Saturday, August 6, 2011

Sometimes it's hard

I am new to Ecuador and Cuenca. 12 weeks ago, my husband and I elected to move here.  I'm a guest in this country. I have great intentions to maintain a good attitude about honoring the Ecuadorian people and learning the ways of a new culture. I do NOT want to be "an ugly American",  pushing my values on another culture, expecting a little American community to be set up in a 3rd world country to cater to ME.  I really want to be the non-complaining ex-pat in a new country... but I will note that at times it is harder than I'd imagined.

So I don't mean to complain. My intentions are good.  Things crop up that are frustrating no matter where one lives. Of course they do.  There are so many positive things here in Cuenca - the delicious exotic fruits and some wonderful vibrant organic vegetables.  Beef and chicken that are grass fed, hormone free, not raised in inhumane and unclean conditions.  Accessible health care that is inexpensive. Dramatically less conspicious consumption.  Content children who rarely seem to whine and scream. Friendly native Cuencanos who greet us warmly and welcome us to their beautiful country.

I can go on and on with positives and I've only been here 3 months!

So what's up?  I'm a little down and homesick.  I miss my kids. My grandchildren are going to be growing up without seeing me often. My plan to fly to the states every 6 months to see my 93 yr old parents and the rest of my family and friends is on hold for now because we do not have our residency papers.  We do not have our residency papers because the minister of immigration is in jail for fraudulent immigration practices and the new minister has not been appointed yet.  Oh, and the government talk is of changing the whole process and doing immigration differently.  No one has a time line. No one knows just what is happening.  A lot of people,"ex-pats" like us, are waiting "in line" for the same thing we need.

What else is bothering me. I miss friends with whom I've developed connections over years, I miss my quilting buddy/friend Cindy who postponed lots of things to spend time together.  I miss wandering aisles of gorgeous, varied cotton quilting fabrics and I miss my favorite patient, kind, funny quilt teacher.

I miss picking out milk that is in the cold case rather than sitting on a regular shelf in a plastic bag (I'm afraid to even try it!). I miss smelling the luxurious scent of a pink rose in my garden.  I miss the occasional Starbucks cupa.

I miss Target, for God's sake. Oh, the convenience of having many different items under one roof at fairly good prices, where I know what brands I like from years of experience.

I miss the warm weight of a child sitting on my lap, the soft cheek against mine.  I miss the bedtime routine of reading a story to bright little faces while their breath slows and their muscles still, preparing for sleep.

So what do I need to do?  Well, I just need to buck up when these waves of home-sickness wash over me. Of course I miss familiar things. When a person spends over 50 years immersed in a culture, it is a BIG change to learn a new one.

What else?  I need to double up on the efforts to learn Espanol and learn faster.  I need to practice the words I know by speaking to people every day... rather than doing that deer in the headlights thing.

I need to walk by the river every morning and soak up that positive energy.

I need to recenter my self.
I need to recommit to being adventurous and brave and upbeat in this new life adventure.
I need to ask my dear husband, who is being so incredibly adventurous and adapting so quickly, to give me more hugs.
I need to take a trip on Monday going out alone to deal with the new culture by shopping for a few spices and a couple of other items I need.  Blundering through with my herky jerky Spanish will give me confidence.

And maybe I need to loosen up and buy one of those ghastly expensive grain mills so that I can more easily live gluten free here, grinding the grains I need to more easily avoid wheat and prepare foods I enjoy and can eat safely.

So this is "Buck Up Sharon" signing off. 
Tomorrow is a new day waiting to unfold with new adventures.


  1. The ultra pasteurized milk is fine. It keeps safely on the shelf, but spoils rather quickly after it is opened if it is not kept cold.

  2. Ah yes, I have read that. But how does it TASTE? And is there anything of value in the milk after such hyper-ultra-pasteurization?

  3. Your post reminded me of my first assignment out of the country. Leaving family and friends was the toughest. But now there is Skype! What a blessing this is.
    For little hugs you might try volunteering at one of the orphanages in the area. I know, it's not the same as a grandchild's hug.
    I drank "boxed" milk in Brazil and the taste was very like milk we had in the US. It's a tough idea to adjust to, but the calcium is still all there.
    We really look forward to coming to Cuenca later this year, but I'm sure I will have some of your pangs too!

  4. Does anyone know how to go about buying "raw" fresh milk as it is the only kind I can drink..?

  5. I think the milk tastes fine, especially in hot chocolate. I usually buy the "light" version of the milk because I am used to skim milk. I also keep a carton of the Entera (or whole) milk in case I need to cook the milk in something (like pudding). I had to do the same thing in the States. I could not cook skim milk there. Hope that helps. Sue

  6. Sharon, I think it tastes just fine.. We were drinking soy milk before we left the states, so I feel so decadent buying whole milk..I know, you can buy light, but hey I dont drink or use it that much! Hope in Bucky... you will find you will do better than you anticipate!

  7. Oh I understand about Target! lol, I thought you'd find it silly for me to say that, but i totally do get it! For me it might be trader joes even more though ;o)
    I think you very much should buy the grain grinder thing, or a vita mix if that does it, because it should do other things too?
    I wish i could give you a great big hug right now! i miss having you near by, but i'm thankful for the beautiful thing called the internet and skype, it was almost like you were right in my chaotic house last week wasn't it! lol ;o)
    I think the milk must be like the boxed almond milk here maybe? I remember in Honduras i couldn't stand the milk (it was in a plaxtic bag too) because it was all whole milk and i really hated whole milk. But i like the idea of adding chocolate to it! chocolate can almost save anything!