San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Stinky Tourists Reinforce Negative Stereotypes

Dear Nica Times:

Every day I take the bus to work from Granada to Managua, leaving from the Parque Colón bus stop, next to the Central Park and getting off in the capital in front of the Universidad Centroamericana (UCA).

Frequently I encounter foreign tourists on the bus who are traveling to Granada or to Masaya or Managua.

Usually, the tourists are kindly helped by other passengers or by the fare collectors or drivers, who offer them directions or information about how to get to where they are going, including recommendations on where to go and what to see.

However, last week a horrible smelling tourist got on the bus and reinforced all the negative prejudices that Nicaraguans have of foreigners here. Before leaving the UCA, the older man got on the bus, dressed in bad clothes and smelling horrible.When the bus was already in motion, with the windows closed for the air-conditioning, the entire bus reeked of his body odor, provoking nausea among the other passengers.

The young man seated next to him got up and moved away, opting to stand in the aisle rather than sit next to him. Other female passengers took out their perfumes and tried to cover the rancid smell in the bus. It was really an awful experience.

I think that foreign tourists, regardless of where they come from, but especially those from a colder climate unlike the tropical heat of Nicaragua, need to take the proper hygiene considerations when they visit. In Nicaragua, people don’t like to leave the house without first taking a bath and making sure they smell good.

I hope that this commentary doesn’t offend anyone; I only offer this as a constructive criticism. To paraphrase the words of Nicaraguan Benito Juárez, “Respecting other people’s rights is the way to peace.”

Cecilia Espinoza



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