What is culture?
Is culture food? Is it our customs and practices? Is it religion? Is it how we interact?
What do you think?
Culture may be one of these things to you, it may be all….it might be more.
This morning I caught a taxi back to the center of town after a short visit to my son’s school. Though we’ve lived here before, we’ve just been back in Nicaragua two weeks now. The driver, a Nicaraguan man in his early seventies, I think, asked me questions while making conversation on the ride. Are you living here a short time? How do you like it? Do you have family here? Are you Catholic?
The questions all seemed typical, polite conversation…the last one seemed just a bit strange to me, but not completely off center (I believe Catholic is still the majority religion here). I think it just took me a little by surprise…How could he have known, does my “Catholic school girl look” still exist at 42 years of age? Wow, amazing! Haha. Highly unlikely.
Still wondering why he asked, I responded anyway, “Yes, actually I was raised Catholic and all of my family is too”. He smiled and continued driving.
I minute or two later we arrived at my destination and he pulled to the side of the street. He looked at me, extended his hand, and said, “Let us offer a little prayer”. I cautiously placed my hand on his, and he quickly began, “Father, please watch over this woman, this visitor here in Nicaragua, keep she and her son safe that they might have a good experience and be welcomed”. He said more and I caught most of it (though I don’t recall every word now). It was short, it was sweet, and I got out of the car feeling incredibly welcome, safe, and loved for being here.
I thanked him, smiled, waved, and walked away…stunned in a way (and I say that in the best sense of the word), feeling like “Wow!…that man didn’t know me, we spent all of 6 minutes together on the ride here, he didn’t have to feel or care one iota for me…but he did, he took a second, and he stopped to take time for me to welcome me and to ask that my son and I be cared for and looked after.
There are blessings along the trail of life, on the journey, in travel… this one was fairly obvious. This one was crystal clear, it was a literal blessing. A blessing and a sincere welcome to this country where I am just a visitor.
This is the Nicaragua I have fallen in love with. This is the culture I love to share and I hope you will experience too.
Thank you for reading. Come join me sometime. Experience the presence of Nicaragua. It’s more than just the volcanoes, the beach, the hotels….it’s the taxi ride and the people who love and welcome you and share their culture freely!
How does your culture welcome visitors? What do others tell you of their experience to your country? Please share in the comments section.