one month out…
I never forgot about you.
I have been writing and I’m hoping to get some things posted in this little space soon. In the meantime, I thought you might find this interesting.
As volunteers we fill out entrance and exit interviews for the purpose of filling space in our little volunteer-run newspaper that comes out every 4 months or so.
I think the exit interview is a good glimpse of my life here so I’m posting it here for you all…and because lots of it is culturally-specific, I did a little explaining. Enjoy.
Favorite Nica Dicho (dicho=saying): uff que clase de calor!
In my head this means ‘shiz it’s hot’ but directly translated it’s ‘geez what kind of heat’. The phrase que clase de…is common and can be used to negatively describe just about anything. So if you saw a mom telling her son to pee in public, you could say ‘que clase de mujer…’ and then ramble on about what horrible woman would teach her child to do such a thing. It’s my favorite saying because it’s hot every single day here and yet I hear this phrase numerous times, every single day. As if yesterday wasn’t this hot and tomorrow won’t be. As if it’s something new. To me it’s like stating, “oh look, the sun rose today!” to everyone, everyday. You see why it makes me smile? Yup, that’s why I like it.
Number of Nicas Kissed:
What did you miss most from home? Social freedom, my dearest friends, live music, and dinner parties
I miss being able to go out, sit down for dinner with a guy friend and not hear gossip about it from 10 people the next day, drinking beer in public without stares, having the right to wear shorts without sexual commentary, etc. That’s what I mean by social freedom.
What did you do during your service? I’ll tell you about that over coffee but there were a lot of blue and white uniform wearing teenagers, business terms, trash, bureaucracy, and adventures involved.
Favorite Nica food or drink: chica de pina, tamales relleno, güirilas con cujada
I’m seriously going to miss these. Every time I buy a pineapple, I give the skins to my host sister who leaves them to ferment for two days and then prepares chicha de pina. It’s a deliciously sweet, alcoholic, pineapple juice. Tamales relleno are a sweet corn dough tamale filled with cinnamon instead of meat. Guirilas are a sweet corn pancake looking thing the size of your face and they serve it hot with fresh cheese and you want to eat 10.
Your PC Nicaragua theme song? Anything by Aventura or Romeo Santos
When were you at your most Nica? A year and half in…that’s when I started elbowing grandmas and small children out of the way to get a seat on the bus
Favorite thing about your site: The high-pitched bickering and constant joke-playing that defines my relationship with my host family…I never had sisters or a vulgar mom. I have thoroughly enjoyed both.
Best memory: The feeling after pulling off a huge event even semi-successfully.
Worst memory: all the ones involving nica men inappropriately touching me…they are so dang sneaky and creative.
Most embarrassing moment: needing the instructional ‘how to correctly mash your poop with the iron rod’ from my host family during training to ensure everything went down the toilet nicely…when that happens, just two weeks in country, nothing else can possibly leave you embarrassed.
How many times did you have to poop in a cup? Not enough to get good at it
Pooping in a cup in the basic parasite test and it’s the first thing they make you do when you have upset stomachs and irregular bowel movements…and you should see the miniscule size of the cups they give you.
Part of your body or health that will never be the same: everything made it out pretty well besides my now severely used and stretched out sweat glands
Best place to be vago (vago is basically ‘out of site’): any beach, drinking beers in a hammock
Craziest bus story: so thankful I have nothing to put here
If I’m honest, I have cried multiple times on buses solely due to the mix of sweating, suffocating, someone else’s crotch rubbing against my cheek while someone’s pulling on my hair, and the vendors are screaming and the bus is idling because people refuse to move towards the center, and the smell of rotting shrimp is flowing through the bus, etc. you get the drift. But other than being miserable, nothing scary like buses rolling backwards into ditches and flipping over ever happened to me.
What you’ll miss the most: culturally appropriate stalking and staring…for real
Best care package item: chocolate from my dear friend in Germany
Advice on dating a Nica: worth the dramatic disaster I guarantee you it will be…no further comments will be made
Break any PC rules? Apparently we’re not supposed to get on motorcycles…
Ever wanted to ET(early terminate ie go home)? Never seriously
Would you do it all over again? I think I got it all I the first time, thanks though
Gained or last weight? yes
Biggest challenge? Nicaraguans obsession with saving face at the cost of honesty…and the anything starting with fijense que…
Advice to remaining volunteers: don’t try and decide your own legacy in your community…it’s not about you anyways.
I am known not only in my community but also stateside for building plastic bottle buildings. This bothers me to the core. It is not what I came here to do, was assigned to do, or something I care deeply about. It was just a successful solution we implemented. Well, it was a lot more than that and its effect in the community has been startling beautiful. But nonetheless, it’s taken me a while to come to peace with the fact that most people think that’s what I’m here doing. And it’s what I will be remembered for by many. And that’s ok. In fact, it’s great.
Regrets: not climbing San Cristobal…the tallest volcano here in Nicaragua and also the one in my backyard that I spend every bus ride, run, and day staring at.
Where can we find you in 10 yrs? Hopefully on an even crazier adventure, with a dashing husband, investing in and supporting local entrepreneurs in developing markets.
Parting words: Bueno. Because everything ends with bueno.