Culture shock is REAL!
With moving to any new town, city, or country, some form of culture shock is inevitable. A previous blog of mine spoke of one such instance. This one takes another spin, and addresses those things that made me gasp, scream, shake, or bathe in five minutes. Each experience begins with the question I asked upon learning about the new piece of cultural information- translated to English, of course. Enjoy!
"What exactly was making that noise?"
One night, I was watching a movie entitled, "The Last House On The Left". I consider it to be a scary movie with a lot of gore, and moments that make your heart race. Although I knew that I would get nightmares, I refused to change the channel, and remained glued to the television screen. In one scene, the "Dad" bludgeoned one of the "Bad Guys" with a hammer, while the dramatic lightening flashed in the background. Who knew the human skull was so soft? Perhaps, doctors? Anyway, as soon as the hammer made contact with his head, I heard a very real noise from inside the house. It sounded like a cross between a monkey, a mouse, and a parrot. Although that probably wasn´t the best description ever, what matters is that, whatever it was scared the bejesus out of me. I immediately turned off the television, and ran up the stairs, tripping once on my way up. Mama ain't raise no fool!
The next day I asked my former land lord, "What exactly was making that noise, last night?" I had to mimic the noise for him, and once I did, he let me know that it was a lizard which is very popular in Neiva. They can usually be seen everywhere- in the bathroom, the kitchen, out on the balcony, behind the computer, in your room, EVERYWHERE! Oh lawd, now I have to deal with a monkey-parrot sounding lizard! Thus far, no one shares my concern over these creatures. They even laugh at my "flesh eating lizard" and my "if a lizard falls on your belly, it means you're pregnant" theories. The latter has been proven, just so you know!
It was my first outing to the University in Neiva, and I was so excited. I got up, ironed my clothes, polished my shoes, clipped my fingernails, and then, it was off to the bathroom. I hung up my towel, stripped, brushed my teeth, stretched, jumped in the bathroom, and instinctively, looked for the hot water switch. There wasn't any in plain sight, and, after looking everywhere including behind the toilet, I still couldn't find it. Naturally, I asked about the lack of a water heater switch, and my worst fears were realised- there wasn't one!
Apparently, in hot regions like Neiva, it is customary to take cold showers to keep you cool during the day. Quite frankly, this makes no sense to me whatsoever! I mean, Trinidad's climate is just as hot as Neiva, and almost every Trinidadian household has hot water in the bathroom. Plus, bathing in cold water does not keep you cool because as soon as you put on your clothes, you start sweating! Although the prospect of a cold, early morning, balls-shrinking bath was daunting, I decided that it would be a cultural experience, and took the plunge. Let's just say that that was the fastest I have ever bathed in my life! Since then, I have become quite accustomed to taking cold showers. I have even realised that if say, "Lawd, no sickness!" before I bathe in the morning, I wouldn´t get sick. YAY ME!
"Is that a baby on a motorbike?"
"Is that a baby on a motorbike?"
Yes, you read that correctly! I realised early on that Neiva is teeming with motorcycles of varying sizes, models, and colours. Everyone seems to have one; from men to women to university students to executives. It wasn´t that shocking for me, and eventually I became quite accustomed to seeing thousands of motorbikes on a daily basis, weaving through traffic to the annoyance of other drivers and pedestrians alike. One day, this all changed though!
I was in a car, on my way to taste guarapo for the first time when it happened. There, sitting on a swanky, red motorcycle was a man and his wife who was holding their baby in her hands. He/ she seemed to be no more than six months old, and was resting on his/ her mother´s busom like nobody´s business. Nobody seemed phased by this phenomenon, so I just had to ask to make sure that I wasn´t going crazy, and there was a baby on the motorbike. After asking, I learned that: 1) it is a baby, and 2) although it is illegal to have more than two people on a motorbike, much less a baby, most people/ families do it anyway. To this day, everywhere I go, I see more example of these fast and furious babies and toddlers. Wonders never cease!
Well, that´s all for now! Until the next post... chao!