Never Say Never: Making a Life In Managua
Hi friends! It's been a while since I wrote a more personal post and I thought, what the heck: the five of you who read it religiously might appreciate a return to my musings. There have been some changes as of late...and then again, not so very many. I know, I've really started on a thrilling note here. But that's kinda what's neat about this current chapter in my life. You see, I've moved to Managua, Nicaragua. It's a little less thrilling, perhaps, but no less exciting a change than a bigger move might be. In fact, I feel a bit giddy about the fact that I'm enjoying one place so much (Nicaragua) that I'm not desperate to rush to the next one. That's new for me! And it's a big deal. But I don't feel done with Nicaragua yet and so I've signed on with a new job to at least finish this year here. And I'm so glad I did. During the orientation for my new roleB we had to do a visualization activity. At the top of a big sheet of paper we had to draw or write things that represented what we envisioned for ourselves about our time in Nicaragua before arrival. Then at the bottom, how that vision had changed now that we were physically here. For most of the participants, they had arrived in Nicaragua less than a week earlier, and so theirs and mine were very different. But I had a lot of fun anyways and it gave me a chance to reflect on just how much of my time in Nicaragua has been transitional. At the top I included things like "build houses", "speak perfect Spanish within the year", and "make lots of Nica friends". Some of these happened, most did not (hint: my Spanish is far from perfect and most of my friends are fellow foreigners). But most markedly to me was that when I first arrived 15 months ago, I swore up and down that I would never - NEVER - live in Managua. I shuddered at the thought. Managua, Nicaragua is a big, sprawling, dusty, super duper hot city that sits in a bowl and gets little airflow. I was NOT interested. I have, in fact, told everyone I know to just avoid the capital city altogether when planning a visit. Fast forward a year and I was starting to think, you know, it might be kinda fun to live in Managua! After all, it is the hub of everything. You can catch a bus to literally anywhere else in the country several times a day. You can go out dancing and eat sushi. You can take classes of any type, meet expats, avoid expats, hang by the pool any day of the year, discover new parks, and get lost. In short - it's a big city, with all the ups and downs that come along with that. I've been so lucky.B I spent 15 months living in a country town, spending a ton of time in some of the more rural parts of Nicaragua, learning about the struggles of some of the poorest (and kindest) Nicaraguans around. And now I get to try the big city! In the end, I get a totally well-rounded and diverse experience of this great country I'm calling home for now. Think about how few people know what it's like to live in both the rural and urban areas of their own countries, let alone another country altogether. Chalk it up to another one of the reasons I am so grateful I get to make decisions as they come up and change my mind, challenge my own opinions, and just keep moving forward. And I am having a blast. Managua is a whole different beast, but I'm loving the variety. It almost feels like I'm in a new country again. Which is especially great because this time I'm doing it without the culture shock! I kinda feel like I've managed to cheat the gypsy life a little ;-) and I like it. I've gone out dancing, of course - yay for having a LIFE again! I've tracked down dance classes but haven't gotten to go yet. I'm speaking more Spanish already, simply because I'm interacting with more people on a regular basis. I take many more taxisB (that one I like a little less). I worry about being robbed a little more (that one too). I have NINE different locks and keys on my house and yard and I seriously timed it and it takes me 6 minutes to get in and back out of my house to grab a forgotten item. So many locks! I've eaten Lebanese, Chinese, and Japanese food and also bought a sweet potato like it ain't no thang. These are things that have not existed in my world for well over a year! Tonight I head out to catch the ballet of Snow White and last week I met a famous author (Stephen Kinzer) and went to a free festival and concert celebrating women. And honestly, Managua is not so ugly as it seems when you're just in and out of the bus stations and the airport highway. Sure, it's still super hot, and sure, it's quite dusty. But there are palm trees everywhere, and the ridiculous giant trees (gracias Madam Vice President slash First Lady...) at least add some colour and pizzazz to an otherwise unremarkableB cityscape. In short, it's true that you should never say never - because you never know what might be on the other side of that never if you're not open to the possibility of finding out. Three cheers to challenging your own perceptions every damned day and trying something new just for the heck of it. It's all part of the ride, amiright? So...who's coming to visit me??