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Culture —– Right in the Streets??!!

by Brandi

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December 10th, 2010

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For this week’s culture lesson, I am going to talk about a distinct cultural difference found in Latin America. I am letting you know about this difference to help you avoid becoming offended and so you will know how to avoid it.

It is common to see men “take care of business” right in the streets. Fortunately, they generally are not blatant about it; they turn so most of the public cannot see them, but they urinate (pee) right in the streets. I understand this is also done in a few parts of the United Stated., parts of Europe, and a few other parts of the world — those of you from other regions, please let me know if I’m wrong (or right).

This was a bit shocking for me the first time I saw what was happening. Where I am from, people just typically don’t do that. I can truly say that this is one particular cultural trait that I have never had a desire to adopt or try.

When I was living in Latin America, something happened that I will not forget. I was in a city that had a large main street with an island that ran down the middle of the street. The island was beautifully landscaped with shrubs and trees. Towards the center of the city, in the center of the island was a large sign that said “SHOW YOUR CULTURE, DON’T PEE IN THE STREETS!!” . . . Can you imagine a sign like that posted in your hometown?!

When I first saw the sign, I began to laugh out loud. I could imagine a city council meeting together to discuss ways to improve the reputation of their little city. What they came up with was a sign that advertises to the world that people in their city may pee in their streets and that they making an effort to cut back!

I wanted to let you know about this so you would not be as culturally shocked as I was the first time I saw this cultural difference. The next time you are in the streets of Latin America, if you see a man turned away, standing in the same spot, you now know what he is most likely doing and can now turn away if it might offend you.

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