Tomorrow we leave for our second trip back to the US, and I have been thinking about what awaits us there as well as what we’ll leave behind. Obviously the focus of our journey is one of pure joy as we officially meet our new granddaughter Addison. Skype video has been a wonderful blessing, but nothing can replace touching and smelling her newborn skin and holding that precious little one in our arms.
Food fetishes dominated my thoughts first time back. I fantasized about good beef, fried okra (hey, I’m from the South), Popeye’s spicy chicken, and a long list of other favorites. It turned out that the anticipation in most cases exceeded the experience, so I’m looking forward to but not craving specific things to eat this visit.
Being 6’3” there aren’t many opportunities to shop for clothes in Ecuador since the population is generally much shorter. I’ll be happy to replace tennis shoes, jeans (part of the “uniform” which I honestly get sick of wearing here almost every day), and a few other items. Cynthia, on the other hand, has a 2 day outlet mall extravaganza planned with our daughter. Yikes!!
And our trip to Montana for our 40th anniversary will be a dream come true. Ever since we saw “The Horse Whisperer” with Robert Redford years ago we’ve longed to experience “Big Sky Country” up close and personal. This is one of the few areas of the country left on our must-do list.
So we’re tremendously excited to soon be back with our beloved family again plus enjoy our special wedding celebration. But I’m reminded of a few aspects of life in the States that are hard to look forward to. One is the return to “nanny nation,” beginning with taking off your shoes at the airport (still!), being hassled about water bottles, and enduring the phalanx of TSA ogres. These are minor examples of the frightening loss of personal freedom that Homeland Security and the Patriot Act have rammed down the throat of the American public (thanks for permitting me a moment on the soapbox). Ecuador is by contrast vastly under-regulated. Trust me, less is better. WAY better.
Speaking of which, you may be oblivious to the fact that the sheer bounty and plethora of choice in the US is a source of stress. A Cuencano friend of ours wants us to bring him back a digital picture frame. He went online to research the choices, gave up in frustration because there are so damned many and told us to just pick out one. I have chronicled our struggles to locate certain items, but I’ve also been pleasantly surprised at how limited availability simplifies one’s life in so many ways. It will be amazing to visit a mega-sized grocery store again and stare at 25 different kinds of mustard. “Yes” or “no” turns out to be much easier than “which.”
Believe it or not, the rest of the world is not necessarily mired in the funk of economic doldrums that has dominated the US psyche for the past few years. Cuenca is booming. Construction is happening everywhere you look; investment opportunities abound; people are happy; life is relaxed. It’s hard to put into words, but the collective energy of our native country is going to be a bigger jolt to my system than the summertime heat and humidity.
All those differences aside, I can’t wait to get on the plane and be back with our loved ones. But like before, it will be good to return to our small, quiet, peaceful life in Cuenca.