Wednesday, February 11, 2015

30 Things We've Learned in 30 Days or Less

We love/hate this about living overseas: learning. Always. Every day feels like a extended teachable moment. Life as a roller coaster learning curve. We sometimes/often/always feel like we don't know how to do ANYTHING.

(This morning's learning opportunities: the twins are supposed to wear specific navy shorts as a part of their preschool uniform, and I don't know where to buy them. TJ has a group of doctors arriving in a few weeks, and the health department has added new layers to their clearance process. I want to buy 5 gallon bottles of water, but I don't know where to exchange the empty ones.)

It's exciting, getting to know a new people and a different part of the world. It's also draining, to be in a constant posture of learning. This past month, we've often thought, "If only this were happening a year from now. We would totally know how to navigate this." But the only way to make it to the experience and knowledge on the other side of  'a year from now' is to work our way through the not-knowing of now.

We've been in Nicaragua for exactly one month today. We don't know as much about life here as we will a year from now, but we know more than we did a month ago. In honor of 30 days in-country, here are 30 things we didn't know before we arrived (but now we do!). 

  1. Our utility bills are hand-delivered to our door via motorcycle.
  2. Nicaragua is home to one of the largest species of ants in the world. (Thanks a lot, PMI. You could have mentioned that in the interview process.)
  3. Milk is sold in plastic bags, not cartons.

  4. The weather is lovely (so far). Sunny, upper 80's, not humid, and breezy.
  5. Nicaraguans prefer small red beans to black beans.
  6. When writing a check, the number 'two hundred' MUST be written as 'doscientos' and not 'dos cientos." 
  7. You can withdraw US dollars or Nicaraguan cordobas from an ATM.
  8. Nicaragua is the largest country in Central America, about the same size as New York state.
  9. Managua's giant yellow metal tree sculptures are based off of Gustav Klimt's 1909 work 'The Tree of Life.' (Actually, didn't even know there were giant yellow tree sculptures everywhere.)
  10. If you're even a day late paying your electric bill, the power company will come out and literally cut your power line. Without mentioning it to you.
  11. Didn't know our landlord hadn't been paying the electric bill before we moved in. Which is how we found out about #10 above.
  12. It's free to text between the US and Nicaragua. (Technically iMessage, not text.)
  13. So many trees. In our yard alone we have: mango, avocado, papaya, banana, grapefruit, lemon, lime, and palm trees. Very surreal.
  14. Mountains and old volcanoes and lakes - spectacular vistas are everywhere, even in the city.
  15. The tap water in Managua is considered safe to drink. We still don't drink it, but it's nice to know it's in the realm.
  16. You can pay all of your bills at the bank - rent, utility bills, internet, even traffic tickets.
  17. They're digging (or planning to dig?) a 2nd 'Panama Canal' through Nicaragua. 
  18. Our neighborhood has cobblestone streets.
  19. Our house has red clay (tile) floors. That means our feet and our kids and our beds our rugs and our furniture are always covered in red.
  20. Diet Coke (or Coca Lite) is almost non-existent here. Lots of Coke and Coke Zero, though.
  21. Bath night for the kids is every night, and can never be skipped. (See #19.) They are covered in dust and dirt at the end of every day. We used to do bath night maybe 2-3 times per week in the winter. This is a big adjustment, because we are all tiiiiiired at the end of the day.
  22. There are swan tiles in the twins' bathroom, and I kind of like it.
  23. Netflix streaming works here, and the selection is awesome. Think: every Disney and Pixar movie ever made.
  24. The president of Nicaragua is Daniel Ortega.
  25. The wood beam ceilings in our house are mahogany.
  26. The geckos on our windows make a loud chirping sound - almost like a woodpecker. (All night long.)
  27. The wind sets off our neighbor's car alarm. (All night long.)
  28. How isolating and disempowering adult illiteracy can be, especially in a world that increasingly communicates via text and social media.
  29. That there would be Publix-esque grocery store less than a minute from our neighborhood. Seriously, I don't even have time to shift the car into third gear before I'm in the parking lot.
  30. How very at home and well-welcomed we would already feel here.


Jennifer Newell said...

Love this list! Thanks for sharing. It will come in handy for us in the semi-near future. :)

Anonymous said...

Okay, I've learned that my mobile just doesn't like Blogger comment boxes! Attempt three: I still keep thinking about those fruit trees, and I'm still so glad I can text you. Love you, friends!