The title comes from the ‘compliment’ I inevitably get after showering. I guess the difference is so extreme that everyone has to comment on it.

Before anything I just want to clarify that I’m the farthest thing from unhappy. I’ve made peace with all of the following, except maybe the lack of vegetables.

I like being clean. I love being able to shower and not immediately start sweating again (not to mention being able to see and having running water!). I like to have clean nails that aren’t torn, snagged, and always dirty.

My feet smell now. Like, I notice my own feet. Which has never happened before. I never even really made a point of washing them. But here I do, but it’s like it makes no difference!

I wear the same clothes every week and at a certain point they lose the shape and they just don’t smell good. There’s a point of no return for clothes and I’m probably not going to return to the United States with any of these godforsaken tank tops.

I feel like my teeth are already noticeably yellow-er. I drink a lot of coffee and juice and brushing teeth here is just such a hassle – to get my toothbrush and go to the kitchen and drag out a tub, open the lid, find a pail to fill with water then take it outside, having to unlock the door and stand in the dark and try to aim water correctly or bring a flashlight and try to hold it while holding the water pail and brushing my teeth – I used to floss more times a day than I had meals! One night I went to sleep without even brushing. Who am I?

I splatter pee on myself regularly or crouch over a hole where cockroaches come rushing out at night and I scrub my underwear in the dark room where I pour water on top of my head by candlelight and then try to get it to dry on a barbed wire fence in between rainstorms.

If you haven’t already been able to put together a visual, I’m not feeling too attractive these days. And the lack of vegetables doesn’t help. I would feel so sexy after eating some veggie stir fry. My host mom asked me what I wanted for dinner one night. “Is there any avocado? Tomato? Pumpkin?” I asked. “Nope!” but she told me I could pick between two high-calorie starches (seriously, yuca  is now being grown in Africa in order to feed starving children). It’s like Sophie’s Choice, except not really. Oh and I also got to pick what I wanted on the side: Fried cheese? Fried salami? Fried egg?

The idea lots of people have of the Peace Corps (myself included), where I bathed in a river, dried in the sun while lying in a hammock, and walked around hand in hand with children while wearing clothing that never resembled anything I’ve ever owned (hippie skirts, long beaded necklaces, chunky earrings that “I made myself”) is so far from the truth. It’s hard to care about looking good because it takes so much work to look good – but it matters here. They respect people who are dressed well: it indicates respect. “How many pairs of high heels did you bring?” the girls here ask me. Hahaha!, none.

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