As I grew older, my passion for fantastical adventures kept growing. I fell in love with Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, Legend of Zelda and countless others. Later in life, I started to get involved in anime conventions and renaissance festivals.
Science fiction and Fantasy media was completely changing how I saw the world and what I wanted to be in it. I studied journalism and archaeology and I would be lying if I said I didn’t dream of Indiana Jones adventures along the way. I joined Peace Corps in part to have my own adventure in the real world. But it was here in Nicaragua, the real world caught up to me.
Let me say this, Nicaragua is poor. It ranks as 3rd in the western hemisphere after Haiti and Bolivia. A good portion of this country lives on less than a dollar a day. That leaves very little money for people to expose themselves to the same media that I had. This translates into a much lower presence of even the concept of fantasy.
When I first realized this, I was shocked and wanted to do what I could to introduce as much as possible. I brought movies, and tried to tell anyone who would listen to me about this side of imagination. I soon realized that a lot of the people I was talking to just weren’t really interested in sci-fi or fantasy.
I then changed tactics, I wanted to know why the Nicas that I was talking to weren’t as enthused as I had hoped they would be. I started watching the novelas and WWF wrestling, which they love, along with them. I think my face might have given myself away when my host sister realized I wasn’t a fan. I asked her why she prefers to watch this over my superhero movies.
She said, “Well that’s just so fake. It’s not real.”
As she said this, we were watching a novella series in which a Columbian cocaine dealer was making breast implants out of coke and putting them into all these supermodel women to transport them to the states. However the implants exploded on the plane, which does not happen in the real world either, by the way. And upon landing, one of the gorgeous women collapses into the arms of her lover complete with running mascara, water park tears and her latino lover’s shirt blowing open in the wind.
When this happened, I couldn’t contain myself and blurted out, “Well how real was that?” Everyone laughed.
Not all the Nicas are quite as opposed to a world of pure imagination as others (5 points to anyone who gets that reference). I lucked out massively when I found that my girlfriend was also a big fan of fantasy, superhero and other kinds of movies. She even likes some video games including a few classics.
In the end, I guess this is probably my biggest culture shock, the almost absence of love for the fantastically unreal. Here, stories tend to look as real as possible while including elements that would never happen in the mundane world. This is something that I’ve missed a great deal from my home culture, daring to dream.