My new friend

I have been going to a local cafe for my afternoon jolt of caffeine since I got here and met a charming little gal who works there. We had dinner the other night and I got to know her story a little bit better. She has lived all of her 26 years in Granada except for 5 years spent in Guatemala. Now she lives with her mom and a few other family members. She describes her mom, whom she loves dearly, as “like a child”. I have been thinking about that for a couple of days.

If like a child means that she doesn’t save money, has few if any long term goals and never thinks about how to better her life then it all makes sense to me. Her mom grew up under a dictator. She saw him violently overthrown and lived through the ensuing civil war that tore Nicaragua apart and cost them thousands of their children (most of the casualties were just teenagers). She has known nothing but poverty and a better future is a concept that has never occurred to her or millions of other Nicaraguans.

Daniel Ortega just won another election that was an election in name only as he ran unopposed and his wife is Vice President. And no one says a word. It seems to me that millions of Nicaraguans have accepted their fate, accepted that there is very little they can do about it, and just worry about enough rice and beans for tomorrow.

This is foreign to most all Americans. We bitch about our own fair and free elections just because we don’t like the guy who won. Look at what thousands of Americans do on Black Friday at the department stores. We have a vast safety net for those Americans who fall through the cracks. Hunger is the only thing in Nicaragua that approximates a social safety net….when you’re hungry you work.

How would you be under these circumstances? Would you appear to your children as being childlike? I think so. And I credit my young friend for even recognizing the symptoms. I think I am beginning to understand the Nica’s and I understand why my friend said that about her mother and I also understand why her mother is perceived this way. I remember several years ago I was at a party at my sister’s house in the San Diego area. One of her friends told me she hated America. In amazement I told her that I thought we were all lucky to be here. She backed away looking at me as if I was holding a pitchfork and had red horns.

I have been humbled by this beautiful country and wonderful people and I am lucky to be here.

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