Lessons from the Lagoon

Written by: Joana

It has been a very long month. At this moment, I feel like I have settled into the community, and am completely outside of it, all at the same time. Miriam (Pueblito Program Director) was here in Pearl Lagoon last week facilitating the North-South Dialogue, an exchange that brought 4 Canadian teachers to work with 12 teachers here in Nicaragua. This post was inspired by a conversation we had with her during her time here.

In honour of reaching our halfway mark (August 14th), here are some of the lesson I (and we) have learned so far:

Trust your gut.

People who care about you have the best intentions. But sometimes you need to put all that aside and go with your instincts.  

No matter how hard you try, Nica time will always be 30 mins after you get there.


You never have all the answers; but neither does anyone else.

About a week ago the interns and Miriam wrapped up the North-South Dialogue. This exchange focused on just that, exchanging ideas, techniques, culture, hopes and fear, among other things.  Too often in International Development, there is the belief that “we” (North Americans) know it all. We’ve got all the answers and all the wisdom to impart. This could not be further from the truth; and this weeklong exchange was a great example of that. I was able to witness the Nicaraguan teachers embrace their expertise in certain areas and facilitate workshops where the Canadian teachers were introduced to ideas they had never considered before.

If you think you can trust him/her/them, think again.

This one may sound cynical, but it relates to everything we have had to deal with this last month. Too many times, we have put our trust in someone only to get burned in the end. As our families and friends now know, we discovered last month that someone who we thought was our friend just saw us as a way to make some quick cash. Not to mention that we discovered another person we had trusted was spreading her version of our daily events to anyone who would listen. That’s not to say that I will never trust people here again, but that I’ve got to balance on that fine line of being weary, and being trusting.

Sundays are better than Fridays and Saturdays.

You get pancakes!

On sunny days, drop everything and start washing.

These have been few and far between lately. Now that we’ve moved, we’ve had to say goodbye to the washing machine and hello to a washboard. While we do appreciate the arm workout, we do not appreciate the time that it takes. And related to this, Never let your laundry pile up. If you do, expect to be wearing dresses as shirts and using tape as a makeshift clothesline.

Cockroaches can fly!

I had finally built up the nerve to kill any cockroach that crossed my path. In fact, I became the go-to bug killer in the group. So you can imagine my shock the first time the giant bug flew at my head. Needless to say, I ran.

In Nicaragua, everything that would normally take 5 minutes, takes 5 hours.

This is not necessarily a negative comment. The reason I say this is because of the importance of “face-time”.  Unlike back home, people here actually like to talk to each other. Simple favours are premised by questions about the family, a person’s day, a little town gossip. Organizing hotel rooms (for the North-South Dialogue participants) involved going to each hotel and sitting down with the owner. It’s just a completely different style of doing things.

You work around the sports schedule; sports do not work around yours.

While I don’t play in the league, the girls do. And what I’ve come to learn it that you have to be ready for a game when the game is ready to happen. Numerous times, Kelsie and Alison have received a phone call letting them know they need to be dressed and ready in 15 mins. Drop everything, it’s basketball time!

It is difficult to balance work with relationships when your work is your relationships.

Being interns, we are in a delicate position where we have built strong relationships with the people we work with. They were the first to welcome us into the community. They are the people we talk to, laugh with, and confide in every day. I feel very fortunate to have these relationships. However, when situations arise where the interns may have different opinions or points of view, it can become difficult to separate the work from the relationship.  Collectively, we are feeling out what our role is and how it fits into the whole scheme of the project.


One response to “Lessons from the Lagoon

  1. HAHAHA I love this one!!! I’m so sorry it took me so long to read it!! :S I’ve obviously fallen behind but this one is hilarious Joana!

    I’m glad my visit could lead to some good lessons learned!! haha and oh man I would’ve loved to see the cockroach surprise you by flying at you LOL! Very well done 🙂

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