Sunday, July 23, 2006

Back in the US...

But still not back in Chicago. Am in Raleigh,North Carolina for a cousin's wedding.

During the trip, one of my fellow delegation members said she would be having her partner do the grocery shopping for the first week after she got home because she couldn't bear the sight of a US grocery store after hanging out with very poor people for two weeks straight. Although I know what she means, I don't personally have the same feeling about a grocery store, not least because I went to the big superstores in Cartagena and Medellin, Vivero and the French chain, Carrefour, so it's not like they don't exist there.

What I think about after any international trip is water. Even coming back from Europe. Even after Medellin, which has astoundingly great water supplies by Latin American, and really, everywhere but US and maybe Japanese standards--I had great showers in Medellin. And I never got sick from Medellin tap water, unlike tap water in rural Ireland. (There was a water alert upstream from my great aunt's house and we didn't get word on the radio until it was too late for me. I had a raging case of turista on the bus to Dublin as a result. I bet you didn't expect to hear that about a trip to Ireland, did you?)

However, even the nice suburbs of Medellin run out of hot water pretty fast, which the shower at my godfather's house in an upscale suburb of North Carolina doesn't do.

The other thing I noticed this weekend was electricity. The power went out twice in less than three days in Sincelejo, and went out almost all night once in Cartagena when a transformer blew out, which is unusual. I went around turning off lights in empty rooms at my cousins' house with particular fervor this weekend.

And I thought a lot about the oddity of driving an air-conditioned rental car with fake-leather seats and power everything two days after watching the occasional horse-drawn cart along side the Renaults and diesel trucks filling Medellin's autopistas.

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