Humans of Nicaragua: Wilber’s Story


“The beautiful thing about learning is that no one can take it away from you.” ~B.B. King

Update

I shouldn’t be mean and revengeful, but instead use this as a warning to expats in deciding who to befriend in the expat world. Not all expats are trustworthy or good people. Here is the story.

Theresa hired Wilber to work for her. The first day, she took Wilber out for his birthday, she got drunk, as is her usual, and took Wilber home and seduced him. She was in her 60s, he was in his early 20s. The first time I met Theresa, she was at the Landing bar, drunk and trying to pick up young Nicaraguan boys.

I should have known better, but I eventually became her friend. Wilber is kind and compassionate. He often picked up Theresa at a bar when she called him for a Moto ride home because she was too drunk to walk home.

When I started the Humans of Nicaragua series, Theresa begged me to interview Wilber. He makes a good story, but it comes at a price for Nicaraguans. Too many Nicaraguans are taken advantage of by expats, whether it is sexual abuse by mostly old white men with underage Nicaraguan girls or in the workplace as housekeepers, waiters, gardeners, etc.

Frankly, I should have known better than to befriend Theresa. The rumors were rampant, but I didn’t take heed. Theresa borrowed money from me, and I lent it generously knowing she needed it, but then she refused to pay me back.

When I heard rumors about her stealing the credit card numbers from her dead expat “friend”, I thought it was a joke. Theresa convinced me that she was a loving, kind friend. Now that I look back on our relationship, I should have used my gut feeling from the first time I met her.

I discovered her credit card fraud when she asked me to mule back to Nicaragua, hundreds of dollars of things she bought off Amazon with her dead “friend’s” credit card. She sent me a message and said, “Thanks Simone. I know you would have wanted me to have these things.”

Well, when she admitted that she had committed credit card fraud, I cut off our friendship and reported her for credit card fraud. How could I have been so naive? My Nicaraguan friends tried to warn me. I didn’t listen.

The lesson to learn from this story as an expat is to trust your gut feeling. Just because expats gather in your location, they are not all going to be your friends. I have unknowingly made friends with pedophiles, money launderers, scam artists, and sexual predators. When I have discovered the truth, I have reported them to the proper authorities, but very seldom exposed their dirty little secrets on my blog with the exception of The Anatomy of the Cult Ecoovie. Now that I have moved out of Nicaragua, I can speak more freely.

Expats move to Nicaragua for a variety of reasons and they are not all admirable. Don’t be naive, like me.

Now on to the story….

How does one choose between an education and food for one’s family? It is difficult for me to understand from my secure, economically stable, and knowledgeable world. But, choosing to provide for one’s family instead of going to school is a commonplace decision habitually made in most developing countries throughout the world.

The power of education or the power of family? It is almost impossible for me to imagine that this choice has to be made.  Yet in Nicaragua, it really isn’t a choice for the poor; instead, it is a way of life. Food or education? Medicine or education? Low paid unskilled labor or education? The poor do not choose. That is a myth that I am beginning to understand from living in Nicaragua.

Without an education, it is difficult for me to understand how people function in a literate, high-tech world. According to UNESCO Institute for Statistics, the adult literacy rate is the percentage of people ages 15 and above who can both read and write with understanding a short simple statement about their everyday life. In Nicaragua, 78% of the population is literate. Literacy chart comparing 215 countries.

It is almost impossible to imagine what it is like to be illiterate, unable to read or write words, and how terrifying and confusing the world must seem. Five years ago, this was the bewildering world in which Wilber lived. He knew very little about education and even less about the literate world surrounding him.

When Wilber was nine years old, his father ran off with another woman leaving him to care for a sick mother and his younger brother. He quit school and applied for a job as a farm hand on Ometepe Island.

“The farm owner said I was too tiny to work, but I convinced him to hire me because I needed to support my family.” ~ Wilber

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