The more I travel internationally, the more I realize that some adventures recur.
First: mystery toilets. Those times when chains, levers, and foot pedals in the most unlikely places initiate the flushing mechanism. Sometimes, entire mystery bathrooms.
At a restroom in a shopping mall yesterday, a woman informed me–right before I went into a stall–that there wasn’t toilet paper. A single roll was mounted beside the sinks, and visitors had to grab a handful before getting on with business. Blessings on that woman–how easy it would have been for her to laugh at the gringa! I could have hugged her.
Second: seating areas. Where do you go when you don’t want to spend your hard-earned pesos for a place in a coffee shop? To the ground, of course. And then an ever-so-polite security guard saunters up, says “Buenas tardes,” and informs you that the ground is not the place to sit. I had the same problem in Europe, but obviously I still haven’t figured out how not to get evicted from curbs.
Third: time. In Hispanic culture, time is a cultural construct, not an absolute. The term “ahorita,” used to signify “right now, give or take twenty minutes,” takes on a different meaning with the Saldivars, our team’s organizers. Everything happens thirty minutes to three hours after it was planned. It’s driving me crazy. This is a lesson in something very like patience.
Through it all, the beauty of praising all that the Lord has made–from the sweltering sun south of the border to the new friends with whom I’m learning to make balloon animals–doesn’t change.
My responsibility to honor Him is the same, even when I’m in places where there are a thousand different ways to flush a toilet.