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Culture — Air on your Neck at Night

by Brandi

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March 3rd, 2010

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For this week’s discussion on learning more about Spanish Culture we will discuss the “perils” of sleeping with a fan on. While I was in Latin America, I lived very close to the equator in some very hot areas. I mainly lived in lower-income pueblos that had streets made of either sand or dirt. It was extremely hot during the day and still very warm at night; none of the areas I lived in had air conditioning. As I would walk through the streets of certain cities, the sand and/or dirt was so hot it would almost burn my feet.

At night, it was sometimes so hot that I could hardly sleep at all. There were usually fans in the apartments I lived in so, of course, I would turn on the fans at night in attempt to take some of the edge off the heat.

As I did that, the native Latin Americans I stayed with would get very upset and tell me how bad this was for my health. They explained that if I slept with air blowing on me at night and it hit my neck, I was sure to wake up with a pain or a kink in my neck.

I thought of course that they were kidding and I made a joke about it, but they were dead serious. Since I was a missionary there, I always had a native companion with me. Usually he would never let me turn on the fan at night so we wouldn’t wake up with neck aches in the morning. As a result, I almost learned to sleep in very hot temperatures at night!

The funniest part was when I got my way and had the fan on at night, every once in a while I would wake up with a slight kink in my neck (which is normal for me with or without a fan going.) The native people I was staying with, when they noticed I had neck pain, would always accusingly ask if I had slept with the fan on. When I would tell them I had, they would all gang up on me and say “Ah ha – we told you so!!!”. Then they would give me a bad time for sleeping “with a fan on.” I actually had a great time light-heartedly arguing back and forth with them trying to prove that the cause of my neck pain was from how I slept on my pillow. I explained that many Americans regularly sleep with fans on (ceiling fans or AC) and don’t get neck pain from them.

I completely loved getting to know the Latino people, conversing with them, and learning about their culture and the different ideas they have. They really are great people!

Moral of this week’s story: All of us have our own ideas about what causes ailments or pain in our lives, and many of us have our own remedies that we swear by – chicken noodle soup, tonic, cod-liver oil and so forth. The interesting thing is that whole cultures can have completely different ideas about ailments, causes and cures. Science has proven many things, but there are still a lot of unanswered questions that we can all speculate about.

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