Week two of this exciting trip is drawing to a close. I have so much to discuss and the weekend trip hasn’t even started yet. In class we are learning about cooler and cooler engineering material. I built a flashlight and an AC/DC rectifier! All this stuff must be really simple for the engineers but completely new to me. On the other hand, Spanish is getting more and more boring. Sure, I am picking up a few more vocabulary words here and there but this endless grammar review that we all already know cannot be more useless. Though today Mayela pretty much just taught us cursewords and will help us with more technical Spanish next week. On the bright side, my medical school apps are done! There are at most a few minor tweaks and to narrow down my list of schools. I plan to watch every single NBA playoffs game after submission.
Today I have three events to comment on, the Mother’s Day outing, our work in the hospital, and the gender inequality in Nicaragua. Today was Mother’s Day in Nicaragua, a national cultural holiday even more significant than in the United States. Many mothers had the day off or had reduced hours. Raj and I bought the two mothers in our house flowers after class and invited them to dinner. At first, I wondered to myself “what have I done” as they eagerly brought along the rest of the family and mentioned a restaurant specializing in chicken in the tourism center of town. I wasn’t sure how much money to bring, but I braced for the dinner to exceed a thousand Cordoba. On the way there, I was grumpy at having gotten myself into this situation and that attitude manifested itself in the humidity, how far it was, and how slowly we were walking. Once we arrived, I realized that the restaurant was actually just a fast food place and our meal for six people cost ended up costing only $28. Even on their night out, they picked a fast food place to dine to stay financially conscious. I was ashamed at my annoyance and became more conscious of the financial impact Raj and I had on their lifestyle.
We went to the hospital on Thursday instead of Mother’s Day Friday to give you a sense of the significance of the holiday. My group did even more exciting hospital work; including performing maintenance on more AC units, cleaning centrifuges, and even climbed up to a roof. I was so impressed at the friendliness of the technicians in giving us new tasks and patiently explaining them to us. I realized how capable the hospital was at running on its own. Sure, we provide slightly better tools and more hands for labor, but the technicians were much more skilled than us in the hospital duties. It seemed like we weren’t there to help, but rather to learn.
The last topic that struck out was the heavy gender inequality in Nicaragua. If we thought it was bad in the United States, a feminist would be so uncomfortable. Luckily I don’t have to worry about the stares and remarks that the girls get from random strangers. I also feel comfortable walking home late at night alone as long as I’m not carrying something valuable. But the most interesting thing I’ve noticed is the Machinismo presence in the Church. We learned in class about the controversial abortion ban in Nicaragua, that is one of the harshest in the world. It was pushed through by the Catholic Church, in a country that is overwhelmingly Catholic. The history lesson included how politicians that opposed the ban were systematically destroyed by the church. I can understand the influence and the reasoning behind it, but interestingly, Nicaragua is one of the few countries where prostitution is still legal. Sex before marriage not intended for the glorification of God is also clearly opposed by the bible. This inconsistency reveals that it isn’t quite the church that’s in power; it’s the men in the church. This problem in selectively emphasizing certain passages in the bible and ignoring others is a common problem for individuals, which stretches here to the national level.
Two random memorable thoughts from today: 1) this process completes the breadth of research of my science background, as Yinka puts it. I’ve done basic science organic chemistry research, clinical research, and now translational technology research (not really research, more like learning)
2) Justin Palpant genuinely wondered if I even knew how to curse