February 4, 2014


Time can make a person tired. The seconds continue to tick down, though one may feel as though everything were standing still. We knew coming to Nicaragua that we would need to get ourselves adjusted to a different conception of time, one which we are still seeking to grasp and understand.

We have learned some things about time. We have learned that time is different in each and every country and just as people from the U.S. will talk about Latin American time, a Nicaraguan will talk about the conception of time of a Cuban or Colombian as a Nicaraguan who has spent time in north will often talk about Nicaraguans.

A few weeks ago I left the house at 6:45 in order to meet my boss at our bus stop in-route to the Baptist Convention of Nicaragua. She was slated to pass by at 6:55 (she determined this very specific time the night before). Thus, seeing as it would not be a good choice to leave my boss waiting for me at a public bus stop during rush hour in a country were over 75% of the population depends on public transportation, I was there at 6:54.

I stood and waited, standing in the hot sun, beginning the daily process of saturating myself with my own sweat. I wanted to check the time but avoided it. I chatted with a neighbor, bought a mango, let the thought pass though my head that maybe I had missed her, maybe she had been early and unwilling to wait.

I looked and it was 7:23.

I decided I would call if she was not there by 7:30. I have forgotten to mention that she, my boss, was scheduled to lead the devotional this morning at the convention, which made me think--I have been waiting for almost 30 minutes, but soon almost 1,000 people will be waiting for you.

I called, she said she was on her way, though I could clearly hear from the background that she was eating, that she was still with her husband--who was not joining us today--and the fact that there were no traffic noises in the background, made it quite clear that I would be waiting a bit longer.

At 7:47 she arrived for a conference that started at 8:00 which was a little over an hour away from our current location.

My boss is Cuban, and a Nicaraguan will readily tell you in a conversation about time, that a Cuban's value or sense of time is the poorest of any Latino. Which begs the question, why would time be of great importance for a group of people who live on an island whose neighbors refuse to treat as human beings (a personal thank-you to president Obama for shaking hands with Raul Castro) because of a political theory conjured up by George Kennan in the 1940's.

All that to say that time continues to be a frustration, a fine balance of cultures that we continue to struggle with. Really its our attempt to navigate a point of nonverbal communication to let the people that we know, care for and work with that we respect and love them, it is also a practice in patience, and a point of curiosity for how transitioning to another way of viewing time will affect the two of us.


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