I wanted to touch on something a bit more serious, something that I continually learn more about and unfortunately see quite frequently. This is the relationship culture here in Nicaragua (and possibly very similar in most Latin American countries). It’s possible that this was going on in Peru and other countries in South America, but I may have been too naive and my level of Spanish too low to have noticed.
From what I’ve seen, there are a few main problems. Remember that this is just my take on what I’ve seen here. First of all, the machista culture here has a typical guy thinking that they have a right to many women aside from their wife. This seems to be a norm here. I am now convinced that the number of guys who cheat on their wives is an overwhelming majority compared to those who do not cheat on their wives. And secondly, many fathers do not want to raise their child. Many fathers expect the women to take care of the child, and others just simply leave the mother and the child. Both of these are major problems that I have noticed since being here in Nicaragua, and I don’t think they have made any progress towards improving.
If you think boys are raised to be macho in the US, you haven’t been to Latin America. It’s 10x more extreme. There is no way a boy is playing with dolls, and there is definitely no crying. Even more so, a boy is taught to have many girls.
A friend of mine shared a story with me the other day. He works at an elementary school. A 6 year old boy was talking to a female teacher. After a bit of talk, the teacher asked him “How many girlfriends do you have?” To me, that’s the wrong question to ask a 6 year old boy.
When I first arrived here in Granada, the landlord seemed like a nice and honest guy. However, I quickly realized that he’s not so much either of those. After a few days, he started making comments like, “You should bring a few American girls, one for you and one for me.” He happens to be married and has a little girl who is 10 years old, and he lives just across the street. I couldn’t believe it. I thought it was just him that happened to be a shady guy. However, the more people I meet, the more I realize it’s like an epidemic.
I’ve heard many stories similar to this. I’ve talked personally with guys who are married and talk about going out to get girls. Just yesterday, I was talking to a guy that I see on the street every few days. He’s 22 years old, married, and has a kid. But it doesn’t matter, he was still talking about how he’s always wanted to have have relations with a foreign girl but hasn’t had the opportunity yet. I’ve met single mothers who found out that their husbands were cheating on them before, during, and after the baby was born. I know a guy who lives here but his family live in the US. Of course he talks about going out to search for girls.
At first I thought it was just a few shady people. But now I’ve learned that it is ingrained in the culture. It’s not always just men who do it, women also do the same. However, I get the feeling that it’s much more common for a male to cheat on the woman than the other way around. The scary part is that it has become normal. It doesn’t seem to be looked down on. I’m sure people talk about it when it happens, as gossip is just as common here as it is in the US. But because it’s normal, it isn’t treated as that big of a deal and it does not seem to be getting any better.
Fathers not wanting to be Fathers
There are a lot of single mothers in Nicaragua. Just like the cheating culture, it has come to the point where it’s not that uncommon. In some cases, the baby was not planned and the father wanted nothing to do with the baby. In other cases, the father left the mother for another girl. Whatever the reason, mothers are often stuck with no option but to raise the child alone.
In other cases, the couple stays together but the mother is left with the job to take care of the child. While the mother is at home with the baby, the father is out drinking with friends and, I presume, often chasing other ladies. While walking with a friend one night along the pedestrian street called La Calzada, my friend saw the husband of her friend from a distance. The husband was dancing very close with another girl at the bar, and the girl of course was not his wife. My friend said that the wife was most likely home with the baby. To my surprise, my friend didn’t say anything to the guy at that moment, nor did she say anything to the wife later on. She said she didn’t want to get involved with their affairs, and she kind of laughed it off. Her reaction proves how this has become a sad norm.
Although these are bold generalizations, I’ve already seen cases like these too often. Obviously not all Nicaraguan males are irresponsible and want to have nothing to do with their children. There are many good people here too. But I want to stress what I have seen and how I have perceived this. The fact that I, as a foreigner, have seen all of this in just 2.5 months means that there is probably much, much more going on.