In the first in a series of interviews with good men around the world, Jacob Burke speaks with Zachary Lunin, an American expatriate living in Southern Nicaragua.
Who are you?
I’m a married 34-year-old who grew up in Newton, MA. I graduated from the University of Maryland, and I’ve lived in Nicaragua for eight years. I’ve owned a Aurora Beachfront Real Estate for six years.
How did you end up in Nicaragua?
I was backpacking in Honduras eight years ago and was attacked by a guy with a machete. Thankfully he was unsuccessful. I came to Leon [in Nicaragua] licking my wounds. I asked the hostel owner for a doctor, and she sent her daughter to go with me. The doctor made Suyen hold my hand when he removed the stitches, and that’s where it started.
How long did you date for?
We dated for about five years before we got hitched, a little over two years ago. We had our wedding in Nicaragua—a mixed Jewish-Nica[raguan] ceremony trying to incorporate things from my culture with some of the traditions and things from her culture… I always say that, at first, she was after me, but I don’t know how true that is. She actually thought I was Nica before we went to the hospital. She always said that she never wanted to be with a gringo and had no interest in being in a relationship with someone from another culture.
What do you gain from being in Nicaragua as opposed to living back in the States?
I think this is a great place to raise a family. You have a lot more time than in the US—time to be with your wife and kids. If I lived in Boston I would be at some office until five every day.
Are there many other cultural differences that you find difficult?
There definitely are cultural differences between Americans and Nicas. One of the biggest is communication. I’ll hear my wife scream at her sister or mother and I’ll find it stressful. For her that’s it and it’s over and they’re cuddling and giggling again. An American might hold it in and not really say what he feels. My experience with American women is that [anger] is slow to build and it never goes away.
Who is the ultimate American man?
The knee-jerk answer is Tom Brady: good-looking guy, athlete. But I want a guy who’s self-made, worked hard to get where he is. Does he have to be American? I’m intrigued by Richard Branson. He’s always got these crazy ideas that work out. He’s entrepreneurial, self-made. The world is breaking down cultural and political boundaries, now it’s more open. Role models could come from anywhere.
Who is the ultimate Nicaraguan man?
Herty Lewites, a Sandinista, a revolutionary, and a patriot. He then split from the Sandinista party and ran for President. And he was a Jew, which I like.
Are you a man?
How do you know?
My wife tells me.