Different and the Same

A visit to a different country is an excellent opportunity to get out of what you think is normal, to see how life is lived differently by other people of the world.  Several times since I´ve been here in Ecuador I´ve caught myself saying things like, “Why don´t they have that here?”, or “Why do they do that here?”, or something along those lines.  But then I remember that my way is not THE way, and that what I am used to in my country is not what people are used to in other countries.

We all share the same Life, and we are all one in the innermost Self — only the outward forms are different. 

With that in mind, I´d like to share some of the differences I have observed in Ecuador … things that are not better or worse, just different.

Eggs are not refrigerated here … in the grocery store you´ll find them on the shelf, generally near the bread section.

Most stores are not open before about 9:30 AM, and most of the same stores are not open on Sundays.

No one wears shorts, except for a few of us gringos that have invaded the area.

Coffee cups max out at about 8 ounces, 10 ounces if you are lucky.  (I have a 20-ouncer at home).

Lined yellow legal notepads, the kind I write on virtually every day, don´t exist here.

Vehicles have the right-of-way.  If you´re in what looks like a crosswalk, and a vehicle arrives and wants to be in that space too, you better dash for the sidewalk or you could be in for a world of hurt.

As far as I can tell, smokers can smoke just about anywhere they please.

People standing in the middle of the sidewalk and talking will not move to get out of the way of a walker, even when they see a walker approaching … your job as a walker is to exit the sidewalk to walk around them if you want to continue walking in the direction you were walking.

Speaking of sidewalks, if you venture just a few blocks from the city center, sidewalks can be wide, narrow, undulating, or simply not there.

Catholic nuns still wear the habit here.  I still remember Sister Stephan, she was the coolest nun ever.  She would play softball with us at recess, and after drilling one to the outfield, she would speed around the bases with her habit flying in the wind while she held on to her headpiece.  That Sister could hit!

Trash bins are tiny.  The apartment building where I am living has 24 apartments, and if I am not mistaken, it is serviced by two tiny trash bins about the size of the one I have at my house in Salt Lake City.

There are no chicken buses here.  (Well, Salt Lake City does not have any either).  I miss chicken buses.

Extra large as a size is rare … you can look for days before you find extra large clothes.  And when you find them, you´ll find them at places that sell to gringos.  Yes, the people are of smaller stature here, but also you do not see here the epidemic of obesity that we have in the United States.

Speaking of smaller sizes, the countertops are lower here.

I could go on and one, but you get the picture.  When you travel to a different country, you´ll find that many things are different … and that people are the same.