Quirky Cultural Complaints…

As of today I have been in Colombia for five weeks. And in that time I have come to find really odd things quite ordinary. So ordinary that when I commented on one of them to my mother, she was shocked and, perhaps, a little bit horrified to think where her daughter must be living. There are lots of differences between Colombian and American culture but there are a lot of little differences that you don´t even think to mention. Such as….

In Colombia you can´t flush your toilet paper. It was the same in the Dominican Republic and Ecuador. Something about the pipes being too small or something… I´m not entirely sure. All I know is Lanre and I keep a bin next to the toilet and that´s where all the paper has to be put. Honestly, I occasionally forget. Especially in the middle of the night if I get up or something. Hopefully the pipes don´t suddenly burst one day because of this.

Most places don´t have a bathtub and the shower is just a continuous part of the bathroom. In fact, most people don´t even use shower curtains. Lanre & I have one, however, at my insistence. And the shower only produces cold water. Well, everything only produces cold water. Homes don´t have hot water. This isn´t a trait of Colombia. It´s a trait of the tropical, coastal climates. In the colder interior they have hot water. I guess the theory is that on the coast people don´t need hot water. But I disagree… I´d still like some hot water occasionally.

It´s uncommon to find soda in plastic bottles. It´s most often served in glass bottles. Glass bottles that store owners must return to the soda company to be steamed clean and re-used. This is something that I think is wonderful. I also think most beverages just taste better out of a glass bottle.

Buses don´t stop at ´Bus Stops.´ They stop when you request them to. Either by waving them down on the sidewalk or by yelling for them to stop wherever it is you want to get off. And all buses have bus conductors. A guy who stands at the door yelling the route of the bus. Most commonly I hear ´Centro, Centro!´ They also take your money and, the better bus conductors, assist elderly people and children (or mothers with children) on or off the bus.

They don´t have dryers. Washers have centrifuges with them that you put your clothes into after they are rinsed and it spins the water out of them. Then you have to hang them up to dry completely and for the wrinkles to fall out. We actually do own an iron, but Lanre uses it. I have yet to touch it.

I´m sure there are other things, I just can´t think of any at the moment. Most of these little things have become happenstance to me by now. Lanre and I also have a roommate that lives with us. A little tiny lizard that lives on the wall. He´s afraid of us, so he scurries away when we come into a room where he is. He´s harmless though. Unlike the ants (in my opinion). The ants which, thanks to persistent poison spraying, are pretty much gone. :)


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