Weekly Photo Challenge: When a Kiss is More Than Just a Kiss

A kiss is almost always more than just a kiss. It is a language with its own grammar…a recipe of love with unique ingredients. People actually have careers studying kissing; they are called philematologists. Kisses are classified into three categories: the “basium,” for the standard romantic kiss; the “osculum,” for the friendship kiss; and the “savium,” the most passionate kind, sometimes referred to as a French kiss.

But, in Nicaragua I’ve encountered another kind of kiss, which I’ll call “desolo” or the Latin word for abandoned. Eight years ago, I lent my camera to my 10-year-old neighbor, Luvy. Her mother was visiting from Costa Rica where she was working as a maid to support her family on Ometepe Island. When Luvy’s mother returned for a short visit, I told Luvy to record her most precious moments on my camera and I would print the pictures for her.

DSCN0725For most of Luvy’s young life, her mother lived in Costa Rica. Luvy’s elderly father cared for her and her household of siblings and extended family members.  At the age of seven, Luvy bent over the cooking fire preparing meals for her family, as well as tending to the daily needs of her younger nieces and nephews who lived with them.

When Luvy was a teenager, her mother returned to live with them. Sadly, Luvy still lives with a feeling of abandonment, as do most of the younger Nicaraguan children whose parents leave them to find work in Costa Rica. Luvy turns 19 next week. She is following in her mother’s footsteps by moving to Costa Rica to find work. I desperately wish we could stop this perpetual cycle of abandonment.

IMG_1676The photo above has a happier ending. This is Bobby’s dog, Luna. Bobby died a little over a year ago abandoning Luna. She was placed in a loving foster home for a short time, until the woman could no longer care for her. Finding loving homes for pets in Nicaragua is not easy. First, most Nicaraguans don’t understand the concept of pets. Second, Bobby pampered Luna, again something unheard of in Nicaragua.

My friend, Carol, came to the rescue. She lovingly opened her home to Luna. Last week, when we were visiting Granada, we stopped in to say hello to Luna. Very grateful and sloppy Luna kisses smothered Carol with love.

Next time you happen upon kissing, remember that a kiss may look deceptively simple, but a kiss is almost never just a kiss.



9 thoughts on “Weekly Photo Challenge: When a Kiss is More Than Just a Kiss

  1. That’s so interesting. There is a somewhat similar phenomenon in China – parents of the poorer classes often move across the country to work in factories spending enormous amounts of time away from their children. But I have never once heard a Chinese kid (I’ve mostly taught high school and university students) express feelings of abandonment. Quite the opposite, and I can only assume that it is a way of dealing with the cognitive dissonance produced by the situation.

    Thanks for sharing this story. Culture sure is interesting 🙂

    • Thanks for the interesting comment. Most of the people who leave Nicaragua in search of jobs in Costa Rica are the fathers. In Luvy’s case, her father was old and disabled, so her mother had to go. Luvy spent most of her young years taking care of everyone in her household. When her mother returned, Luvy not only resented her mother for leaving, but resented her return because Luvy enjoyed being the mother of the household and she lost her position as caretaker in the family. Different cultures are fascinating and there is always a sense of mystery, at least for me. 🙂

  2. You give a different perspective of kiss. The last kiss a child has with a parent when saying goodbye and the first kiss saying hello, years latter really is profound. Even to feel abandoned after her mom returned is so sad. How did Luvy do with her picture taking assignment?

    • Lynne, when Luvy’s mother returned, Luvy was a rebellious teenager. They fought like crazy because Luvy had always taken care of the household and her mother didn’t like the way Luvy did the chores, the cooking, etc. Luvy’s picture taking assignment was awesome. She took mostly pictures of her family, her animals, and eggs (Kind of odd..but the whole family got their pictures taken balancing a raw egg on a spoon or their foreheads). I printed the pictures for Luvy, then she wrote a story about each picture. Last year, she showed me her book of pictures and stories that she had lovingly saved for 9 years. I think I need to write a post about her book.

  3. I hope Luvy is not leaving a child behind. It’s sad to see families forced to do that. Such hard choices to make when love sometimes means having to leave, always wondering if food and housing is really an acceptable tradeoff for a parent’s absence. While Luvy has had to deal with a sense of abandonment I try not to think of her mother’s thoughts at night so far away from her daughter all those years. Once again I am humbled and thankful for the life my family gave me.

    In 1983 I was on an oil tanker just outside the Persian Gulf loading oil from another ship for 5 days. The crew members on the other ship were Filipinos and I visited with several of them. They were aboard the ship 11 months a year and all had families they saw one month a year, and this before cell phones. I asked how they could be away from their kids for so long; they said their families could lead a good life with them at sea, or live in crushing poverty if they were home. Many of the provinces there still have 30-50% of families living on less than $500 per year. Labor deployment in the Philippines contributes over 11% of the GNP from money sent home, but at what cost to the families?

    • Good questions, Brian. At what costs to the families? I wish I had some answers for them. It is horrible to see the effects of a family torn apart. My son and his business partner started a sustainable tourism program in a small indigenous community here. They wanted to develop cultural programs in their community for tourists, but they didn’t have a clue what tourists wanted. So, Cory and Sam assessed their needs and their wants, and developed 12 cultural tourism programs, such as: cultural cooking classes, exploring their farms, fishing like a Nicaraguan, and many others. They made them a website and brochures, and now the programs are finally paying off. The community can keep their families together and support themselves through their tourism programs and home stays. I have a link to their website on the home page of my blog. It is OutMore Adventures and there is a special section for Los Ramos.

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