Thursday, January 7, 2010

What I Discovered on the Way to Buy Earplugs

As I've written before, Mexico is a noisy country. Much noisier than most Americans are used to. Especially OLD Americans. I've noticed that as I get older, the more sensitive I am to sound.

So the other day I went in search of earplugs. I recommend to any of you traveling to Mexico, definitely bring earplugs. Even if you'll be staying in the best of hotels, you're going to need earplugs.

Thinking of Walgreen's back home, I went to the local drugstore. Nope, no earplugs. And to another pharmacy. Not their, either. After visits to about 4 drugstores, one kind clerk took pity on me and told me that earplugs are not sold in drugstores. You have to go to the medical equipment store. Ummm, that makes sense....sort of. I suppose Mexicans are accustomed to their noisy environment and, thus, don't buy these things.

So off I went to the medical equipment store. While waiting in line (you wait in lines for everything here), I noticed two items for sale. One, an eye chart like you'd find in your optometrist's office. Except this one didn't have the usual tiny letters E,F,P,T,O,Z, etc. Instead, this one had only symbols. Why? A lot of Mexicans don't read, or don't know the alphabet. Plus, speakers of indigenous languages, they use a different alphabet entirely.

Another weird thing, one which I've seen in the Yucatan, as well: nose straighteners. These are little plastic springy devices the indigenous people can place inside their nostrils in order to straighten them and given them a more "beautiful" European profile. Isn't hatred of one's own self-image sad?