1. You point to things using your lips.
When your roommate asks you where the keys are, you just stick out your lips slightly in the direction of the object, raising your brows a little at the same time.
2. You don’t mind some man’s belly sitting on your shoulder along with some strange woman’s boob on the top of your head while on a crowded bus.
You feel lucky to get a seat on the bus while others cram standing in the alley. You used to cringe at so much physical contact with strangers when you first arrived, but you’re fine with it now.
3. You stopped longing for sofas.
You much prefer swinging in your hammock or swaying to and fro in your wooden rocking chair in front of your house.
4. You’ve accepted the fact that you need to shower before 7am on Mondays, Thursdays and Sundays and after 6pm Tuesdays and Fridays.
You’ve made a shower schedule and you stick to it. After you were surprised by a water cut after an hour-long jog and spent the whole day sticky and sweaty, you memorized the water cut schedule for your district. For additional showers you store a barrel full of water for bucket bathing.
5. You welcome geckos as legitimate inhabitants of your room.
You didn’t like the idea of lizards walk on the walls and ceiling of your room at first. But after a few weeks you realized that they are 1) too fast to catch, 2) quite cute and 3) actually good for you as they eat mosquitos and flies.
6. You take cold showers with no whining.
With the hot weather outside you actually don’t even miss hot showers. And with the frequent water cuts, you are grateful every time you step into your shower and water actually flows.
7. You find air conditioning off-putting and downright annoying.
You prefer a shadow of a tree and a natural breeze coming from the lake or ocean to the dry, freezing blow of an air conditioner.
8. You don’t have to worry about the risk of anemia.
You eat red beans at least at one meal a day (and often at all three). Your cheeks blush, nails are strong and iron level in your blood almost off the charts. Thank you gallo pinto, fijol molido and sopa de frijol.
9. You don’t haggle with taxi drivers in your city.
You know that the fare is fixed, no matter the distance. You get into a taxi confidently without asking for the price. You hand the driver the exact amount of money as you get off. End of story.
10. You sleep through the roosters’ crowing and cats’ jumping on your roof at night.
The first night you sprung up wide awake at the bang on your tin roof in the middle of the night, thinking it was an earthquake, new revolution or someone trying to break in. Then, you heard meowing and went back to sleep. After a couple of hours, you awoke again, this time to a rooster’s crowing. It took a few weeks, but you now sleep like a rock through the night and only wake up to the rising sun.
11. You’re down for the night at 9.30pm, right after your novela finishes up.
You wake up before 6am, as your neighbors start sweeping around their houses in short brisk swooshes, publicity cars start running announcing the circus coming in to town and taxis begin to honk.
12. You know the best hole-in-the-wall spots for homemade tortillas, chocobananos and rosquillas.
It took weeks of trying, but you finally found that woman who makes corn tortillas that are fatter, bigger and softer than anywhere else, chocobananas frozen to the perfect firm but soft enough to bite texture with a thick cover of dark chocolate, and rosquillas that are perfectly round, crunchy yet not dry at all.
13. You sleep with your bedroom door open.
Or you hang a sheet over the door before closing it. You learnt that local trick that’s meant to enable pulling the door open, in case it got dislocated by frequent seismic movement.
14. You navigate the labyrinth of your local market like you had grown up in it.
You know that the man who has heaps of plantains in the front of his stall also keeps the freshest and sweetest coconuts at the back. You’ve found curry and cumin, which are almost impossible to obtain. Best of all, you spend less than 10 US dollars weekly on bags of fresh veggies, fruit and grains.
15. You don’t work on your tan, ever.
Coming from a moderate climate, you used to make a conscious effort to darken your skin. You walked on the sunny side of the street and lounged in the sun in every free minute. You eventually tire of the constant burning feeling on your skin. You now carry an umbrella on sunny days to stay in the shade and whenever possible, avoid leaving the house or office between 10am and 5pm altogether.
16. You’ve mastered ignoring catcalls, if you’re a woman.
When you see a man or a group of men on your way, you look right past them like they don’t exist. As you walk by, their comments “que belleza, mi amor, hola, hello” enter through your one ear, and fly right out through the other. It almost doesn’t even annoy you anymore.
17. Your neighbors bring you fresh limes from their tree, eggs from their coop, or mangoes from their quinta every week.
In return, you bake them banana bread and chocolate chip cookies.
18. You enjoy bananas sweet and salty, raw, fried, dried and frozen.
You make banana milkshake in the morning. You get maduro frito or tajadas with lunch and chocobanano for desert. Later you snack on platanitos.
19. Active volcanoes don’t scare you.
You bathed in a crater lake, hiked on a volcanic island, looked into volcano’s smoky caldera and even saw red lava glowing in the dark. Sure, all of those were impressive experiences but living surrounded by several volcanoes is just the norm now.
20. You find nothing strange about the fact that addresses don’t contain street names and house numbers.
You have no trouble finding the new restaurant located 2 blocks south and 1 west from where the Municipal Theater used to be (“2 cuadras al sur y 1 al oeste de donde fue el Teatro Municipal”).
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