Tuesday, March 18, 2008

A Few Cultural Differences - The Hygiene Edition

In case you were wondering...(and my apologies if you weren't!)

* Brasil is a dentist's dream! Go into any public restroom after lunch (whether it be at Eric's office or at the mall) and you will find every sink occupied by people brushing their teeth. And through casual conversation, we've learned many people even floss twice a day or more. (What? You mean to tell me that you don't randomly end up talking to people about their flossing habits?)

* Eric noticed this interesting habit of many Brasilian men: they go into the public restroom and wash their hands, then they use the restroom, and then they wash their hands again. Please feel free to take a moment and think about that one a bit.

* Brasilians never hold a hamburger, sandwich, bread, or pastry with their hands. The only way I've ever seen them eaten here is by holding the food with the wrapper or a napkin. Your hands can't touch your food here.

* And the same no-hands rule applies to french fries and other "finger foods", except you usually use a toothpick to stab and devour things too small to hold in a napkin.

* From what I gather (since I've not actually bought a telescope and observed other people at home alone), Brasilians don't walk around bare-footed in their homes. If you do take off your shoes, you know, because you are in your pajamas and your dress shoes don't seem to go with the ensemble, then you put on a pair of Havianas (the most popular brand of flip flops).

* Showering is important even among the homeless. When I see city sprinklers watering a flower bed somewhere, there will inevitably a homeless guy or two stripped down to their skivvies with a sponge (that looks like one you would use to wash a car) getting a good scrub down in the free water.

* When it comes to feminine products, tampons are almost non-existent here.

* We've yet to see any solid deodorant here. There is plenty of roll-on and spray-on, but we are solid deodorant people. I don't know why, we just always have been. (Luckily, it was one of the many personal things we stocked up on and shipped down!)

* A bidet is not an uncommon fixture here. Although more frequently in hotels and new apartments, we see spray hoses next to the toilet. We are lucky enough to have a bidet in both the master and guest bathrooms. Call me a sheltered country-bumpkin, but I've yet to get up the courage to use one (even after some internet research on how exactly you're supposed to use the things. Yeah, seriously.) I saw the velocity of the water coming out of it when Eric accidentally gave the ceiling a good washing while checking the plumbing during our walk though of the apartment! It's a nice thought; I'm just not that brave.


Rachel said...

Great list!

I've written a lot about the hygiene puzzle before. My boyfriend gets upset if I sit on the bed wearing anything but pajamas. "Those are your street clothes!!!" he says. "Think about where you sat." Uh ok?

Also. I have not yet mentioned this on my blog but at some point I will--a friend told me that her boyfriend has to take a shower every time he takes a ...#2.


Jeremy Sarber said...

How clean.

Laural said...

My sogra uses the sprayer next to the toilet to clean the bathroom floor! I wish we had drains, tiled walls and sprayers in our bathrooms, too. It would make it so much easier to just spray everything down.