When American expat Elyn Aviva and her husband relocated to Asturias, Spain, after seven years in Catelonia, the safety net of knowing how to do things and where to go was suddenly gone and their spirits soon matched the region’s dismal winter weather.
Three weeks after the presidential election in Honduras, a winner had yet to be announced and tensions were high as the country plunged into political crisis. In this essay, expat Jill Dobbe reports on living in a country in chaos and what it means for the strong and resilient Hondurans who pray for peace.
Living in a foreign country is an opportunity to learn about a different culture, a different way of seeing and responding to the world. It provides an opportunity to immerse yourself in new customs and traditions, and to see what really matters and is important to people around the world. It is also an opportunity to examine, from a distance, your own customs and traditions and, most important, your own cultural assumptions.
“So, when exactly are you coming home?” my father asked.
“I don’t know, Dad. Our visas allow us to stay in Peru for at least three months, then we’re thinking of heading on to Argentina and Chile...”
The broken and sputtering magicJack connection at the South American Explorers Club in Cusco broadcasted about every third word of our conversation, but the message that traveled down the steep stone streets of the ancient Inca capital and across the continents to the lush green lawns of Newark, Delaware, the college town I’d grown up in and where my parents still live, was crystal clear: We weren’t coming “home”.
The truth was, my husband, Hank, and I had no idea when, or if, we were going home. We didn’t even know what “home” meant anymore. We’d been winging it, temporarily inhabiting Mexico, Nicaragua, Ecuador, and Peru: itinerant and loose in the world in a manner that both worried and intrigued family and friends back home.
We were four thousand miles from our homeland, eleven thousand feet above sea level, south of the Equator where summer is winter, and living in a fourth-floor walkup without heat. Yet, life felt sweet and rich and fortunate.