Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Ice and Lemon? ‒ Erich

The rest of my family is doing a great job at covering our thus far short time in Namibia. They are hitting all of the big things to tell you about. I wanted to cover one of the small things.

For set-up, though, you need to know that while our trip to Namibia is mostly about the great outdoors, camping, wildlife, and terrain, we are, tonight, for one night, staying in a Hilton in Windhoek, the capital of Namibia. Windhoek is nice, but not amazing. It looks like any none too big capital city of a westernized nation.

So tonight, we ate a restaurant. And when the kids ordered tap water to drink, the waitress asked, “Ice and lemon?” This is not unfamiliar to us. In South Africa if you order tap water, the same two part question is always asked. And, again, just like in South Africa, when the water was brought out it had ice cubes in it and a slice of a citrus fruit with a green rind. We've noticed this many times before. But, unlike those other times, this time, I asked about it. I told the waitress, Anna, that in the United States, our lemons are yellow and our limes are green. I asked if they had limes in Namibia. She seemed very confused by my confusion. She started to explain, but then said, “I will bring you a lemon and a lime.”

Here, my friends is a picture of one lemon and two limes. And you can see the color of the lemon!

Now she described the lemon as yellow and limes as green. And while I agree that the lemon is yellower than the limes, I would have called it green as well. I asked her how she knew it was lemon in the tap water rather than lime. And she pointed out that the lemons are rougher, they have a more textured rind. And the slices in our water glasses did indeed have that rougher rind. So they were lemons.

We tried to explain to her why we were confused. Alrica showed her a yellow daisy that had been decorating our table. Alrica explained that this was closer to the color of a lemon in the United States. This surprised Anna very much. So I guess our surprise was less surprising after that.

So there you have it. A small thing. A tiny mystery explained. Now I am wiser traveler, knowing that a lemon by any other color would still be sour. (Though Anna assured me that the lime would be much sourer.) But I am still left to wonder one thing: When South Africans and Namibians visit the States and get their tap water with a slice of lemon, do they ask, “What is this fruit?”

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