1. Toilet Seats
I don't knw what Colombian's have against toliet seats. Maybe they are just a popular item to be stolen or maybe they have thighs of steal and can squat all day, but more often than not when you're out in public, and even in my own home, there are no toliet seats!
2. Toilet Paper...that you can flush!
So, any good traveler knows that you always have to bring your own toilet paper while out and about. But on the coast here (who knows, maybe it's different in the rest of the country), due to bad plumbing you almost surely can NOT throw your toilet paper into the bowl. There is a garbage provided next to the toilet to throw your used toilet paper into. Not gonna lie, this one took me a while to get used to...a habit of 25 years is hard to break! Looking forward to no smelly toilet paper bins next to the toilet stateside!
3. Garbage Dumpsters
In most places on the coast, people don't use garbage bins or garbage bags, they just put garbage in small plastic bags that you get from the store. Because of this, the garbage men come by three times a week to collect these small bags full of garbage...and smelly toilet paper. However, you can't just throw the bags out front any time of the day because of rodent issues and rainy season so you have to do it late at night, or before you leave the house on garbage days...which I always forget to do! I miss the days of garbage dumpsters and garbage bins you emptied when necissary and the rest was taken care of...instead of having a weeks worth of garbage pile up : (
4. Washing Machines Hooked Up To The Water
Fortunately most families that the volunteers are living with do have washing machines (although a few don't!). However, not very many are hooked up to the main water supply. Instead we have to take the washing machine outside (so not a rainy day activity!) and use the hose to fill it with water and then rinse the clothes off. Luckily I've been able to evade my host mother's suggestion that I wash my white load first so that I can reuse the (dirty) water for the next load. While doing laundry here there is no downtime. To do one load takes about an hour of constant working and monotoring. The days of spinning a dial, pushing a button and relaxing for the next 40 minutes are looking pretty good!
5. Air Conditioning
8. Reasonable Public Transportation
Public Transportation is kinda out of control...especially in Barranquilla! The buses are so full you can't breath..and you also can't help but sweat all over people. There's is an itty bitty aisle that people have to stand cramped together holding on for dear life as the bus driver (or chofer) drives like a maniac. I'm pretty sure they're all still learning how to drive stick..and then when someone has to get off the bus and squeeze through the aisle, the real fun starts. Some of the worse experiences I've had in Colombia have been on buses in Barranquilla! And while we'e at it how about letting pedestrians have the right away! Nothing Strikes terror in my heart quite like having to cross the street in this country...fairly certain their aiming for me. Bonus points for gringos?
9. Express Check-Out Lines
10. Food Variety
Okay, I am clearly not wasing away down here, but the lack of variety and spice on anything can be frustrating! I pretty much get the same meal every day from my family consisting of rice, beans, and either eggs, chicken, or fish. We don't even have an oven in the house! Luckily there are a handful of ethnic food places in the center of Cartagena, but dining out tends to be beyond the Peace Corps Volunteer's budget! A friend of mine lives with a family who owns a restaurant and actually had to introduce them to pepper...that how little spices are used! I am looking forward to some home cooking from my mom, crab, sushi, mexican, deep dish piza, lasgna...well, you get the point!
Miss you all and let's make a deal to see each other or chat when I'm home next week enjoying everything and everyone I've missed so dearly!