Visitors to Nicaragua should do at least basic background reading about the country and its people. There are several useful websites that can help give you a brief introduction to Nicaragua and Central America. There are two excellent new sites in English: http://www.vianica.com has a wealth of information, and www.nicaraguanpost.com is a weekly newspaper in English.
Other useful information is on travel guide sites such as, Lonely Planet: www.lonelyplanet.com or http://www.moon.com/planner/nicaragua/. Better yet, buy a good guide book like Lonely Planet’s Central America on a Shoestring, Footprint Nicaragua, Moon Handbooks Nicaragua, Ulysses Travel Guide Nicaragua, or Let’s Go Central America.
Other good websites to check are:
Two websites for those interested in environmental issues are:
During the Sandinista period, when Nicaragua was in vogue with progressives and academics in the U.S. there were scores of books written in English about Nicaragua. Sadly, since the 1990s, Nicaragua seems to have dropped off the map for writers and publishers. A few of the best books from the 80s include my favorite, Fire From the Mountain, an account of a young student, Omar Cabezas, who joined the Sandinista resistance movement and later chronicled his experiences, capturing beautifully the idealism, energy, irreverent humor, and suffering of that remarkable movement. Another fascinating view of the Sandinista ethos is Giaconda Belli’s memoir, The Country Under My Skin. Other classics include Sandino’s Daughters by Margaret Randall, Blood of Brothers by New York Times reporter Stephen Kinzer, Thomas Walker’s Nicaragua: Land of Sandino, and Salmon Rushdie’s The Jaguar Smile: A Nicaraguan Journey.
More recent works are rarer, but see Nicaragua Without Illusion, edited by Thomas Walker, Life is Hard:Machismo, Danger, and the Intimacy of Power in Nicaragua by Roger Lancaster, Rascally Signs in Sacred Places: The Politics of Culture in Nicaragua, by David Whisnant, and Sandino’s Daughters Revisited by Margaret Randall.
Not many Nicarguan writers have been translated into English, but check your library or Amazon.com for titles by Rubén Darío (the 19th Century Nicaragua who many scholars believed changed the course of Spanish language literature) or by contemporary writers Ernesto Cardenal, Sergio Ramírez, Daisy Zamora and Gioconda Belli.
Additional Newspaper Articles:
Granada, Nicaragua: Its Fall And Rise
by By DAVID ALLAN CATES
New York Times, May 2004
The Rediscovery of Nicaragua
By GREGORY DICUM
New York Times, May 2004
Attracted by a Blend of Centuries and Cultures
By JEFF KOYEN
New York Times, October, 2007
Nicaragua’s Ciudad of Dreams
By JOSEPH HOOPER
New York Times Travel, September, 2007
In Nicaragua, Chasing the Unsurfed Wave
By MARK SUNDEEN
New York Times Travel, May, 2005
Intrepid? Try Nicaragua
London Sunday Times Online, October 2005