Sunday, June 22, 2008

A Return to Normalcy

Not just a campaign slogan for Warren Harding but also my general state of being for the past 2 months or so. It all started when I went on vacation to Togo and Benin. I mean, things were strange, don’t get me wrong – I was in a ridiculously developed country, comparatively speaking. Things were very strange. But at the same time, things were so normal. Sitting on a bus for 3 days to arrive at a destination, whether we had seats or not, was normal. Sitting on this transport with goats, sheep and chicken both in and outside of the car, is normal. Eating meat, chicken and hot dogs from a street vendor (read, a guy with an empty oil barrel and fire heating a grill on top and sitting on the side of the road) is normal. Walking down the street and getting cat called at and asked to be married is normal. Showering 4 times a day, just to cool off….again, pretty normal. Seeing family’s of 3, 4 or 5 people on a moto, on their way to school is normal. Being so modest that I feel scantily clad if my knees show for a second, is normal. Eating with my hand, and completing boycotting utensils – that’s scarily normal. Drinking water from unknown sources, that’s just survival. But what I want to know is when these things changed from being weird and foreign to being an everyday part of my life. Granted, I’ve been here for two years now, but I still feel like these things should make my head turn and not seem to everyday. I think it’s a survival mechanism. You deal with things as they come at you because if you don’t, you’re going to go crazy. It’s funny how things seem so normal here.