 188
20. Re: Masaya Market Warning

If you were really as "well traveled" as you claim, you would know that the kids that prowl Angkor Wat are the world's worse PIA when it comes to beggars, nothing CA has to offer can come close.

That big tour bus from CR just brands an ATM sign on your forehead. Had you arrived from Granada on the local chicken bus I will bet a simple no gracias would have sufficed.

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