The other reason we don't spend as much here is that we are surrounded by dire poverty. A few weeks ago we had a friend selling a used refrigerator for $180. We discussed buying the frig because our current one that came with our rental is small for a family or four. It's like a puzzle trying to fit everything in there. In the States, all our neighbors had an extra refrigerator and freezer in the garage and eventually we got one too. It was a great place to keep the beer cold and store our Costco purchases. Here we are surrounded by poverty, not affluence. That $180 we would spend on an extra refrigerator because we have too much food would feed a family of four for months. We could not and would not justify spending so much when others have so little.
I was sitting and observing the signs of poverty all around me this morning as the air conditioner was being fixed in my car. The man with mismatched shoes. The fence built of tree branches and other bits and pieces of random things. The old lady carrying the boy over the muddy, unpaved street so his shoes would be clean for school. I watched three men work on my car at once and solder a part back together that I know they would have replaced with a new one in the States. There was a stray cow that nosed its way under my hood and the men had to shoo her away. I reflect on my good fortune, that I even own a car and can afford to have the A/C fixed.
Sometimes when I speak with people from the US I can't relate to them anymore. They take for granted how easy it is to get things there. The amounts of money they spend on gratuitous stuff, I can't relate. The general idea that problems can be fixed by buying stuff, I can't relate. The way people stress out over little things and worry about everything, I can't relate. The length of time in traffic people spend commuting, I can't relate. For now, I am so thankful we are able to choose this lifestyle over that one.
Parrots making a racous while eating mangoes in our backyard