I fly out tomorrow. The last couple weeks have been really tough: first I said goodbye to La Dalia, then to my fellow Nica 55ers, then to my host family in La Paz, and tomorrow, I will say goodbye to Nicaragua herself. Goodbyes are heavy and I haven’t had time to digest it all yet. In the meantime, take a look at my exit interview that will appear in the our very own Peace Corps Volunteer magazine, Va Pue. If you don’t speak Spanglish, see the Spanglish Dictionary (for the Idioma’d-Challenged) below to help translate some of my responses.
Name: Lauren “Lorenita” Spigel
Site: La Dalia, Matagalpa
Favorite Nica food or drink: Frijolitos, maduro, cuajada, crema, y huevos revueltos, all on one plate; leche con banano in a bag.
Favorite Nica dicho: Que tuani no ser machista.
Use your favorite Spanglish word in a sentence: I need to conseguir some letters of recommendation.
Part of your body that will never be the same: My skin. I look so old now!
Most creative piropo: During the time I was practicing the imperfect subjunctive tense, I was walking my dog one day when someone yelled out, “Si pudiera ser tu perrito lo haría”—disturbing, but grammatically correct.
When were you at your most Nica? Staring at white people; chinearing babies on buses; saying “goodbye” as I passed by people in the States.
Favorite thing about your site: My neighbors; the cool climate (except when it involves showering in December); the mountains; the views of said mountains; outings to communities; my women’s group; open doors; swinging on my hammock; neighborhood pulperías; hanging with Doña Damaris at her quiosco; and of course, the infamous gas station.
What did you miss most from home during your service? Burgers, beer and bagels; green grass; and constant access to water.
What will you miss most from Nicaragua? Living physically close to other people and the sense of community that comes from it; saying “adioooooooos;” shopping on buses; long scenic trips; and my friends and neighbors who have supported me throughout my time here.
What were you most proud of during your service? Gaining confianza with community members through my radio show, Hablando un Mismo Idioma, where I discussed gender violence and sexual health; my women’s group; how big ChatSalud is getting; and the taller I held with Acción Médica Cristiana that trained community leaders to facilitate charlas on cervical cancer.
What’s your legacy? Complete this sentence: I’m the gringa who talked to her dog.
Best and/or worst memory: Best: I got back to site at 8:30 p.m. from Managua and had just found out that I had to go back to Managua the next morning at 4:00 a.m. I was bringing Maní (my dog) back to the States, and that was when the bus driver said I should bring her. This was not a lot of time to close my house up for three weeks. My neighbor Miriam came over and said that all I had to worry about was packing my suitcase and sleeping and she’d do the rest for me, which included cleaning everything and bringing the fridge and cocina over to her house. I was so thankful. Worst: My mid-service crisis, which once resulted in me sobbing while stuck between two large men on a 4-hour bus journey home from Managua. Also, having dengue was the worst.
Craziest bus story: A bolo once put the whole front of his body against my entire backside—like, we’re talking bien pegado. When I asked him to give me some more space, he accused me of being fachenta. After a long tirade, the bolo and his bolo friend transitioned into a loud drunken debate on the merits of feminism. It was an unexpected turn of events.
Would you do it all over again? Yes.
Where will we find you in 10 years? Maní and I will be growing old together.
Parting words/ advice to remaining volunteers: Rid yourself of Peace Corps guilt—sometimes it’s okay to take some time to burrow away and watch a movie, take a weekend out of site or work outside of your assigned counterpart agency. At the same time, try to put yourself out there and meet as many people and organizations as possible. Work opportunities are lurking everywhere. Wear sunscreen every day so you don’t look like a viejit@ at the end of your service.
(for the idioma’d-challenged)
- Frijolitos: fried beans
- Maduro, cuajada, crema, y huevos revueltos: ripe/fried/sweet plantain, fresh cheese, cream, and scrambled eggs.
- Leche con banano: Milk and banana smoothie
- Nica dicho: Nicaraguan saying
- Que tuani no ser machista: It’s cool not to be machista (i.e.) it’s cool to respect women.
- Conseguir: to get something
- “Si pudiera ser tu perrito lo haría”: If I could be your dog, I would.
- chinearing: cradling
- Pulperías: mini convenience stores that are generally out of people’s homes
- Quiosco: kiosk
- Confianza: Trust
- Hablando un Mismo Idioma: Speaking the Same Language
- Charlas: Information educational sessions/ mini lectures
- Taller: workshop
- Gringa: A person from the United States
- Cocina: My little stove top
- Bolo: a drunk man
- Bien pegado: very close; literally “very glued.”
- Fachenta: snobby
- Viejit@: Old person. People use “@” to include both genders (an “o” at the end would indicate a male, an “a” at the end would indicate a female, and “@” is all-inclusive).