Many of you may remember that when I first arrived in Arequipa, I wrote a Part I of this post and promised that it wouldn’t be the end…well here is the second part. After 7 months in Arequipa, I think that you can imagine that I have been able to easily pick out things that annoy me on a daily basis. Again, this is not meant to be a critique of Latin America…this is meant to be a description of what I have noticed and what I could do without. There are things that are just cultural to specific places and these are things that I am forced to take notice of and deal with on a regular basis. Here is my rant on a few of them:
Cellphones. Now, I know you read that title and you wonder, what on earth could possibly bug her about cellphone usage in Arequipa? Well let me quickly explain what that is. I have also noticed this in Lima and on airplanes (yes airplanes), but I will just talk about Arequipa since this is where I currently live. The ‘this’ that I speak of is the apparent hatred of putting one’s cellphone on vibrate. Now I am not one of those people that expects for people to walk around with their phones on vibrate or with their ringers on low like I do, but I do kind of expect it if you are in a business meeting, have just been told to turn the phone OFF by the flight attendant, are on a TV show as an invited guest, are in the middle of a ceremony, etc. Now all of the things that I just mentioned have actually happened. Let me give you two examples: The first example has to do with a business meeting that I ended. I wasn’t a true participant in the meeting, I was just there to observe and learn. Anyway, so they are knee-deep discussing details about some project going on in the community when this woman’s cellphone began to ring. Now as a someone that has spent countless hours in corporate meetings, I know the feeling of panic that happens when you realize that you didnt turn your phone off and it has just blasted in a meeting….well that feeling doesnt happen here. She proceeded to let the phone ring until the call went to voicemail. There was no rush to silence the ringer mid-ring…it was just something that we had to endure until it stopped…no biggie right? Well it gets better. The phone then rang again (one thing I have noticed is that people here don’t interpret your not picking up the phone as a sign of you actually be busy or unavailable…it just means that you missed their call so they need to call you back….and by back I mean RIGHT back…at least 2 more times….no joke) and again we went through the pain and suffering of trying to pretend like her phone wasn’t ringing at the highest factory setting known to man. So the meeting continues…and the phone begins to ring AGAIN….but here is the kicker….she picked the phone up…MID-MEETING….and proceeds to have a conversation…at the conference table!! She didn’t excuse herself to take the call…she sat their and talked on her phone…and NO she was not the one conducting the meeting. She was a low level participant…but it didn’t matter. This was not the first nor the last time I have witnessed something like this….and as you can see it is still problematic to my life.
Another example was when I was watching a news program one morning. They had a guy on to speak about some intriguing topic I’m sure and when it was his turn to speak….his phone began to ring. Now rather than silence the ringer on this live national broadcast….he instructed someone from BACKSTAGE to come get the phone from him. So as we wait for the person to run and get the phone…we are forced to listen to him speak over the ringer while pretending that we dont see the human being run into the frame and grab the phone from him. Now I understand that we are all very important people and that it would be a crime for people not to have access to us for an hour or so at a time…but COME ON!!! Can we please utilize the settings on our phones and turn our ringers off while we are in meetings or on television shows? To me it seems like common sense, but maybe common sense ain’t so common as they say. lol
Nose Pickers. Now this is pretty self-explanatory, but I tell you that it is much more common than you think. I understand that this may be cultural and it may be very American for me be uncomfortable when I see someone dig up their nose, make eye contact with me….and continue digging as if they are scratching their arm…but it is…VERY UNCOMFORTABLE & DISGUSTING! I am not talking about children either….though they also do it too. I am talking about grown adult men and women walking down the street picking their nose and then rubbing it around on their fingers or their pants. This my friends is why I am very hesitant about handshaking since I have no idea
if you have picked your nose at what point today your fingers have been all in your nose. This is also very problematic for my life and I have not gotten used to it yet….lol but I guess I will eventually. Needless to say I don’t give handshakes these days.
Staring. Did any of your mothers tell you that staring was rude? Well mine did and I believe her! Apparently here in Arequipa (and I have also experienced this in other Latin American countries) staring is quite normal and not rude at all. And if it is rude….many of these folks clearly just don’t care because I get stared down on a daily basis. And it’s not ‘what you wanna do?!’ aggressive type of stare that starts fights, though depending on my day it very well could start a fight, it is truly a stare of confusion, concern, interest and misunderstanding. Many of these people just don’t know what to make of me. It’s like they catch sight of me and are stopped dead in their tracks and I can almost see the thoughts running through their heads…’wait…she’s black…what is she doing here?…where is she from…why is she so tall?’ lol this is what I imagine is going through their minds and on most days it doesn’t bother me. But we all have those days where we kind of just want to blend in and not be noticed….yea well those days are impossible for me. And when I am walking around Arequipa with a girlfriend of mine who just so happens to also be black…we are a complete spectacle. It is aggravating….but still easier to deal with when you are with another person. The thing that is super aggravating about the staring is that people don’t stop the stare when they are caught. Where I come from, when you look up and catch someone staring at you, typically they break the stare as if it never happened…because they don’t want to be rude. Here, when I catch someone staring at me, they don’t break it…they stare harder. This means that we get into a staring match because at that point I feel challenged. lol yes…I have issues.
Camel Toes. In an effort to not make this into an x-rated blog, I will say that if you don’t know what they are do a google search and you will quickly figure it out. They are rampant here! There are so many that they need their own country! How women are able to still have them in jeans is beyond me, but still it happens. No texture of pants is off limits here…all are camel toe worthy All I need to say about this particular category of annoyances is that these are uncomfortable for all involved….PLEASE BUY PANTS THAT FIT!!!!!
That is all for now…but I am certain there will be more before my time here is done. Do you live abroad? Do you have any annoyances?