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Thread: Its a wonderful world

  1. #1

    Default Its a wonderful world

    I just wanted to type this out. Not terribly sure why. And im also not sure if this is the place it goes, but whatever.....


    Tonight my wife and I were on the other side of the city in a barrio i haven't been in for some time. It was dusk, and we decided to head back to the main street for the buses. On the walk back, it was getting dark, and i noticed an old lady standing in a bush, clutching on to the branch. As I walked past, i said "adios" in a friendly tone, as i try to do to whoever i pass on the street, and i heard her say something in a small frail voice, so i stopped. She asked me if maybe i would offer my hand to help her get to her house because she could not see and now it was dark. Of course i said yes, so my wife took her bag, and i took her hand, and we set off quite slowly, trying to traverse the amazing Managua sidewalks, which as we all know, are in great condition and pose no problems to anyone who has trouble walking (im assuming you all understand thats sarcasm). The woman was quite frail, but still looked dignified. Not a street lady, or glue sniffer, or drunk. She had to be in her 80s im sure, though ive never been too good at guessing that sort of thing. But she was a sweet old lady. She spoke in a very soft voice, with a bit of a speech problem, so it was very difficult for me to understand her. (not to mention it was all in spanish, which i can get by and converse in, but its not my native language, so i still miss a lot anyway).
    Soon i realized that she was telling me that "they left me on the street" but because her eyesight was bad, she couldnt make it back herself. I wondered if i heard her correct, and if so, how long was she standing at that bush holding on to it to keep her up? And in the middle of the barrio where there were a dozen people outside on every block, why had no one stopped to see if she was OK?
    She was a couple blocks away from where she was going so we had a little conversation. She seemed sure that a church paid me to come to Nicaragua, otherwise why else would i be here. I assured her that, no, no church is, or has ever paid me, and i paid my own way here, and i like it here (a fact i seriously questioned later for the first time). She kept apologizing for taking so long, because we had to take a couple breaks to steady her feet, but i tried to assure her i had nowhere to go so she could take her time. The whole time i kept wondering why she was outside and what had happened.
    Turns out she was a bit lost, and with her eyesight, she couldnt tell the house very well, and we passed it, so we turned back and made it to the house. Someone was inside you could see through the breezeblock, but no one was answering. The woman kept telling us that we could leave her, and she will just sleep in the street again. She kept saying, "they left me in the street and I couldnt find my way back home, so I will just sleep in the street. Its OK". I understood her, but my brain wasnt processing it, and i told myself i wasnt understanding her correctly. I tried banging on the door, while my wife went across the street to talk with neighbors to see if they knew her, and it was in fact her house. The neighbors uninterestedly told us that yes, she does live there, just knock on the door. But no one seemed surprised or shocked that she was outside, and no one bothered to offer help. Just mildly bothered that we interrupted their conversation and they went back to sitting on the front steps gossiping.
    Finally a woman came out of the house. and she yelled a couple sentences that i didnt understand. Partially because she was yelling, partially because she was already turning back inside and slamming the door. The old woman informed me she needed to go to the corner pulperia to buy milk and stuff. Not that she wanted to....but she said now she HAD to. I looked around, still not processing what exactly was happening, but the neighbors, who saw and heard everything just continued to sit and point us in the direction of the pulperia. No one seemed to care this was a 80 or 90 year old frail woman out at night. So off we hobbled and purchased some avena, and leche, and a couple cookies, and made our way back to the house.
    Shortly before reaching the house, a man came home. Able bodied, adult male. He looked right at us, but didnt offer any recognition, or wave or say buenos. He just walked into the old womans house in front of us, and slammed the door behind him, even though we were only about 30 or 40 feet away. At this point the old woman kept repeating that they (her children) took everything out of her bag, but at least she still has the bag, so she was happy about that, and that it was OK. we could go, and she could just stay on the street.
    We reached the house a couple minutes later, and i looked through the blocks and saw the man, and the woman watching TV. I yelled out buenos multiple times (ive never been accused of having a soft voice), and i noticed the glanced towards the door, but didnt make a move to get up. I was thoroughly confused now. The woman sat down in front of the door, while i called out again, and started banging on the door. I finally annoyed them enough that the man got up. I saw the door opened to the outside, and the woman was sitting in front of it, so i tried to warn her and help her up, but i wasnt fast enough and the man slams the door open on the old woman, the door hitting her quite hard. He says nothing, offers no recognition or help, and just turns around and sits back down in front of the TV. I called in the house and asked if the woman did indeed live there, if she was their mother?, because i was still quite confused as to what was going on. The man gives me a slight nod, and glared at the old woman, who caught his glare and said that she would go in the morning, but just wanted to sleep inside. it was her house after all, she owned it she said.
    The entrance of the house had cinder blocks you needed to step over to enter, and the woman did her best but couldnt make it. By now i was a bit frustrated and i called to the man sitting 10 feet away watching TV and asked him "you really cant offer her ANY help?". and back came the ever popular nica shrug. With the woman finally inside, she turned with a nice smile and said thank you, and took my hand. i shut the door and we walked away. 10 or 15 neighbors were outside, and they all were staring their blank stares. No one was sad, or mad, or helpful. Just another day in the barrio. As we walked away, the kids continued playing and the parents continued their gossip.


    Ive seen a lot in this country, living here for a number of years now. But very little has affected me to this level. and i dont know why this was so overwhelming. my brain didnt even want to process what was going on, and all the while i was thinking, well maybe im not understanding correctly, or maybe there is more to the story.
    But i cant imagine what could possibly be the "more to the story" that would make any of that alright.

    and for the first time in a long time.....maybe even ever. i asked myself if it really was true that i really like this place so much better.

  2. #2

    Default Re: Its a wonderful world

    That is a horrific experience it would challenge the notions of basic humanity in just about anyone. That they abandoned and dishonored and ignored and discarded their own mother evokes shock and rage.

    In regards to this being a reflection of Nicaragua--this is the first time that I have ever heard of something like this happening here. My experiences regarding the elderly have been entirely the opposite in Nicaragua.

    Whenever an elderly person climbs onto a bus on Ometepe (where I am not--although I remember the same thing in Carazo and other rural places in Nicaragau), someone gives up their seat near the front so that they can sit down. The money-charger takes special care to guide the person to his/her seat, and engages the person in conversation. They show a great deal of respect and honor for the person owing entirely to the fact that the person is old.

    I know several families in Nicaragua that stick with and care for their aging parents at great personal sacrifice. When they talk to me about all that they do for their parents or grandparents, their rhetoric is that this is simply what a person should do and that they are honored to do it. My ex sent as much as she could back to her mother every month regardless of our personal hardships at the time.

    Nicaraguans (by and large) are a very family oriented people. They live together in extended family units. They don't feel the impulse the eject their children from the house at 18. The children sometimes seek their own houses for privacy in a new marriage, but they will often chose to live close so that they can continue to feel connected to the family and care of their parents.

    Nicaraguans (by and large) are very respectful of the elderly. They use the Usted form out of respect for the elderly. They want them around to learn from them and to be able to enjoy their company for as long as possible.

    I suspect that the callous disregard and abuse that you witnessed is more of a statement on the erosion of classic Nicaraguan values in an urban setting (barrio life in Managua) than it is on Nicaragua itself. Large urban squalor does this all over the world, and it makes me feel sick too.
    Soy el chele mono.

  3. #3
    House SOB Little Corn Tom's Avatar
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    Default Re: Its a wonderful world

    What a sad story.

    Was your wife similarly affected?
    Life's different here ... It's a whole 'nother pace.

  4. #4

    Default Re: Its a wonderful world

    Quote Originally Posted by vinyljunkie77003 View Post
    I just wanted to type this out. Not terribly sure why. And im also not sure if this is the place it goes, but whatever.....


    Tonight my wife and I were on the other side of the city in a barrio i haven't been in for some time. It was dusk, and we decided to head back to the main street for the buses. On the walk back, it was getting dark, and i noticed an old lady standing in a bush, clutching on to the branch. As I walked past, i said "adios" in a friendly tone, as i try to do to whoever i pass on the street, and i heard her say something in a small frail voice, so i stopped. She asked me if maybe i would offer my hand to help her get to her house because she could not see and now it was dark. Of course i said yes, so my wife took her bag, and i took her hand, and we set off quite slowly, trying to traverse the amazing Managua sidewalks, which as we all know, are in great condition and pose no problems to anyone who has trouble walking (im assuming you all understand thats sarcasm). The woman was quite frail, but still looked dignified. Not a street lady, or glue sniffer, or drunk. She had to be in her 80s im sure, though ive never been too good at guessing that sort of thing. But she was a sweet old lady. She spoke in a very soft voice, with a bit of a speech problem, so it was very difficult for me to understand her. (not to mention it was all in spanish, which i can get by and converse in, but its not my native language, so i still miss a lot anyway).
    Soon i realized that she was telling me that "they left me on the street" but because her eyesight was bad, she couldnt make it back herself. I wondered if i heard her correct, and if so, how long was she standing at that bush holding on to it to keep her up? And in the middle of the barrio where there were a dozen people outside on every block, why had no one stopped to see if she was OK?
    She was a couple blocks away from where she was going so we had a little conversation. She seemed sure that a church paid me to come to Nicaragua, otherwise why else would i be here. I assured her that, no, no church is, or has ever paid me, and i paid my own way here, and i like it here (a fact i seriously questioned later for the first time). She kept apologizing for taking so long, because we had to take a couple breaks to steady her feet, but i tried to assure her i had nowhere to go so she could take her time. The whole time i kept wondering why she was outside and what had happened.
    Turns out she was a bit lost, and with her eyesight, she couldnt tell the house very well, and we passed it, so we turned back and made it to the house. Someone was inside you could see through the breezeblock, but no one was answering. The woman kept telling us that we could leave her, and she will just sleep in the street again. She kept saying, "they left me in the street and I couldnt find my way back home, so I will just sleep in the street. Its OK". I understood her, but my brain wasnt processing it, and i told myself i wasnt understanding her correctly. I tried banging on the door, while my wife went across the street to talk with neighbors to see if they knew her, and it was in fact her house. The neighbors uninterestedly told us that yes, she does live there, just knock on the door. But no one seemed surprised or shocked that she was outside, and no one bothered to offer help. Just mildly bothered that we interrupted their conversation and they went back to sitting on the front steps gossiping.
    Finally a woman came out of the house. and she yelled a couple sentences that i didnt understand. Partially because she was yelling, partially because she was already turning back inside and slamming the door. The old woman informed me she needed to go to the corner pulperia to buy milk and stuff. Not that she wanted to....but she said now she HAD to. I looked around, still not processing what exactly was happening, but the neighbors, who saw and heard everything just continued to sit and point us in the direction of the pulperia. No one seemed to care this was a 80 or 90 year old frail woman out at night. So off we hobbled and purchased some avena, and leche, and a couple cookies, and made our way back to the house.
    Shortly before reaching the house, a man came home. Able bodied, adult male. He looked right at us, but didnt offer any recognition, or wave or say buenos. He just walked into the old womans house in front of us, and slammed the door behind him, even though we were only about 30 or 40 feet away. At this point the old woman kept repeating that they (her children) took everything out of her bag, but at least she still has the bag, so she was happy about that, and that it was OK. we could go, and she could just stay on the street.
    We reached the house a couple minutes later, and i looked through the blocks and saw the man, and the woman watching TV. I yelled out buenos multiple times (ive never been accused of having a soft voice), and i noticed the glanced towards the door, but didnt make a move to get up. I was thoroughly confused now. The woman sat down in front of the door, while i called out again, and started banging on the door. I finally annoyed them enough that the man got up. I saw the door opened to the outside, and the woman was sitting in front of it, so i tried to warn her and help her up, but i wasnt fast enough and the man slams the door open on the old woman, the door hitting her quite hard. He says nothing, offers no recognition or help, and just turns around and sits back down in front of the TV. I called in the house and asked if the woman did indeed live there, if she was their mother?, because i was still quite confused as to what was going on. The man gives me a slight nod, and glared at the old woman, who caught his glare and said that she would go in the morning, but just wanted to sleep inside. it was her house after all, she owned it she said.
    The entrance of the house had cinder blocks you needed to step over to enter, and the woman did her best but couldnt make it. By now i was a bit frustrated and i called to the man sitting 10 feet away watching TV and asked him "you really cant offer her ANY help?". and back came the ever popular nica shrug. With the woman finally inside, she turned with a nice smile and said thank you, and took my hand. i shut the door and we walked away. 10 or 15 neighbors were outside, and they all were staring their blank stares. No one was sad, or mad, or helpful. Just another day in the barrio. As we walked away, the kids continued playing and the parents continued their gossip.


    Ive seen a lot in this country, living here for a number of years now. But very little has affected me to this level. and i dont know why this was so overwhelming. my brain didnt even want to process what was going on, and all the while i was thinking, well maybe im not understanding correctly, or maybe there is more to the story.
    But i cant imagine what could possibly be the "more to the story" that would make any of that alright.

    and for the first time in a long time.....maybe even ever. i asked myself if it really was true that i really like this place so much better.

    Sad,, but we have plenty of this in the US,,, JUST VISIT ANY GHETTO.

  5. #5

    Default Re: Its a wonderful world

    I come from the ghetto in the states. The year i moved here it was ranked #9 in the top 10 worst neighborhoods of the US, the year before it was #15. So im well aware of the happenings inside of a ghetto, and that affected me as well from time to time.

    But many of the things i saw were done out of malice, hatred, and mostly vengeance from something that happened in the past. There was a lot of emotion involved
    And when things happen, there are some that are outraged, or saddened by the actions. There is always someone to mourn for the victim.

    I think what was most upsetting with this situation was that, with all the people aware of what was happening and what was going on, not even one showed an ounce of concern, or did so much as to get up off their seat to look around, or ask around, or offer a hand, etc. There was no hatred, or malice on the faces of the old womans family, there was no anger, or explanation as to WHY this was happening. There was no sadness as if they were pained, but tired of dealing with the hard situation. There was just bored faces staring blankly, and the cold "eh? what can i do about it" shrug. When they nodded that it was their mother and she indeed lived there, it was like i asked the bus driver if this bus passes by metrocentro or is going the other way.

    Even when i met up with a couple local friends later and told them this story they responded with very little emotion. Not with anger or malice, but they just said "oh yeah, that happens a lot. Its probably her house and the kids want the house for themselves." One lady told me that just happened to a neighbor of hers. They just dropped their mother off in another part of the city and left her with nothing. Now she sees her ocasionally living in the market begging. This story was delivered not with sadness or anger. Just matter of fact it happens.


    Part of it also has to do with the fact that just a few days ago we were talking about the exact same thing cause we took some visiting friends on a bus to the laguna, and with us was a 60 something year old woman from el salvador. It was the microbuses where you line up and wait. So we waited patiently in the line for the bus to come, and right before the older lady we were with got on, a younger woman who was not waiting in line pushed past her and got on adn into a seat. It was the last one, and the older woman was standing. Even though we confronted the woman about it, she boredly looked out the window the other way, and not a single person on the bus bothered to say anything or do anything. Obviously one of us got up to give her a seat, which wasnt a big deal.

    Its not so much the action as it is the attitude towards those actions by those involved, or those around. Its a growing attitude im seeing more and more.

    Im not trying to say it is representative as nicaragua as a whole, or even the nicaragua people. I would never generalize an entire group of people because of the actions of one or some. I know it happens all over the world. But doesnt make it any less upsetting to see.

  6. #6

    Default Re: Its a wonderful world

    Quote Originally Posted by vinyljunkie77003 View Post
    I come from the ghetto in the states. The year i moved here it was ranked #9 in the top 10 worst neighborhoods of the US, the year before it was #15. So im well aware of the happenings inside of a ghetto, and that affected me as well from time to time.

    But many of the things i saw were done out of malice, hatred, and mostly vengeance from something that happened in the past. There was a lot of emotion involved
    And when things happen, there are some that are outraged, or saddened by the actions. There is always someone to mourn for the victim.

    I think what was most upsetting with this situation was that, with all the people aware of what was happening and what was going on, not even one showed an ounce of concern, or did so much as to get up off their seat to look around, or ask around, or offer a hand, etc. There was no hatred, or malice on the faces of the old womans family, there was no anger, or explanation as to WHY this was happening. There was no sadness as if they were pained, but tired of dealing with the hard situation. There was just bored faces staring blankly, and the cold "eh? what can i do about it" shrug. When they nodded that it was their mother and she indeed lived there, it was like i asked the bus driver if this bus passes by metrocentro or is going the other way.

    Even when i met up with a couple local friends later and told them this story they responded with very little emotion. Not with anger or malice, but they just said "oh yeah, that happens a lot. Its probably her house and the kids want the house for themselves." One lady told me that just happened to a neighbor of hers. They just dropped their mother off in another part of the city and left her with nothing. Now she sees her ocasionally living in the market begging. This story was delivered not with sadness or anger. Just matter of fact it happens.


    Part of it also has to do with the fact that just a few days ago we were talking about the exact same thing cause we took some visiting friends on a bus to the laguna, and with us was a 60 something year old woman from el salvador. It was the microbuses where you line up and wait. So we waited patiently in the line for the bus to come, and right before the older lady we were with got on, a younger woman who was not waiting in line pushed past her and got on adn into a seat. It was the last one, and the older woman was standing. Even though we confronted the woman about it, she boredly looked out the window the other way, and not a single person on the bus bothered to say anything or do anything. Obviously one of us got up to give her a seat, which wasnt a big deal.

    Its not so much the action as it is the attitude towards those actions by those involved, or those around. Its a growing attitude im seeing more and more.

    Im not trying to say it is representative as nicaragua as a whole, or even the nicaragua people. I would never generalize an entire group of people because of the actions of one or some. I know it happens all over the world. But doesnt make it any less upsetting to see.
    If this is really becoming the new norm in Managua, then one of the things that I like most about Nicaraguan culture is dying: a sense of shared community--of caring for each other and looking out for each other and being connected to each other...
    Soy el chele mono.

  7. #7

    Default Re: Its a wonderful world

    I don't think I've ever seen something like that on the DAC. The only people I don't see tolerated is the occasional drug user. Used to see homosexual guys catch some grief from younger guys but been a while since Ive seen that either. The drunks, people with mental issues, and shoeshine kids are all tolerated and even looked after. We started saving food for kids after watching other people do it. Normal in a restaurant to see people get up and a couple kids sit down and finish a plate off, staff doesn't mind. A lot of times I've seen people buy extra stuff and hand it to someone or a vendor give a person something. Taxis often stop to let an elderly person cross. Most people seem to treat elderly people with respect and the older folks I know are very respected. In town when you see an older woman shopping she is often accompanied by someone younger who carries bags or holds an umbrella for her, sun and rain.

  8. #8
    House SOB Little Corn Tom's Avatar
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    Default Re: Its a wonderful world

    Dear Vinyljunkie.....

    To quote Paul Harvey ...."And now for the rest of the story".

    It may well be that the kindly Grandma that you helped, spoiled the living shit out of her son and that all he "learned" to do was to take, take take, until there was nothing left. I have seen this (not to this extreme) in Maria's family. It seems that the sons get spoiled and the daughters are on their own. It is hard to know the "truth" without all of the history...... Sad story none the less.

    But, I will bet that most of us have similar family stories (again not in this extreme) which just goes to show you the not so pleasant personalities of some of our family members.

    Signed,

    Been There and Done That
    Life's different here ... It's a whole 'nother pace.

  9. #9
    Viejo del Foro Daddy-YO's Avatar
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    Default Re: Its a wonderful world

    Quote Originally Posted by Little Corn Tom View Post
    What a sad story. Was your wife similarly affected?
    Yes, on the face of it a story of profound public apathy.

    However, and specially if your wife is Nica, I would like to hear her impression of what happened. After all, numerous times you say your Nica-Spanish is not so good.
    I never met a Semite I didn't like.

  10. #10
    TRN Science officer bill_bly_ca's Avatar
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    Default Re: Its a wonderful world

    Quote Originally Posted by Little Corn Tom View Post
    It seems that the sons get spoiled and the daughters are on their own. It is hard to know the "truth" without all of the history...... Sad story none the less.
    Yep ....
    ==================================================
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  11. #11

    Default Re: Its a wonderful world

    Quote Originally Posted by bill_bly_ca View Post
    Yep ....
    Important to maintain a perspective . . .I still see
    elderly treated well for the most part. Seats are not given up on buses maybe like they used to be to old people and pregnant women.

    Easy to understand that given the packed condition of the buses.

    Making that transition from a campo economy to a money economy in the "city" can be a mean transition.
    Campo family you left behind thinks you are rich, wants your money,, all of a sudden you are paying rent and food. The unskilled might make C$200 day at a puro factory,, a fortune in the campo but less than $200 month doesn't buy much in the city.

    If you ride the bus back and forth your day is 14 hours,,, and then you have busfare, and maybe your lunch.

    Still,, for many the opportunity to escape the campo is worth the struggle.
    Long hard days there too, no money, and with bad luck a husband who drinks up what little cash money you see.

    One solution: Marry a rich Gringo, "rich" being a relative term. The minimum residence income is a fortune to many Nicas,, and it's there every month.

  12. #12

    Default Re: Its a wonderful world

    Who knows if the kids got greedy or the mom was a witch when they were growing up and it is payback time. Drugs and alcohol would be suspected here, too. I know I was wandering around in some town, I think it was Juigalpa, and I passed a storefront center for the elderly who were abused by their children. In a society where generally there is a lot of respect for the elderly this really sticks out. !Mama, don't let your babies grow up to be cowboys!

    On a slightly different spin, a Nica neighbor told us retired people can get substantial discounts on the utility bills, etc. Not a big issue for me, but my wife is going to check to see if it applies to foreign jubilados, too.

    "Support mental health or I'll break your head"

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  13. #13
    TRN Science officer bill_bly_ca's Avatar
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    Default Re: Its a wonderful world

    Quote Originally Posted by KeyWestPirate View Post
    Important to maintain a perspective . . .
    My Yep was with respect to off loading male children from responsibility - Something that was not allowed here,,
    ==================================================
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  14. #14
    TRN Science officer bill_bly_ca's Avatar
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    Default Re: Its a wonderful world

    Quote Originally Posted by el duende grande View Post
    On a slightly different spin, a Nica neighbor told us retired people can get substantial discounts on the utility bills, etc. Not a big issue for me, but my wife is going to check to see if it applies to foreign jubilados, too.
    There is also the monthly rice, beans and oil subsidy. Something like 10 lbs of both and 2L of oil the last I read.
    ==================================================
    Dude !!!.... Its a Canal !!! Can you Dig it ??

  15. #15

    Default Re: Its a wonderful world

    my wife is american. Neither of us have any family ties to Nicaragua. So her response was pretty similar to mine.

  16. #16
    The Bard of Jinotega MizBrown's Avatar
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    Default Re: Its a wonderful world

    Some of this may be Managua (and even that barrio) rather than Nicaragua, but we have some homeless in Jinotega that various of us have looked out for and fed. One in particular was described to be as being without a family (though the first people I talked to said she wasn't mentally ill though obviously she is). I ran off a kid who was harassing her once and she later tried to give me money and refused to take anymore of mine, though she would take water and salt from me and sleep in a corner next to my house at night in the place I did live in.

    A friend who lived in Sweden but who was born here said the crazy woman had had a child at one time. If the old mother is mentally ill and prone to wandering, the family may have given up caring, not excusing them. I get the impression that places for the very aged require families being involved with feeding their kin living in those place and that crazy is pretty seriously stigmatized (enough so that my neighbors around my first house were denying that the crazy homeless lady was crazy.

    Also, this may be a really nasty son-in-law trying to get the property. Neighbors may prefer not to get involved if he is nasty enough.

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