August 15, 2014

Daily Life

Just the other day, a friend asked us how we would rate our time in Nicaragua, 1 being low and 10 being high.  I immediately said, “10” and Kevin responded with a “4.”  I explained that despite the difficulties of living in the second poorest country in the Western hemisphere and the reality of what this means on a day to day basis, the people here, my Nicaraguan friends, have made the last thirty months here some of the best times of my life.  Kevin shared about his difficulties with the poverty, the language, barrio life, our work, what it means to be a white male in this culture as reasons why he would rate it as he did.  He later said that he would raise it to a “6.”  Life is good here, but life is hard.  Every day takes effort.

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A couple of weeks ago, I was scrolling through my facebook feed and I came across this beautiful poem.  It was written by our former co-worker Adam, who served with us in Nicaragua.  He and Marisa left a year ago and we very much miss their presence here. 

I thought that this poem gave a great glimpse of our life here in Nicaragua, while contrasting what it looks like as individuals return home.

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I think of you, Nicaragua

by Adam Shank

Versión en español aquí.

I think of you, Nicaragua
from my comfortable, overstuffed La-Z-Boy,
I think of your hard plastic chairs.

In my car; A/C and leather seats,
I think of your buses, the 16, the 5, the mini ruta,
the heat, the claustrofobia, the dust billowing in through open windows.

In my two story house; guest room and office,
I think of your houses of wood and sheet metal,
one family per bedroom, an uncle sleeping on the couch.

I think of you, Nicaragua
and you feel so far away.

You feel so far away,
the distance magnified by my comfort and opulence,
your life so hard, so raw.

I think of you, Nicaragua
and you seem like another world.
And I don’t want to forget you,
but sometimes I think that your world and mine
will never meet,
and I don’t know how to live you anymore
in this place
new and old at the same time.

But I sweep my porch and my sidewalk,
and I think of you.

I sit in front of my house,
and I watch the Honduran kids playing in the street,
and I think of you.

Sometimes I leave the car in the drive,
and I walk to the store
the bags cutting my hands as I hurry home,
and I think of you.

Sometimes I buy a mango,
and I think of you,
the sweet juices dripping on my hands,
the mangoes dropping on the roof of our house in Bello Horizonte in March,
so many mangoes that they rotted on the patio.

I invite friends over to the house for a meal,
and I think of you,
and the memories come flooding in:
good friends gathered together,
belly laughs and smiles,
bread broken,
sopa de queso con rosquillas,
pata de chancho,
pizza,
brownies,
my house is your house,
“Open House” by Duo Guardabarranco.

I think of you, Nicaragua
of the friendship and hospitality that you taught me,
and you don’t seem so far away.

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