Anyone who has ever lived abroad or even been on an extended vacation knows that there are comforts from home that you just inexplicably miss when you are away. The list below is mostly made up of very trivial things that are not difficult to live without, but rather they are small things you would probably never realize you would miss, until you do. I would gladly give these things up all over again to have the experience I have had here in Colombia! That being said….here are some things I am looking forward to back home in the good old USA (where I will be in less than 2 months)!
Appliances. For two years my only option to cook was the stove and doing laundry involved buckets of water, a bar of soap, and a clothesline. I am most excited to use the toaster, washer/dryer, microwave, and oven. Garbage disposals are something I completely forgot existed until a friend pointed it out and suddenly I missed them a lot. No food can go down the drain here, and food scraps that sit around in bags in 100 degrees do not have the most pleasant of odors. Also, coffee makers. I have had enough instant coffee to last me a lifetime.
Hairstyles. After approximately 810 days of slicked back pony tails, I am pretty excited to get a haircut and then do something besides my current routine of wash it, sleep with it wet, and brush it into a pony tail as soon as I wake up. I have not used a blow dryer, curling iron, or straightener in two years and wearing my hair down without it being plastered to the sweat on my face will be a thrill.
Driving. The oven-like, mini-busses of death were fun for a while, but I really miss cars and driving. I am looking forward to knowing how long it will take me to get somewhere, not having to sit smashed against a sweaty stranger with my legs jammed against the seat in front of me, driving at a speed I feel is not endangering my life, not going deaf from honking horns and blaring vallenato music, and not being drenched in sweat by the time I reach my destination.
Showers. Hot showers, with a shower head, and I will not be sweating already by the time I get out. Also, while I will continue to try and conserve water, it is nice to know I will be able to take a shower longer than approximately 22 seconds without someone yelling from the other room (which has an open window into my bathroom) about wasting too much water 😛
Water. Here, since the water is not potable and/or there is no running water, that involves either filtering, boiling, or lugging home bags of water. I am looking forward to being surrounded at all times by an unlimited supply of cold, clear, safe drinking water; whether it be from a public drinking fountain, that wonderful gadget on the front of the fridge, or simply the kitchen sink. And I will never take it for granted again.
Food. I feel like this goes without saying. I’m sure you have all been on a vacation at some point. You know how when you get home you are all like, “Man, all that interesting and worldly food was awesome, but let’s hit up Chipotle pronto!” Now multiply that by 27 months. I have some pretty serious cravings for things I haven’t had in the last two years. Top of the list are: Chipotle, bagels, greek yogurt, Paradise Bakery, cottage cheese, berries, and asparagus. And yes, that is just the top of the list.
Air conditioning. I MIGHT have mentioned this at some point during my service, but the Caribbean coast of Colombia has a climate that I can only liken to the FACE OF THE SUN. To make matters worse, air conditioning is very rare. Most people do not have it in their homes, many restaurants and business choose to go without, and my school is a concrete walled/tin roofed/air conditioning-less oven. Arizona can certainly get warm in the summer, but air conditioning is everywhere, all the time, and I CAN’T WAIT. (Remind me I said this when I am curled up by the space heater under a blanket because I haven’t experienced winter in so long.)
People. Overall I am so happy to say that my service has been incredibly positive. That being said, I missed my friends and family so much I can hardly put it into words. I missed out on so many life events during these two years. My best friend got married, Heidi went up to doggy heaven, my parents celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary, my cousin gave birth to a beautiful baby boy, my grandpa passed away after 92 wonderful years of life, my best friend of 18 years moved away to start a new career, and my little sister turned 21 (then 22, and now almost 23!). I celebrated three birthdays and two holiday seasons away from home. In addition to the big events, I missed out on millions of little moments in the lives of those that I love. While I wish I could have been there for all of these things, I knew coming into this I was making a decision to sacrifice those moments for this experience, and I do not regret that decision. All of that said, the thing I am looking forward to the MOST is spending time with people that I love. Being away from my family has been hands down the hardest part of this experience. The saying ‘absence makes the heart grow fonder’ has never held so much meaning for me. I could not have done this without the overwhelming support of my family and friends and I am looking forward to being reunited with them more than anything else.
In case you missed it, be sure to check out Part I of this blog post where I share all the things I am going to miss about Colombia! For everything I am looking forward to at home, there is something I will miss dearly from my home away from home.
Until next time….paz y amor.