Friends emailed me warning "Watch out for the culture shock coming back to the states." This is not the first time we have come home from a third world country so I had a pretty good idea of what to expect from the transition from people having too little to people having too much
. I think because of my past experience it wasn't difficult to walk into my first Whole Foods, but also we had the consumerism of Japan to ease us into it. Japan consumerism wasn't overwhelming either because it was all so new and different then what we had at home. Also, I have to admit, I am enjoying being a full blown consumer again. I'm tired of the same three shirts and two pants I've been wearing for 42 weeks. I'm happy to be listing to what I want on the computer while tying these thoughts down. However, I am freshly reminded of exactly how luck I am and each of you who are rich enough to be reading these computer blogs. The only reason I have this laptop which I'm typing on is because I was born into a family who is rich enough to feed me, educate me and love me so I could grow up to the person I am. If I didn't have a healthy diet while growing up or didn't have a safe place to sleep every night I couldn't have grown into the healthy person I am today. We need to remember that so much of what we are able to do today is due to things that are our of our control.
Of course as happy as I am to be home there are aspects of our trip that I will miss. We got to see new things and new people every day, you can't say that for cube life! We got to see how they grow crops from Tanzania to Japan. We got to see what school's look like from Malawi to Nepal
. We got to see religious customs in Hindu, Shinto or Christianity in various countries. We wondered what the capitol of Zambia looks like and now we know. Of course, I won't miss spending the majority of the day grinding up too big hills in granny gear wondering exactly why we decided to do this stupid old bicycle trip anyway. Or, worrying about where we were going to sleep tonight, will it have water or electricity or a toilet. Will it have all three? But, I think for 9 months that was a pretty good trade off, exploring the world in exchange for having no idea what was around the corner.
So, back we go to a normal life but now we have hundreds of beautiful memories and international friends. I hope that you have all enjoyed reading my stories as I went along and hope that it has shown you that it's an amazing world out there and life is too short to spend it in cube land.
The inevitable question, "What does it feel like to be back?" It's a sensory overload to have everyone chattering at you (and each other) in unaccented English. After 9+ months of zero native English speaking people, it's overwhelming to have all the English conversation, radio, TV, newspapers and magazines. Suddenly, I can understand what they want me to buy and I still don't want it. I am surprised though, how non-strange it does feel to be back. I though there might be an overwhelming wave of emotion on being back in Boulder or going back to my parents house in Madison for Thanksgiving. But actually, it feels quite nice to be back in familiar places with familiar customs. Unlike our whole trip, I know where the grocery store is and I'm pretty sure I'm not offending anyone by wearing shoes in my parents church. It's good to be home.