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June 12, 2011

So I´ve been in Granada all week since we are doing a workshop and our attendance rate is about 50% most of the time, so it´s been going awhile. There are a few things I suppose I could talk about, but really what it comes down to is the difference between misconceptions and accurate characterizations of places. Example being theft or simply taking advantage of people. Stereotype=everyone in Nicaragua is going to take your cash somehow. Accurate characterization= if you aren´t careful you will get robbed, and if you are foreigner, you have to pay the foreigner tax. My week has consisted of calling out little kids for cheating while playing chivolas (marbles) which is what´s hot on the block right now, though I¨m not very good (maybe because I don´t know the rules so I can´t enforce/break them), one of my coworkers got robbed on the way to work, getting a speech from my gringo neighbor (married to a Nica, works in Managua, been here for years) that taking advantage is the Nicaraguan national pasttime, and walking several blocks to go home because I refused to pay the 5 cordoba gringo tax to take a cab home because I know the way is worth $10 no $15 and not one of the ten taxis I stopped would go under $15. So what does this mean? I don´t know. I honestly don´t. I hate the gringo tax, and I don´t plan on getting robbed. But, I think maybe its understanding the rules are different, and not blaming people for playing the game. I´ve started refusing to pay too much, or at least try and guilt the person for making me pay more (which doesn´t do anything for them but makes me feel better). Taking the bus the other day, I saw they had a student discount (one cordoba less than the original price), so I used my ID card from la UADY in Mexico (which is expired) to save my one cordoba. The dude collecting the bus fare didn´t really no how to act. I kept saying I´m a student, and waving my ID in front of him and he gave me the discount. The two women I work with thought it was the funniest thing in the world because it was $1 and they knew how uncomfortable the guy must have felt. Yes, I have that extra $1, and PGL gives me funding for transportation to and from work, but that isn´t really the point. The point is that any normal sane Nicaraguan would have tried to save as much money as possible too because that´s the rules of the game, so if I¨m living here until December isn´t it necessary for me to play by the same rules? I don´t know, but I will be taking that student discount whenever I can.

Benjamin Zelledon


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