Day 800 - Civilian - Article 25

This article was published in the Ames Tribune on August 1, 2009.

Guest commentary: Here is where I want to be

We have been back in The States about five days now. We are resuming our life as we left it two years ago.

Well actually it is more like life ten years ago. Jeff is staying with his mom. I'm staying with my parents. It's just like when we were dating in high school. I have to ask to borrow the car and sneak in when I come in late so the dog doesn't bark.

People told me to expect culture shock. They told me hot showers, all white people, normal food and houses would seem strange. And they do.

Then there are little things like the sparkly rings on the stewardess' fingers. I don't think I have seen anybody wear diamonds or gemstones in a long time, well, real ones that is. One of the first things Jeff did was get our rings out of the bank deposit box. My real wedding band feels heavy and smooth compared to the sterling silver band I was wearing.

I am surprised every time hot water comes out of a faucet.

I also find I am still translating things in my head. Before ordering ice-cream I considered how to say "twist cone" in Spanish.

Flying into Iowa, I knew the straight roads and flat scenery would be home. However it was the winding rivers and the water towers that made me tear up.

Everyone seems extra friendly and I don't feel self conscious talking to strangers. I don't have to worry about them hitting on me, or not understanding what I am saying. And I am no longer trying to guess what they really want to know, and if a direct response will be offensive.

The whole world is attached to their cellphones. I constantly see people texting and calling. It's amazing. The other night I was sitting at the dinner table while my sister and brother texted and my mom called her sister.

I have visited several grocery stores and bought cheddar cheese at each one. There must be five or six blocks of cheddar in the fridge now. I didn't feel over whelmed at all the choices like people often say they do after living in developing countries. Panama City has a lot of American options and we weren't that deprived. Panamanian food isn't that good, so I don't really miss any food.

I went to farmers' market with my mom and sister. We bought fresh picked sweet corn and tomatoes. At Wheat's Field, the local organic co-op grocery, we found nectarines that were so juicy the only way to eat them is outside.

There is a bit of sticker shock. One of my blocks of cheese was $8.50 for a half pound. I am also astounded by the pre-prepared and individually packaged stuff. Don't people cook anymore? I made my mom save the bacon grease. What? It's good flavoring for the lentils.

I had to do a double take when I saw a dog on a leash and a cat in a window.

I am fascinated by the lawns and well kept flower gardens. July is one of the most colorful garden months, but just the same, wow. I can't wait to go see Iowa State's Reiman Gardens. I'm a little rusty on plant names, but it is coming back.

I miss my porch, I miss boiling water for coffee, I miss the sun going down at 6:30.

Here is nice. Here is where I want to be. I am ready to be home.


  1. Hi Foy and Jeff--
    Welcome home! I wish I could make it down to Ames to visit you guys--I want to hear all about your adventures!
    I'm glad to hear the re-entry is going well.

  2. Welcome Home! I'm ejoying your blog and awaiting the return of my son from Peace corps Panama.

    Trish Melchiors

  3. I miss your porch too! And I wish the sun would go down at 6:30, maybe then we could get some sleep in our un-air-conditioned house. By the time you visit, it should be nice and crisp again.