Saturday, July 7, 2012

Cartoons 26.1, 26.2, 26.3: Things That Are Crazy Different in Latin America Thus Far

 Going to the bathroom is wow different depending on where you are here. Basically everywhere public, there are no seats on the toilets and either you bring your own paper or you have to pay to use the potty and they give you paper.  Then you throw the used paper in the trash can beside the toilet.  I don´t quite get how but for real it usually doesn´t stink.  Then in a lot of rural places, you are given a bucket of water that you dump into the toilet bowl which makes the waste go down.  It has taken me about two years to figure out the necessary angle and velocity you have to pour the water with to create the vacuumy force that sucks the poo down.  I must confess I´ve had some sh%&ty experiences in the learning process ha! (Okay sorry that was way obvious but a girls gotta find a way to laugh about learning curves that include unpleaseant splashes yuuuuck!) 
Moving on... there is much less privacy around going to the bathroom in my experience here. One place we stayed the house was basically a cement box and there was barely a curtain between me on the pot and everyone else.  It´s really good though because it´s forced me to release a lot of shame that I´ve had around the natural processes of my body.  I used to not even want my boyfriend of five years to hear me pee.  Now, Joaquin, my most recent boyfriend, used to call me ´Little Moon´ after one of the many times he came to be my lookout as I exposed my round pale booty to the moonlight. :)

The showering system is also pretty different.  A lot of times there´s no separation between the shower space and the sink and toilet.  Its kinda handy to have the toilet there so I can sit down down and wash my feet :) But I can´t seem to figure out how not to soak everything in the bathroom while showering.  I think I´ve seen like two tubs since I´ve been here, seems that houses generally don´t have them. And there are a couple of different systems that I´ve seen for heating the water:
1. Turn on a small gas-powered hot water heater about 20 minutes before you wanna shower and then turn it off before you get in.  You have about 5 to 10 minutes of hot water so you´d better be fast!!
2.   There is an electrical heating device attached to the showerhead that heats the water as it comes through.  Definitely the most efficient but the water pressure has to be pretty low for this method too work.
There´s lots of conciousness about saving water here cuz, well, they can´t just consume to their hearts content.  One time when we were living in San Cristobal (Chiapas, Mexico), we went without running water for like a week in a middle class apartment in a good sized town.  We caught rain water to flush the toilets and wash the dishes.  From what I understand, the government sends enough water to fill the storage tank generally located on the roof of the house and if it runs out before they decide to put more in, you´d better hope you´re resourceful.  I almost got cussed out one time at a Circus Convention using the public shower.  I didn´t turn the water off at any point during my shower and a girl yelled, "Hey, we turn off the water when we soap up!!!!" I can definitely understand the woman´s frustation with me being that in the US we consume like 70% of the resources taken from the earth each day....oh dear...
Hmmmm, other miscellaneous stuff...the lights go out like once a month, heating and air doesn´t exist in most places- folks just put on more clothes or take them off as the case may be... oh yeh! This is kind of random but one of my favorite things in Mexico is that when you walk into or out of a restaurant, you almost always address the other people in the place by saying, "Probecho!" which means "Enjoy!" Cool right?

The last thing I just have to share is something I kind of touched on in Cartoon 23.  People are so frigin' generous!!! One time I was in the plaza in San Cristobal helping Joaquin and Daniel after a show and a woman came up to congratulate us on our work.  I thanked her and then I complimented her earrings and she said "You like them? Take them!" And she took them out of her ears and gave them to me.  And then she continued to invite us to her home on the beach if we ever wanted to get out of the city! And she meant it too. 
At parties, often people just buy a cajuama, a big bottle of beer, and pass it around the party.  You let yours go and within 5 minutes another one circulates back to you.  Pretty much everytime you go to someone´s house even just for a moment, they offer you food and drink.  Countless people that we´ve stayed with have offered to lend us their bikes or cars whenever we need them without even asking about our skills as riders and drivers, little do they know I crash at least once everytime I get on a bike :) 
Many times I´ve told people about the trip that I´m on and they offer to take to lunch just because they know that moving from place to place without a steady stream of finance can be tough.  And people are also way generous with their time.  In fact they often laugh when I say the phrase "Thank you for your time". "My time?", they say, "Time is not mine."   When asking for directions, people are generally so helpful and will often say "You know what, I´ll just take you there!" I see endless support for social projects too, people just pitch in when they see good work being done.  This kind of brings me to a topic I´m going to explore in one of my next cartoons but let me not get ahead of myself.  I´ll just finish up today by sending out a ginormous shout out to the people of Mexico and Central America..."THANK YOU!!!!"

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