My husband and I had lived in our new house for a few days when I started hearing a strange noise coming from across the street. We were new to the block but not to the neighborhood, and thankfully our new house was right across the street from a venta, or a little store in front of someone’s house where you can buy just about anything. I quickly discovered that the noise was coming from the venta. It wasn’t just the strange noise, but also someone screaming all day long, in a very peculiar voice, that made our corner the loudest corner in the neighborhood. “Buenas! Que quería?” or, “Hello, what would you like?” and many other phrases that I couldn’t quite make out rang out throughout the day. Of course because of the venta many people stopped by to buy frijoles or some bread, but I discovered that the strange noise and yelling happened even when a customer was not on the porch of the house. One morning my curiosity got the best of me. I decided to go over and buy some huevos for breakfast, and obviously to investigate.
That is when I met Lupe.
Lupe is a beautiful and very intelligent parrot that lives with the family that owns the venta. Now all the strange noises and shouts made sense. Although I did not know it at the time, but my new green, feathery friend would go on to help me make lifelong friends, and our little, noisy house on the corner would become a home that I never imagined it would become.
Nicaragua has taught me a very important lesson over the past 5 years, and it is this:
Focus on the similarities and not the differences. It is easy and tempting in a new and different culture to see all the things that the new culture does “wrong.” However, it is so much more beautiful to look for the similarities that we all have as people.
That is exactly what Doña Gloria and her family have shown me. They have become one of my many second families here in Nicaragua, and their generosity and hospitality have helped me to grow in so many ways. When I was pregnant with our daughter, they sent me food and gave me advice on what it means to be a mother. They have taken care of our daughter when I have needed just a second to take a shower or eat a meal. And they have loved the 3 of us in ways that I didn’t know a neighbor could.
They are the perfect representation of the kind of community I want to be a part of and the kind of community that I have found here in Chinandega. Because of the way they have loved me, I now want to offer this kind of community to others.
I am so thankful for Lupe for inviting me in.