I'm past the three-month returned mark.
Allow me to say...
I love being back in the United States!!!
Maybe if I write it emphatically enough, it will come true.
In all seriousness, in order to let culture shock "gracefully" run its course (actually, it feels more like I'm a ballerina repeatedly pirouetting into concrete walls), I have been advised to focus on two facts. One, what I am feeling is natural, and it will end. I'm not crazy. It's okay that I feel the ground will cave out from under me every time I enter a Walmart, and that I gawk at $9 airport sandwiches realizing that amount of money could buy dinner for five in Nicaragua. It's okay, because some day I will be adjusted to being back in this place. Some night I will be able to put those marbles away (see last post).
The other fact is a little peppier. The fact is that there are good things about being back here, and it would be a disservice to those who have welcomed me lovingly "home" and to the Nicaraguans who sent me off with a (sometimes joking) "Get back where you belong!" if I didn't acknowledge these things.
And so here they are.
There's nothing quite like not going five miles in ten minutes without using any gasoline--no guilt involved! And Oregon, where I've spent the majority of my returned time so far, is brimming with velo-culture. I especially love country downhills after angry uphills where you realize as you fly that you earned all of it.
9. Enough sleep
Adios to the days of 5am "good" mornings and 10:30pm goodnights. I will guiltily leave those to the world's hardest workers and accept my privilege to be a culture-shocked bum. At least for now.
I don't much miss Managua weather in December-March. 37 Celsius. Creeks that evaporate and leave festering beds in their place. And I never felt comfortable in clingy clothing for more slender women. Meanwhile, in Oregon, my colorful scarves and cobwebbed boots await, and rain will make the flowers grow ;).
7. Inspirational people
I'm not saying there aren't inspirational people in Nicaragua. But I would like to thank those of you who have learned to love committing your lives to simple living, community, spirituality and social justice, without having to leave the States. You inspire me to keep trying. Keep in touch.
I've always been someone who prides herself on her expression. Though my Spanish grew in Nicaragua (duh), I couldn't be true to the introverted, sarcastic intellectual in me, not only due to a lack of vocabulary, but due to a lack of people who understand the hilarity of LOLCats and Monty Python. Instead they laugh at Chapurin Colorado. Cheers to English wit. It is good to be back in your presence.
Disclaimer: I miss Spanish everyday. But I live in the United States. Se encuentra en cada parte, y va creciendo!
I made an intentional decision to not bring my iPod into my JVC life. What joy to hear Nickel Creek, Muse, Shokolo and Bill Whelan again! Not to mention that in the past three weeks I've participated in jams involving banjos, ukelele, and steel drums. Bagpipes to come. I suppose not having los Mejia-Godoy around isn't so bad. Heck, it's my opportunity to pass them along to new communities here. Say, have you heard of los reyes del son Nica, Carlos and Luis Enrique Mejia-Godoy? Check them out.
Alas, no more rice and beans three times a day. I may feel guilty surveying the seven varieties of spinach and mushrooms at eco-friendly Oregon supermarkets, but when they make it on to my plate, sauteed with long-missed curry, I realize I have newly come to appreciate the beauty that is food. Healthy (or not), delicious food. May it be available to everyone.
So you know, almond milk, frozen blueberries, and granola is the best breakfast God ever desired for humankind.
3. Wide Green Expanses
Grass. Trees. Large meadows in the center of the city. Call Avatar cliche and call me hippie, but they DO have healing powers. That's why all Catholic Worker houses grow a garden. And the ability to roll in grass daily is a privilege not available to the urban poor in Nicaragua. Or the United States.
My favorite salsa partner is a 65-year-old Chinese grandpa named Tom, who speaks a single phrase of Spanish, "No toques mi culo."
Relationships are the hardest and most rewarding thing about being alive. I've got good people near me who care about me. Nicaraguans taught me the importance of taking care of them and allowing them to take care of me. After one-half of my JVC experience was over, I told my friend Yelba I was considering staying in Nicaragua. "You can't do that," she mandated. "Shame on you. You have to go back to your mother."