We're Jason, Beth, Lee Anna, Sawyer, and Sarah Claire, a family of five living, learning, and laughing lots in Northern Africa.
We hope you can learn a little (and maybe laugh a little too) as you read about our latest adventures.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Out-of-Town Adventure, Part V

She Wore an Itsy Bitsy, Teeny Weeny…

Oh, wait, that must have been somewhere else.

While these women were downright scandalous compared to what we saw on our beach trip, none of them wore anything that would classify as “teeny weeny.” The typical ladies swimwear looks a lot like spandex shorts and a tank top, although some have swimsuits with short sleeves and skirts, too. A few even swam in their regular pants and shirts, but only a few. On Tuesday, Beth’s shoulders made their first public appearance in Africa. She swam in her regular swimsuit, plus a tank top and Umbro shorts. Lee Anna calls her suit a “baby suit,” but she’s trying to say bathing suit. And she really wants to put it on first thing every morning.

Once again, male bathing suit attire was a different story. Beth said I was wearing enough bathing suit for three guys. I’m wearing the same old black board shorts I’ve been wearing in America for several years, and they’re not even very long, compared to many American guys’ shorts. But these fellas are putting the “short” back in “shorts.” Even a Speedo or two. Really quite fascinating when they don’t even wear shorts back in the city.

Since our lunch time (at 3:30, remember?) was wedged between two swim/free times, a lot of people just wore their swimwear to lunch. But no, thankfully, we didn’t have to eat lunch with guys in Speedos at our table. They wore their swimwear under big terry-cloth bath robes. It does look funny to see people in bathrobes eating lunch, but they’re just saving two trips up to the room to change when they know they’re going right back in the pool. While the ladies in their modest suits are very, very quick to cover up when they get out of the water, they guys in their Speedos don’t see any need for that. One day a big group stayed for an hour playing soccer next to the pool in their swimsuits. Quite a sight.

Another cultural difference we’ve discerned is that most of these girls don’t know how to swim. They’ve grown up surrounded by a culture that frowns on such public displays, so they haven’t had many opportunities to learn. Because of this, many of them are afraid of the water. They’ll get in on the shallow end and just hug the wall the whole time. In a lot of ways, though, swimming with these folks was just like swimming with friends in the states. The kids love to splash and play, the parents love to see their kids having fun, and being in the water just generally makes everybody pretty happy.

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