Friday, May 18, 2007


The first three months are like cotton candy. Everything about your new life looks rosy and sweet and there’s no time to think about things like metaphorical calorie counting or crashing at the end of the sugar high.

But then suddenly something happens and the little things that used to be “cute” are now a source of frustration. Why do they have to pack the microbuses so full of people that my legs intersect with those of middle aged men I have never met before? Why are people always throwing their trash onto the street when there is a trashcan 50 feet away? Why does it have to be SO hot everywhere all the time? (The rains have finally truly returned, BTW—we’ve had three straight nights of downpours here—and the temperature is slowly dropping, though the humidity is still a little stifling, and we now have a horrible new bug infestation.)

Eventually these peculiarities of Nica life just faded into my daily rhythm. I smile at the strangers who occupy my microbus (and my personal space). I step over the plastic chips bags on the corner. And I just assume that the back of my shirt will be damp with sweat by the time I arrive at my destination.

And when all the external aspects of life—food, language, transportation, climate, bugs—here become more or less familiar? What then?

Then comes the hardest part of all. Because at some point along the way I think I stopped analyzing. I stopped trying to identify a rational explanation or a simple solution for all the suffering and poverty that passes before my eyes each day—like 10 year old barefoot children standing in the street washing windshields. Or the women cooking rice and beans in dirt-floor wood-burning kitchens where the smoke has nowhere to go but into their lungs. Or communities without even a basic medical outpost within one hour’s walking distance.

I stopped analyzing because somewhere along the way these men, women, and children, some of whom live in conditions unworthy of human beings loved by God, have become my friends. And they don’t need me to analyze them. So instead I visit their humble homes, sit at their table, eat their gallo pinto, and listen to their stories.

And I love them.


paul said...

paz, luz, paz

Derrick said...

That reminds me of when I was studying in Mexico.... After a while, I got used to all the conditions and accepted them as part of life there. Glad it's raining there - it's raining in Texas, too!

-- Derrick