>> Monday, June 08, 2009
Though I listed yesterday the things I won't miss about Nicaragua, that doesn't mean it was all bad; there are plenty of things I already begin to feel nostalgic about, and we still have a few days left here! In fact, the things that I disliked yesterday are exactly the same things I like and will miss about the place:
10. Daily Life – For the last two years we haven’t had to worry about jobs, health care, or (until recently) housing. In the economic security sense, it will probably have been one of the least stressful periods of our adult lives. Our main teaching duties only require about 20 hours of actual work a week, and if we wanted to, we could just do that and spend the rest reading books or playing bocce ball.
9. The Weather: While six months of the year are a little too rainy or hot, the other six are pretty nice. In December through February you can be guaranteed sunny, warm (but not too hot) days with a nice breeze. It goes without saying that we never have to worry about snow or ice or being too cold, and it’s been nice not to have to worry about heat or air conditioning in our houses during this time. We’ve become very finely tuned thermometers; I feel comfortable between about 82 and 88 degrees; any cooler and I feel cold, and any warmer and I feel hot.
8. Food – We’ve eaten our share of gallo pinto, tejadas, and arroz de leche; we can’t honestly say we don’t enjoy the food here. It’s also so much more convenient here—there are helados and ice cream and snacks for sale in nearly every house, and people go door to door selling other goods or come into buses to sell cheap, yummy food while we’re traveling.
7. Inexpensive Wares – I think it goes without saying that on a Peace Corps volunteer’s budget, cheaper is better. Beautiful hand-woven hammocks cost $10 and original paintings can be had for $5. Additionally, people go door to door selling most things you could ever need, from food to universal remote controls to pillows.
6. Transportation – Public transportation is inexpensive and prolific. We’ve been without a car for two years, but we only really regret it occasionally. Taking the bus is inexpensive and convenient to and from Masaya almost all waking hours (and several hours before waking). Additionally, we can take a cab anywhere within our town for 50 cents or a ruta for 15 cents—I am quite sure we’ll never see such cheap transportation again, especially not in Palo Alto.
5. The Critters – Obviously Dora has earned a special place in our heart, along with other neighborhood dogs, little lizards, and Dora’s friends like Brown Dog, Luna, and Colacho.
4. Culture – It is still kind of a shock to meet grown men living with their mothers without shame, but it is nice that strong family ties are important in Nicaraguan culture. There’s also a distinct culture here in terms of holidays and celebrations, food, music, and beliefs—it’s very different from the States but sort of comforting at the same time.
3. Being Different – It’s always easy for our friends to find out where we live once they get close enough because they can just ask the neighbors where the gringos live. Being different also gives us a chance to share our culture and ensures that no taxi ride passes in silence.
2. Spanish – It’s great to know another language and we’ve learned a lot. Over the last week with the landlady drama our Spanish seems to have improved greatly. Also, English lacks some really useful phrase and words; some things like como no and fachento are just better in Spanish, and (with each other at least) I think we’ll continue to use them long after we leave here.
1. People – We have made great friends in Nicaragua that we’ll be sad to leave, especially our counterparts, neighbors, volunteers, and Peace Corps staff. We’ll be talking more about some of our closest friends and Nica family in our last few days here.