We’ve been living at 3,500+ meters (~ 11,500 feet) here in South America for over a month. Acclimatization has been on our minds a lot. (ie: “Why can’t I climb this three block stretch of stairs in Cusco without needing an inhaler? I should be acclimatized by now!”). But now we head back to the US for a few months visiting with friends and family and some major celebrations of anniversaries and weddings. I began thinking about reacclimatizing to US culture for the few months we’ll be back “home” before heading off again. (Europe, Southeast Asia, and New Zealand are next on the docket and we still plan to travel until March 2016). Here’s what we’ll need to prepare for.
DRIVING WILL BE BORING
I typically never get car sick. Fast-forward to South America where everyone drives like a lunatic, and I’m constantly car sick. Lanes and lines don’t matter. Pedestrians never have the right of way. Stop signs are mere suggestions. Horns are used gratuitously and for every purpose imaginable (“I’m passing you”, “You’re passing me”, “You cut me off!”, “Hi! I know you!”, “Need a taxi?”, “Get out the way!”). Even the public bus we took in Cusco recently didn’t necessarily stop as we exited, it just slowed down a little as we skipped and tumbled onto the sidewalk. We’ve spent a lot of time being driven down winding, mountain-side roads where it seems the drivers are gambling with all our lives. It will be really nice to see those boring, American drivers again (yes, even in Boston).
ICED COFFEE WILL NOT BE MADE WITH ICE CREAM
I cannot tell you how many conversations I’ve had that go like this (in Spanish):
Me: What is your iced coffee (café frìo) like? Can I have it with just coffee and ice? No ice cream, no cream, no sugar?
Waitstaff: Si, claro.
[iced coffee arrives in an elaborate frozen drink glass with multiple straws and layers of frothy cream, sugar, and ice cream.]
I am so excited to have plain iced coffee again. If I put cream and sugar in it, I will decide the amount, thank you very much. Ice cream will not be involved. (Though that’s not the worst idea ever). Often, I look for a little pick-me-up after we indulge in a good meal. What I get instead is a major sugar coma. True iced coffee, I have missed you!
N’SYNC WILL NO LONGER RULE THE RADIO
All the time. Never fails. No matter what country, we always find a restaurant or two that’s playing N’Sync. Also: Backstreet Boys. We have been reliving some major classics down here, friends. It will be sad to not hear these amazing junior high dance tracks as the background to our meals and drives anymore.
MEAT OPTIONS WILL BE FEWER
We’re excited to be coming back to the US for prime BBQ season. However: just burgers and dogs? Maybe some sausages? We’ll miss the alpaca, the llama, the lamb, the glands, the guinea pig. Ok, we won’t miss guinea pig (called cuy here in Peru) because it’s bony and unflavorful. But the rest we will miss!
WE WON’T HAVE TO CARRY OUR OWN ROLL OF TP
When I thought of things we’d need to buy on our journey, I didn’t expect toilet paper to be included. But it turns out, it’s not a given that any establishment has toilet paper even if they do indeed have a bathroom. In fact, most don’t. So we always carry a roll, whether we are camping or walking around the city center. I assume we won’t have to do this anymore when we’re in the US, but… better safe than sorry?