Reality is something I am learning is different for everyone. As ironic as that may seem. Logic appears to be completely absent at times here, especially in regards to health beliefs. But then I have to stop myself and remember that we all start our knowledge base with what we are taught by our culture, our parents, our surroundings. The other day I was told not to shower after I had worked a long, hot day out planting seeds at a farm. I should not have been surprised by this, as I´ve been warned by other gringos of this belief, but since I am working in a well developed NGO with educated Nicaraguans, I was. Apparently hot and cold can´t mix here, so if I was to take a cold shower (realllly cold, bucket shower) while hot, I could die. Or experience a lot of pain. When I responded saying I had done so the night before, after a long days work and heat, I was given then answer that gringos must have different bodies, or that it was only because I was accustomed to it. One girl even warned me that the pain would come years later, and then I would realize that it was a bad thing to do.
Hot and cold health theories go well beyond just hot bodies and cold showers...they even go into the diet practices...such as a cold drink with a hot plate of food (bad), spiritual practicies...such as women who have just given birth not being able to go to cemetaries for 40 days because of cold spirits (that could infect their warm uterus that just gave birth)...and the list goes on.
How does one spread health knowledge and contribute to development when up against such beliefs? I try to be respectful, and remember that they have believed this their entire lives, so I am not going to change it in one conversation. But at some point I wonder if its possible to merge cultural medical practices with scientific ones, or if they just contradict each other too much. I suppose thats why its development work...little by little, very slowly, progress is made.
This is my last week or so in La Dalia, then I will have a few days of evaluations and working on my reports for school, a week for vacation here, and then I am back to the states.
I will miss my family here I know...but I can´t wait for a good meal that does not consist of rice and beans.