I recently read a blog about strange habits developed overseas and thought I would make a list. This is from the perspective of an American comparing to life in Cameroon. Strange meaning a difference between how you do things in the USA compared to Cameroon.
Ten Strange Habits I Developed Overseas
1. No shoes in the house
When I’m told I can leave my shoes on as I enter a home, I struggle. I want to take them off. I could have road kill juice, animal poop, tons of dirt, slime from gutter run off – you name it on my shoes. A house without a pile of shoes at the front door is a lonely house.
2. Always have tissues and hand sanitizer
Nature calls at the most inconvenient times and unless you have an iron bladder or intestinal tract, you must respond. If we are out and about while nature calls and near a toiletish device, we need to be prepared. Toilet can mean an actual toilet, but more than likely it won’t have a seat on it. It can also mean a hole to squat over “squatty potty” or it can mean a ditch. Rarely will toilet paper be present. Rarely will a sink with soap and water be available.
3. Cupping my hand to call someone
Waggling one finger is not how to call someone here. Hold your hand out, palm down and bring all four fingers toward the fleshy part of your palm.
4. Not wearing seatbelts
I know this is a life threatening, horrible habit. Our own vehicle only has one fully functioning seatbelt. Trust me I have tons of guilt on this one. Most vehicles we ride in don’t have seatbelts. When seatbelts are available and working, rest assured, we use them.
5. No home address
We don’t have a home address. There aren’t mail delivery people. Pretty much everyone in the mission community uses the same box address and mail comes in waves.
6. Kiss sound to get someone’s attention
There’s no “hey” to get someone’s attention, instead it’s kiss sounds. So pucker your lips, stretching them far out and start the kiss motion. Believe it or not, it works.
7. Irregular toilet flushing
If it’s yellow, let it mellow. If it’s brown, flush it down. The water gets shut off frequently and you either need to bucket flush or use stored water in a tank to flush. No unnecessary flushes allowed.
8. Have candles all around
We never know when the power will be cut, so we have candles all around the house with a matchbox so we are ready wherever we are in the house.
9. Bizarre exclamations and hand gestures
Ashia. Oh, la, la! Looking down and shaking my head. These are common responses. David shakes hands with another man and at the end of the shake, the two will slide their hands and use the other person’s hand to get the momentum for a snap at the end of the shake.
10. Buying Frenzy
There are two stores that have random North American products. So when we see something we like, we buy it up like crazy people because we probably won’t see it again. I recently bought several bottles of Tussin cough syrup.
When we return to the States next year and you see us buying things like crazy people, trying to end a handshake with a snap, saying “ashia” to what you are telling us, placing candles all around wherever we are staying, not flushing after number one, taking our shoes off after you told us to leave them on, calling someone over with our whole hand or any other bizarre thing, please chalk it up to the habits we developed overseas.