Sunday, August 8, 2010

First Impressions about the US after being gone for a year (Debby)

Now that we have been back in Seattle for 9 days, I want to reflect on some of my first impressions upon returning to the US after being gone for an entire year.

We took 3 planes home from Quito and on each leg of the trip, I noticed that the passengers were whiter and whiter and that suddenly I blended in with everyone. Our first flight from Quito to Miami was 80% Ecuadorian which seemed normal. Miami to Chicago was less diverse but still had some blend of colors. The shocker was going from Chicago to Seattle and seeing virtually all white people.

Our first impression when we arrived in Miami was how abrupt, rushed and non cordial people seemed. Granted we were in an airport and dealing with disgruntled TSA folks but still! No one greets anyone with"Good Morning, Sir" or even says hello. Vendors, in particular, just want to get down to business. After a couple of interactions with sales people, Nikki turns to me and says "Why is everyone here so rude?" I told her that it is called "efficiency" :) We have really gotten accustomed to the constant courtesy and sincerity of the Ecuadorian people. The pace of life is slower and people always have time to say hello, ask about the family, and chat. I already miss the daily salutations and kissing on the cheek that happens about 10 times a day there.

Everything seemed so clean, orderly, and non chaotic to us, from the bathrooms to the streets to the schedules.

Back in Seattle, we were amazed that cars stopped for us as pedestrians at crosswalks, people gave us the right of way on our bikes and there were actually street signs and traffic lights!!

When we walked into our house we were amazed at how beautiful and big it seemed. We also were amazed at how much stuff we have (even after doing some serious cleansing before we left). When we unpacked our boxes in storage, we all ended up giving about a quarter of our clothes and personal belongings away. We have learned to live really simply and don't want to clutter our lives with more stuff.

We were psyched to throw our toilet paper in the toilet bowl and turn on a sink faucet and feel HOT WATER!!

Everything is incredibly expensive. In Miami the girls asked for 2 packs of gum for the next plane ride and it cost me $6 (3 good full course meals in Cuenca!).

Our local QFC (grocery store) in Wallingford had received a facelift and I was totally overwhelmed shopping there. Such incredible variety and too many choices for me!

The best part about coming back to Seattle was seeing all of our friends. We got home at 1 am on a Thursday, barely unpacked and the very next day we went to a 4 day party at our friends' cabin on Lake Chelan with a group of 38 people and it was the best homecoming we could imagine. We timed our return perfectly- summer was just beginning mid July and every day we have woken up to 75 degrees and sun. Our transition has been extra sweet since neither of us has to work for another 6 weeks (me) and 3 weeks (Don).

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