Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Bubble Up, Bubble Down

Bubble Up: I got to ride in one of the new busses around here- the kind that has air conditioning! It was by far the most enjoyable bus ride of my entire life. The seats were plastic, which means no strange parts sticking into your back, the door open and close with the push of a button, and there are two TVs in there. Quite upscale for this country!

Bubble Down: My trip on the air conditioned bus brought me to a place where I had to walk by a large pile of burning trash, and I now smell like it. Yuck.

Monday, March 21, 2011

What Happens Between 100 and 105 Degrees

Well, it is officially Spring. That is, it's Spring where the season actually exsists. In this country, it doesn't. Yesterday, the weather did have some changes here though. It got seriously hot, and I think the warmth is here to stay. For me, this heat is uncharted teritory. I've maybe experienced over 100 degree weather before, but certainly not without air conditioning. When it gets above 98 at home those are deemed good days to stay inside and watch movies or go to the pool. But yesterday, when it was over 100, I was galavanting around town on foot and non-air conditioned buses, not to mention that I had on an undershirt beneath my long-sleeved one and a scarf on my head. I'm not quite sure why the heat didn't affect me very much, but that might have been because I knew there was a milkshake waiting for me at the end :)

So what am I discovering about life in this range of temperatures?

First off, it wears me out! It takes a lot of energy just to get from point A to point B on a super warm bus.

Second, you have to always carry water on you. I feel like a fish with all the water I've been consuming in the past few days.

When it's this hot out, I can wash, dry and wear a single item of clothing in one afternoon- even towels only take two hours to dry.

Unfortunately, it's not hot enough to fry an egg outside- I'll experiment again when we get to the 110 degree range.

An iced/cold coffee becomes luke-warm faster here than a hot one does when put outside on a wintery day.

People often take the bus for just a few short blocks.

And maybe most importantly, I've learned to be thankful for God's design of sweating. Eww, I know. But it really does do the job to cool the body down. Plus, I just have had to get used to it- I begin to persperate on the walk from my bedroom to the bathroom.

I'm sure that soon I'll be wishing we could have some more 100 degree days instead of the warmer ones that are bound to come- I just hope I can survive this first!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Would You Like Some Tea with that Sugar?

One thing this country likes is it's sugar. Today I experienced just how sugary they like their drinks. I've always been amazed watching them add sugar to their tea, wondering how they drink it so sweet. It is completely normal to add 5 teaspoons of sugar to their 8 oz glass of tea here. (Just as a side note- yes, a glass of tea. And yes, it is hot tea. And you're lucky if the glass has a handle. I think I have some permanent marks on my fingers where I have held a burning hot glass of tea. I've drank hot tea from metal cups without handles in Nepal before, and I thought that was crazy. But let me tell you, the glass cups are much, much worse. So don't go complaining when your barista hands you your cup of coffee without a little cardboard holder, be thankful that your hot drink in in a paper cup! End of side note...) When I tell a host that I would like just one spoon of sugar in my tea, they raise their eyebrows in disbelief that I only want one. I've found that one spoonfull creates a delightful blend of the tastes of the tea with a little sweetness. Sometimes, though, I'll go for two if I'm in more of a mood for a southern sweet tea. But today, I didn't really get a chance to specify how I like my tea. They handed me a glass and I couldn't turn it down. Plus, I thought, why not expierence what a 1/2 inch of sugar in a glass with some tea added to it tastes like. I figured it would just be super sweet, not bad, just not exactly how I like my tea.

Have you ever had a cup of really strong coffee, or eaten something extremely spicy that tastes good, but you can only take tiny bites of it? That is the best I can come to describing this for you. The sweet taste was so strong and overpowering I could barely drink it. I'm not even sure why the tea was there- I certainly couldn't taste it! After getting through the thankfully small 8 oz of tea and eating some biscuits there was still some sugar at the bottom that hadn't dissolved in the hot water!

Another example of their addiction to sweets lies in this picture:

Do you see what's in the bottle? No, it's not bright red grape juice. It's fanta. In a baby bottle. And just for the record, although the white baby is trying to get ahold of the bottle, her mother wouldn't let her! But it is completely normal here for people to go around giving small children sweets, which is probably how they develop such a sweet tooth. It's not a taste I plan on acquiring, though- I don't want to come home and have to add sugar to my coke to make it taste good!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Sticky Sweet Moments

My hand is sticky. I could go wash it, but I almost don't want to. Because that would be equivalent to wiping away a kiss. The little girl who grabbed my hand just made me smile. We walked down a bit of the road together. I came upon her as I walked to get a bus. She and a few of her small-sized companions were playing on the dirt road running up and down a mound sitting next to a gate. There were definitely some squeals of joy coming from that group. She was the brave one, coming right up to me, reaching for my hand, and talking to me. She spoke clearly to me, asking me two words repeatedly. Unfortunately, I didn't know what those two words meant; I could only tell that I didn't know them. She was likely trying to beg, but she obviously wasn't a beggar. Her clothes were covered in dust and shabby, but she didn't have a "poor me" face on, or show me that she wanted food like most do. I simply told her that I didn't understand her, but she didn't let go of my hand. After stopping for a moment I began to keep walking, her hand in mine, with the others following close behind. At some point she let go and a few of the others came up, grabbing at my hand. I shook each little one that came at me, greeting them all one at a time. Apparently having their desires met, the turned around and went back to play on their dirt mound. It was as I walked away that I realized that my hand was a sticky mess- likely from the little one who had been holding a sucker in his mouth. I'm not sure what had drawn them to me in the first place, maybe they really wanted something, or maybe they were simply drawn to my whiteness. But whatever the reason, they certainly brought a smile to face.

I got to the bus and sat down next to a girl, fixing my headscarf that was sliding off. The girl glanced at me and looked out the window. Then, to my shock, she turned to me and said something to me in Arabic. Caught completely off guard that she was saying something to me, I said, "Hm?" She repeated herself, and I agreed with what she said about the weather. We then proceeded to converse in Arabic, which was delightful. Most people on the busses do one of two things, ignore me, or speak to me English (which is sometimes really hard to understand).  It's not often that someone tries to converse with me in Arabic if I don't speak first, but this girl was willing to try, even when I didn't understand her at first! We had a nice conversation and exchanged names and phone numbers, as is customary.

It's the moments like these that make me love life here. Both these girls showed me that it's worth the risk of being rejected to try and make a new friend and that you can make someone's day by doing so, and I'm thankful for the opportunity to learn that!