Cultural Encounters of another kind


Some days I think we have just too much culture. Here are our two encounters from Wednesday of this week.

On Wednesdays, Robert usually lets me sleep in. It is the one day of the week we don’t send lunches to school with the kids (YEAH for Food to Go day!) so he can handle breakfast and the getting ready routine! So I blissfully slept until about 9:30! As soon as I was up, he headed out to talk to Zeman our landlord. Last night we overloaded the circuit upstairs. We have been running the heaters upstairs a lot at night the last few days and the circuitry is probably old and could not handle the wattage. The power went out twice while I was IN the shower and once when I was drying my hair. We kept turning more things off as we went until we discovered that the circuit was burning at the breaker. Eek! End of power for upstairs for the night. I read my book by flashlight for a few minutes and then called it a night! While he was gone (having his own cultural encounter at the coffee shop in attempt to communicate the household repairs needs), our neighbor Bona and her son Armando came over for a few minutes (the other children were in school).


They were returning my plate from Valentine’s day. The neighbor kids had come over after school and we baked Valentine’s day cookies. Culturally she can not return my plate empty (we have done this several time….it is great!) so she baked some sweet cookie like biscuits for us! I was horrified to have her here on the morning I have slept in and done NOTHING …. toys, food, dishes everywhere… what are you going to do?! Today she was telling us that her daughter Uendi (Wendi) has been asking for her to buy another baby for their family like Jadyn. Uendi complains all the time that she wants a baby! Like Jadyn… why mommy? We need a baby like Jadyn! Uendi got a new baby doll last week for her birthday that she has named Jadyn. Yesterday she threw the doll down on the couch and said “Go to sleep Jadyn!” It is very culturally odd to them that Jadyn sleeps so much in the afternoon and that all the kids go to bed so early. Anyway… we had a good visit, looking at these pictures I had taken of our last visit and with promises to give them prints of the pictures!In the meantime…. Robert has been to the coffee shop and told Samir about the problems we are having with electricity upstairs and the water tank. About 30 minutes later, Zeman comes and very animatedly describes the problem as we already know it. He repeats himself several times, trying to say the same thing several different ways

  • you have used too much current,
  • you can not run both heaters and the water heater,
  • you only need one heater in the children’s room,
  • when it is cold out you should have the children sleep in the kitchen and the baby in your bed
  • it is burnt!
  • Look it is black from too much current
  • Look it is defective!
  • I will have to buy a new one!

Remember that each of the phrases are spoken with a lot of force, animation and loudly so he knows that we have heard him. Even after we both have said “we understand!” he says, “they don’t understand” and we go through the whole ritual again. All of that to say… is fixed. He had to buy a new breaker and installed it today and told me all these things again when he came back.Can you say, “too much culture”?

Side note: I have gained a whole new respect for those who move to the US and attempt to learn the language. I will have a much greater level of patience with those who are struggling to acquire the language!

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