I love the rain here. One moment is calm, dry, and hot…the next a small but steady rain settles in. It tinks and pinks off my tin roof. But the small steady drizzle doesn’t last long. Within minutes it is pouring. Hard. Loud. Beautiful. Powerful. The sound and smells overwhelm me. The dry, cracked ground rejoices for the deep drink.
The down pour don’t seem to last for long. Just when your mind begins to get used to the overwhelming amount of water tumbling out of the sky, it lightens again. The drizzle may continue for a bit with another down pour cycle to follow or it may fizzle out, leaving that after-rain-smell that calms my heart.
I feel like my experiences with culture and language here in Nicaragua are similar to the cycles of rain I’ve witnessed the first few weeks. Most of the time I’m dry, cracked, thirsty for understanding why things/risks/habits are the way they are here. They’re not bad, just very new, different, and foreign. In reality, I can’t even make sense of what is good/bad/fine/normal/etc. yet. I’m still in the first stages of adapting to a new culture, with a mix of the honeymoon stage and the beginnings of culture shock. Between the new language, new family, new home, new food, new customs, new work, new sleeping schedules, new levels of noise, new eating/bathing/cleanliness standards…it’s a lot to take in.
Then occasionally, a drizzle comes.
I learn new words; a bridge to communication. I learn new rituals; a bridge to connection. I get a glimpse of what’s going on around me and a tiny bit of potential understanding.
There have even been a few down pours – moments where I’m able to move past the newness and just recognize the beauty. Family gathered together to celebrate the baptism and birthday of Diego. Blowing bubbles with a three-year-old cousin. Andres embarrassing our ten-year-old cousin by dancing in the streets. My host mom telling me over and over again not to be sad that Andres is gone through the week or anxious that I won’t learn enough Spanish. Getting up with the rosters and the sun and greeting then both with yoga. Listening to a conversation in Spanish and knowing some of what is being said and being able to reply in Spanish to keep the conversation going.
In some ways, in those moments of clarity and insight, I feel more alive than I have in years. Perhaps it’s the stark contrast between the dry, thirsty days where I have no idea what’s going on that makes it so. Regardless, those moments where understanding and connection pour into my soul leave me feeling a little more whole.
And when the rain stops, I hold on to those moments and smell that after-rain-smell, and I know it’s the first step of creating a home for myself in this new land for the next two years.