Friday, April 20, 2007

Why Honduras isn't the USA (and vice-versa) #1

Every so often, I'll see something here or remember something from back home and think of how said thing is emblematic of a cultural/social/political/economic difference between Honduras and the U.S. So, I'm starting to write them down, and here is the first installation of "Why Honduras isn't the USA (and vice-versa)."

1. Dogs get stuck together. This is a pretty common sight in Honduras. Two dogs, joined at the groin, standing around with sheepish looks on their faces. It turns out that when a male dog ejaculates, the head of his penis inflates and prevents him from withdrawing for several minutes.

2. Baby-making/having is no big deal. Cats and dogs are sexual creatures here (see #1). My host family's cat is going to have kittens any day now (I sure hope it happens before I leave). With humans there is also a notable difference. Baby-making is just not as big a deal here as it is in the U.S. Many people give birth at home with traditional birth attendants, and don't get as worked up about birthing and child-rearing as people in the states. In many ways it's refreshing. There's no playing classical music to your unborn child, no convenience cesareans, no epidurals, no doctors treating a completely natural process as an illness. But there are drawbacks as well: poor or nonexistent prenatal care, untrained birthing assistants not recognizing danger signs in time, or giving completely inappropriate treatment for obstetric emergencies.

3. Gestures. In just two months, I have learned to have completely nonverbal conversations. The following two exchanges can be accomplished without speaking any words:

Me: "Hey, can I have a ride?"
Driver: "Sorry, we're packed in like sardines."

Guy #1: "See that girl over there?"
Guy #2: "Where?"
Guy #1: "Over there."
Guy #2: "Man, she's hot. You should talk to her."
Guy #1: "No way!"
Guy #2: "You chicken."

The intricate sign language is fun to use but can be kind of off-putting before you learn what the gestures mean. Especially when people point with their lips. Yeah, it's as weird as it sounds.

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