Friday, March 11, 2011

Little Things we Take for Granted

Arriving back in Canada, we were presented with some small, but distinct, differences...things we take for granted living here.

The very first thing I noticed was being able to understand everyone around me. In México, I tend to tune out background conversation simply because I have no idea what anyone is saying. In Canada, I can't help but overhear snippets of conversation, because I understand the language.

The currency is familiar and exact. In México, prices are rounded up or down to the nearest centavo. I'm still trying to get their currency planted into my brain.

Here, I can turn on the water tap and have exactly the temperature I want and it'll stay that way until I adjust the tap. There, as soon as the shower temperature is what I want, I have about 5 minutes before it becomes scalding hot or bone chilling cold. And here, I can drink water straight from the tap.

Here, fruit and veggies don't require disinfecting.

Sidewalks here are a comfortable height for stepping on and off. There, they're sometimes a couple feet high. Judging from some photos I've seen, I think this is because México doesn't have a good system for getting rid of water when it rains. The streets become small rivers. So high sidewalks mean people can still walk around without wading in deep water.

Public washrooms. Oh man. Here is where México is so different from NOB. They're much cleaner here than there. Here, we have hooks in the stalls to hang our purses from. There, I usually end up hanging my purse around my neck. Toilet seats. We have 'em. How in blue blazes do Méxicans use a toilet with no seat? Do they really sit on the rim? My knees are getting too old and creaky and unreliable to hover. And why *don't* they have seats? It's a puzzling scenario. TP can be flushed in Canada. On our trip down to buy the condo, it was explained to us why TP can't be flushed. I forget the specifics but it's because of the way their waste system is set up. Something to do with screens and filters getting clogged with paper.

Of everything listed above, I'd have to say that hooks in the bathroom stall is the thing I most appreciate. Toilet seats are a very close second.


  1. Those are the usual differences that most people notice. Some of them depend on the area you are in.
    Personally I have always drank bottled water when going anywhere away from home in Canada and the USA as strange water always bothered my tummy. So that wasn't much of a change for me.
    In my area of town we can flush our toilet paper; although in centro you cannot. This is due to our sewer system being redone and the one in centro being old.
    Dirty washrooms---hmmm I have to say some of the dirtiest restrooms I have ever used were in North Battleford, Saskatchewan and Phoenix, Arizona. Here even if there are no toilet seats, there are usually attendants that are keeping them clean. Hooks in the stalls, hmmmm how many public restrooms in Canada and the USA do you use? Sorry, it is just that when I travel there now it is common for public washrooms to be messy and hookless and often the door closures are broken also.
    Toilet seats missing-- who knows, it is better here now than it was when we first came; although some are still missing them. After you are in a place for awhile you learn where the best bathrooms are to use and those are the ones you gravitate to. I ALWAYS carry kleenex and wetwipes with me, as often there is no paper or paper towels, unless you are paying the attendant and then they give you the paper as you pay.
    Disinfecting fruits and veggies: I have never done this and can honestly say that in over 5 yrs. of living here full time I have never had the dreaded "revenge". If veggies are really dirty I wash first in tap water and then rinse in bottled water. If not too much dirt I just wash with bottled water.
    I read a study that someone did, not sure who but it was on CNN a year or so ago. They tested veggies washed in plain water, bleach water and Microdyne (veggie cleaning liquid sold here) the veggies done in the Microdyne were no cleaner than the ones done in plain water. The cleanest ones were done in bleach; but personally I can't imagine eating lettuce washed in bleach water, YUCK.
    Personally after reading and hearing all the e-coli, salmonella, grocery store staff working while being infected with Hepatitis I am more afraid of food in the USA than anywhere else. Canada also has its share of recalls on food products. Frankly I think everyone should have their Hepatitis shots.
    Every time I travel in the USA I get a tummy illness. I thought it was from the water so the last time I took bottled water with me. I still got sick, (my friends also get sick each time), so now I have narrowed it down to salads, so next time I won't eat salad either lol.
    there are problems all over the world with food and water cleanliness, I don't think that the areas of Mexico where the average person on holiday travels are any worse than anywhere else, just my opinion.
    Sidewalks being high: yes, when it rains it pours and the system can't get rid of it fast enough.
    Sorry for being so long winded.
    Have a great Sunday.

  2. I've found the no-toilet-seat hovering maneouvre really motivates me to keep going to yoga. Hope you enjoyed your latest trip. Maybe our schedules will cross next time!

  3. Brenda, we can flush TP at our condo, but we've been told that we can't in the rest of town. The presence of trash cans in the stalls seems to confirm this.

    I don't use public washrooms in Canada very often but the ones I have used have always had a hook. Not a single one in Mexico did.

    Re the veggies: some do, some don't. I really and truly hate being sick, especially on vacation, so I go with the "better safe than sorry" theory. It's not the dirt I'm afraid of, it's parasites that I've been cautioned about.

    I hope it didn't sound like I was criticizing Mexico because I truly wasn't. We love it here.

    Debbie, I might have to take up Hopefully we'll catch up with you next trip down.

  4. Hi Barb,
    Speaking of no door hooks, I found a way to hang my purse that usually works pretty good. My purse has a long handle so I loop the strap over the corner of the door where it closes with the door frame, (in other words, not the side with the hinge) and then I jam the door shut. This also keeps the door closed when the door latch is broken bc it jams it shut real tight.

    I'm with you on disinfecting the veggies and fruits, better safe than sorry. We put all our fruits and veggies in a bleach bath first thing when we get home from the store. If I can prevent my own illness, you know, well why not. We expose ourselves enough everyday to illness, and all it takes is for one person to not wash their hands, no matter where we are in the world. One amoeba cyst is sufficient to cause full blown amoebic dysentery. Sewer water is used routinely in Mexico as irrigation, so it only makes sense to disinfect our fresh produce. And for most microbes there are no vaccines, Cryptosporidium for example.

    I got typhoid fever in '06 and was sick for over a year. I had a low grade fever for 5 months and 105 degree fever for a week. It's a really bad bug. The travel nurse in Portland says anyone visiting Mexico should get the Typhoid vaccine. I've since been vaccinated.

  5. Gail, thanks for the purse suggestion. I'll give that a try next time we're down.

    I've never heard of typhoid vaccines being recommended for Mexico. I'll have to look into that. Thanks for the heads up.

  6. Barb. Sorry forgot to come back and see the other comments.
    No, I didn't think you were being negative about Mexico, just making most of the same observations that most people make.
    Yes, when you see a sign or a garbage can in the washroom it usually means, don't flush it lol.
    I realized that it is the parasites you are worried about, not the dirt. I can understand that you don't want to be ill when on vacation.
    The area our veggies come from they are irrigated with water from a dam. I believe it was California a few years ago that had an outbreak of something or other because of some type of sewage stuff being used on the crops, kind of forget the story now; but it just goes to show that you can never be too careful no matter where you are in the world.
    Good purse tip from Gail, will have to try that next time.
    When we came to Mexico we were not advised by the nurse who gave us our shots to get Typhoid shots either; but a lot of the shots depend on where you are travelling. We don't need the malaria stuff here as it is too dry.
    When is your next vacation? Enjoy spring when it comes.

  7. Welcome back,

    Lucky you that you don't have to disinfect your veggies. It's a right royal pita.

    We won't be back to Progreso until Nov. :-(

    I think Spring has forgotten about us up here. The snow in my back yard is still a good 2 feet deep.

  8. I got a kick out of your no toilet seat comment! I am laughing right now. It is SO true! Why don't they have seats sometimes! It is especially gross when you have little ones. Mine are 3 and 4. I just make sure to take wipes and clean the whole toilet bowl.

    How funny!

  9. Hi, Val. Thanks for visiting my blog!

    I think I figured out why they don't have toilet seats. My theory is that it's to remove a hiding place for bugs and other unsavory biting creatures. Imagine the horror of discovering that a cockroach dropped, unnoticed, into your undies while you were sitting there.


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