Thursday, August 30, 2012

Toto, I've A Feeling We're Not In Bolivia Anymore

I woke the day after arriving home from Bolivia and opened my eyes to a new world. Toto, I've a feeling we're definitely NOT in Bolivia anymore!

For one thing, I cannot step out of my house and wave down a motorcycle taxi. I've really had to think about it more than once when preparing to leave the house that I would need other transportation. And if I do happen to ride a motorcycle here, not only am I not allowed to ride side saddle, but I am also strongly encouraged to wear a helmet at all times. And a skirt is probably not the best idea either, here in a America. Furthermore, carrying groceries in my lap is also frowned upon.

It has also been strange to adjust to wearing seat belts and noticing that everyone here owns and drives cars. Not only that, but I own and must drive a car! No more walking blocks to get to where I am going. Everyone has their own private portal to beam them to where they want to be.

Then there's the language barrier. Here where I live in the EEUU English is the language. My mind is still living in Spanish. The Sunday after I returned, I nearly greeted a sweet old lady in Spanish with exuberance...only to recall just in time that she only understands English. Oops. No español for me as a means of communication for now.

There's also the form of greeting. I was kissed an average of 10 times a day in Bolivia as a normal form of greeting. (I hasten to add it was on the cheek!) Here, if I were to lean in for the kiss, they'd think I was interested a little more of a relationship than they were expecting....

Next I went to the store. I was amazed and kept marveling over how clean it was, how much space they had between displays and items, and by the sheer number of things and the level of quality available. It was overwhelming. I left as soon as I could.

Then there are restaurants. The array of choices at the average American restaurant is dizzying. Rare is it to find a place with three or four items on the menu to choose from. No, how about twenty or thirty items?

Perhaps a bit of vanity on my part, but one thing I quickly adjusted to was having more clothing choices. I took a total of two pairs of pants and perhaps six shirts for the summer. Regardless the number, it all fit into a carry on size suitcase.  Fast forward to arriving home, where it was tempting to change clothes several times a day just for the sheer fun of it. Look, another outfit I haven't worn in months! COOL!

It was also very difficult to remember where to dispose of toilet paper here. I know, TMI, but hey, in the interest of being authentic, it has taken quite a while to readjust.

My stomach has also taken quite a while to get used to American food again. It cries out in protest everytime I make it digest American food. Perhaps it misses rice at every meal and chicken every day. And where did my soy con jugo every morning go??

And you know what? This is going to sound really funny, I know. But it is really weird sometimes to see so many white folks around. I was used to never seeing them and it comes a shock at many gringos! At one point I attended a conference and was one of two gringas. Only two white Americans present out of a thousand and twenty.

Toto, I've a feeling we're definitely not in Bolivia anymore! And gosh, it feels like it's taken weeks to readjust, when really it hasn't been long at all that I have been here...

Me extraño mucho a Bolivia y espero con ganas de volver. Toto, no estamos en Bolivia nunca más.

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