I’m experiencing major culture shock. Everything feels like such an ordeal here, whether it be a simple trip to the store or making a phone call. I don’t understand what anyone is saying, even though it’s apparently English. I am tired of having to try so hard. I can’t even figure out how my damn TV works in my room. Ad to this the demands of my new job and trying to adjust to the time change and frankly I’m exhausted. I know it’s all normal and this will pass, but in the midst of it all it feels quite overwhelming. All I want to do is pet my dogs, soak in my hot tub or call a friend. But none of my normal comforts are available, so I write. Here are some of the things that have surprised me the most.
- Security: There is a huge gate you have to go through just to enter the hotel. A dog sniffs your packages and they look under the car for explosives. Once they open the front gate you then have to give your bags, purse, everything to security which then takes it from you, presumably to go through your bags. While they go through your bags which are now out of your site, you then have to go through a metal dector and get wanded like you’re at the damn airport. 5 minutes later they bring you your bags back. Yesterday we ventured into the city to get a local SIM card for our phones. To get a $5 SIM card you need your passport, 2 passport photos, a letter of residency and have to fill out a shit load paperwork. You would think you were buying a fucking house! Can you tell I’m irritated!
- Traffic: It’s truly insane. There are no laws. People go the wrong way down one way streets, speed, cut across intersections, make u turns, etc. all while honking. Basically honking means I’m coming through so get out of my way! I feel like I’m in a video game. I often wonder why there is no road rage here.
- Pigs: Herds of wild boars are wondering through the city. I expected the cows, but not the pigs! Yesterday there were 2 GIANT pigs mating in the middle of the street and everyone was just swerving around them. I almost pissed myself from laughing so hard.
- Polution: It’s way worse than I expected. In our big meeting yesterday with the customer it was hard to talk over everyone coughing. I think it’s a way of life here. My lungs hurt already. I would wear a mask but only tourists do that and then you become a target of crime.
- Blackouts: Probably 3 or 4 times a day all the electricity goes out. No one cares. Everyone just ignores it and eventually it comes back on.
- Standard work hours: They are normally 10:00 to 7:00. I’m a morning person. I’ve woke up at 4:00 every day. It makes for a very long day!
- Men touching each other: The men here are very touchy feely with each other, and they are straight. I would compare it to girls in grade school in the U.S. They hold hands, walk down the street arm in arm, embrace, and so on. The women don’t even do that here.
- The food: Awesome food is everywhere and super cheap. I don’t know what it is or how to pronounce it, but it’s all delicious! I’ve been working out hard in the early hours of the morning just to burn off the calories and keep from getting fat.
This is a fascinating country. It will take time to adjust for sure. Here is a picture of me and my colleagues riding in a Rimshaw back from town. Note that I darkened my hair to try and blend in.