Sometimes she gets away from me.

When walking Maní in Nicaragua, she’d sometimes get away from me.  She’d get into a neighbor’s yard and run around, play with their dog, bark at their cat, stare at their horses, or chase their chickens.  The whole family would laugh and help me chase and catch her.  I’d introduce myself and they’d tell me a little about themselves.  Maní and I would walk away lightheartedly as I cooed her and pulled her away on the leash.

When walking Maní in the States, she stays on the leash. It’s a long leash, though, and sometimes she gets away from me.  Today my neighbor and I exchanged pleasantries. –Neighbors talking about the weather. I used to walk around La Dalia and do this with just about everyone I passed.  I joke that when I started my service, it took me 15 minutes to walk between my home and the hospital.  By the end, it took a half hour.  And when I walked with Alma, it took us an hour and by the time we got home, we’d be stuffed with dinner and coffee.– And then Maní got away from me.  She rolled in my neighbor’s dirt by the curb of the road.  His dirt.  He yells, get her away from there. I pull her leash close and apologize.  Go away, he shouts again, closer this time.  I’m working on it, I’m really sorry.  And then Maní and I walked away in silence, hollow, stiff, and mortified.

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2 Responses to Sometimes she gets away from me.

  1. Becky B says:

    Hey L – I have to admit that this post hit me hard. First, I hate to think of you feeling this way, and I can only imagine the act of readjusting to the U.S. must be a difficult one. Second, I couldn’t help but think of my own struggles and draw some parallels. I suppose I can’t yet wrap my head around the fact that cultures can be simultaneously comforting and isolating, depending on what you are expecting and what your own sense of self is. Having lived in 5 different cities over the past 10 years, with Managua as the hardest adjustment of them all, I have realized that there are things about any place that you will always love and miss, and there are things that you will always hate. When I leave this place, as I inevitably will, I will feel relieved to no longer get whistled and yelled at as I walk down the street, to not have to make the heartbreaking decision of whether to give a malnourished child money at every semaforo and to not wince as I see many impoverished young teens pregnant in the street when they should be in school. But, my heart will also break over certain intangible realities: the friendly neighbors who always say hello and even bring by food, the irreplaceable sound of the woman’s voice tirelessly selling “pina, melon, aguacate, sandia,” the places I went and feelings I had as I fell in love with Juan, and the fact that I found such humble, dedicated friends like you and Nishant.

    I suppose the ebb and flow of people and places and things crafts us in ways that we can’t anticipate, both for the better and, if we let them, for the worse. I will say to you what I need to say to myself – don’t let it craft you for the worse. Don’t give that man and his own limitations the power to negatively shape your experience, your mind, your heart, even for an instant. It is the gap in those two worlds of Nicaragua that fuels a passion to work in the fields that we do, to pour our hearts and souls into the Nicaragua we love hoping that it will help eradicate the one that we hate. So the next time you see that man, smile at him. Smile at him with the thought that he helped you illuminate what you love about Nicaragua and how lucky you are to have had such a unique, life-altering experience. For I know the friends you have made here will last a lifetime, always waiting with coffee and dinner for whenever you return, not only because of their own generosity, but also because of yours.

    • Lauren says:

      Hey Becky. Thanks so much for your response. It means a lot. And you’re right–while I was fantasizing about destroying his dirt piles overnight tonight, the much wiser route would be to take it for what it is–un choque cultural–let it go, and smile when I pass by him tomorrow. Thanks again :)

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