5 signs you’ve been traveling in a developing country

There’s culture shock, and there’s reverse culture shock. And sometimes, there are simply the habits you pick up while on the road for a while. Once home, these habits are hard to break at first, and you find yourself doing funny things like using a cup of water to try to flush your toilet. Here are five signs that you’ve been traveling in a developing country for a while:

1. You throw your toilet paper in the garbage instead of the toilet. If you’ve traveled to Thailand, you know that most flush toilets can’t handle paper. If you traveled to China, you know that most toilets aren’t even flush toilets. In a lot of the world, toilets can’t handle paper, and if you’ve spent a lot of time in any of those countries you probably toss your paper into the garbage automatically. Now that you’re home, you toss your paper into the nearest trash can in the bathroom at your parents’ house without thinking. Whoops.

2. You brush your teeth with bottled water. It’s almost unbelievable, after extended months abroad, that tap water in the US comes out free of parasites and bacteria. It’s such a simple act, filling up a glass of tap water, but feels so utterly foreign after months of keeping your mouth glued shut in the shower to ensure that no nasty creatures make it past your lips. Yep, water back home is free and easy to get. Bottoms up!3. You keep your shower at a lukewarm trickle. Water pressure is a glorious things, especially for those of you who have long, thick hair. But showering day after day under a light stream of lukewarm water makes your skin all pansy and soft, doesn’t it? The sheer force of an American shower is enough to blast you away, but add the scalding water to it and you’ve got a recipe for some serious burn. At least you feel thoroughly disinfected afterward.

4. It feels weird and unsanitary to sit on the toilet seat, and you wish you could pop a squat. Some folks never convert to the squat toilet, but for those whose Achilles finally adjust, the squatting position can be life-altering. Without going into detail, let’s just say that it’s anatomically preferable to the sitting position. Then again, being able to relax with a newspaper again is priceless….

5. You’re afraid to drive your car, but when you do you’re amazed at how polite the other drivers are. It’s okay. The roads back home are not only paved, but the pavement is smoooooooth. Everyone is required to take a driving course before getting their licenses, and understand how to merge rather than cut you off. Relax and enjoy the open road. It’s one of the best things about travel in the States.

Photo credit: StrudelMonkey, Flickr

Photo of the Day (8-26-09)

Anyone who has traveled in a developing country may notice how this photo by TR Ryan captures perfectly the ingredients of every day village life. See it as a check list, if you will. Chickens? check. Goat? check. Plastic cup? check. Flip flops and bare feet? check and check. A bit of old rusty corrugate serving as a partial wall? check. Bicycle? check. It almost doesn’t matter in which country the scene is set. The ingredients will be the same.

If Dutch painter Jan Vermeer were alive today, he’d turn this shot into a painting. Instead of the woman pouring milk into a bowl, as his subject does in, “The Kitchen Maid,” he would encapsulate in oil and canvas the life of this woman where she lives in Villa Esperanza, Nicaragua ensuring that her children get a meal.

If you have captured a story in a photograph, send it our way at Gadling’s Flickr photo pool. It may be chosen as a Photo of the Day.