Sunday, November 04, 2007

What's that smell?

I'd be the first to admit that a men's bathroom might need an air freshener, but strawberries and cream is not a fragrance I associate with the bathroom. Nonetheless, this is the fragrance that sits atop the urinal in the men's bathroom of our language school. This is an example of culture shock. Culture shock is what happens when you spend all day asking, “Why do they do it that way?” Culture shock leaves you wondering if you'll ever be able to embrace it or if, as a missionary, you’ll just endure it. I have experiences of this nature every day--experiences that seem incongruent with my north American sensibilities. This is especially the case with fragrances. Latinos love strong fragrances. They wear a lot of cologne and buy cleaning products that smell more like bubble gum or flowers than bleach. Being North American, I want my bathroom to smell sanitized. I want a bathroom that smells like harsh chemicals. Latinos want everything to smell beautiful. Neither preference has any effect on the actual cleanliness of the toilet.

Just as I was contemplating culture shock and my inability to embrace a strawberries and cream bathroom, in walked one of my professors (Alex Garro). His expression said it all—it wasn’t culture shock and Latinos don’t like strawberry scented urinals! It just happened to be the air freshener that was around when the air needed freshening. Mmmmmm, that smells sweet.

Note: Alex’s expression is a reenactment. No actual bathroom usage was taking place during the photo journalistic phase of this blog entry.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Excellent journalism. I really felt like I was in the bathroom with you smelling something beautiful.