Thursday, July 26, 2007

Some Things Are Just Silly

Sometimes it is surprising what is different here compared to in the States.

For example, I don’t have a phone in my office. I bugged the IT staff here for about two months and eventually got a phone line. But no phone. Finally when Gunther arrived, it really became a necessity for us to have a phone (because I have a cell from NPH, I’d just been using that).

So on their last trip to Managua, a two hour drive one way, one of the staff looked for a digital phone that would network with the rest of the phones the office already has. But apparently there isn't a digital phone in the country anymore. At least not one they could find for sale, so we’ll have to special order one.

So yeah, you think, Nicaragua isn’t a rich country, they probably just don’t have a lot of easily available technology, and that’s true, but there’s more.

I went looking for a table for my room made out of wood. Call me a snob, I really didn't want a white circular plastic tables for a desk. So we went to the market, but apparently there are no wood tables for sale in Rivas. And Rivas isn’t a tiny village, it’s a town. There are plenty of wood tables around in people’s houses and businesses, just, apparently, none are for sale.

My wood table (from a town an hour away) in my living room (little mattresses on the floor with pillows)

So yeah, you think, Nicaragua doesn’t have quite the consumption level that other countries do, so they don’t have lots of different choices, and that’s true, but there’s more.

Rivas (the big town next to the little suburb I live in) isn't exactly the busiest commercial center

Gunther went to go and open a bank account. He’s an official resident (his wife is Nicaraguan) and he wanted to deposit money. But they won’t let him open a bank account unless he has two letters of reference from other people. Not anyone special, just whoever you want.

The idea comes from the US War on Drugs so that if your account is being used to launder drug money, they can track it to people other than just you. But all the letter needs to be is your neighbor saying, yeah, he’s a nice guy. And if they catch you laundering money for drugs all your neighbor will say is, yeah, I sure thought he was a nice guy. You could deposit $20 and this would be a requirement.

So there are some things here that seem kind of silly. Not that Nicaragua is alone in that category, but it is definitely fits right in.

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