I admit it: I’ve been lax for the past few weeks, blog-o-verse wise.
I’ve been busy anticipating for, and then participating in, the world’s greatest vacation: the great leap forward into the first world after two years in a developing nation.
At first America and the West amazed me. Plugs were everywhere and no matter how quickly I spoke or muttered people understood the worlds coming out of my mouth. Ice was no longer a health hazard and I indulged accordingly. Coffee was everywhere and tasted substantially different coming out of a paper cup than it did after being boiled in a tea kettle and sifted through a plastic strainer. This was of great relief to me on hour 45 of being awake. It turns out I don’t sleep well on planes. That is turbulent patches aside, which lull me into a catatonic half-awake state in much the same way the potholes of the Bamenda-Yaoundé road cause my lids to droop.
Returning Stateside (and now Canada-side, as I write this from my parent’s new home outside of Vancouver) is not unlike stepping onto a moving sidewalk as a toddler. I throw the tot bit in there not because I’m small of stature, though North Americans manage to dwarf Cameroonians and I feel my body image improving daily, but because I have literally no idea what I’m doing most of the time and approach most things by banging on them or putting them in my mouth.
My first trip to the grocery store consisted mostly of private giggling to myself interspersed with awe at the items I had literally forgotten existed (The prepackaged goods aisle was especially moving). I can say with confidence that, while lacking in many aspect, the fruit situation in Cameroon absolutely trumps anything I’ve seen thus far on this continent. Y’all need to have a serious talk with the people growing most of the things you’re putting in your mouth. Your bananas taste like, well, nothing. Your avocados look like they belong in dollhouses, so small that a Roonie would only dare hand them off as a small gift in addition to already-purchased items. Everything here costs more than 20 cents per piece of fruit, automatically making it shamefully pricey. For some reason literally everything comes with absurd amounts of packaging, and I’m coming from a place where plastic bags are practically the national flower.
I’ll give you one thing, though, North America smells literally nothing like pee. To this I give two thumbs up. As a friend was loading me into her car (Wait, seatbelts? Oh yeeaaaah…) I commented that her perfume was smellin’ real nice today. She broke it to me that, in fact, that smell was just ‘outside’ in America. There is a lot to be said for how much better you feel breathing air when it doesn’t have any burning garbage mingled in. It is the air of champions.
I’m keeping good tabs on my reverse culture shock, to be shared during my 40+ days in the Motherland. Things like how much the Belgians seemed to love trampolines or how wide a berth white people give each other. It’ll all be explored in due time, but until then I’m going to have my third candy bar of the day and enjoy a DVR full of Jeopardy.
Coming home makes me cry like a wimp.