Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Culture Lesson II

For the introduction to this conversation (so that it makes sense) click here.

Continued from yesterday...

So instead of waiting until the conversation, pause, conversation was over, I asked Yader if he could buy the sodas now (and then we’d get one for Maudiel when he was finished), but Yader looked at me horrified. ‘I can’t go alone!’ Thinking this was a teenage group mentality issue, I asked why not. Yader said there are just things you don’t do alone.

So I asked for examples. He replied – eat. You don’t eat alone. I flashed back to times here in Nicaragua where I’d be so hungry after work (and have other things to do after eating so I wouldn’t feel like sitting outside for hours waiting around for other people to show up) that I’d go ahead and eat alone.

A couple times a kid would wander through and ask me if I liked eating alone. It always seemed like a strange question to me since I would prefer eating with others, but it wasn’t until this conversation that I realized eating alone was so strange to them that the only reason they could think of that I would do it was because I preferred it, not because work would ever be more important.

So I asked Yader what he would do if someday he had a family and his wife was gone working and his kids were at school for the day, how would he eat. And he said that he would call a friend.

And I realized how incredibly right he was. They don’t eat without each other. That’s one of the reasons it is so important to live in the same town as your family and friends, because otherwise you aren’t able to fulfill the basic functions of life.

I eat because I’m hungry. I eat around the schedule of other things I have to do (like work). But neither one of those are the priorities here. There is a lot of waiting (which I knew before, but I don’t think I realized that it was because they wanted to, not just because they had no other choice) because you can never be quite sure when things will come together. But waiting for your friends and family to eat is what you do. It is as ingrained in them as waiting for your dinner guests to arrive before starting to eat is for you.

It looks like there is about to be more waiting in my future!

Leaving through the main gate at the offices for our walk

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