While I am doing Top 10 lists, I thought I would go ahead and do the Top 10 things you never (or rarely) see here that are pretty common in America. Here they are:
10. Football or baseball. They have their version of football (soccer) but definitely no American football or baseball. The big sports here are running and soccer.
9. White people. Please do not take this statement to be at all racist, since that is not what it is intended to be, but rather as a statement of a fact. There are very few white people here and you definitely notice when you see one. Any black person here is assumed to be local, even if they are American, whereas any white person no matter how long they have lived here is considered a “firinge.” My language helper was looking through an American magazine the other day and every single black person she saw in an ad she said was a national. I had to explain to her that those people were also American, not nationals here. She literally thought America was only white people and any black person must be from her country.
8.Students expressing themselves through their clothing. All schools have uniforms, even schools out in the village. I am actually becoming a bigger fan of uniforms (now that I am not in school and wouldn’t have to wear them) and think they look nice here. It at least helps put people at somewhat the same economic level.
7. Silverware. You don’t use silverware to eat injera and that is pretty much what they eat here – 3 meals a day. While I am sure that you can find silverware in restaurants, local places really have no need for it.
6. Women in shorts, short skirts, sleeveless tops, etc. You will occasionally see a woman wearing sleeveless, but never shorts and almost never a skirt above the calves. They just don’t do it and they stand out if they do. They are also more likely to wear a long skirt before they wear pants, especially the more traditional people.
5.People eating in public. People don’t walk down the street eating food – it is actually culturally inappropriate. I am going to go out on a limb and say that it is because the culture here is if you have it, you share it and there are too many people who don’t have food for those that do have food to walk around eating it in front of them without sharing.
4. Fast food. There is no such thing as a drive thru or a fast food restaurant. There are a couple of places that serve what they call “take away” food, but no true fast food places. Doesn’t seem like a big deal (and really it isn’t) but think how many times a week, you run through a drive thru to grab something to eat for a meal. There have definitely been some times when I wished I could hit up a drive thru instead of having to cook or reheat my food (without a microwave mind you).
3. American Chains. No Wal-Mart, no McDonald’s, no nothing from America. They have a Starbuck’s knockoff here, as well as a Home Depot knockoff, and even a place called the Melting Pot, but none of them are true to my visions of what I wish they were like. Not even close.
2. Overweight/obese people. I think the lack of the three things above this one have a lot to do with the lack of overweight people. I saw a woman get on the bus the other day that was somewhat overweight (like maybe 225 lbs) and thought to myself, “you just don’t see that here.” People just are not at all overweight or obese. It kind of makes shows like The Biggest Loser seem really foreign and ridiculous.
1. Toilet paper in public restrooms. Now, in the Capitol you do see it in certain places, but you better have some back up on you just in case, cause it certainly isn’t a guarantee. Out in the countryside, you can bet your rear end they won’t have any. Water is the preferred method around these parts, and if you want to get technical, in most of the world. I’m gonna stick with my paper though!