Random Things I Love in Nicaragua #8: Non-Consumer Culture

The man in the photo is pushing a cart on wheels down the main road into San Juan del Sur. Stacked on his cart are wooden chairs that have had the weaving redone. I’m guessing he’s walking the cart rather than riding the bicycle that’s attached to the cart for better control of the unwieldy load.

Nicaragua is not a consumer-oriented culture. Here things are repaired, reused, recycled. Here things are used up and then likely still repaired, reused, recycled.

I have 18” worth of clothes hangers with clothes hanging on them in my closet, and one drawer, versus the walk-in closet worth of clothes I used to have back in the States. True, the need for four season’s worth of clothes accounted for some of that excess but definitely far from all.

For some reason, the lack of a consumer society here is one of the most difficult things for me to describe. And yet one of the things I appreciate the most.

It’s not like we don’t have stores. We do have stores. But here in San Juan del Sur they are small, maybe even teeny tiny, Mom n Pop type stores. You know the owner. They are there every day.

At least here in San Juan del Sur where I live, we don’t order from Amazon online.

The overflowing veggies and fruits are local, except for the occasional spotting of an apple with a Washington State sticker and a price tag to go along with it.

Maybe because of the poverty. Maybe because of the simple homes and the simple lives. Maybe because of how expensive electricity is, and fossil fuels are. Maybe because of the warm climate. Maybe because everyone practically just lives outdoors. Maybe because it’s a Socialist country not driven by the profit motive (Medical Care is Free). Maybe because of all of these things, the air is not supersaturated here with Buy Buy Buy. Consume Consume Consume.

People get by here with very very little in the way of material possessions. And very happily so, if their smiles and laughter and greetings are any indication.

I’m reading a book that talks about marketing’s need to create wants in people in order to get them to buy things they don’t need.

Although I’ve never been much of a shopper, I recall continuously purchasing products when I lived in the States. My closets and cabinets were always full. And in fact my husband and I had a successful business of many years designing, building and installing Custom Closets in Colorado mansions.

I wear my clothes now until they get holes in them. And then I take them to the seamstress to get repaired.

Here life is about Family. And Community. And Faith. And eating and drinking and visiting and playing on the beach. It’s not about buying things other than essentials. It’s not about making your house or your table settings or your front yard or even yourself, magazine-cover worthy.

It’s just human life. Natural. Raw. Glorious. Unglamorized. Beautiful. Essential. Like the beaches. Like the mountains. Like the rivers. No embellishments necessary.

And an extremely low carbon footprint.

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