Thursday, July 19, 2007


Some days are easier than others.

In the interest of this being an accurate blog, I’ll let you in on a little secret. It’s lonely here. Ok, that’s really not much of a secret. Just about any one who has transplanted themselves from one place to another knows this. But sometimes it’s tougher than others.

Last Sunday morning Marlon sent one of the 12 year old boys to wake me up and tell me they everyone was leaving for Managua for the day in 20 minutes, would I like come?

Well, I’ve gotten better at not planning too far ahead, but this one was still a little late notice for me. Granted, I was grateful to get 20 minutes notice, generally I get less and other times I’ve simply been left behind altogether.

It’s been a difficult transition. One the one hand, it’s hard for me to feel like part of the family when in US culture giving someone just a few minutes notice (especially when you live right next to them) is almost the same as not inviting them. On the other hand, I’m very aware from their point of view, apart from his wife, Marlon doesn’t give the other people living here (the boys) any notice ahead of time either.

The boys here do what he tells them the minute he wants them to because that is how Latin American families are run. So if I really wanted to be part of the ‘family’ I would simply have to be even more flexible. The problem for me is that this starts to infringe on me doing my job. But remembering Nicaraguan priorities, the job is further down the list than being with the family. I’m pretty sure that I am internally unable to fully make this adjustment and sacrifice the very reason I’m here (getting the new orphanage built any time soon).

This is unfortunately the only family I have the option of being in. All other volunteer positions work with the kids and therefore are on the island, so I don’t come into contact with any of the volunteers, huge majority of the kids or other island staff on a regular basis.

The people working at the office itself are very nice, but I have yet to actually be invited by any of them to do anything (they always seem a little hesitant because they’re never quite sure if I’ll be able to understand them and so am I!). So my best friends continue to be the teenage boys who are here the most frequently. I suppose somehow I’m hoping to still find a way to compromise. But after more than three months of continually expecting it to get better, I’m just less hopeful than I used to be.

View out from my room to the rest of the property. Marlon's house is more or less straight ahead, the offices are the white and blue building on the right, the entrance gate and supply house is to the left of the picture.

Note ** I totally want to recognize that I have really great support from family and friends. I’m really lucky to have access to technology that allows us to stay in touch so easily. I can cheaply call people in the States and it’s free for most people to call me. So as compared to years past, or more remotely located international volunteers today, I do have it easy in that regard.

I don’t really like writing about this part of life, but it is undeniably part of the experience for virtually everyone I’ve talked to that has done something similar.


Anonymous said...

Been there, Cole. I think the loneliest I ever was was on Adak Island in the Bering Sea. Living in a previous military base with hundreds of houses and streets almost completely deserted in early winter felt pretty desolate - of course, that was only a month and a half, but I think those are times, although challenging, really make you appreciate nature, yourself, your deeper thoughts... And a good book!

Anonymous said...

That was my comment, Cole!

Anonymous said...

You probably could have figured that out - someone who calls you Cole and has been on an island in the Bering Sea...