-- ultra lovely title of a painting by Fernando Toledo
My mother, since retiring from her career as a psychiatric nurse, has decided that she will spend three months out of the year in Nicaragua, and invited my to join her on a leg of her annual sojourn.
I will go anywhere I am offered a plane ticket, obviously, and I was also particularly in need of a vacation. So here I am.
Paulette has since become a Nicaraguan citizen. Her hotel and Spanish school, La Mariposa, has become the single largest employer in San Juan de La Concepción aka "La Concha."
She doesn't run her business for a profit -- her proceeds go to various community projects: physical therapy for local children with with disabilities, educational programs for rural students, environmental projects and the like. Paulette's business is explicitly intended to distribute wealth from western tourists to poor Nicaraguans.
Paulette is a constant presence at La Mariposa, alongside her daughter and their dozen adopted dogs. She's a brilliant woman who does not tolerate bullshit, and doesn't mind imploring those around her to shut up and listen (with a charming British accent).
Paulette and I were chatting this afternoon about the western conception of female beauty and the evils of capitalism. I began reciting one of my various body positivity monologues. Something about me spending brain-power considering the cellulite on my legs and my self-decided bravery in exposing the aforementioned thighs at the beach.
Paulette implored my to get my mind off of such bullshit.
My fixation on my thighs at a beach in Nicaragua, when plastic pollution is visibly choking the coastline, is a semi-decent metaphor for a uniquely American (or western) self absorption.
Here's what's real: my country, likely yours as well, funded a guerrilla war in Nicaragua in the 1980's to ensure that global power remained in the hands of capitalists. Paulette's daughter lost her birth parents to that conflict. Many others were killed, traumatized and/or permanently disabled.
I'm a person who was born into privilege. I have white skin, fluent English and an excellent credit score.
Wars have been waged to ensure people like myself retain their ability to feed a rapacious consumer appetite. An appetite that is choking the ocean with plastic and warming the planet.
I can say that I won't be party to atrocities like the Contra War, that they won't happen on my watch, with my tax dollars... but any casual news reader knows that to be more bullshit.
I can say, though, that I will take Paulette's example and actively work to redistribute some of the wealth I received by way of chance..