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Success, Failure...some of my greatest failures have been a springboard to my greatest successes...the terms are truly fluid.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Last Day In Wales

It is going to be a long day for me since we leave in the middle of the night to get to Heathrow early enough to be ready for our flight to Munich which will get us  to Florence by the late afternoon.

It has been truly enlightening being among friends and family here in Wales and there is so much I learned about myself and the Welsh in the process.

One of the most startling things was the way the Welsh cut their meat differently then I was taught in Northern California. Everyone here cuts their meat in the same way Gordon's dad did...fork face down but it startles me since I was taught to cut with my fork being held like a pencil and face up as it entered my mouth. No one said anything aloud here since they are all too polite but it has been a difference that we all noticed and discussed over the last couple of days. We laughed jovially as I explained that I was taught to hold it that way was a "Hillbilly" fashion and they said they had the same feeling as they watched me "shovel" the cut meat into my mouth. This all led Spencer to a very difficult time since I have been telling him to do whatever he sees others do since that is what a good anthropologist should do....sort of living the "When in Rome, do as the romans do..." theory. He has been sawing his meat like a confused caveman watching the others but trying to cut it the way he was taught.

I also was very surprised to find that washers and dryers are in the kitchen here, which I have to say, makes alot of sense. Why not have all the noise and activity in one place? In CA, we have the wash in a garage or an outer room to cut down on the unsightliness of the usual piles of clothes that accompany a clothing area. But I think it makes more sense to make the big kitchen area devoted to more then just food activity. It makes sense to overlap these two sets of needs...and it makes better use of space.

I was also surprised to find that large copper water heaters are out of date here. Only older people seem to remember what I am talking about. They use smaller water heaters that heat at the tap and work faster then the ones I am used to even. All the appliances seem to heat the water up themselves like washers. Even the shower has an instant hot water heater. It made me see our hot water heaters as amazingly impractical as they persist in heating all those gallons of water all the time unnecessarily.

Here a "chip" is a "french fry," and a "chip" to me, is called a "crisp" which is used for all light and airy bite sized crunchy foods it seems. When they root for their tennis shoes they are calling for their "trainers" and those little meat pies are called paaaasties, with a short 'a' vowel sound. I could not get myself to ask for "pasties" and found myself avoiding the plural word without knowing why for days...plug it in to google if you want to know why I couldn't say it. I also had trouble asking for "faggots" to eat...though they were really good...they seemed to have alot of peas in them I think.

The hard thing about anything in life is to understand that each of our cultures has its own taboos and ideas of appropriate behavior. In this travel experience, I feel I have gotten a much clearer handle on how very different these ideas can be and that there is no RIGHT WAY of doing all this stuff.

I don't know about you, but there is something freeing about finding out my borders are imagined. Very interesting since I have been rereading for class the story of a woman born in a harem who wound up becoming a really cool feminist who defends her culture. She talks about the borders of the harem as being filled with walls...but also comforting as well in many ways. I think it is nice to find that my borders are simply guidelines and that I am free to choose what my standards are for myself after all.

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