Saturday, April 18, 2015

Experiencing Nicaraguan Culture

We not only had the opportunity to explore Costa Rica, but we also spent a week in Nicaragua. Although it was for a short time, I felt as if I was able to gain a small perspective of the Nicaraguan culture. First, let’s talk about the people! The communities set up are like none I had ever seen before. The houses were half inside and half outside, the doors were always open, everyone knew everyone on the street, the elderly would sit in their rocking chairs outside and watch the adolescents, and there was always some activity going on outside the houses. It felt so authentic and as if it came out a movie back in the 50’s. In the United States, and even in Costa Rica, barrios like this are not common to find. I really felt as if the community was one big family, and they were just as welcoming to us as well. The families were very accommodating and really cared for us for the little time we spent with them. For example, when I felt sick one night, my host family went out of their way to make sure I had everything I needed, and they even called the coordinator to make sure there was not anything else they could do. This type of kindness is deeply embedded in their culture.

I also discovered another part of their culture; the food. Working in the clinics with the rural community gave me true insight to the Nicaraguan food. The majority of health problems that existed stemmed from the traditional food. For example, most everything eaten is fried, contains enormous amounts of salt, and the consumption of fruits and vegetables is scarce. Mix this combination together and you end up with a population that has a high rate of obesity, hypertension, and gastrointestinal issues. Therefore, as no surprise, the majority of our patients had one or multiple of these conditions. While this food may be traditional, it is a public health issue that needs to be addressed in these communities.

Finally, we experienced a little of the musical culture with salsa and merengue classes. After a one hour class, we mastered (more or less) the steps and felt like professionals (or so we thought)! However, after watching some children dance folklore correctly a couple nights after, we quickly realized we had a ways to go. It was beautiful to watch the children dance these traditional songs in the traditional clothing. The bright colors and elegant movements made for an enjoyable night.

I loved experiencing the Nicaragua culture for a week, and I hope to have the opportunity to explore more in the future.

Morgan Drew

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