When I first moved to Nicaragua I felt myself getting frustrated easily. I’d put my hands up & mumble obscenities to myself when the the drivers around me did something “stupid”. I’d rush around people strolling aimlessly in the streets and wonder how people could be so self-centered to not notice that someone behind them wanted to walk at a normal pace. I would get impatient with waiters, secretly calculating their low tip in my head. I’d rush my kids through their daily routines, hurry to start the next game, or rush out the gate after dropping off my daughter at school. My husband even told me I seemed angry a lot. Of course I was mad, why was everyone moving so damn slow?!
It hit me one day as I drove my daughter Azalea to school, passing fields of horses and sheep and hearing her shout out “Caballo!” with glee. Why was I in such a hurry?? Did I really need to be anywhere at a certain time? The drop off at San Juan del Sur Day School is anywhere from 8am-9am, this leaves me plenty of time to go at the natural pace of each morning.
Its taken some mental forcing to change my American mindset from the go-go-go of the North to the more chill pace of Nicaragua. I had to take some deep breaths at times and remind myself that 99% of the time in reality, I am in no hurry. There are only a few times a week that I need to be somewhere at an exact time and that includes the twice a week I volunteer at Barrio La Planta Project. Even there, class usually starts late because the parents of the students are not in a rush.
So now when I drive Azalea to school I enjoy the drive. We sing about the day of the week or practice Spanish words for the animals we pass. I play the songs she requests and listen to her sweet voice stumbling over the lyrics. When I drop her off I stay awhile. I have causal chats with the teachers or other parents. I go for a pleasureful run on the beach before leisurely doing my grocery shopping, knowing I have plenty of time to visit the many shops needed to complete a meal. If my 9 month old, Titus is still asleep when I get home I do some yoga…or not. I read, prepare lunch, or sit on the floor with my baby and savor his delicious giggle. I talk to our house cleaner, Juanita, my Spanish lesson for the day.
If Titus cries when I put him down to sleep, I don’t mind picking him back up. What’s another five minutes? In Nicaragua, I have five more minutes. Five more minutes to hold my precious boy who is growing up so fast. Five more minutes to imprint his puffy baby cheeks, soft lips, and ridiculously long lashes into the memory of my eyes. Five more minutes for deep breaths of baby skin. I get in bed with Azalea every night and read her 3 books. I switch off the light and we discuss our favorite things that happened that day. I ask her when she felt sad or frustrated. She opens up to me in ways she never expressed before. I scratch her back, massage her legs, run my fingers through her hair. I cuddle with my ever-in-motion 3 year old, devouring the sensation.
After the kids are asleep I’m usually tired, but we don’t have a TV so the urge to force myself to stay up late isn’t there. I got to bed early and wake up very early. I spend time with my husband over breakfast, lunch, & dinner every day instead of blanking out in front of a TV at night and calling that quality time. With domestic help we are also able to enjoy a date night almost every week.
Exorcising the American mindset did take some time, which means unfortunately, those who visit on a vacation will not enjoy this benefit of living in Nicaragua. To those I say, please do not honk at me when I forget to turn on my blinker because I am in the middle of an epic version of “Let It Go” and be patient when you encounter me aimlessly walking in town. I live in paradise now, where demons go to chill.