Nicaraguita: A poem by Samantha Austin

In April, Peace Corps hosted a global poetry contest for PCVs* and RPCVs.**  The runner-up for the RPCV category was Samantha Austin, who served in Nicaragua from 2010-2012.  Her poem: “Nicaraguita” is such a wonderful glimpse into our world here:


By Samantha Austin

“Oh Nicaragua, Nicaraguita
That girl at the bar said you have no culture

But I know
Culture is not something you can see in colorful cloth or folk dances

But something you taste, like the dust that lines your mouth in April before the
rains start
Like the ash baked into tortillas
And those small strawberries that come down from the mountain once a year

And culture is something you smell
Like the elote blackening in the street
The red and black paint drying on telephone poles
And the trash burning outside

It’s something you hear
Like the cars with the speakers tied on top, announcing a funeral
The sound of a plump mango falling from the tree
And every adios as you walk by

It’s something you feel
Like the warm hand of a stranger, inviting you in
The bumps on the road, as you pass by the mountains
And the ache of your heart, once you’ve left”

You can find a link to her poem, as well as the other contest winners on the Peace Corps website.

*PCV = Peace Corps Volunteer – often used to say someone is currently serving as a volunteer
**RPCV = Returned Peace Corps Volunteer – someone who has completed their 27 month service


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