(This entry comes from a student’s journal–Lisa H–titled “First Impressions: Nicaragua”, written during her first week in Jinotepe, Carazo, Nicaragua, and posted with her permission.)My first impression, well, I don’t have to think long before I realize a bead of sweat has come from my head and landed smack-dab in the middle of my journal assignment. And then I hear a whistle from the taxi and look down to see a mouse run across the floor… “We’re not in Kansas anymore, Toto.”
That stream of consciousness does not give proper respect to all the things I absolutely love about Nicaragua. The food is cheap but very tasty. You pay for a taxi, but you don’t pay for gas and insurance. The mosquitoes are plenty, but very fast. The lights are fewer, and all are florescent. My family loves to talk, but sometimes that postpones my homework. The houses are clean, but the streets are filthy. The juice is abundant, but so is the pop/soda. The people who believe in God, truly love God and aren’t afraid to show it through pictures on the wall and public parades (even if they are playing a Sousa march). Go to bed early, but rise even earlier. Everything has a second use, for example, the microwave is a great place to store bread.
Through my ramblings and comparisons I hope you get at least a chuckle or two. To sum it up, the man on the street says, “We don’t hate [US] Americans, but we do hate what American economics are trying to do to Nicaragua.” Final words of wisdom: Check your shoes before putting them on–you never know what might be inside; and ALWAYS carry deodorant and toilet paper.