Over halfway done with service many PCVs develop an appreciation for how the differences between people from across the world are dwarfed by the commonalities we share, especially as the feeling of familiarity and belonging within our host countries grows.
And then some new, but honestly not surprising, experience shakes our sense of assimilation and reminds us that, no matter how much “integration” work we do or get goosebumps singing the country’s national anthem, we are still cultural outsiders.
Exhibit F: I was in my rural school on my way to coplan with my counterpart, when I saw her with a group of seventh graders milling around the fence. Next thing I know, a group of four boys extract the carcass of a fox with branches, carry it over to a clearing outside the classroom, and, on order from the principal, ignite a the pile of leaves and branches they’ve covered it in to incinerate the remains. They spend the rest of the class playing outside, as the stench in their classroom is too strong to return.
I love Nicaragua, and although this experience reminds me I may not be puro pinolero (Nicaraguan by the grace of God), it sure is a whole lot of fun being a gringo pinolero.