Toilet Paper Whoas

(The title of this post is 100% plagiarized from an email from my big brother, John.)

For some reason, I seem to have a lot of conversations about:

-using the washroom in developing countries

-(not) using toilet paper in developing countries

-squatty potties

-falling into sewage

I would like to think that everyone experiences this phenomenon. (If this is not the case, don’t burst my bubble.) On a related note, two things happened this week.

1. I received the following email from my brother who is currently living in Ecuador:

Hi Amelia,¬†Have you ever had to put a coin into a Toilet paper dispenser? I know humans commonly dispense [it] in India, but even there, is it objectively rationed as a machine might? If so, do you have any recollection of how many squares come in a portion? There’s a blog topic swirling around my mind…is thurs. good for you to talk?

A blog topic swirling around in his mind–BAHAHA! Now you see where I get my creative genius and stunning wit.

Apparently, John had to purchase a package of toilet paper (for $1 USD).

Toilet paper packages, finger shown for scale

The contents of a dispensed toilet paper package: 12 squares.

John, as much as we feel for you and would strongly advise you to invest in a whole entire roll, we have one very important question: which direction do the toilets flush? Does it vary within the country depending on which side of the Equator you’re on? Please advise.

2. The second thing that happened was that we had our first small group/home church/Bible study of the year. For a warm-up, Varun and I decided to play Two Truths and A Lie, just to keep things holy. Here’s what I wrote:

-I have eaten rattlesnake

-I have fallen into sewage

-I have met Obama

Apparently, this caused serious confusion. Some people didn’t think I was brave enough to eat rattlesnake. Some people felt it unlikely that I’ve met Obama. And then there was my lovely friend C, who happily proclaimed, “But guys, think about it! If any of my friends is likely to have fallen in poo, it’s Amelia. She’s like a magnet to awful situations!”

Ummm…thanks? I struggled to keep a straight face as I laughed on the inside.

C was right: I am a bit of a catastrophe magnet, and I have fallen into poo. Like, submerged in it.

(GAG)

On to more polite conversation: have you ever had toilet paper rationed? If so, what was the given amount? Have you ever used a toilet paper dispenser? How much did it cost?

The Difference(s) Between Southern Virginia and Ontario

Sometimes, even going “home” to the USA can be confusing. Last week I went to Lynchburg, Virginia to be a bridesmaid in my dear friend Kristina’s wedding. A typical Northerner, I thought to myself, “Virginia. I’ve been there. Arlington, Washington, D.C.*, yup, I can do Virginia, I am American“.

It turns out Virginia is much bigger than I originally thought…

And then I spent the majority of the weekend experiencing culture shock. Because Lynchburg is something like the Deep South for this Pennsylvanian/Ontarian. Two things that kept surprising me the whole weekend were people’s southern accents (so lovable!), and how friendly everyone was–especially strangers, cashiers, etc. Seriously people: culture shock.

For example, on the first morning we headed out to breakfast at Cracker Barrel. If you don’t know about Cracker Barrel, get yourself to the US of A and have a taste of deliciousness. Anyway. I was trying to order apple struesel french toast (YUM!) and a cup of decaf tea.

Waitress: (In a southern accent) Okay, Love, what about you? Coffee?

Me: Actually, do you have decaf tea?

Waitress: Cold or hot, darling?

Me: Uhm. (Did we resolve the decaf issue? Are we talking about tea?)

Kristina’s Mom Who Is From the South: Amelia, do you want iced tea or hot tea?

Me: Oh. Hot tea. Yes. Hot. Can I have decaf?

Waitress: Why of course, darling!

As I sat bewildered by our exchange, Kristina’s Mom explained that the default is iced tea, so you have to specify. (Seriously, it’s morning and I’m ordering decaffeinated beverages, have mercy!)

The next day, at the rehearsal dinner, the groom proudly announced that his sister made the cake for dessert.

Me: What kind of cake did he say?

Bridesmaid from Florida: Cheerwine.

Me: What?

Bridesmaid from Florida: You know, cheerwine.

Me: I have no idea what that is.

Bridesmaid from Florida: You don’t know cheerwine? It’s like a cherry mountain dew.

Me: But it’s a cake?

Apparently, you use pop (soda in Virginia) called Cheerwine, to make a cake.

It must be, because in Canada, we’ve never heard of it…

Although I was skeptical (‘you use pop to make a cake?’) it was actually quite moist, sweet and cherry-y.

Cheerwine cake

In the midst of the large portion sizes and terms of endearment from strangers (‘love’, ‘honey’, ‘dear’, ‘sweetheart’–I almost didn’t notice Varun was absent!), we had an awesome time. The bride and groom were bursting with love, the food was delicious, the weather was perfect.

I was reminded this week how big and diverse the USA is. Who knew that just 12 hours south of Ontario is a land of Chick Fil A, sweet tea and friendly cashiers?

Driving through the hills of Virginia

*I realize D.C. isn’t VA, but it always ends up that my trips to DC include VA and MD…

This Is Why My Sister Wins

Because she sent me this in response to my most recent post about learning to be Canadian.

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