Someone asked me what it was like being married to Moya… I really don’t think of it as that much more challenging than other marriages, but it’s also the only marriage I’ve been in, so I really don’t have much to compare it to. I lived in his cultural and understood it, so I think that has helped us a great deal. I already knew what to expect. We talked, and talked, and talked, and talked about so many different things before we ever got married. Cooking, cleaning, company, responsibilities, cultural differences, beliefs.. What would be expected of me. Of him. I think it also helped that I didn’t just know about his cultural, I lived it. I carried buckets of water 150 feet to take a bucket shower every day for months. I lived in adobe houses. I used outhouses for more than a year at the place(s) I was living, not just occasionally. I lived in a champa (grass hut/shack) and dreaded the snakes that would, er, well, could coil around the branches in the roof and poison me while I slept. I ate beans and rice with tortillas every day. I walked two miles to go to the store and carried at least 20 pounds of heavy stuff home every week. I lived in the jungle for a year and had no access to the internet, limited phone service, and had to walk miles to get a coke or buy a phone card. I was staying with his sister once when her house got attacked by fire ants. I don’t know if you have read The Poisonwood Bible, but it was like that scene when the ants attacked the village devouring everything in their path.. It was one of the most frightening things that I have ever witnessed. I didn’t have very much money. At one point I lived in a brick house with a “sin” roof that was so hot it made the beans go bad day after day (they usually last a week if you boil them everytime you take some from the pot).. and I ran out of money and didn’t know how I was going to eat. I felt desperation. I know it could never reach the level of desperation that he has lived through eating grass for meals growing up because there was no food and not having any idea when there would be.. I can relate to him more than someone who has just seen it because I really have lived it (to a degree).. at least more than most gringos have.
He wasn’t raised in a “normal” Nicaraguan family. His parents split when he was 2ish and his mom left without him & his sister. (Really, really rare that the mom doesn’t take the kids–or at least the boy) His dad was a drunk (he died in 2011 on my birthday) who loved them but wasn’t fit to take them full time. So they went to live with his grandparents. They were around 65ish at the time and his grandma also was looking after several of her other grandkids, so she couldn’t wash his clothes and he had to do things that most boys would never, EVER have to do there. She needed his help to clean and he also had to do the “man chores” like gathering firewood and taking care of the animals with his grandpa. After he finished high school he went to live with his aunt while he studied in Honduras and he did even more chores there for all of his older cousins and also took care of a baby (another thing men would NEVER do).. so because of that he has a really good work ethic and isn’t as opposed to what would normally be considered things that only women do.
The weirdest thing for me is that he will cook typical Nicaraugan food (which I like) but he won’t do it unless I’m standing beside him in the kitchen… even if I’m not doing anything besides watching. It’s like he’s embarrassed to be in the kitchen by himself. He won’t even warm up left-overs in the microwave by himself.. Okay, so maybe he does now.. but after three years of marriage, he is just starting to do this.
He’s good to me though. He washed his own clothes in Nicaragua and helped wash mine & Ali’s. He helped with her so much, but you could tell it’s weird for him when he’s there. Here he’s just amazing. Probably because he has watched my dad with Ali and he knows it’s socially acceptable to be a good dad here in the USA.
Another thing I didn’t think about too much was racism. I’m not naive enough to think that it didn’t exist, but I was surprised to see a lot of people’s reactions to Moya & me here in the states. I’ve also been with him when he was accused of stealing stuff because of his color (& they said that exactly). I was just surprised. I guess being white I haven’t really had to deal with this before. I am part American Indian/Native American but you certainly can’t tell by my coloring. It never really caused problems between us, but it was just something new to figure out how to deal with… but we’re pretty used to it now.
Another awkward thing is people assume that because I married him he was from a really rich Nicaraguan family.. They say insensitive things like “I don’t really believe there are people in the world that are starving” and just ignorant things that just shock me. That’s something that’s hard to deal with too.. How do you explain where he came from without making someone feel totally awkward or think less of him.. It’s really hard.. I don’t know if you really can… But if you don’t they just keep opening their mouths, saying really insensitive things..
It’s been an adventure, and a times truly trying, but God has blessed us with so much. I can’t wait for the next chapter to start. I can’t wait to be back in the adobe house carrying water or waiting for the bus to come by to go to the big super market. I love that life, his life, his culture. I both love and hate being the gringuita. I think gringuita means that I will always be caught in the middle, suspended between two cultures and two colors waiting for the time that I may fully be classified as one or the other… and yet that time will never come.