Life in Nicaragua-Opinion Piece

By Fin

Buenos dias Nicaragua,

So here you have it, a German, not the guy Darrell meant to ask and I do not write about the subject Darrell hoped to receive. Let’s see if a guy like me can put something together worth reading…

English is not native and as most readers will be US citizens (I never use “Americans” as for me America goes from Alaska to Tierra del Fuego), my perspective cannot be theirs. But I enjoy reading news from Nicaragua and want to give back. In his latest intro Darrell compares life in US to life in Nica. He explains US citizens stay firstly because of lower costs and later (top three answers) because of the people. I disagree! I have no clue about Nicaragua, but lived over ten years in America partly in the Andes, but also in the center. And here are some of my personal lessons:

I stood in Bolivia and my wife got kissed by an aquaintance, who had his wife with him. I had never seen them before. What now? Should I kiss his wife? Germans are not that close. They shake hands and after that they immediately take a step backwards. I was so totally lost in that situation…

Some weeks ago I kissed a German lady (standing with her husband). Yes, the Bolivians made out of the frozen German a lady kisser. It became a habit. I could feel how both of them held their breath. Other ladies are quite happy to receive my “Bolivian kiss” and German husbands then greet my wife with words like: “I give you the hand as I am not such a great kisser!”

-> I am totally unwilling to rechange to that stiff German I once was. Part of me became Latino. It is not about them (as the top three answers seem to tell) – it is about me.

One day I asked a police man, if there was a speed limit on the roads outside town. He looked at my bike and smiled: “Senor, you may drive as fast as you can!” The day came and I drove as fast as I could, when holes in the road – big enough to bury a cow – came up and I needed to SLOW DOWN and curve them. Then trucks came towards me using my lane (contra ruta) as the other side had even more holes… The speed limit is reality, not a sign.

There was a moment after a long wet, cold, muddy trip, when I drove a brand new road uphill dreaming of my bathtub at home. Behind the hill was a river and over the river the bridge was missing – BRAKES!!!!!

I drove through rivers where the strong current pushed stones out of the water, which then banged on the bike…

-> The intensity of what life means and is all about is totally lost in Germany. Happyness is not a permanent condition. It is what I feel, when I had a difficult and maybe dangerous time and relax in a hot bathtub afterwards. I need change to enjoy life. It is about me!

Living abroad stuff is missing. I must fix things I have no clue about. I bake my bread. When I found betroot one day I conserved many glasses. I produce own mustard and ketchup. The lack of things makes me use my brain (and the internet ;-)) and the result is always such a (surprising) satisfaction!

A week ago I stood in a German discounter. Even these normal shops have everything today. I wanted to bake a cake, I needed some ingredients like nuts etc and as I stood there the shop spoke to me: “You wanna prepare a cake? Are you stupid? Look here are the packs with all what’s needed inside and over there I offer you all choices of finest tarts and cakes in the freezer and each one is cheaper than whatever you can prepare yourself!”

I would be an economic idiot baking my own cake. My work has seemingly no value anymore. Of course own stuff tastes more personal and I know what is in it, but it is more expensive to do it myself. And this realisation made me very sad. And it is not only “cake”, many more things are ready to buy, fresh from today or fresh out of the freezing factory.

-> I do not want to live like this. I want to live where I have a lack of stuff. Where I must go back to Granny’s way! I want feel the satisfaction of my work and see own results, not this boring perfection. It is about me!

We have been on holidays and I had written postcards to friends. I was astonished how many came back to me smiling: “I received your card!” When the card arrives, a touch of happiness arrives as well! Giving marmelade selfmade from own fruits as a gift has real value nowadays. These things were utterly normal less then twenty years ago. It is not about them, it is about us.

Our life has become as artificial as the taste of strawberry marmelade made 100% without strawberries. We developed so far, that we seem not to need anything or anyone anymore. The dream came true – we are the kids locked in the sweet factory and this is not what a satisfying life is about!

I once rode a trip over a pretty isolated village. There was a simple place to sit down and have a drink and the owner sat down beside me. He pushed his shirt up over his belly, so that the sun would warm his skin and asked, where I was from and how life was at home. I answered: “In Germany we work all day and save as much as we can, so that one day, when we are old, we may sit down and hold our belly in the sun.”

DB – Actually a lot of my readers are not USA citizens. Many Danish, Dutch, Canadian, local Nicas, Nicas living in the states, etc. Quite a mix!