Friday, August 17, 2007

Return to La-La Land

Welcome back to the USA: Where a good buy on mangoes is a dollar a piece

Towards the end of our time on Ometepe, I was faced with the realization that I would soon be returning to a world of cars and bills and deadlines and grocery shopping and so many things that I had been glad to leave behind. I told Rob that I felt, in a way, living on Ometepe for a year had been like running away from the real world. He said it was probably actually the other way around, and the more I thought about it, that’s right. The Third World is the real world. The US is like la-la land. Living there, you don’t see what really goes on—how the rest of the world lives every day. That way, its easy to ignore.

So we got back to La-La Land and are trying to get moved in to our new place. Most of our stuff is here by now, its just all kind of sitting in the middle of the floor in various boxes and bins, so its going to take a while to get settled in. My friends and family have been so amazingly helpful during this whole process: providing vehicles, lifting heavy objects, cleaning out cabinets and mopping floors, cooking dinner for us, and making sure that our refrigerator is well stocked with soymilk. Rob’s parents and my parents were both here to help, and as a surprise, my Auntie drove down with my Grandma, just for a little visit. It does seem that everyone was really eager to have us back, and that is a good feeling.

For the first couple of days we kept the air conditioning off. In some way, it was strangely comforting to be hot and sweating all the time, like a little bit of Nicaragua was still with me. And because it was so hot, I still took cold showers. You know, it would have been too much to leap into all the ridiculous creature comforts of La-La Land all at once. But then Rob got frustrated with the heat and turned on the AC, despite my objections. Nicaragua is starting to slip away from me. At first, I tried to imagine what Eduardo would say or think about all these US things, like our house, the grocery store, etc. I thought of how Leda (the woman who does cleaning and washing) might react to seeing our washing machine—its the front loading kind where you can see the clothes spin round and round. But then it just got too overwhelming; its like a completely different planet here. Eduardo and the other people I knew in Ometepe would have no frame of reference. It’s a very unsettling feeling, really. To look around and see all this stuff but to close my eyes and still see volcanoes, Guanacaste trees, monkeys, and sunsets over Lake Nicaragua.

On my birthday, I had an email from Eduardo, wishing me a happy day. Joel must have helped him—he had included a photo of all the children standing around a poster they had decorated that said “Happy Birthday Melissa” in English. I sent a reply, thanking him for the photo and telling him we should continue to write. And he wrote back right away, saying (in Spanish), “I will wait for you one day, on Ometepe.”
Eduardo is in the yellow shirt

There are a lot of things to do around here, so I need to sign off for now. Thanks for reading.


At 3:09 PM, August 17, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Such a perfect writing -- la la land -- i like that! But I don't know any different, so your writings have opened my eyes to a culture i could never have experienced from my 'chair' in la la land! Thank you again and again. So happy we got to come and visit you -- absolutely LOVE your place here -- it is perfect for you and Rob!! Just take your time with the boxes -- they'll eventually go away! Much love, auntie

At 6:57 AM, August 18, 2007, Blogger amypfan said...

I'm glad you're getting settled in okay, in spite of the culture shock. You're right; our "normal" lives are just too much for someone who has not experienced it to understand. For example, check out my most recent post about the ridiculous amount of toys that Bryn just received--I'm sure the kids on Ometepe would have been overwhelmed by just one of these items. It really just doesn't seem fair.

At 9:01 PM, August 20, 2007, Blogger Logan's Mama said...

The military does a strange thing when someone comes back from "over there". Instead of returning immediately to the overwhelming la-la land, there is a transition place and a time to re-orient from a land of very-little back to the land of too-much. Most of what the military does is nuts, but I think that they might just have the right idea with this one. I can only imagine how lost in translation you must feel right now between your two worlds. Give yourself time and you'll start to know where you are when you open your eyes.
And in the meantime, I'm so happy that Eduardo has e-mail... :-)


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