Well, I’ve been home for a month now. I’ve never had much of a problem with reverse culture shock, so I settled back home quite nicely. My entire time at the Miami airport during my layover, however, was spent by attempting Spanish, then realizing I could speak in English now and be understood. It felt marvelous, but also bittersweet.
My greatest fear now is that I will lose my vocabulary. I already have lost a few words, I know, and I am attempting to speak in Spanish to myself as I clean my house or drive around town. I look a little crazy, but I think it’s worth it.
My experience in Nicaragua was intense. I learned so much, but at times it was very stressful. I caught a virus while there and was sick for a week. I am convinced that the farther one is from their own toilet, the more intense the pangs of stomach bugs are. Also, traveling solo is probably not my favorite mode.
I am so grateful I had the opportunity to go and will cherish my time with my friends there always. Nicaragua really is a beautiful country and I highly recommend people travel there. Perhaps one day I will be able to go again!
I learned a lot about not only Nicaragua, but myself. I realized I had a privileged childhood–and not mainly because I had electricity at all hours of day, or my parents owned two card–but because my parents never told me that I wasn’t able to do something, that I wasn’t worth investing in, or that I wouldn’t have a good life.
There is no doubt that Nicaraguan parents love their children dearly, and that they would give them the world if they could–just like American parents. But being surrounded by women who had to fight their fathers to graduate high school was enlightening. Being told by well-meaning but sexist men that I’m “just a child” and I “couldn’t ride the bus” by myself and I “shouldn’t have to be told what can happen to women at night in alleys” made me angry–and also grateful for how I was raised. These attitudes and people are all over the world–not just in Nicaragua. I do not in any way mean to insinuate that Nicaragua is inferior to the United States. It’s not.
God showed me how much I have–and I don’t mean the two cars I own or the air conditioning (though I thank God daily for that now!). He also gave me opportunities to love others and rely on Him in stressful, lonely circumstances. For example, when I was sick and on my hands and knees in front of the trash can, I tried to focus on His nearness and care. And when Mama Adilia bought me a pill and prayed over me (I was impressed I could understand any Spanish with a fever and stomach flu), it made me feel so much less alone.
So I returned to the US with a greater sense of understanding and gratitude for my life. As a Christian, it also makes me that much more passionate for restorative justice in all corners of the world, and with a great sense of homesickness for the beautiful Spanish language.