I write often about my perspective of life in Nicaragua. Today I thought it would be a nice change of pace to get the perspective of a Nicaraguan living in the US.
Meet Frederick. He moved to Los Angeles a few months ago to live with his father. Prior to leaving, he spent his whole life here in Granada. He’s an artisan, and I met him selling his jewelry in the Calzada here in Granada.
1. Can you tell me about your first impressions of the United States?
When I came to the US, I wasn’t too surprised. I already had an idea of what life would be like because I knew lots of tourists in Nicaragua who are from North America. I thought that I would be working a little, studying, and travelling to all the places I had heard of. But then, things got a little complicated because I had to wait for my ID and my insurance and I didn’t have support from my father. So I had to stop studying and start working more. I don’t really get to travel at all. Now that my plans have changed, I’m really starting to miss my country and the daily routine that I had there.
2. What is your favorite thing that is different about life in the US?
There are many differences in this country. They respect the laws more and there is more organization. You can earn more money here and you’re more likely get a job. It’s easy to learn English as long as you do well.
3. Do they speak much Spanish where you live? Are you learning English?
There are definetly lots of Latinos where I work; everybody is Latino, with the majority being from Mexico. They have lived here for several years and speak English, and of course, Spanish. They have a preference for the food and customs of their country.
4. What do you miss most about Nicaragua?
What I miss most about my country is being with my family, the food, and the heat, ha ha!
I miss being with my friends, the artisans, the people from the Calzada. I miss playing pool with all of my friends and aquaintances there.
But above all, I miss the food from my country! El bajo, el indio viejo, el queso frito (all typical Nica dishes – the last being fried yummy Nicaraguan cheese.) If God permits, I’ll be back in my country soon doing what I do best – making and sharing my art. I look forward to being with my people and my family.
5. Entonces, you want to return to Nicaragau?
Every day that goes by, I think about how I can return. To see the people I know, walk the streets and visit the places I know, go to the campos, listen to loud music in the streets, and hang out at the restuarants. These are all the things I think of – returning soon and doing what I do best. This is what I want!
6. Do you feel a common culture with Latinos from other countries? How do you feel different from other Latino immigrants?
There are many Latinos with different customs and words. There are many things we have one name for in my country with different names in other countries. For example, a young teenager in Nicaragua is un chavalo and in other countries, they say bicho morro gallo. There are so many differences in the jargon of all the countries!
But, the main difference between me and the others is that I am handsome and they are not, ha ha! But seriously, for me the main difference is my way of being, my customs, and the way I talk – everything about me is very Nicaraguan!
7. What advice would you give to other Nicaraguans thinking about going to the US?
You do what you can do without holding back and don’t listen to the doubts that people may have. And while it may seem easy to go to another country, it can actually be quite difficult. You have to fight for what you want.
8. There’s been a lot of discussion in the US lately about immigration. Have people been talking about this much where you are? What do you think about all the talk?
Yes, there are a lot of positive and negative opinions about a resolulution for the undocumented immigrants. There are people who wish there was an agreement to legalize everybody, and often, we are all treated as illegals. I believe that if you legalize everybody it would really boost the economy because then everybody would be sure the Latinos are paying taxes.
Even then, there are still people here who do not want us getting citizenship in the US, and that’s unfortunate. They all started as immigrants at one point in time too, and it is not fair not to support people who are Latinos like them and deserve the same rights they are granted. Everybody just wants the right to work, to have insurance, pay taxes, and have a normal life without losing hope of getting ahead.
What little I heard of the President’s discussion had many ideas from Republicans and Democrats about the undocumented. Hopefully, they can find a solution soon that will benefit everybody.
Nicaraguans make up less than 10% of the Latinos who immigrate to the US annually. When Nicaraguans do leave the country in search of work or better opportunities, they are more likely to move to Costa Rica. Nicaragua is the financially poorest country in the Western Hemisphere behind only Haiti. Costa Rica, while still a developing nation, has a much stronger economy, though many Costa Ricans look down on Nicaraguans as second class citizens.