Every family develops it’s own vocabulary, shorthand words or phrases that recall shared memories, nicknames, descriptions and explanations.
As you might expect, as we’ve been traveling our family’s custom vocabulary has grown – to the point where it’s getting difficult for me to describe our experiences and conversations without using Murphy shorthand. Consider this a short glossary.
Mud Floors With A TV
In Curia, Ecuador, BigB and CAM were shocked to see flat-screen TVs on the walls of houses with dirt floors which often housed people and animals together.
“I think I would prefer to finish my house than spend money on a TV”, BigB announced, with CAM nodding in agreement.
They were not surprised when Murph replied “I’d probably go for the TV”.
But they looked to me to validate the more practical perspective.
When I, Queen of Turn-Off-The-TV said, “A TV is a lot less expensive than a new floor”, they were stunned.
In the ensuing conversation we talked about how the owners/occupants of the dirt-floor houses were likely paying a small amount monthly for their TV. It was the first time the boys had heard the term installment plan but their own experiences of repaying Bank of Mom loans from pocket-money gave a useful comparison. We talked about how a TV would provide cheap entertainment, information and a window into the wider world in these rural villages – sometimes leap-frogging literacy issues. Mud Floors entered our lexicon as a way of describing poor housing usually with a battered TV arial on the roof.
For the record, I wrote this on the bus from Phnom Penh to Siam Reap as we passed through village after village of mostly weather-beaten straw and wood houses on stilts with ground-planted TV arials listing to the side of almost every one.
Pigs and Chickens Class
This one also dates from near the start of the trip too. I used it to describe a particularly rickety, dilapidated bus which we took in Ecuador. BigB and CAM loved it and it became our way of describing the worst transportation on which we might expect to share the bus (because it’s usually a bus) with animals as well as people.
We haven’t actually shared a bus with pigs or chickens yet (as far as I know) but every bus we’ve taken the South-East Asia has been either so overcrowded or run-down that they’ve all deserved this description. What’s remarkable to me is how blasé our kids have become about traveling at this level of service. If we need to get from point A to point B and that’s all that’s available, they climb on, find a seat, pull out a book and settle in for the ride with no fuss or drama. They even value, and I mean value, padded seats and air-conditioning as a bonus. I’m sure they’ll feel like royalty when we go back to driving around in our own car!