I recently had to leave my island and trek back to Colorado, USA. I am doing some work over the summer and staying at my mom’s house. Can you say, culture shock?
It started when I left the Roatan airport and landed in Houston for my next flight. While sitting at the gate waiting to board my flight to Denver, the gate agent came over the loud speaker with the regular spiel of carry-on luggage, if you need to check it at the gate, etc. Then he mentioned that if you ARE checking at the gate, you will need to remove the lithium batteries from everything (this I had heard before). Oh, and if you’re carrying a “smart bag,” you’ll need to take the battery out of that too. Wait – WHAT? What the hell is a smart bag? I’ve been using all sorts of bags for pretty much my whole life and I don’t know of any that I thought were “smarter” than others. Apparently, I’m a tad behind the times. (By the way, I still don’t know what it is and frankly don’t care.)
I have (so far) avoided entering a big box store, or even a “normal” grocery store. I know from previous experience the sensory overload those places provide. MY GAWD – seriously, you can get everything you want in one place. It blows my island girl mind. Now, granted, I knew all this stuff existed before I moved to my rock 8+ years ago, but time has a way of helping you forget the convenience of these ginormous stores filled with people who look annoyed that you are breathing. Give me my “fancy” grocery store in Roatan any day, where I can usually find most items on my shopping list, and I can say “hey” and catch up with half the people in the store. As for the other half of the people in the store, they will still smile and say hello – even if they don’t know you.
Driving again… oh my, where do I begin. Thankfully, my family lives on the Western Slope (side) of Colorado which is a much smaller, more rural area than the eastern side of the state where you have Ft. Collins, Denver, and Colorado Springs. BUT – getting anywhere means you drive. I drive one hour, one way to get to one of the jobs I am doing right now. Getting used to going more than 30 – 35 mph takes a bit of time – especially since I haven’t even had a car on my rock in 2 years. Speed limits on the highways are typically 55 – 65 mph with the interstate being 75 mph. While the taxi drivers in Roatan may disagree with me, the typical high speed on the island is about 35 mph. That’s usually the fastest you are ABLE to go between twists, turns, hills, vehicles stopped, dump trucks, or heavy equipment in front of you, construction, etc etc etc. I’m sure there are times when drivers here in Colorado pass me and are surprised to find someone in the driver’s seat under the age of 90. I’m working on getting my speed up, but dang – it just takes some getting used to! I am getting really good at actually going the speed limit after a week. Maybe next week I will try 3 – 4 miles over the speed limit…. Oooohweee! Aren’t I a daredevil!
Coming from 80 – 90°F degree temps and gorgeous humidity to a very cool, dry climate is hard on my system. There is not enough lotion. Anywhere. Period. My hands look like they belong to a 90 year old grandma (the one in the previous paragraph who’s doing the driving) – they are so dry and shriveled. White dry lines on your legs are beautiful… said no one ever. The nose running / dry feeling and cotton mouth is so pleasant. Said no one ever, again. I miss my heat and humidity. It is not snowing in Colorado right now (although they really do need the moisture) and so at least I am grateful that I don’t have to deal with that white crap. At the moment.
After all is said and done, living on the island for so long has taught me how to re-enter a little better than I used to. I have learned that I need to be grateful for what is GOOD versus dwelling on what I can’t have or don’t like. For example, in the real world, the internet is lightening fast, there is hot water with fabulous water pressure, and I don’t have worry about sweating through my shirt by 9am. Also – fair warning – the salt, pepper, and other powdered spices don’t clump due to humidity. Not a bad thing, so long as you remember that the salt pours freely!
All in all, I am learning that while I prefer my island home much more than the world up north, there are good things to be found in both places. And each one has its drawbacks as well – you just have to decide which option you prefer and are willing to put up with the negatives in light of the positives you prefer to deal with. I do miss my island home and island family, but I am grateful for the family and friends I am reconnecting with up north. Cold be dammed.