So much here is weird to me and I’ve just tried to make peace with that. I think it’s why I get sleep so early. That and the lack of electricity. I’ve tried to compile a list of the things that immediately come to mind and I’m sure I’m missing quite a few important ones but here goes:

  • My host mom’s ex-husband of ten years still sleeps here but they have never once spoken, at least not in my presence.
  • We drove through a shantytown (for lack of a better word) with one billboard standing out of it advertising yachts. This should’ve been the example used to explain juxtaposition in 7th grade English.
  • Nobody just sits around and reads. I’ve never seen anyone with a book. Once I thought a guy across the street was holding a novel, but it was a cell phone box. I was literally about to cross the street and point to my book and his book and say something along the lines of, “Look, we are reading books.” I guess I should be glad I avoided that interaction.
  • One afternoon it took me awhile to realize that someone was outside of my house yelling my name, but saying it with an American pronunciation. I wandered out to see the volunteer from the town over outside my house on a horse. Of course.


  • Men who have multiple girlfriends/wives/families and are so confident you could prick them with a pin and they’d burst often end up wearing women’s clothes. I watched a guy ride past on a moto offering me no less than the whole world to be with him while wearing, and I kid you not, zebra print pajama pants, a purple tank top, and bright flats. I just looked around silently pleading, Is no one here to witness this madness?
  • You have to say God bless you after a compliment or that person will think you are cursing them for life. What was an attempt to be friendly will only serve to win you enemies.
  • I read a novel that I found to be so beautiful, I was literally and actually weeping.
  • I played a card game where the losing person has to sit on top of a glass bottle. It was so uncomfortable and also slightly nerve-wracking. My legs were killing me but I was trying to play at being Ironman or something, I don’t know. Probably the same reason why, when running one morning with some of the muchachos I refused to hold this guy’s hand crossing over a small river that had formed over the road. “I’m an independent woman,” I explained waving his hand away. Is this my real life?
  • There’s that guy tied up outside his house in the town over. No explanation has been given and I still haven’t asked.
  • I called my friend after we hadn’t talked for one day and was so excited and overcome with emotion I had trouble speaking.
  • “Laura, people from the government are here to see you.” Well, why wouldn’t they be?! I’ll just put on some pants and go talk to them. How do you conjugate verbs again?
  • Some drunk guy on the bus home from the beach was laughing so hard that he fell down. When I asked what was funny everyone pointed to the overweight guy on the bus and explained, “He’s fat.” I was shocked and didn’t know what to say. My heart was breaking for the guy who was looking out the window, ignoring everything. I turned back around and faced forward. “That’s sad for me,” I explained to the guy sitting next to me. He didn’t get it.
  • My project partner’s son, who is a really nice guy, addressed his 11-year-old cousin exclusively as ‘cow’ because she is so gordita. I tried to close my mouth that had fallen open. But what blew my mind was that she didn’t seem upset at all! But rather she got kind of sassy and proud and helped herself to another serving of rice. I guess the cultural beast that is body consciousness is very different from ours.
  • I was chatting with a really nice woman on her porch when I glanced down at her son, not even a year old, and realized he was stepping, covered in some kind of filth, smearing it on the concrete floor with his tiny feet. I glanced back to the mother and then back at the child. Then I realized he was covered, quite literally, covered in his own shit. Neither of us had noticed.  The floor and the child were cleaned and life went on.