I’ve already set the record straight by telling everyone that although I live in a country that has numerous places that are classified as “tropical paradises,” I still live in a city. A big, polluted, still-developing, over-populated, traffic-jammed city. My classes are not conducted on pristine beaches, my offices are not located in palm tree tree houses and I do not sip from a freshly opened coconut in my leisure time. Ok, that last one I admit to doing…but very rarely. :-)
I am, however, going to miss many things about my time here. Two years was a great amount of time to really feel like a local, which is exactly the experience I wanted. This country, this job, this life experience has left so many positive impressions on me, that there may be too many to describe. So instead of gushing about tropical corners, kind attention (or even special treatment), I thought I’d make a list of some things I won’t miss. It’s not incredibly long, but it’s humorous and satisfying. Life in paradise isn’t always a beach.
-Eyelid sweat (a daily occurence).
-Being asked if parts of my body are real (Nose, eyelashes, eye color, hair color).
-The annual floods.
-The need to take a shower the second I walk into my room after returning from my walk home from work.
-Being called “Mister.” It’s strange to me that if you only know one or two words in English, you should make sure you don’t call a woman the wrong word.
-People yelling and sneezing at the top of their lungs…the concept of “noise pollution” hasn’t yet made it to this country.
-Constant congestion from the mix of pollution and humidity.
-The treat of Malaria or Dengue Fever every time I get a mosquito bite.
-The threat of food poisoning every time I eat vegetables.
-Being followed around stores by attendants who feel it is necessary to stand 8 inches away and watch you as you try to shop…how they can think this is NOT rude is beyond me.
-How lots of people like to gossip, but important information and details are apparently deemed not worthy of sharing.
-The depression I feel after seeing a 10 year old smoking on the back of a motorcycle being driven by a 12 year old.
-The general lack of good, quality parenting.
-The overwhelming number of men who were NOT taught how to be respectful or how to conduct themselves appropriately in public…(see the above notation).
-90 degree Christmas and New Year’s holidays.
-Being stared at…ALL the time.
As the adage goes, I’ve become more appreciative of various things after experiencing their absence in my new/current environment. And I’m grateful for the recognition. The US is FAR from perfect. In some cases, we are far behind other developed countries in a few key areas. But I appreciate my rights, freedoms, and progressions. I appreciate the improvements constantly being made or worked on. Most of all, I’ve been away long enough to be happy and excited to return.