Wednesday, February 04, 2015

FAQ: the Nicaragüense Version

Questions. We get asked a ton of questions. Questions about having twins, and questions about living in the developing world. The thing is: we don't mind. We really enjoy talking with people about some of our favorite things in the world - our almost-always-delightful children, and a desire to live/serve outside of our comfort zones.

We're used to the questions people usually ask us in the States (FAQ: Stateside Edition post to follow!), but it's been fun getting just as many (different) questions from Nicaraguans. Below are the top 5 most common questions we're asked here.

1. ¿Qué te pareció Chinandega? A Uds. les gusta? (How do you like Chinandega?) We actually don't live in Chinandega, which is a rural area on the northern Pacific coast of Nicaragua. We live in the capital city of Managua, but our car license plate is still registered to Chinandega. It's somewhat rare to encounter expats who live in Chinandega, and Nicaraguans are ALWAYS asking us if we like it there. They usually also say something like, "How do you like Chinandega? Your little ones are going to like it so much there, they're never going to want to leave Nicaragua." In the beginning, we would explain that we live in Managua, but haven't changed the car tag. Now that we answer this question several times a day, we usually just say, "We really like Chinandega, and the children love it, too!" This question, and #2 below, are far and away the ones we are asked most often.

2. ¿Son gemelos? Quien nació primero? (Are they twins? Which one was born first?) Nicaraguan culture values children highly, and Nicaraguans especially love twins. Everyone is a little starstruck when I confirm that Ian and Isla are indeed, twins. Sometimes people are surprised when I say that Ian was born first, since Isla is a little bit taller. Sometimes I just agree that Isla was born first. They were born within the same minute, and Ian and Isla can't yet understand what I'm saying, so... Nicaraguans have never asked us if the twins are identical, which is almost always the first question we get in the States. (Yes- even though they're boy/girl twins. Unbelievably, we've had medical professionals ask us that. And, they don't even look that much alike. It's just an instinctive question Americans ask about twins.)

3. ¿Ustedes son de aquí? (Are you from here?) Holly gets asked this pretty often, perhaps due to her dark haired, dark-eyed, super-exotic Mediterranean looks (Romanian, actually)?! No one asks TJ where he's from. He pretty much looks like an Okie from (just north of) Muskogee.  We answer that we aren't from Nicaragua, but are from the United States. Nicaraguans usually want to know what part of the US, which has proven to be hard to explain. We've learned to say that we're from the state of Tennessee, which is located in the middle, between New York and Miami. We try not to say that we are "Americans", because Nicaraguans are, too! U.S. citizens and Canadians are instead referred to as North Americans (norteamericanos), even though The Google says Mexico and Central America are technically part of North America, too.

4.  ¿Como es que aprendieron espanol? (How do you already know how to speak Spanish?) The long answer is: we both enjoy learning other languages, and Spanish has been a part of our lives for a long time. We both studied Spanish in high school - Holly for 5 years, and TJ for 2. TJ improved his conversational Spanish while working landscaping in high school. Holly went on mission trips to Mexico, studied abroad in Spain, and double majored in Spanish at ACU. We were both summer interns in the Dominican Republic. We later attended language school for several months in Antigua, Guatemala before moving to the Dominican Republic. The short answer (and what we usually say) is: we lived in the Dominican Republic for a few years. Nicaraguans, some of whom are about as bad at geography as most (North)Americans, are often interested to learn that Spanish also is spoken the Dominican Republic (sort of).

At our 'graduation' from language school in Guatemala. Our experience at CSA was simultaneously intense and idyllic.

5. ¿Que típo de trabajo están haciendo aquí? (What brings you to Nicaragua, or what type of work are you doing here?) This is also a question that we are often asked when we are in the States. We answer that TJ works for an organization that builds medical clinics in smaller cities without good health care access. The organization makes the initial investment in the construction of the clinic, but then, through hard work, great church partnerships and small, accessible patient fees, the clinics start to quickly pay for their own operation. Each clinic is 100% run by Nicaraguan administrative staff, doctors and nurses. That's something that resonates with everyone that we talk to - that the clinics are low cost, high quality, sustainable and completely Nicaraguan (although there are some great Cuban doctors around here...).

We're continuing to settle in here, and will post again soon with the top 5 questions we get from friends and family and complete strangers in the States.


laura jo said...

Thank you for this insight into your lives!

Summer said...

My first comment got lost. Anyway, I am always starstruck when I see the twins, which is still fairly often due to your awesome pictures. Anders has TONS of questions about the New Life of the Twin Friends, including: Do you live near a rain forest? Do you have monkeys? How do you know when to say Spanish words? Do you like your house?(Didn't make this up, he really keeps asking about them all the time!)