Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Small things I notice every day, but I forget to mention

***Not only do we drive on the left side of the road here, the controls on the steering wheel are backward, too. I’ve only driven six times, but every one of those times when I wanted to turn my blinker on, I ended up turning on my windshield wipers.

Blinkers are another story altogether. When you are behind someone, they will put their left blinker on if it is safe to pass, and their right blinker if they advise against it (if you want to trust them).

***On the very hottest day, and any given time, there will be several young people in town with hoodies on. I cringe thinking about the heat they must be feeling, but I realize that since they only have a thin covering of hair on their heads (most of them), the hoodies protect them from the sun.

I never see them wearing sun glasses because the sun is absorbed into their skin instead of reflecting off of it. And babies are always tied to their mother’s backs with thick, wool blankets. They deal with heat in a very different way than me. I just sweat and sweat some more.

***If you break down on the road somewhere, the protocol is to break limbs off of a tree and put limbs several yards in front and behind your vehicle. You don’t have to try to pull off the road (most never even consider it). They just park right in your lane, and you come around a corner, and BOOM, there they are. I would love to know statistics on how many accidents occur because of stalled and broken vehicles on the road.

***When you are riding on a motorcycle and the road changes to a slope down, the driver will turn off his engine and coast…every time. When we start climbing again, he will crank back up and keep going. They assume it saves gas (because they don’t know it uses more gas to start up your engine than just coast in a lower gear).

As a fun side note (and I read this same thing takes place where my friends are in Nepal), drivers don’t run their lights at night on their vehicles because they believe leaving your lights on will run down the battery. Thankfully, sometimes when you are passing them, they will flash their lights to let you know they are there.

What do they think lights are for on a car? And can’t you imagine how silly they think we are for continually keeping them on?

***I helped Alice, my house worker, one day go collect some money from Western Union. She needed me to verify some amounts for the teller. She had her baby Sarah on her back, so she asked me to stand in line for her. I am not kidding, I was only four feet from the counter, and I counted 16 people in front of me. “Personal space” is not a concept here.
People here do not like a crying baby. When Sarah started crying on Alice’s back, they wanted her out of the bank so badly they let her ask for her money by sticking her arm in from the side in front of all those 16 people. I quickly got out of line.

People here expect the mother to “feed” it right away to get it to stop crying. Alice told me that her sister-in-law was beaten the other day in town because her baby wouldn’t stop crying. I don’t know if it’s true, but I do remember how anxious all those people were for Alice to go first and get out as fast as possible.

***I will forever be surprised at the kinds of things that are transported by motorcycle here. I have seen beds, tables, shelves, pigs, chickens, goats, mattresses, you name it. It is quite amazing what all they can carry on the back of those things.

***I smelled fresh cut grass the other day. It was such a blessing. I stood in the road for a while and just watched this man weed-eat a whole section of grass so I could smell it. My yard gets “cut” every week by a man with a hand slasher (and so does everyone elses), so it was a real treat to smell grass being cut by a motorized contraption. It really makes a difference for the smell. Go figure.


Alison said...

Hey Kathryn! SO excited to find your blog from Megan's! I am your newest follower!! :) And I LOVE the Ugandan bead necklace that you sent me! Thank you so much!! Excited to be able to "keep up" with ya'll now!

Stevens Family said...


love you guys!

The Spears Family said...

I LOVE IT -especially because I could basically repost this entire post about where we live!