A Difficult Adjustment

There is something very difficult about this place. I´m not sure if I´m homseick or what , but I can tell you that for the last two nights my dreams have been about connecticutand my family and friends. What I think is more likely is the vast differences in society and culture in this village.

In Nicaragua, last spring, when we went for the alternative break challenge, we had 9 days of specific plans and travel which made everday intriguing and full, leaving you with that tired feeling that manual laborers or doctors might feel after ten hours of work – tired and accomplished. Here we are on vacation, waking with the sun, retiring as the light fades, (which is more than anything an escape from the deluge of bitting flies and mosguitos which descend at dusk). In the mornings we dress, apply a liberal amount of natural bug repelent oils and walk out of bernardos house to breakfast which could be anything from spegetti in egg and potato water or rice and plantains. This meal is repeated for lunch a few hours later… We then sit and read or write in our journals for a few hours, maybe go for a short walk if the sun isn´t to hot. We lay in hammocks and rest, glance around, and chat with the occasional passerby community member. Yesterday we got a little tour of a medicinal garden at one of the town´s shaman´s house. There we saw the hallucinigenic cure-all, ayahuasca as well as something that looked like wild ginger, which was neat. That is about it. Maybe that is my problem. Bethlehem is a roaring metropolis compared to this place. The Shipibo are a very proud, happy busy-in-their-own-way type of people. It seems that the majority of their day, (and perhaps many small communities are necessariliy similar), is filled with need based subsistence activity. Men fish, practice medicine, or work on the yard. Women cook and clean and embroider. Children play endlessly in the street with each other.

This practice accompanied with their desire to provide us with a comfortable stay make the idea of helping with chores a near impossibility. And so, expet for the hour and a half class, four days a week, we tend to sit in hammocks on the porch, escaping the sun, nervous to venture through the town, for it seems they are equally as nervous to approach us. Bernardo´s immediate family, especially the young boy Melvin and his brother Felix are very interested in learning english and like to teach us Shipibo words and ask us questions over, and over, and over again. ´howayou?´ ´howayou?´

It is a beautiful place and extremely peacful with happy, nice people. However I find a certain akward seperation between us and them. After talking abotu this with Natali we have decieded we should try to approach this in a new way. Natali does have a bit of an upper hand, being able to speak to them in spanish, which I hope provides her a slight relief from this feeling of seperation. I must admit I don´t think I want to stay for 3 more weeks. Bernardo is leaving on monday after his birthday for Pucallpa for three days and as of now I would like to go with him for reasons I do not yet understand. The best word that comes to mind is ´stagnant.´

2 Responses to “A Difficult Adjustment”
  1. julie says:

    Even though it sounds as if you are encountering some difficulty in the village, I believe that both you and Natali possess the thirst for knowledge, love of culture, and friendliness required to transcend this cultural divide. I'm sure you will impact the villagers in a positive and lasting way and vice versa.Miss you both! Keep updating us on your fantastic adventure!<3 julie

  2. heliopath says:

    ah man there is so much in this. the age old is ignorance bliss? arguement. they seem to be happy in villages, they have a system that works and that they do not question. kids play and don’t always feel like going to school. is that right? is that wrong? do they have a choice? should they have a choice? should villages strive to develop into “better” societies? would that actually improve life or make things more stressful. from my guess you stayed there longer than the following monday, i am curious to see how this thought develops.ro

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