Monday, May 15, 2017

How our views on consumerism have changed

This is Elise.  Mike and I have often asked ourselves if we could just live a simpler lifestyle in the US instead of living in Nicaragua.  Yes, we could live have lived a more reduced lifestyle in the US but here it is much easier to live simply.  We are not surrounded by stores that make it so easy to buy and offer greater savings the more you buy,  We are not surrounded by easy credit and attractively displayed merchandise.  In Granada, it is the opposite.  It's work just to buy just the stuff you need.  I am not tempted by cute, inexpensive clothing or household do-dads at big box stores.  In Granada there are mostly second hand clothing stores.  The stores often do not have good signage so they are difficult to find.  The stores don't have air conditioning, are usually not decorated and have music blaring at high volume most of the time.  So it is not very enjoyable for me to sweat my way through the used clothing racks and I generally avoid shopping.  I have to really need something to shop for it here. The other option is the 45 minute drive to Managua where they do have air conditioned department stores and a better selection of merchandise.  I am not saying this to complain.  I am making a point about how different it is here.  We don't have the good shopping like we did back in States but we do get what we need.
   The other reason we don't spend as much here is that we are surrounded by dire poverty.  A few weeks ago we had a friend selling a used refrigerator for $180.  We discussed buying the frig because our current one that came with our rental is small for a family or four.  It's like a puzzle trying to fit everything in there.  In the States, all our neighbors had an extra refrigerator and freezer in the garage and eventually we got one too.  It was a great place to keep the beer cold and store our Costco purchases. Here we are surrounded by poverty, not affluence.  That $180 we would spend on an extra refrigerator because we have too much food would feed a family of four for months.  We could not and would not justify spending so much when others have so little.
    I was sitting and observing the signs of poverty all around me this morning as the air conditioner was being fixed in my car.  The man with mismatched shoes.  The fence built of tree branches and other bits and pieces of random things.  The old lady carrying the boy over the muddy, unpaved street so his shoes would be clean for school.  I watched three men work on my car at once and solder a part back together that I know they would have replaced with a new one in the States.  There was a stray cow that nosed its way under my hood and the men had to shoo her away.  I reflect on my good fortune, that I even own a car and can afford to have the A/C fixed.
    Sometimes when I speak with people from the US I can't relate to them anymore.  They take for granted how easy it is to get things there.  The amounts of money they spend on gratuitous stuff, I can't relate.  The general idea that problems can be fixed by buying stuff, I can't relate.  The way people stress out over little things and worry about everything, I can't relate.  The length of time in traffic people spend commuting, I can't relate. For now, I am so thankful we are able to choose this lifestyle over that one.

Parrots making a racous while eating mangoes in our backyard


  1. For reasons not worth mentioning, I, a Canadian, had to buy a house in Georgia about 34 years ago. Perhaps it was the best time to buy because almost everything was for sale because the people couldn't pay their mortgages.
    To cut a long story short, I must have visited 30-40 homes where folks had already been foreclosed or about to. In any case, what struck me at almost every house I visited was how these folks had squandered money on just about everything they ever saw , whether needed or or not. From garages full of toys, sports goods, barbecues, smokers, dishes, clothes and it goes on and on. Most stuff used once probably and then just discarded wherever there was some space. Unwashed pans, dog food bags....just pitiful.
    I would look at my better half and smile because I paid for my first house cash and I was only 29 years old. What were these people thinking, I would ask? Where are their priorities?
    Is this America, the greatest country in the world ? Who educates them? What is the that famous American dream shit?

    So, my friend, it is better to live a life happy with little because the Trumps of this world have absolutely no desire to even know what it is to be a human .