Wednesday, May 1, 2013

You Might be in Brazil if...

Last night, armed with a flashlight and a ladder, I watched in awe as a bagworm moth worked on building it's cocoon on the top of the wall surrounding my house. I did not know that this was a bagworm moth until I looked it up. (yay for Google!) For the last few nights, I had spotted this long, almost pinecone looking thing hanging from the wall. The strange thing was that it was hanging from a different place each night. Finally, last night, it was moving, as if blown by the wind. But, there was no wind. So, I went out for a closer inspection. It was this 5-6 inch long/ 2 inch in diameter clump of little sticks held together with what resembled cobweb. And it was wriggling. When I climbed the ladder to get a better look, I saw a huge caterpillar popping it's head in and out of an opening in the top of the clump.

Can you see the little black and yellow caterpillar head?

When I googled it, I discovered that these exist in North America also; I have just never seen or heard of them before. It turns out that a lot of the strange bugs we have here (and there are a multitude of them) are also native to North America. I guess I just don't pay attention to them there. Of course, I live in a desert with weather extremes, so we probably don't have as many creepy-crawlies in my town. (Thank goodness!) But, somehow, I have been fascinated by all of these strange new creatures. This got me thinking that there are a lot of things here that are unusual and/or new to me. But, this doesn't mean that these, or similar things, don't exist in my "home-sweet-home". I realized that here, because of the newness of the whole situation, I tend to focus on the odd or unusual things, sometimes even making them out to be absurd. And so, in Jeff Foxworthy style, I will attempt to list a few "You might be in Brazil if..." absurdities that I have noted.

1. If your 6 year old is allowed to go on a wild, jarring jeep ride  (where you could have lost an eye, if not for your sunglasses, and your mother-in-law was partially scalped by low hanging branches) over rough, jungly, mountain terrain, without signing a consent form (or wearing a seatbelt) might be in Brazil.
                 (Stay tuned for more on this wild adventure!)

2. If your bank issues you a debit card that is only accepted in a handful of might be in Brazil.

3.If Halls cough drops are sold on the candy aisle, and are the #1 treat of 4 out of 5 might be in Brazil.

4. If it is common to stay in a hotel with anywhere from 13-25 rooms, but only 4 parking might be in Brazil. (Most of the guests come by bike?)

5. If the only thing consistent about the quality of food products is their might be in Brazil.

6. If you eat EVERYTHING with a fork AND knife, you NEVER drink directly out of a soda can, and your napkins (which you do not place on your lap) are made out of a non-absorbent plastic coated might be in Brazil.

7.  If you mow your entire lawn with a weed might be in Brazil.

8. If your streets are "patrolled" by speed bumps and radars instead of traffic might be in Brazil.

9.If you eat ham and cheese for might be in Brazil.

10. If the onramp to the freeway is paved in might be in Brazil.

11. If the changeable message signs over the highway are used to warn you of the signs of dengue fever, instead of traffic might be in Brazil.

12. If your local zoo has almost as many exciting attractions outside of the cages, as inside the might be in Brazil.

13. If you hear loud gurgling sounds in the drain under your feet every time you flush the might be in Brazil.

14. If the doorbell to your house, while still technically on your property, is located at the very farthest spot away from your front door that it can possibly might be in Brazil.

And finally (I still can't get over this):
15. If there are signs in every bathroom reminding you to put toilet paper in the garbage can, instead of the toilet (!)...and then there is a sign on the toilet paper can that says, "Not recyclable" (in case you were considering it) might be in Brazil!

And by the way, I find myself trying my hardest to assimilate to the all of the customs that I mock. It has really irritated me when Tom has told me what I should and shouldn't do at certain functions or gatherings here; things that are customary for the natives. I have tried to argue that I am not native, and therefore it is acceptable for me to act differently in these situations. And yet, to my horror, I found myself telling my in-laws last week things like, "Don't push the grocery cart through the lane--nobody pushes the cart all the way through the lanes here!" (were the mall cops going to come and get us?) or, "You HAVE to get a straw or a cup to drink that soda--don't drink it out of the can." (somebody might see!)

Isn't it funny how we can pride ourselves in our differences, and yet we all just have the need to really fit in? And isn't it interesting how we don't recognize our own absurdities/uniqueness like we see them glaring in other people? I am going to try to remember that as I pop my head in and out of the cocoon I have created for myself. I am going to try to embrace my own uniqueness and appreciate the uniqueness of others. (But, of course, I still want to fit in, okay?) 

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