An Expat Life: Nicaragua Blues and Ruse

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Mixed Emotions

I'm not the only one......with mixed emotions (so goes the song)[Keith + Mick]

Yep, Managua is almost in the rearview mirror now. There are two prevailing groups of people that we encounter these days, the ones that we've shared our lives with the last two years, and the ones that we're about to reunite with.

As for the latter, this part is easy.... We'll soon be with friends and family, recounting our 2 years apart, catching up and retelling stories, showing our sons the things and people that they've been missing. Filling in the blanks on those that we hold dear....our American roots, the people, places, and things that make up who we are/were/and will be.

The leaving is the hardest part though. On one hand, I feel the excitement of the move, the cleansing of the soul, not to mention all the excess 'stuff' that we've eliminated from our lives. But, as the days wear on, we say goodbye to more and more people, to folks that we've shared our lives with, to those that have merely made it easier. Nicaragua can be a rough place. Aside from all the beaches, cocktail parties, and so forth, I'm leaving behind a country that is much worse off than it was when I arrived. This week, I'll say goodbye to our gardener. You can see the stress in Juan's eyes, as he contemplates his future without ready employment. In a country with over 40% unemployment and booming inflation, he's about to enter an insecure world, free of grass clippings and a steady salary. In truth, there are thousands of Juan's in this country, and after a while, you begin to deaden inside a little bit.

On a more personal note, last night we said goodbye to perhaps our closest friends here in Managua....a family with which we've shared the good times, along with the bad. It didn't hit me until last night as we were leaving....this is a tough life that we are leading, traipsing through the world, making friends, saying goodbye...a cruel cycle for the sentimental. So it goes.... I'm not good at saying 'goodbye', because there's a sense of finality that I believe only comes with death. For that reason, I refuse to succumb to the idea that I'll never see them again. Indeed, we've already began preliminary plans to reunite in either Bulgaria or the United Arab Emirates (their probable destination). Not burdened (too much) by our Spanish language deficiencies, we've spent many a hazy Sunday sitting on their porch, sharing our life experiences, while watching our children grow up, literally. I can remember our sons, as they first met, marveling at a grasshopper toy that they both coveted, and the subsequent 'meeting/evaluation of the parents' that followed. An essential guide to Managua social life for expat parents, socializing through our children necessitates finding adults that you enjoy being around. In some ways, I felt more akin to them than some of my own compatriots here. Today, they leave for their native Spain. They will be sorely missed.

So it a bit, I'm heading out to say farewells at Brodie's preschool, a despidida, as they say here. There will be cake, songs, a celebration, and other fanfare. But, at the end of the day, it will yet another 'goodbye'. Our son has finally begun to show signs that the move is affecting him as well. He hasn't been himself the last couple days, and we suspect that the heaviness of knowing that he won't see his friends is weighing him down. Sure, he'll enjoy the cake and festivities, but I know, deep down, his heart is heavy. For that, mine is too...

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