Ignorance is Our Deepest Secret

“There are no foolish questions and no man becomes a fool until he has stopped asking questions.” ― Charles Proteus Steinmetz

Fifteen years ago, when we explored our options to retire abroad, I joined many expat forums. Most of the forums were on Yahoo, but today you can find a variety of expat forums on Facebook.

the earth from above

I was raised with the mantra, “No question is stupid.” Therefore, I asked many questions on the expat forums. When I look back on the questions I asked, I laugh at myself because I was such a novice and I showed my ignorance to the world. Some answers I received were rude and condescending. I’m thin-skinned and my feelings were hurt. I was called a “rabid cow” in one response to a question I asked. Other responses were kind and helpful. Thank goodness for those gentle people, or I may have never retired abroad for fear of the wrath of the “know-it-all” expats.

It is a fact – everyone is ignorant in some way or another. Although ignorance is scary, I will be the first to admit that many times, I didn’t know I was ignorant, and I never wanted to expose my ignorance if I was aware that it existed.

Below are some unique questions asked by future expats:

1.  We have heard that due to the threat of Ebola they are not allowing used clothing into the country. Is this ban still in effect?

2. Does anyone have some insight into bringing a horse from Sweden to Nicaragua?

3. Is the soil in Nicaragua rich with vitamins and minerals? I’m wondering if the fruits and vegetables are loaded with them. I”m thinking of bringing my juicer with me on my trip there.

4. Are the skies being geoengineered there?… (trails from unmarked aircraft that spread out and white out or haze out the whole sky)?

Ignorant questions carry two kinds of responders in two entirely opposite directions: The mild and gentle responders, it carries towards empathy and understanding; the persecuting responders it carries into fiendish sadistic cruelty. ( In cyberland, I think these responders would be called trolls, and there are an abundance of them.)

If you are an experienced expat, responding to these questions…how would you respond?

7 thoughts on “Ignorance is Our Deepest Secret

  1. Well , we didn’t ask those kind of questions since we did two years of research before visiting Ecuador to see if all the hype was true. Then after returning home, even though we had already decided to move to San Clemente, continued to do research on Ecuador. Most of our questions concerned paperwork needed for our Visas. That being said, if I couldn’t say something kind I would say nothing at all. We did have run ins with “trolls” and that’s why we no longer follow most expat groups on facebook.

  2. I’ve been an expat for most of my adult life and have certainly asked my share of dumb questions, so I truly appreciate when people in my next destination are patient with my more clueless questions. That said, I save my scorn and sarcasm (muttered at the television) for the people on Househunters International who expect huge American-style bathrooms (with dual vanities and a tub, of course) and enormous kitchen appliances in their new country, not realizing that, for example, they will be purchasing their produce from the folks who come by their house most days, that it will be fresher and possibly less adulterated with chemicals, and they will have far less need to store vast quantities of food between grocery store runs as they did during their busy lives back home.

    And even then, I realize I have no right to judge them, as I plan to ship some treasured possessions to Nicaragua (against some expats’ advice) because ultimately, we all need what it takes to make a new place a home for us, even if that means making some choices we may regret later.

    • I understand what you are saying, Claire. By the way, do you know that Ron and I were featured on House Hunters International? Seriously, the episodes that filmed people buying into the gated gringo compounds so they could have the crown molding, the granite counter tops, and continue the same lifestyle, only cheaper, irritated me, too. That’s why I refused to do the show unless they understood that we live on a fixed income, are culturally immersed in an all Spanish speaking community, and grow most of our own food. We wanted to give hope to others living on a fixed income. HHI was great about it, and followed our script perfectly. Of course, it is a reality show…things are never as they are depicted.
      I hope to see you in Granada the next time I come to visit. Thanks for your thoughts.

  3. I, too, had many questions before we started traveling and while the questions you listed get a HUH? and a laugh I feel that if someone takes the time to comment on a post of mine they deserve a thoughtful answer. We ask/asked a lot of dumb questions and every new country we go to probably generate a few more! Anita

    • I agree, Anita. But, like you, I have to chuckle at some of the questions asked. That’s why I usually don’t reply on the forums, because I have no idea how to answer. I always try to take the time to respond to comments and answer questions on my blog, because I’ve been there/done that newbie thing, too.

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