Cochabamba

When I walk into a bathroom my eyes automatically glance to the sides of the, eh hem, toilet. No trash can no entry. Where will I throw away my used, eh hem, toilet paper without a trash can readily available? What?! You flush your paper? Surely your plumbing gets clogged every. single. day.

In the kitchen my taste buds salivate as I look at the pile of fruit bulging from the basket. I smile remembering how cheap they sell it in the market. Kids, eat more fruit — it’s super inexpensive. Favorite snacks: mandarins, mangos, pacai, custard apple, and bananas.

The invitation says 3:00? If I walk in around 4ish we should be good.Yep, bought the gift on the way and had it wrapped by the salesperson. No tags? Ne need. Did I bring a bag to transport the full to overflowing goodie bags each of my kids will get? Yep. No, thanks, my 3 year old does not need a 3rd mini coke bottle. Oh, look! they just pushed the birthday kids’ face into the cake. Good times.

Honk, beep, swerve, hey! Two lanes turn to four with the help of motorcycles mounted high looking like they will topple over. Red plus two — one of the gazillion unwritten rules of the road. Right turn on red after stopping — don’t even think about it! The bigger and the faster wins so take your right of way; just don’t forget to nose your way in with an aggressive sounding of your horn. Pothole! Oops, forgot about that one.

Nine-year-old new normals. I recall the multitudinous cringes as I forced myself to place the used paper in the trash can instead of dropping it into the bowl. I remember laboring to do the rate of exchange math in my head while Spanish words clogged my thought process, then the thrill of realizing that I just bought 12 apples for 2 bucks. Oh the frustration of punctualitys. Putting my life and the lives of our children in the hands of taxi drivers for years and years put my nerves on edge. How odd to look at those times past and watch myself learning how to live in this foreign place.

Odd, I say, because now these things come naturally. I hear newbies struggle and complain and indignant thoughts arise to defend my home. I hope that the things I now let perturb me (paperwork, endless lines, good intentions — poor follow through, poverty, scents, inconvenience and the fact that the customer is not always right, etc.) will one day become quaint cultural endearments, or at the very least accepted standards of living.

 

 

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