juxtaposition: part dos


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

So my last post on life here versus there (juxtaposition part uno) received a lot of positive feedback.  Many of my readers are definitely interested in my crazy jungle life, but since I’ve grown acclimated to the culture, I rarely think about the differences anymore.  However, over the last few weeks, I’ve purposely taken notes just so I can share them with you.

1. Dish washing is a whole new experience. Well, the reality is that dish washing is dish washing and no matter where you live: it still stinks that you have to do it. However, here in the jungle, we don’t wash dishes with a sink full of sudsy hot water.  In fact, most houses don’t even have hot water running to the kitchen sink (because obviously, if you needed hot water, you could heat it up on the stove). Even more interesting is the fact that our dish soap comes in hard cakes not bottles of liquid.  I have to admit that I’ve grown a fan of this hard cake version. I simply scrape my cleaning sponge over the soap cake and start scrubbing.  What about dishwashers, you say?  Yea, they don’t exist.

2. There’s no cheesing it up during a photo.  Yep, that’s right. In general when taking pictures with the locals here in the jungle, they don’t smile. It’s not that they are unhappy, the culture doesn’t see smiling as a required part of a good photo. It’s one of those things that strikes me as so unconventional that I have a hard time understanding it. If you think about it, “Queso” doesn’t quite make for as cute of a smile as “Cheese!”

3. There’s no such thing as a line.  Now, I will admit, this one has been DIFFICULT to get used to.  For example, let’s say that you are standing in line at the grocery store with about 20 items or so, it’s not uncommon for someone who has less than you to come up and hand their items directly to the cashier who promptly rings them up while you wait.  (Even though it was your turn next.)  Don’t be alarmed but that could happen at least two more times before you ever get to check out.  The motto we learned in language school really helps out in these kinds of situations:  “Tranquilo” which loosely translated means “just chill.”

4. There’s no such thing as a free refill.  I’ll just let that sink in.  There’s no need for explanation.

5. U.S. movie titles don’t exactly translate in a word for word manner.  My favorite translation is for a movie I have not seen and do not plan to see in the future, but perhaps is the best example of my point.  Remember the movie Magic Mike which hit the theaters last summer? If you aren’t familiar with the content, it’s basically a movie about male strippers.  If you wanted to purchase that movie on DVD, the title options would be as follows: #1 Trabajo Sexy (translated means Sexy Work)  or #2 Streepers (which obviously means Strippers, but the idea of having the long “e” sound in the middle made me laugh hysterically).  Translating titles is one of my favorite pastimes when we visit the video store.

6. It’s the buyer’s responsibility to have correct change. This whole concept to me is so foreign (duh, I live in a foreign country). When purchasing an item, one will frequently be asked for correct change. If you don’t have it,  some vendors seem very displeased. Not sure if not having change is an inconvenience or if it’s just easier to not bother with it.  However, I can tell that after seeing the LONG LINES snaking out of the local banks, I would probably not be so concerned with having change for all of my customers as well.

7. Clothing sales racks are virtually non-existent.  As the Clearance Rack Queen, this concept has seriously dampened my shopping options. Truthfully, clothes here tend to be expensive, and I need a sale just to be able to afford them. Why no sales? Well, it’s always summer here so there’s no reason to move merchandise out to make room for the new fall line. This has been great for our family budget, but not so great for my fashion needs.

Once again, my new world juxtaposes with my old one, but I’ve come to accept all these differences and even find that I like some things in my new world better than the old. Notice I said “some things.” I’m still a huge believer in free refills!


2 thoughts on “juxtaposition: part dos

  1. Jill

    Oh my… I lament your lack of a dishwasher, as I would be distraught without mine. I would LOVE to try the dish detergent cake though! Ingenious. I can’t wait till you and I get to spend our day together. I promise to take you to lunch where you will have all of the free refills your heart desires, and we will hit every single sale rack in Birmingham! Love you!!


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