November 7, 2010

The Nicaraguan ABCs: O is for...

Oddities

Since traveling to (and later living in) Nicaragua, I've discovered a few things I find odd.  The majority of these oddities are simply cultural, and to most Nicaraguans aren't strange at all, but nonetheless, I thought you'd get a kick out of some of this stuff...

1.  It's okay to call someone fat or comment on their outward features.  In fact, in many circumstances, it's a term of endearment when used as a nickname.  It also seems that a little meat on your bones is ideal...being a little chunky is considered beautiful.  (A little story: I was seeing some friends for the first time in a few weeks and Tedd said "look, she's got a little belly now, huh?" and one friend said, "yes, and she looks fatter too!")

2.  I'm only writing from personal experiences, so I can't speak on behalf of everyone's beliefs or actions in Nicaragua of course, but many Nicaraguans will affirm the following wives-tales and customs:
  • After giving birth, many women only eat cheese and tortillas, and drink a toasted corn drink, for 40 days.  They're usually confined to their beds and avoiding fresh air during the 40 days as well (so they don't catch cold, of course).
  • If you have a really cute puppy or a cute kid, it's wise to put some kind of red trinket on them, such as red earrings, a red collar (if it's a puppy, that is), or even a red string around their wrist to avoid the "mal de ojo" - envious looks that can put a curse upon your little one.
  • You can take cold showers, that's perfectly fine, but certainly not after you've been working and have raised your body temp.  The sudden change from hot to cold will "agitate" your system and has been known to cause paralysis or insanity.  Oh, and rain will make you sick too if you get wet from the rain, but showers are different...and warm showers are bad for you.
  • Sleeping too long during pregnancy will cause a number of problems.  You'll get anemia, your child will turn out to be lazy, and you run the risk of sleeping on one side too long, causing your baby to "stick" to one side of the womb.
  • Eating a little sugar can help cure the hiccups.
3.  In the "campo" (the boonies :-)  it's common to see/hear someone hocking a loogie (is that how you spell that?), even the women, in front of those present, and even during church services or other formal events.  Usually, the loogie is "disposed of" out a window or door, but sometimes right on the floor of the person's house (why not? their floors are made of dirt anyway).

4.  Typically in the campo, but also seen from time to time in the city, you'll see animals roaming freely through the house.  It's not uncommon to be eating a meal while hens and their chicks peck for food by your feet.

5.  Got trash?  No problem.  Just throw it out the bus window.  It'll disappear.

Next...is for Pregnancy
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