Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Easy to forget

When you move around as much as I do, it's easy to forget all the little things that make life fascinating to people who live a stable life. There was a question in our lesson yesterday asking how old people were when they first moved. I thought it would be even more interesting to expand this question and ask how many times they have moved, or if they've ever moved at all. In a class of 14 the person who had moved the most had moved three times, and there was at least one and possibly more who had never moved at all. Insanity!
Since I graduated from college 7 (Ahhh!) years ago I've lived in three countries, three states, and 7 towns! Not a very good track record, I know. Due to all this getting around, it's hard for me to have a very firm grasp on what most people consider to be normal.
Here are a few instances from my day that didn't seem very typical North American:

1.)Cigarettes. I know we have them in the US too, but definitely not in the quantity I see them here. They're still allowed in most public buildings, or at least all restaurants, and it's amazing the number of cigarettes you find smoldering on the ground. Wouldn't exactly fly with our pollution/littering laws. Not to mention the large number of young kids I see huffing away with no regard to anyone. No attempts are made to hide the fact that they're 12 and they're smoking. Hmmm...

2.)Purple hair. I won't even go into mullets, and the numerous horrifying hair styles. The really crazy bit is how often you see little old ladies with really purple hair. Not just a bluish tint to their white, but serious purple.

3.) Public urination. As I was walking toward the square today I saw a mother standing next to her son (he was probably about 8) while he relieved himself into a grate in the street. While I occasionally pass drunk men doing this as well, I typically see mothers holding toddlers in a sitting position along the side of the road to do their business. I just find it a little odd.

4.) A dog named Sara. Okay, so maybe this isn't totally unheard of, but it is a bit disconcerting to be walking down the street and have a woman shouting a name similar to my own at an over exuberant (not to mention really ugly) Sharpe. Let's just say I don't really want to have any connection to a wrinkly dog!

5.) The Lump Mobile. I just thought it was time to give "The Lump Mobile" its day in a post. In the Pedestrian Zone that leads to the main town square there are a couple little food vendors that are open most days of the week. The most notable is "The Lump Mobile" where you can buy a hotdog wrapped in a bun. That doesn't really do it justice. It's more injected into the bun. We're not talking a bun you open up and put the dog in, but one that is baked around it, sorta like pigs in a blanket, but somehow more disturbing. Besides the curiosity of the name, and the mystery of the meat, this particular cart is decked with a Colorado license plate. Again, just an interesting little addition.

There are countless other things that daily make life in a foreign country fascinating. Just the fact that you really can't fully communicate with 95% of the people you see every day has its challenges. With fewer than 10 native English speakers living in this town of around 35,000, it's easy to feel conspicuous and voiceless at the same time. Just some things to ponder on a lazy Tuesday afternoon.

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