I’m going to preface this post with a disclaimer: I’ve spent the past decade exploring South America, and I keep coming back because I love it so much. I find the differences (and similarities) in countries and cultures endlessly fascinating, as well as the food, languages, geography, flora, fauna, and people. I’ve been in Bolivia for a week, and I’m smitten, if not a little culturally befuddled.
Like most of my writing, this will likely offend, so please let it be known that I’m merely taking the piss. Don’t even get me started on what’s annoying about Norte Americanos (self included). Now, adelante:
- Why do adults of both genders pick their noses in public? Like, a lot?
- Why do men of all ages also urinate in public, i.e. sidewalk, mid-day, full frontal? Yet last night, I got into verbal battle (en español) with a Bolivian man who’d just relieved himself along with two friends, behind a mound of rocks on the side of the road (our overnight bus was taking a 10-minute break at a restaurant). After they zipped up, I ventured over, and this guy started yelling at me to go pee in the bathroom.
I explained that the toilet (a seatless, shit-splattered number in a cement cell, with a one-foot gap at the top of the door that approximated the height of the average Bolivian male—about 5’7″) was in use. In reality, my nervous bladder wouldn’t function in there, and believe me, I tried. He was having none of it. From what I gathered, the issue was that said pile of rubble was part of the “construction” of someone’s “home” and it was bad luck for my (female? gringa?) urine to taint it.
- Why are 99.9% of cholitas (indigenous women from the Andean highlands; I’m specifically referring to those in La Paz) the size of Mack trucks? Proof: The city’s weekly event called Cholita’s Fighting.
- How is the human cheek is capable stretching to hamster-like capacity, in order to accommodate a wad of coca leaves the size of a tennis ball?
- Why do cholitas hawk with greater frequency and volume than the Chinese? I blame the noxious traffic fumes, since many of them are street vendors.
- What do the cops actually do besides eat, socialize, and look cool in uniform?
- Why, as in the rest of Latin America, is honking one’s horn repeatedly, even when at a standstill, okay? Rather than just being totally fucking annoying.
- How does listeria not develop in “fresh” cheese that’s been kept unrefrigerated for three days?
- Why am I still alive from eating said cheese? Because I seriously had no choice in the matter, or I would have caused grave offense. And sometimes death is preferable.