We encourage everyone to take time and visit another country. The lessons we learn about other cultures and ways of life are enumerable and precious. It also means you need to prepare yourself for vastly different ideas and tastes. Some may be acceptable by your own culture and others are going to challenge your way of thinking entirely. Today we are looking at some of the situations you might find yourself in and how to handle it.
Animals Aren’t Always Caged
Here in the US, we have dog runs, fences, electric fencing, and shelters for all sorts of animals that we farm or keep as pets. Many of these animals are now equipped with tracking devices, such as the Astro 430 Bundle, so an owner can find their animal quickly. In other countries, you are likely to see chickens and cows roaming the streets. Monkeys might be on every rooftop and huge birds may loom overhead. While it may seem weird or unusual to you, this is a popular way of life in many Asian countries. So what do you do when you have a cow in the road that doesn’t want to budge. You can go around it or you can patiently wait for it to move. You don’t want to charge or spook any animal! Spook it off and it might run off too far for the owner to retrieve it. Spooking an animal also means that it could attack you. Countries that have animals freely roaming about often don’t bother those animals so a tourist doing something agitating is going to result in not-so-pleasant behavior. Best to follow the culture completely.
Food Tastes Are Different
When people travel, they assume they will do some fine dining on authentic and well-crafted fare that is almost always French or the American version of ethnic foods. Foods in other countries are very different! Sometimes, unusual ingredients will pop up and you will be faced with a choice. Touring the city of Kathmandu means lots of street fare and more than likely a chance to eat some buffalo meat. A trip to China might mean roasted bee larvae. Mexico is well known for worms in the tequila and other foods. In Brazil, you may try some chocolate-covered ants. Thailand makes good use of crickets and grasshoppers. So what do you do if you are presented with something that makes you cringe? Ultimately, we suggest you try it to be polite. You might even like it! If you are vegan, you can certainly explain that to your companion with gentleness and a short explanation. We highly recommend using their language to explain it if you can.
Cooking Styles Vary
In the US, we have strict rules on how to cook in our restaurants for the general public. We also practice certain sanitary practices within our own homes. However, you may find that a style of cooking in another country makes you concerned with how safe it is to eat. The Maori in New Zealand traditionally buries their meat into the ground for cooking. Hawaiians are also known for using a Kalua, an underground oven, for cooking their meats. Africa, Peru, and many other countries are big fans of the earth oven. It may sound very unsanitary and not very safe, it can be a delicious dish that you might not want to pass up. We encourage you to try it and look over the food quickly. We did a quick search for instances of food poisoning deriving from this style of cooking and there have been no known reports in the past five years. If you just can’t bring yourself to try it, politely decline without an explanation.
As a tourist, it is our job to build bridges with those that we visit. If we show disdain for their way of life, continuously shun their hospitable efforts, or even mock their style of cooking, we then create a negative view of our communities alike. This is a true learning moment on both sides and it’s best to embrace it as best as you can. Just imagine all the stories you get to tell when you come home!