Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Costa Rica - Native Customs

I always try to remember that when I travel I am essentially, whether invited or not, a guest in someone else's home. I always make an attempt to respect the customs and traditions of my host. For instance, in Mexico City I wore long pants despite the mild climate. Mexican men, for the most part, do not wear shorts. When entering a church I make sure my arms are not bare. Tank tops or sleeveless shirts are covered by a shirt with sleeves I carry with me on such occasions and I try to maintain a quiet and reverent tone of voice and manner when in sacred structures. I sample local foods and learn to say at least hello, goodbye and thank you in the local tongue.

In Costa Rica however there was on custom I could not bring myself to adhere to. Apparently the standard of Central American plumbing is not quite as high as that of plumbing in the U.S. With this in mind Costa Ricans, along with a number of other Central American cultures, discard their used "toilet tissue" not in the toilet but in a bucket which sits alongside it. Each time it was necessary for me to use a public facility I would look at the bucket and a single thought would go through my head. "I should respect their culture....I should.....but I just can't...." Then I would flush.

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