I Couldn’t Even Ask for a Cerveza…

"Quieres una lata o botella?" the friendly pulperia owner asked as I stepped up to the window and asked for cerveza. When I arrived in Nicaragua 22 months ago the simple question of "Would you like a can or a bottle?" was far beyond my level of Spanish comprehension. Back then I could say, "good morning, good afternoon and good evening". I could count to 10. I knew the two most frequently used words by tourists—cerveza and bano—but I certainly couldn't use them in a sentence.