Traveling and living in Peru and Bolivia, talking to locals and experiencing everyday life has so far changed a lot in my point of view and how I see the world. Not only are these “third-world” countries and you can see the poor in every corner, but also do the people here grow up with a completely different mindset and mentality.
Below I have plotted down a few points that came to my mind in terms of things that people in the Western countries take for granted and don’t even think about. (I know, some points may not comply with all Western countries, but I took Austria 🇦🇹 as my example.)
Garbage cans This is such an easy one. You walk down the street eating your Leberkäse-Semmel and afterwards you throw the paper in one of the numerous garbage cans you pass on the way. Automatically. Here everything is still not that developed. If you are not in a big city and close to the main square you are likely to find no garbage cans at all, or if you do they are either completely full or destroyed and the garbage is spread on the ground. So every day you can spot people that throw their garbage on the streets or out of the bus window.
Social system I am not completely informed about the social system here, but I talked to a person in Peru about it and she told me that there exists something for elderly people which get around €100 a month if they are really poor. There is support for good students to study at universities, but not much more. I am so grateful that we live in a society where the strong help the weak, that we are all provided with health insurance and there are (almost) the same possibilities to live a satisfactory life for everyone.
Supermarkets Shopping here is a tricky task. You have the big market halls or areas where you can buy fruit, vegetables, basically most types of food that are available. Furthermore there are tiny kiosks to be found in every corner. They offer hygienic articles, snacks/sweets and cover most “basic need”-items like water for example. The difficulty comes in the negotiations you need to have with your vendor because hardly ever you can find prices next to your products. This can be a little tourist trap because once recognized as a tourist the vendors tend to demand higher prices from you than from a local or indigenous looking person. You can counter with a little bit of negotiaton, but be prepared to still pay more. The best way is to inform yourself what things ought to cost by talking to people. All I wanted to say is that going to a supermarket is just so easy, you most probably can find everything you are looking for in one place and the prices are steady. On the other hand, though, it is fun to walk around a colorful market hall, soak in the cultural differences and listen to the vendors screaming around trying to sell their products.
Laws and an instance to enforce them May sound funny to be greatful for laws and the police but at some point I realized that this is something more or less necessary, so not everything completely gets out of hand. Policemen and officials here unfortunately underly the corruption and take lots of money for things like highway control stops (not toll stops) or starting or continuing an investigation for a crime. Some laws also don’t seem to be important here as for example zebra crossings are ignored by any car, even by the police – it happened to us. We’ve encountered a bunch of things that wouldn’t be thinkable at all in Europe. Maybe a mix of the extremely controlled society and this would be a good solution. ;-)
Tolerance I know that tolerance towards “different” people still requires a lot of development everywhere in the world. The good thing is that the government most of the time supports those people. However, here I have experienced lots of hate towards different people, at times even towards us. It could be because they don’t like tourist, but I consider a different theory. Talking to a guy from Ecuador we learned that children here grow up learning a lot about how the Spanish invaded their country and mistreated their ancestors. He even admitted that he himself used to be skeptical towards “white people” or people from Spain. Of course there had happened things in the past that influenced the existence of thousands of people, but this doesn’t make the person in front of you a bad person, you cannot make the responsible for the past, he said. I was really impressed by this. And it motivated me even more to leave good impressions when interacting with locals because only this way they might be able to change their mind.
I am leaving you off with these thoughts. I hope this could make you a little bit more conscious about the privilege we have to live in our society. Have a good day! :-)