My feet left Guyana just over 100 days ago. This milestone has gotten me thinking about what has changed in my life since my return to the United States. Has Guyana had any lasting impact on me, anything that has at least remained for 100 days? Yes. And these are some of the things I’ve noticed:
- Clean Places – I have yet to stop appreciating so many things that America has to offer. Cleanliness is an added bonus that I am well aware that I can live without, but drastically appreciate on a daily basis. The buildings I’ve occupied since my return have all been clean. The beds I’ve slept in have had clean sheets that still hold the sweet scent of detergent between their threads. The carpeting in each place hasn’t suffered the agonizing torture of being submerged under 5 inches of canal water. I love being able to sit down on a couch with a cup of tea and not have to worry about being bitten by mosquitoes or if that shadow that just moved in the corner is a cockroach or not. There is a tranquility that comes with these amenities. I haven’t forgotten to be grateful yet.
- Water – I still pee outside whenever possible. I read an article while I was in Guyana about how much clean water can be saved if men would opt to urinate outdoors rather than indoors. My current location permits me to do this under the cover of darkness only, but I’ve alerted my family to the benefits of saving our clean well water and I think they’ve made a clear motion to be more conservative. If you happen to hear the front door opening and closing at midnight though, that’s just me…giving mother nature a high-five.
- Weather – The fall weather was spectacular, followed by an Indian Summer that was to die for. 75 degrees in November? I’ll take it. I have found myself more than happy to throw on extra layers of clothing. This is much preferred compared to the copious amounts of sweat I was dealing with along the equator.
- Rain – It’s raining as I write this post. It wasn’t when I started it, but it is now. It’s reminding me of the healing power of the rain as it hit the metal roof of the school I worked at last year. As long as I had a roof over my head then, I loved the rain. It was cleansing to listen to and to watch. The downfall (no pun intended) of rain in a place below sea level though, is that it accumulates quickly. That doesn’t happen here, especially up in the hills where I find myself hundreds of miles from the nearest ocean and thousands of feet above sea level. I thought about this briefly yesterday when I stepped off of my front porch and looked up at a gathering gray sky. I shrugged off the potential of rain, knowing getting a little wet would be no issue. Sure enough, when I was more than two miles away from any form of shelter, it began to rain. The funny thing is…I welcomed it. I dared the rain to fall harder, I challenged it to make my path home more difficult. It didn’t. I pulled my hood over my head and that did the trick for keeping me dry. When the lone car passed on the back road I was on, I didn’t even think to accept a ride because the roads were far from flooded, they barely looked wet to me. I didn’t have to maneuver around puddles or walk gingerly to avoid slipping. Rain here has nothing on rain in Guyana. When I arrived home, everything inside was dry. The weather outside was not inside. I changed my clothes, sat on the couch, sipped on tea, put a blanket around my shoulders, whispered a few words of thanks into the abyss. Life is good here.
- Down Time – The ability to take a breather, to get behind the wheel of a car and drive to distant places and just think about my life and the twists and turns that I’ve experienced throughout it has been so nice. I recognize that the fact that I didn’t have to dive directly into a job after leaving Guyana has been hugely beneficial in my transition process.
- Standing Out – Yeah, yeah, yeah, we’re all born to stand out, but it’s been particularly nice to not stick out like a sore thumb recently. I had my shields up for the year, which I grew used to and thought nothing of, but now that the shields have come down, I’m happy to take the breather. I wore my pink hoodie the other day and thought nothing of it.
- Easy – The other night, I was watching a movie and the power went out. For a moment, I didn’t realize what had happened. Then, I had flashbacks to GT. All of a sudden I wasn’t sure where I was anymore. What continent am I on? Just kidding. What was amusing about the power outage was that it lasted a total of two seconds. Literally. Then the power was back on. In GT, the power would go out for anywhere between 30 minutes and a few hours. The fact that the television had to reset when the power flickered back on almost immediately was almost comical. How strange to have a power outage (something rather rare when living in America and it wasn’t even raining outside) to remind me of how easy I have it now. The power stays on, the heat stays on, everything runs smoothly.
All in all, I think I’m just grateful. Grateful to have had the experience and grateful that it’s over. I cannot believe how quickly 100 days has gone by. Time moved so slowly in Guyana. 100 days would have felt like a lifetime there, but here in ‘Merca, 100 days can slip by in the blink of an eye if you let them. I’ve now made the magical transition from developing world to developed world happen thrice in my life. I hope to be able to do it many more times in the future. There are little tricks to the trade that many people have likely shared online on different websites and in different blogs. I’m not entirely sure what the “trick” is, but I know that the best thing I’ve been able to do for myself is to take it easy. There is no right or wrong way to make a drastic change in your life. And, if you think about it, really everything in your life is changing when you move from one country to another. If people ask the wrong questions or try to rush you into making decisions, just politely nod along and silently speak your true feelings into the cosmos or scrape them down in a notebook and forgive them. They don’t know what they’re talking about, they’re just doing the best they can to give you advice with the experiences that they have to draw from. That’s all. Just have an open heart and the rest just seems to fall into place.