Back in Toronto

I have to admit that I have experienced a bit of reverse culture shock since returning to Toronto on September 5th.  There is a stark contrast between how most people live in Canada versus most of the countries I have visited during the past three months.  I don’t think most of us realize how many luxuries we take for granted.  There are many places in the world where no one has ever had a hot shower.  Many people go through their daily activities (cooking, washing clothes, going to the bathroom) without running water. 

On the way back from the airport, the cab driver took a detour through a typical middle-class neighborhood.  I couldn’t help but notice all the nice green lawns that were going to waste because they were not being grazed by sheep or cattle or pigs.  There were shiny new cars and sport utility vehicles that seemed extraordinary large.  The houses, although not big by Canadian standards, were still larger than homes I had seen that had housed 4 families.  The only water running in the street was from sprinklers.  It seemed absurd to use perfectly good drinkable water for no practical purpose.  Absent were the dusty roads, garbage, and wastewater.  In their place there was smooth black tarmac, recycle bins, and sidewalks.

Riding my bike back from the airport a few days later was another eye-opening experience.  I found myself amazed at how relaxing it felt to ride on the 401 and 427 freeways.  When I first moved to Toronto I certainly didn’t think there was anything relaxing about 16 lane freeways.  But I couldn’t help but notice how wide the lanes were and how much more predictably the traffic flowed.  If there were 4 lanes marked on the freeway, then you could be pretty sure that there would be a maximum of 4 cars driving in parallel.  This is in contrast to places like Lima where perhaps 8 cars would try to squeeze into the same space.

I also notice a difference in the way people interact here.  For the most part people are polite and outwardly friendly, yet the warmth that I experienced throughout Latin America is lacking.  Kissing people on the cheek in greeting, which had become second nature by the end of the trip, is a habit that I will have to break if I want to avoid strange looks and possible lawsuits.

2 thoughts on “Back in Toronto

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