In fact, I do yield easily here. For example, while I still step over fresh animal poop in the road, the dried stuff doesn’t even catch my eye any more. I often kick a chunk as I’m walking home. I sometimes am too tired to turn the fan on when it keeps blowing dust and papers around and so I just let myself sweat through my clothes at work. I want to eat a clean diet and not allow toxins into my body but I inhale burning plastic nearly every day and all the vegetables I purchase are laden with pesticides. Just in the first week, I grew tired of brushing my teeth with bottled water so I use the tap and hope I won’t get a parasite. My legs have gotten so itchy with bug bites (I think that is what it is) that I no longer with hold from itching. I just keep scratching until they bleed. I often let the beetles, spiders, ants, moths and other assorted bugs take over my computer screen, my room and even the kitchen. The moths tend to like jumping into whatever I'm cooking for dinner so long as there is steam coming from it. I still haven’t yielded to the tarantulas though.
A few other examples of yielding... just yesterday I found that the surging electricity here has fried my over $400 otoscope/ophthalmoscope. I need it daily to diagnose and treat my patients but there is not much I can do since I don't have the money or means to replace it right now so another doctor and I are making do by sharing. I wasn't angry; it didn't actually even surprise me. I simply forgot to use a surge protector while charging it. Also, our water pressure keeps dropping so we frequently need to take bucket showers. We have had someone over to fix it multiple times and by now I am just not expecting anything to really happen. I would still like sufficient water pressure with which to shower but am not going to get my hopes up. It seems like it is the same for the many poor Nicaraguans here. Regardless of how hard they work or choices they make, many will never have the opportunity to better their lives, save money, climb out of the cycles of poverty.
Most Nicaraguans have no choice in regards to the water they drink. They often have parasites before they can speak. Even if they are fortunate enough to receive the correct medicine to treat the parasites, they only become re-infected again. Some folks just go in to the doctor quarterly for the anti-parasitic medicine, knowing that they’ll need it. It is also not uncommon for young children under the age of two to scream when I come to take their temperature or listen to their lungs. This is because, many children have a deep fear of doctors because they have already been injected multiple times with strong antibiotics, for viral infections. There is no education here, even for many doctors, regarding differentiating bacterial from viral illnesses, the later of which will not respond to antibiotic treatment. This medicine just clears out the healthy gut flora making the babies a prime candidate for gastrointestinal upset and yet another parasite. Many Nicaraguans are so disappointed in the healthcare system here that they simply diagnose and treat themselves and their children, walking over to the neighbors to pay for a penicillin shot from the bag that hangs on the family clothesline. In the photo above, there is a bottle hanging next to the Piñatas that is used for this purpose. Many of my patients cannot even consider making dietary changes that would support their current illnesses. All they can afford is Gallo pinto (rice and beans) and plantains, usually because they grow them in the fields where they work. It is difficult and sometimes discouraging to attempt to make lasting change here.
But there is hope, change does happen and I have a lot to learn from my community here as well. Thursday night I was encouraged by an English lesson I gave to 4 teenagers. They shared with me their hopes and dreams and reasons for wanting to learn such an important language for their futures. We also shared many laughs and music. They, like many Nicaraguans, enjoy dramatic love songs from the eighties and nineties. One boy played the Titanic theme song, My Heart Will Go On, on a plastic recorder, one of a few instruments I have seen here. They loved it when I tried singing along. And the connection to community is strong in this culture. There are big celebrations for many things, especially patron saints, elections and birthdays. The piñatas in the photo above are homemade by a family here in Los Angeles and provide much entertainment at a fiesta. Also to note in the photo of a local Nicaraguan home above are the plastic lawn chairs, the typical and only living room furniture here, the avon clock as well as the simple kitchen in the background, past the scrounging chicken. This is actually a nicer home, a family that has enough money to have a piñata business and own a bag of penicillin to sell to sick community members. This family also receives revenue for hosting NDI guests, interns and students.