'My mom told me we don't put the toilet paper in the toilet here. We put it in the little bin by the toilet. Is that true??' he asked in a voice tinged with disbelief.
|The Stone House on the Hill - Greek Peloponnese|
'Very true,' I assured him. 'It is normal here to do that.' I went on with a lofty explanation of doing things differently when you travel to new places and how in many places in the world tissue is tossed, not flushed. My grandiose teaching moment was lost on him though: he was still processing the 'don't flush it' idea.
|Lemons growing at our Stone House on the Hill|
I concluded our talk by confessing that when I return to the States I sometimes have trouble remembering that paper is flushed. Tossing, not flushing, is my new normal.
Toilet etiquette is just one of the many things that we've had to learn to 'do differently' as ex pats living in Greece.
|Sunflower bouquet at our Pacific Northwest home|
Normal is as Normal Does
It has been some 7.5 months since we have been anywhere outside Greece thanks to that longer-than-expected wait for residency permits which kept us 'in detention' there. We had a pretty intense dose of all-things-Greek.
|Manson, our U.S. home under last year's harvest moon|
(Note to new readers: this fall marks two years since we took up full time residence in The Mani, a region in the Peloponnese where the famous Kalamata olive is grown. Last fall we replanted our U.S. roots by purchasing a home in a small town in eastern Washington State.)
|Manson is surrounded by apple orchards and vineyards|
Ten days ago we made our annual autumn trek back to the States. In the short time we've been here I've found myself bemused and sometimes frustrated at the number of times I've had to stop and think about what the name of something is in English or how to complete a task here.
Case in point: At the hardware store I had a difficult time coming up with the name of what I needed to clean a paint brush. In my mind I was looking for what we call in Greece, 'white spirit' . . .I told the clerk 'paint remover' and found myself with a lot of products designed to take paint off surfaces being repainted. Finally, we came up with it: 'paint thinner'!
|Some 40+ wineries now make this area their home as well|
Also surprising is the number of things that we once did by rote that now seem so very 'different'. It just doesn't seem normal. Take for instance. . .
. . . filling the car with gasoline. In Greece, the attendant directs you to the pump then pumps the gas and washes the windows for you. Takes your payment and brings you change, telling you to have a nice day as the transaction concludes.
Here you pull up to the pump of your choosing and insert a credit card at a machine in the bay and once it is accepted, you pump your gasoline, take your receipt and drive away. The only human contact you might have is if your card isn't accepted and you must go inside to see the clerk. It gave us pause the first couple of times we visited the gas station - we've been spoiled by Greek behaviors.
|Lake Chelan remains the major attraction of this area|
. . . or using that little plastic credit card. I am amazed at how many times we pull it out to pay for goods and services here. In our everyday life in Greece the only place we use the plastic is at the large supermarket on the highway between villages or when shopping in the city, Kalamata. Certainly not at the small shops and restaurants we frequent in the village.
|Our surrounding countryside in Manson|
. . .or those do-it-yourself checkouts at large supermarkets. If you are smart enough to check yourself out, you need not talk to any employee during your shopping experience. How impersonal is that? As long as a human is there to check me out, I plan to have them do so.
|Our route to Wenatchee - the largest city near us|
. . .or the focus on privacy. Privacy is a big deal in the U.S. and I had forgotten what a big deal it was until I was discussing it with friends over lunch this week. The two were talking about the security precautions they take to protect their identity -both on-line and in real life. They actually sell little ink things (not just marking pens) here to mark out your information before tossing printed matter! Then we talked about all the security steps to be taken in computer land. It was --sorry, but this phrase works best --'all Greek to me'!
I told them about how we get our mail delivered to a café in the village. Packages are delivered there, important documents as well I suspect. You pretty much sort through and see everyone's mail -- and you pay it little mind. It isn't unusual to take a package addressed to a friend or neighbor to them. We don't think about theft - of mail itself or a person's identity. There is something curiously refreshing about it.
|Even the hotel in Manson welcomed us back last year|
|Showing friends our new community|
They advise staying in touch with those back home so you are able to pick up where you left off. No problem there - we have a circle of friends who've stayed in touch regularly by phone, email and social media.
|It is harvest time in the Chelan/Manson area|
Experts do suggest following 'back home' news media and social media to stay in touch with changes occurring there. Again, no problem there thanks to our various subscriptions, Facebook, Instagram, Messenger and others.
Re-patriots can experience stress, depression, social anxiety and disenchantment. Many articles say some re-patriots need counseling or support groups. Whoa! No need for that!
|Wine grapes, three weeks from harvest|
However, in none of the articles I read, did they mention toilet etiquette. That apparently is one area of re-adjustment the experts haven't yet flushed out!
|A toast to new 'normal'|
On that note, I'll close for this time around with a wish for continued safe travels to you and yours. I'll be back with more tales from the expat travel world soon. As always, thanks for the time you spend with us ~
Linking sometime with:
Through My Lens
Our World Tuesday