Vincent: "But you know what the funniest thing about Europe is?" Jules: "What?"
Vincent: "It's the little differences. I mean, they got the same sh*t over there that we got here, but it's just, just, there it's a little different.
Pulp Fiction, 1994.
Well, that goes for just about anywhere in the world that you visit, whether it is Europe, or Asia, or South America. And it's not that things are different as in "weird", just different than what we are used to.
1.) Bugs. We come from a cold weather climate of MN. Sure, there are bugs there like mosquitoes, ticks, flies and spiders, but this is a little different. It is not like when we were in the Amazon in Peru, but here the creepy crawlies are still a lot bigger and scarier than MN. I'm generally not squeamish, but when I turn the light on and two "things" that are about an inch-and-a-half long go scurrying for the cover of darkness, I get a little freaked. Ewww.
2.) Other warm weather differences: There are indoor/outdoor spaces here. Our back courtyard is nearly an indoor space, except it is open above. Perfect for entertaining, for cooking on the large brick parilla, for the dogs and G to play in and for doing laundry. Our washer is out there (no frozen pipes!) and there is no clothes dryer so everything gets hung up on the line. Single pane glass on the windows is also different. Not wild about this because it lets in more noise, but hey, we're used to noise. No window screens. I could go on...
3.) Food in bags. I've talked about the BioBolsa shopping bags from Disco grocery store, but food is also packaged in bags. Milk is in liter bags, mayonnaise is in bags and olives also come in little bags. Plastic and glass recycling is limited here, and food packaging bags take up a lot less space in the landfill than the alternative of glass or plastic containers, I suppose. Plus it would be less weight to transport. I still don't like plastic bags one bit and I'm working on finding other options.
4.) "Industria Uruguaya" on almost everything. How can a country about the size and population of Oklahoma make so much of its own food/products? It is incredible that so many items display these two key words so prominently. It's the full gamut of foods and products, too, including but not limited to: flour, fruit, coffee, beef, wine, beer. There are some imports as well and not surprisingly most are from from Argentina or Brazil.
5.) We really don't need a car at all. We only had one car for the past several years in MN (the beloved MINI), but here we really have everything we need within walking distance so a car is completely unnecessary. I love that. If we need to go further, taxis are everywhere and the bus system is extensive. We can also rent a car if we need a weekend away.
6.) Smaller sizes of most products. The US is a bigger-is-better, bulk society. Here, you buy 4 rolls of TP at a time and 2 or 4 rolls of paper towels instead of 12 or more. I have not seen 24-packs of soda (although there are 1.5 and 2-liter bottles of the big brands). The only big sizes I have seen are beer (1 liter bottles are standard, at grocery stores and restaurants) and restaurant serving sizes are gigantic for nearly everything.
7.) Vets making house calls and most everything can be delivered. We had a vet visit Paloma when she was being boarded and Pablo's medication dropped off for us once we got into the house. SO nice. Grocery stores also deliver, as do many restaurants, storefront fruit stands and food shops. We have yet to employ those services, though.
8.) Our microwave freakin talks to us! In Spanish or English. It is really cool and I'll have to post a video sometime.
9.) Bidets. This is a bidet culture much like many parts of Europe and areas of the world. The US is not a bidet culture and in fact, in my years in the Interior Design industry, I have had only one request for a bidet and at the time had a giggle about it (This was 10 years ago, give me a break!) The bidet is an integral part of any main bathroom in UY and I am sure it would be viewed as odd here to not have a bidet as it is in the US to have one.
10.) Other things we've explained before: the late dinner hour, rental process, etc.
Really, though, these are all the things that make exploring a new country so much fun; Taking everything that you know and turning it on its head and finding different ways to accomplish the same thing. These are all priceless experiences.