Some rather personal reasons for liking it here

One of the things that endears Nicaragua to me is that the people who know I'm a writer don't specify it any further than that, and being a writer who has real publications, even in a foreign language, has a certain privilege here. Not a big deal, but a deal, and better than the anti-intellectualism of the US right wingers or the frigid dismissals of science fiction or fantasy by people who insist that they write or only care for literature.

Also, I'm not the first woman who found a Hispanic culture to be better than an Anglo culture for women. Another poster to my publisher's blog said that she felt she was treated as a fully human being for the first time in Argentina. American guys trying to lecture me are a constant reminder that for me, this is a better place to live. Or, at least, has better side to it.

My next door neighbor's compaño did the laundry again today. They've got, from what I can see and hear of it, a more egalitarian marriage than my parents or even some of my siblings had, and any of the poet's wives had. So when the old gringos who believe it's their given right to lecture all women try to tell me what I should do, I thank the FSLN for providing Nicaragua. Or for the indigenous culture for taming the Spanish, or whatever. Whatever, being an escritura, and living in what's been so far a politer culture than New York with better politics than the US South, is quite a delight.

Perfect? No, but better. 40% of the cops are women. One of my friends here was indignant that I would even worry about bigotry to gays and lesbians here (I suspect she's a hair on the optimistic side, but I've also never had a woman flirt with me in the middle of the day and loudly in the US -- though there may be reasons why that particular person doesn't care).

I found that when I stopped expecting guys to make me straight, that I could actually be friends with some of them. Here, some men may think women are dangerous, but I don't really get the impression the local guys think women are stupid. The other thing is the society is both very gendered -- the women very much women and the men very much men -- but without the belittling of women and with more symmetrical roles, at least among urban people. I saw this occasionally with old country married couples -- he did these things and she did these other things, and they complimented each other and they both respected each others skills (the woman in the particular case I'm thinking about make clothes for money). But those marriages were rare -- mostly the women were crushed and belittled and treated like children.

Once, when waiting for a bus, a drunk started behaving outrageously. A Nicaraguan woman of about fifty picked up a stick, tested it to make sure it wasn't going to break easily, and just held it. There was a wonderful sense of the practical to this, of being very matter of fact about the possible need to defend herself, but not really making a fuss or even saying anything to the man.

Thing may be bad for some women, maybe even many women, but they're bad, when they are bad, in different ways, and those ways don't really affect me. I think I've been on average happier here than I've been anywhere else. Some of that may be the good fortune with the neighbors. But it's like stepping sideways from something that's been life-crippling and only realizing after the pain was gone, how bad the pain was. I'm a writer with some real publications -- that's accepted. I'm a woman who's reasonably intelligent and who can figure things out for herself. That's more than okay here.

If I'd been born Nicaraguan, I'd have fought in the Revolution or I'd have gone to Miami because the Revolution was interrupting my studies. Probably would have fought in the Revolution. I'd have spent the neo-Liberal years minimizing that I'd been FSLN, and then would have come out in 2006 and been pissed about the accommodations to the Catholics.

I could have done things and held positions that would have been impossible for me in my late 20s or early 30s in the US.