Thursday, August 5, 2010
Interesting Cultural Differences
Despite a trip to Africa, I wouldn't consider myself an international traveler. However one trip is more then enough to offer some insight into some interesting cultural differences. I'll caution you now; this conversation is going to sink into potty talk. I’ll keep it clean as long as possible.
Okay, I’ve run out of clean material; sorry you’ve been warned…
Short Calls vs. Long Calls
Luckily, for the vast majority of our trip we were lucky to have western style commodes available to us. However, in a great number of the places we visited, the only toilets available were what were affectionately coined: “squatty potties”. While these aren’t uncommon around the world, they came as quite a shock to many in our party. I was one of the fortunate ones who for some reason didn’t get the opportunity to use one. Carrie on the other hand can testify that in Uganda, there are separate squatty potties for short and long calls!
I’ve saved the best worst for last. Adopting the short call and long call term was easy. Using a squatty potty took a few tries to get used to but was doable. I’m speaking for myself, but I’m pretty sure the one toilet procedure that none of us really got used to was the flush. Or more accurately, what didn’t get flushed. Toilet paper does not get flushed! There was a small trash can next to every toilet. Thankfully these cans were emptied daily. This might not be a horrific thing until you realize that bathrooms were shared.
Looking back, it’s no wonder all of us on the team have become the best of friends. When you don’t have a choice but to throw your expectations of comfort, along with a small bit of your dignity, out the window, bonding will happen whether you want it or not!