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The Miseducation of The Vivs

Written on: Saturday August 29th, 2009

A journal entry from: El Salvador

The flights were kind of a blur. Mostly I spent them wishing Yenny was there to sing spanish lullabies and practice conversational french with me and trying not to get lost in the Houston Geo Bush TX (IAH) Airport. Also, waking myself up every time my sleep-deprived head began to roll over onto the guy-next-to-me's shoulder to prevent myself from trying to cuddle with him. Believe me, I was tempted. I woke up in a haze at 4am and took my last shower with our broken shower head and cold, cold water. Antonio (the best taxi driver in El Salvador. Or ever.) showed up 15 minutes early to pick me up which led to me nearly throwing out my back trying to lug my 63lb suitcase (more on this in a minute) down the stairs at record speed. I left a disaster in my bedroom. Sorry guys. Goodbyes and I love yous were said and with that I left our beloved house.

The drive to the airport was quiet and uneventful. Antonio gave me a hug upon dropping me off and admittedly, I got a little teary eyed. I advanced towards the entrance and a staff member with a giant scale told me to place (place is too gentle a word) my luggage on the scale. 63lbs. Too heavy, he says and I ask him if there's a fee I can pay, somebody I can beg. He is not amused. AWESOME. This leads to 20 minutes spent opening my suitcase (which was bursting at the seams and had to be wrestled with the previous night in order to be zipped) in the middle of the sidewalk and rummaging through to find the heaviest items (shoes and books! I need to refrain from attempting to transport half a library everywhere I go), to be carried on my frail back for the next FAR TOO MANY hours. I already had a backpack and a purse, and now a 13lb sack filled with footware and books. This is why I have a backache.  

My mom was an hour late to pick me up from the airport. Actually, she wasn't late at all and it was entirely my fault. She was waiting in her car. I was supposed to call her but I didn't have any quarters. What I did have was a 50lb suitcase, a 13lb sack, a backpack and a purse. This, in my delirious state, was far too much luggage to haul ass and get change. I know, there's no reasoning with me. The point is, I had a long day yesterday.

So. Reverse culture shock. I am currently re-training myself to instinctively throw toilet paper in the toilet instead of the garbage can. I took a hot shower yesterday and it was glorious...I am not ashamed to say that I spent a bit over an hour in there. I remembered what it's like not to dread the shower! To enjoy personal hygene! Not to feel the urge to run away screaming at the sound of running water! I even shaved my legs! (ice cold water is not conducive to shaving). Don't worry, this morning I took another glorious shower but this time it was (almost) reasonably lengthed. The novelty will soon wear off.

I went out for a bit today and I was still in Say Hello To Everyone You Pass On The Street mode, or At Least Smile. The former has worn off very quickly (ah, rejection) but I think I'll hold on to the latter. Hearing people in the street speak English feels a little funny. Today I nearly asked a sales clerk a question in Spanish.

The more profound parts of the culture shock and transition related thoughts/feelings I will keep to myself for now. I have a lot to think about, to evaluate, re-evaluate. I am not the mess I thought I might be upon arrival. I am motivated and my contentment, happiness, and self-appreciation have carried over. This is important to me. I have been thinking a lot about values, needs, next steps, relationships, letting go in various contexts, on various levels. I've been taking time to readjust, transitioning slowly, trying to be patient with myself and those around me. I'm happy, I'm okay. Tonight I am going to watch Forgetting Sarah Marshall in bed. Paul Rudd is so dreamy. 

PS Last night, during my intensive grooming session I found some sand in my ears. I know, it's disgusting but it made me smile.


From alice on Aug 31st, 2009

god I hope that I'll have sand in my ears when I get home lol.

From Aryn on Sep 2nd, 2009

i still have sand in my hair... but thats because i've refused to shower since coming home... i've lost a few friends.

From Heather on Oct 30th, 2009

I just finally read your blog, and it's fabulous. I love you and miss you! Keep me posted on the reunion :)