Grieving For My Homeland: An expat’s political musings from the campo

IMG_3644There was a time when I thought, “How lucky we are to have the best of both worlds.” We own property in Nicaragua and the U.S. We are legal residents of two countries far apart in their ideological worlds, yet we can overcome these differences and live a culturally immersed life…coexisting peacefully with the similarities that unite us…a collective consciousness of human beings transcending political differences.

Yet, today, after a week of the U.S. government shutdown, I realized that this is not possible…not possible among the citizens of my own country…not possible among the citizens of the world. I am grieving for my homeland, desperately seeking a solution to stop this madness, and feeling quite helpless.

                                    Five Stages of Grieving for My Homeland

Talking Heads, Silent Hearts

                                                       Talking Heads, Silent Hearts

1. Shock and Denial: the initial paralysis
My initial reaction was one of politics as usual with checks and balances governing the United States of America. It won’t last long. They will all come to some agreement. I can’t worry about this because I have chickens to feed, sweet potatoes and peanuts to harvest, cows and pigs to shoo out of my property, and life goes on in the campo in Nicaragua regardless of what is happening far away in my homeland.

2. Anger: Frustrated outpouring of emotion bottled up for decades
Living in the campo, on a small isolated island in the middle of Nicaragua, in the middle of Central America, leaves few options to express my anger and outrage about the shenanigans of political terrorists holding my homeland hostage. Thank goodness my internet is working and I have a strong signal…most days. I confess. I used Facebook and other online media sources to express my anger…blaming anyone and everyone for the impasse.

3. Bargaining: Seeking a way out of this mess
Once I realized that there was no way one person’s comments on Facebook or another online media source would make a hoot of a difference, I became obsessed with researching facts to find solutions. My beachfront lawn became a tangle of overgrown weeds, tropical ant hills grew with millions of neglected little ant terrorists… garden produce rotted offending my olfactories, and a huge boil grew on my butt…the result of sitting on a plastic chair in the humid tropics for hours on end researching:
1. What are John Boehner’s motivating factors?
2. The effects of polarized media on political beliefs
3. Who is Ted Cruz?
4. What is a Discharge Petition?
5. Studies of the mindset of Republican and Democrat ideological bases
6. The Hundredth Monkey Syndrome and its effects on changing political beliefs
7. Why a clean CR vote is or is not an option
8. Daily polls on political dissatisfaction
9. Unbiased news sources…of which I could find NONE… Even BBC is biased.
10. Expats and the Affordable HealthCare Act
11. and finally…checking our stocks and retirement funds daily.

4. Depression: Final realization of the inevitable
This morning, I awoke to this statement in the Washington Post by Ezra Klein.

At this point, it’s almost cliché to say Washington isn’t working. But the truth is harsher: Washington is actively failing. It’s failing to craft policies that make the country better. And it’s failing to avoid disasters that make the country worse. It’s nice to imagine these failures are temporary or aberrational. It’s comforting to believe that they’re the result of bad people, or dumb people, or incompetent people. But the truth is more unnerving: The American political system is being torn apart by deep structural changes that don’t look likely to reverse themselves anytime soon. A deal to reopen the government won’t fix what ails American politics. ( Klein, E., The Washington Post, published October 7, 2013).

And, that folks, is the cause of my depression and current state of my emotional upheaval. I grieve for my homeland.

5. Testing and Acceptance: finding realistic solutions that work.
I feel disconnected from my government and worried about our future. I’ll end with a quote from Benjamin Franklin.

“We’ve spawned a new race here … We’re a new nationality. We require a new nation.” — Benjamin Franklin speaking at the Continental Congress, 7 June 1776

Something to think about.





16 thoughts on “Grieving For My Homeland: An expat’s political musings from the campo

  1. We did nothing but postpone the inevitable. We owe 17.6 trillion dollars and our politicians answer is to borrow more and continue to go in the hole another trillion every year. Of course if you say we need to cut expenses the left says but poor little children will go hungry. If you say we need to raise taxes the right will say it will hurt the economy. They are both right but we are in serious trouble and we need to cut spending and raise taxes. It has already went to the point that only a drastic change will pull us out of this mess and it will take years to happen. I am 41 years old about to retire in 6 months with $4000 a month retirement and enough to buy a home in cash. However I see the economy in such bad shape that I am going to get another job. When we eventually default 5-10 years from now the dollar will be worthless what am I going to do then with a U.S. dollar retirement?

  2. Retired, take a deep breath. What’s happening here in the USA is nothing new. America has gone through 17 shutdowns and we always recovered. Don’t believe the news. It’s fear mongering at it’s finest. We have two political parties. Let them duke it out. They’ll come to a conclusion that will make most people happy. Obamacare isn’t ready for prime time yet (but still a very important necessity). 300million people scrambling to buy health insurance plans in 2 months is a bit too much, don’t you think? Everybody will get along if Obama delays the mandate for one year for individuals & families, just like he did for corporations, unions and other large political donors that are in Obama’s pockets.
    They’ll work it out. The world will not come to an end. Everything that happens always is for the best. If the new tactic is to shut down the govt in order to get things done, then so be it. Just another business maneuver. Whatever.
    I lost all my money in 2001 with the dot com disaster. There is no way in hell I would ever go back into the stock market. I live on a cash basis and have no need to borrow from anyone. It’s not the greatest life BUT for me, I like it because no matter what happens (govt or stock market wise) has no effect on me. When the economy fell yet once again in 2008, it meant absolutely nothing to me. After the 1987 Stock Market Crash and the 1991 recession, I think I finally ‘got it’. Stay away from the banks and you’ll be OK.
    America will be fine. So will the rest of the world. Perhaps they will learn NOT to be so dependent on the USA. From what I can glean off the news, not too many other countries are doing well: England, Spain, Barcelona, Italy, France, Asia, (Japan has been in a recession for decades)…..these countries are short on money, jobs and benefits. Perhaps the whole world is going through an adjustment? You think?
    Worry about yourself. Get through each day. The world will be fine. But we must understand that the reduction in consumerism, which has been pushed by so many, has had a consequence: less demand, means less production, means less work, less jobs, less money and so on and so on. The world is learning how to live on less. So be it.

    Peace, bro……

  3. Yes it is so insanely wrong and frustrating. The only saving grace is at least we aren’t Syria, or other countries where you have nothing at all in terms of a democracy. Even china where you dot have freedom of speech. Yet it still is so annoying. Those damn tea party lunatics!!!

  4. I have a lot of feelings, too, about the current state of affairs and mismanagement in Washington. But I suspect that there are not just individual egos at stake here but also strings from the higher-ups. If you are interested, watch the movie “Thrive” available at It identifies who is really in charge and why the rest is just gladiator games (or should we now call it the “Hunger games”) to amuse the masses.

  5. I completely understand cashing in your investments, before you lose everything. We lost everything in 2008, and we had what we thought was a pretty diversified portfolio, and are still struggling to get back on our feet. We had a construction business, the hardest hit by our economic downfall. And I have many friends who are going through the same thing. Many people are trying to reinvent themselves at a time when they should be retiring. If the economy crashes again, I can’t even begin to fathom what will happen to the average American, but I do know one thing, the stock market isn’t where I want to have my money in such a volatile time.

    • Same here, Linda. We had a diversified portfolio. It took several years after the 2008 recession for our investments to recover. Now they look fantastic and have grown tremendously in the past 6 mo., so instead of risking an economic disaster, we pulled out temporarily. Our financial planner said we can reenter the market after the first of the year. We simply can’t afford to go through that again. We learned the hard way in 2008. Never again.

  6. As a Canadian it is difficult for me to comprehend the political turmoil that is happening in the U.S. but I have to be aware because down the line, one way or the other, we also get affected. What scares me the most is your decision to cash in your investments. When one does that and then it becomes a roller ball and before we know it, panic sets in and the stock market will crash. Keeping my fingers crossed that it will not come to pass.

    • I know, Gordana. But, we experienced losing most of our life savings in 2008 through the stock market. We can’t afford to go through that again. We decided to be proactive about our retirement savings because we have very little control over everything else. The good thing is that once this crisis is over, we can simply transfer our money back into the market. It’s temporary…but we are nervous as are most investors.

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