Tuesday, March 6, 2012

When they forget you are different

Being in Nicaragua and being white, are the two most opposite things one could think of. Being white with lighter hair, I stand out no matter where I go.  Of course, I fully knew this going in, but what I didn't know was that it was going to be such a dividing line. 

For example, when I was in the Republic of Georgia I also stood out but they, as a country, got used to us, Westerners. Whether it was because of the TLG TV commercials or whatever else, it was nice to feel like I was starting to "fit in." This was especially true in my village and on the bus to and from town. At first, I was treated as a novelty, but finally I was treated like everyone else. No special treatment, no sitting in the front seat of the Marshrutka, and not being able to help with clearing and setting the table. Once all of things stopped happening, I started to feel "normal." Which is, of course, what I was wanting all along. This brings me back to Nicaragua. 

I would like to walk down the street without people stopping their conversations, go shopping in the super market without peering eyes looking at what I am buying, and I would also like to walk down the street without having every taxi driver honk at me, gesturing they are free if I need a lift. And I would like to walk down the street without men hollering and making kissing noises at me. 

I'm addressing all of the above: I walk just like everyone else, maybe a bit faster than some Nicaraguans but the commonality is still there. The food I am buying is a yogurt and an apple. Both of which seem normal here due to the large selection of each item. The way I would hail a taxi in the US is the same way I do it here. Just a wave of the arm. So stop honking; I will let you know if I need a ride.  Finally, if I wanted more from you,  guy hanging out of the car window, you would know. Subtleness is a much more attractive quality in a man.

Although this post carries some serious aspects, I am trying to make light of the fact that I am not much different than anyone else in the world. I know my skin, hair color, and language are different but I carry out the same basic functions. 

Those who travel to different countries not only wish to observe every aspect of that country, but we wish to be included. We don't travel to eat McDonald's, we travel because we want something different, and in most cases, some thing better to eat. Don't worry about the language barrier, we obviously don't. Don't look at us like aliens, you can laugh, we know our we sound like a hot mess. We are here to to learn and experience a life different than our own. We know it might not be easy but we are here because we are willing to try. 

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