I am a big fat liar…

I am a big fat liar.  Really, I am.  Yesterday, I re-read the “About the Ex-Pats” page of the blog and I laughed out loud and thought, “what a crock of shit.”  The honest-to-God-truth is that I didn’t love anything about this country during our first visit here, which ironically was two years ago to the day.  The landscape was brown and dry.  Mosquitoes feasted on my ankles.  Chirping geckos kept me awake thru the night.  The heat was so unbearable that we stayed indoors between 10 am and 3 pm.  When we were eventually lured outdoors, it took us a minimum of 2 hours (but usually closer to 4 hours) to get anywhere thanks to pot-hole laden roads and ox-cart traffic jams.  And of course…everyone spoke Spanish.  There was no way I would be able to learn a foreign language AND make new friends.

While I am no Phileas Fogg, I am no stranger to travel either.  From a young age, my parents ingrained in me a spirit for travel and an appreciation of culture.  When my sister dropped her backpack halfway down Copper Canyon in the middle of The Sierra Madres, my mother turned to us with a smile and cheerily called, “Now isn’t this an adventure!”  She continued to use this phrase throughout our travels including the train ride when a ninety-five year-old goat farmer offered to purchase my sister in exchange for cheese and when said sister fell out of our river raft in class 4 rapids.  Hmm – perhaps we should have considered additional travel insurance for my sister?  In any case, my family now lovingly uses this “momism” to refer to some of our more challenging of travel experiences as exactly that – experiences.

 

at the dentist in León, Nicaragua

at the dentist in León, Nicaragua

 

So why did I detest this trip so much?  A little sweat never bothered me before. Well, for one thing, I had a toothache of colossal proportions the day we touched down in Managua which resulted in a root canal on day three of our “get-away.”  The pain was so unbearable that I found it hard to see beauty in anything other than a Vicodin prescription.  In addition, halfway into our trip, I learned that a dear friend and mentor had passed away after a long battle with cancer.  I wanted to be anywhere but in Nicaragua.

 

But less obvious at the time was that this wasn’t a vacation, this was an evaluation.  And every negative encounter was another opportunity to add a check under the “stay in Boston” column.  Because the truth was that as intrigued as I was by the prospect of living abroad for the first time in my life, I was also scared shitless.  

Incredibly, Justin and I just celebrated our one-year Nicaraguan anniversary a little over a month ago.  So how did this come to pass?  Well, the visit here handed us a huge dose of reality, which was exactly what we needed in order to determine if we could realistically live here.  We learned that we could get quality health care (cheaper and better!), we could get home for emergencies if necessary, and we could make friends that would prove to be not only great resources, but a second family.

I guess the most notable thing here is how quickly I forgot the negative. Or how I began to see it as beautiful.  As the pain of the toothache melted away, the dry season transformed into a lush, verdant landscape, each day offering a sunset more stunning than the last.  Though the drive to Managua still feels long, I now spend it gazing out the window upon the grazing cows and the billowing volcanoes.  I have come to appreciate the dichotomy of Mac trucks and ox carts sharing the same highway and I can’t fall asleep without the chirp of the geckos, my beloved friends, who keep the mosquitoes at bay.

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 And now with the economy tanking, I could not be more grateful to my husband for encouraging this adventure.  Though we have not fully escaped the economic fall-out, we are certainly enjoying a more relaxed and comfortable lifestyle here in San Juan.  Am I wearing rose-colored glasses?  No.  But I certainly like that I get to wear sunglasses everyday.

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7 thoughts on “I am a big fat liar…

  1. You are really hilarous ! But, it’s true, gringos don’t trust physicians and nurses in differant nations. Don’t even go there about non-American airlines hermana. I’m glad went well. Central America is worthwhile to stay there. Con Mucho Gusto, Jethrot1

  2. Pingback: Happy Anniversary « Mom's the Word

  3. Good stuff, well written. I’ve heard say that travel brings out something in the traveler that perhaps is not so visible otherwise. Sounds like your first visit really showed you something about yourselves, which is great. My Nicaraguan bride and I have been living here full-time for about a year and a half. Come by and visit next time you go past on Carretera a Masaya heading into Managua.

  4. Having just returned from my exploratory 4 weeks in Nicaragua to, as you put it, determine if [I ]could realistically live [t]here, it was so refreshing to read that someone else did not instantly fall in love with everything. During that time, I, too, determined that I can live in Nicaragua and am now making my plans to move there. What I expect is that it will grow on me. I loved the verdant greens of the rainy season (though not so much getting drenched once or twice!), I loved the slower pace of life, and that, staying mostly in Granada, I got to do plenty of purposeful walking–far more exercise than my busy work-life allows me now, I loved the kindness of the folks I met, both Nicas and expats and despite how tired it made me feel, I loved the humidity that erased my wrinkles and made my skin feel soft and smooth. I even lost weight and returned home feeling stronger! I worked hard studying Spanish and am continuing to do so to prepare for living there and plan on finding me some geckos to keep those darn mosquitoes from chewing at my ankles! Hopefully, we can meet on my next trip–I’m determined to find a way to get to San Juan Del Sur again, if only for a few days!

    • Hi Claire,
      I am so pleased that you found the blog post helpful! When we first moved here I certainly felt the need to sugarcoat things to appease my own desire to make the move work and also to placate people “back home.” They say it takes 2 years for a place to feel like home and I think that there is some real truth to that. I can quite honestly say now that Nicaragua is my home and I am so grateful that we pushed through the challenges to the other side! Feel free to look me up when you return to San Juan and good luck with your move!
      Saludos,
      ~Sarah

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