The beetles are bigger here too!

The beetles are bigger here too!

noun – the fact of two things being seen or placed close together with contrasting effect

Life is different here in South America. Okay, well, that’s somewhat of an understatement  – or overstatement – depending on how you see it. Aside from the obvious differences like language and geography, there are many other differences that will allow you a little insight into my life here in the jungle. None of these differences are either good or bad, they are just different and can take a little getting used to.

Jungle Life and Suburbia in the States: A Juxtaposition

1. Milk comes in bags. Well, milk can also come straight from the goat that the farmer brings by your house, or from the milk truck that stops by and honks it horn that mimics a cow’s moo. For our house, it comes in bags from the local grocery store. Obviously due to spillage, we transfer the bagged milk to a shiny glass bottle.

2. Clapping occurs on beats 1 and 3. Need a little more explanation? In the states when people clap to a song, we clap along with beats 2 and 4.  Let’s try it shall we. Let’s sing a quick version of “Trading My Sorrows.” Okay start singing, now get your clap going. If you count the beats, you’ll see that your claps occur on beats 2 and 4. Now sing the song again and clap on beats 1 and 3. It might not be too hard right now, but if you had a drum banging out the beat for you, it would be VERY difficult. Much of my Sunday morning worship time is spent just trying to clap on the beat with everyone else.

3. Noise ordinances don’t exist (at least in my jungle town). In fact, it’s not uncommon to walk down the street of your “neighborhood” and see large loud speakers attached to the outside of a residence. Why? You might ask. Well, of course it’s to share a person’s favorite music with the entire neighborhood. When? You might also want to know. Whenever one feels like listening to music – day or night! My favorite part of this is when an old Bryan Adams song or “Oppa Gangnam Style” is pumped through the air, and I can actually sing along.

4. Kids go to school in shifts. Some students attend school from 7 AM to 1 PM and others attend school from 4 PM to 10 PM.  Interesting, right? This option allows students who work in their parents’ farms or business to still attend school and help out the family. On the other hand, if a student only needs to attend school, he/she may do so in the mornings. (P.S. They have LOTS of homework here. More than back home.)

Disclaimer: This next point might gross some of you out, so skip over #5 if you want.)

5. Used toilet paper is not placed in the toilet. Yea, I know that’s a little TMI, but it is definitely something that you have to get used to when living here. The sewage systems aren’t build to accommodate such “items” so a trash can is kept nearby.  Thank goodness for scented and odor-killing toilet paper. Okay, enough of that reveal!

6. When you enter a public room for the first time, you greet everyone with either a handshake or a kiss on the cheek. I mean EVERYONE!  Needless to say, greetings can take a while:)  What’s even more interesting is that when you leave, you must also say goodbye to each individual. Even if you only stayed for 1 minute!!!!  What a great way to show people they are valued! It’s a tough custom to get used to but a very positive one.

7. Rice: it’s what’s for dinner, and lunch, and breakfast. Rice is a staple here in the jungle mainly because it’s inexpensive and readily available. While I’ve always viewed rice as a nice side dish for different types of meals, here it seems a normal requirement for any meal. My problem is that I’ve never really been able to cook rice. Well, I mean I can cook it. It’s just that not many people will want to eat it after it’s been cooked.

8. Car horns are made for honking – and not just cause you’re mad with another driver. A driver can honk the horn to convey many a-feeling. Here’s just a few things a honking horn might be saying:

Honk: “Hey, what’s up?”

Honk, honk: “Watch out, I’m coming!”

Long honk: “Get your car out of the way, I need to park!”

Two short honks: “How you doin’?” (Think Joey Tribiani here.)

Constant honking: “Look a my car and the advertisement that’s on the side panel.”

Honk, honk, honky, honky, honk: “It’s my girl’s 15th birthday! So I get to ride around in the car with her and honk the horn so everyone will know!”

Honk!: “Here’s your notice, I’m passing you and your slow self.”

Yep, life is different here and offers many new ways to view the world and how it works. I consider myself educated because life everywhere else in the world is not stateside suburbia, and too often we don’t realize that – and even take our life for granted. I’m happy that my life has been juxtaposed with this jungle one:)

Which juxtaposition did you find most interesting? Or maybe you’ve traveled to another country and can offer one of you own.  Please do so!


5 thoughts on “juxtaposition

  1. Jill

    I love it! I laughed so hard, the people in my office think I’m a nut. I especially loved #6 because it made me think of my own extended family. We ALWAYS have to kiss everyone when we enter and leave a family gathering. Now I’m just wondering if we are descendants of some long lost South American group of people! I also loved #7, because I felt the same way when I lived in Louisiana. When i went to the grocery store and discovered that they don’t have a section for rice on an aisle, but an ENTIRE aisle dedicated to rice, I asked myself, “What country am i in?” And when a friend of mine needed to stop at a store to grab a 20 lb. bag of rice, I thought, “Who in the world eats 20 lbs. of rice? Ever? Such great insight to what life is like down there. 🙂
    *and a bag of milk? Really?!


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