I was a bit taken aback by my welcome in the Nicaraguan estate agency. ‘Welcome to Granada, Don Will-i-am’ a friendly lady greeted. It wasn’t the “William”that got me; I’ve been William not Billy since Ushuaia last December. Billy is too much trouble here, too unusual in Latin America, difficult to pronounce and spell but ‘Will-i-am’ pronounced like the Brazilian Chelsea footballer is much simpler.
Yes, now when asked, I offer William as my name but in Ireland only strangers call me by my full moniker. It’s the name on all my official documents so only agents of the state and banks use it and of course occasional junk mail from the Archbishop of Durban and Time Magazine.
But’Don William’ was a new departure. I was never called Don on my previous trip to Nicaragua but sometime over those seventeen years, I must have stepped across a magical line , moving from one age category to the next and became a Don.
Don or Doña is used respectfully here to address …ahem ..older generations. And yes , you’ve guessed it, everywhere I go here in Nicaragua I am Don William.
Even,when I queue for coffee and reply William to the girl who wants to write my name on a paper cup, she loudly calls out Don William when it’s ready. The cashier in Lá Colonia supermarket looks me in the eye and says “Gracias Don William” when he hands back my credit card.
It’s the same every time we go for burritos and ok , I admit, I’m getting used to it. Dare I say, I even like my new title.
But, yesterday in Taco Stop, I sent Darragh to order. I can only handle so many Dons a day.
Darragh has worse difficulties here with his name than I had with Billy,so I laughed when the guy behind the counter asked for his name. No problem this time for Darragh.
‘Juan ‘ he replied.