I just listened to a This American Life called “Continental Breakups”. It was about the creation of the Euro and how it’s affecting the European debt crisis (A well worth hour, if you’re interested http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/455/continental-breakup). But they say that one of the major reasons for the creation of the euro was because the countries realized that a united Europe would be stronger than any individual country would be alone. And this isn’t a new thing, Victor Hugo said in 1871, “let us be the United States of Europe, let us be the continental federation. Let us be European liberty. Let us be universal peace”. That was so long ago! So this is a dream that has resonated in the back of visionaries heads for a long long time. So then World War II happened, and after this tragedy Europe didn’t want any more war between their countries, ever. So years and years later (and for more economic reasons, like the German wanting to prevent inflation by all means—thus acting as the “rule” to how governments should run their economies) and after much negotiations, the euro was made! And though the euro hasn’t solved the problems that economists hoped it would, it did unite these countries into sharing a single currency—for better or worse.
We’re in Nicaragua for the next week or so. As we drove over the boarder, all 34 of us changed our dollars and Cordobas to Colones. I thought of this podcast as we calculated complicated exchange rates—not only because of the logistical ease a common currency would bring, but the unity. When the euro created, it came with the acknowledgement that if one country was weak, it would bring down the rest, but if one was strong, it could lead the rest. What if we had that in South America? I know that there’s too much strife between countries now for this ever to work, but it’s a nice dream. Crossing from Costa Rica into Nicaragua, we are crossing boarder of the most drastic income disparity between any two countries in South America. And it’s not just an arbitrary GDP thing—you can see it. We’ve been staying the past few nights on an Ometepe—an island in Lake Nicaragua. Each night we swim at sunset—black silhouetted heads bob in the water against a bright orange sky, wedged between two huge volcanoes. But one night after we’d swam, we think these two little girls came and snagged Stella’s swimsuit. It could have been so much worse and was more of an inconvenience than anything, but I feel different here than in Costa Rica, as bathing suite theft isn’t something very common there. Nonetheless, it’s incredible being here. And I’ve hardly had any time to write here! But I’ve been thinking a lot about the two years that my Dad spent here in the Peace Corps. Though I’m still doing school while I’m here, it feels like vacation. I feel proud and inspired when I tell people that he spent all of his time here doing service—what I guy. And I love the cyclical feeling that I’m getting being here—walking and seeing and smelling the same things in my 20’s that he walked and saw and smelled in his 20’s!