Yin and Yang

July 22, 2008

Erica and Owen on Lake Whatcom

I knew that ten months separation from the US meant there would be some culture shock for me during my trip North. A few observations:

Driving was almost boring. I clicked away at the XM Radio in my rental and waited and waited for people to wake up and drive! Merging is a little practiced art in Washington. People don’t just GO when it’s their turn. Turn signals were blinking everywhere I looked.

The car culture was a bit of a shock, too. I am used to walking a lot…just to live my normal life. In the US people seem to go for walks, not just walk. Big parking lots, ample parking, and SO MANY new cars seem unusual to me now. I’d sort of forgotten about how much drive through fast food there is.

I was in my element shopping, though. I have struggled here in Mazatlán to find the kind of clothes I want, and have had a hard time figuring out my size. Clothes are expensive here, too. So I had fun going to stores like Macy’s where I knew my size and knew the sale racks would be behind the other merchandise. The end of season sales really helped me out and I got lots of loose shirts and dresses – among other things.

Pay phones are hard to find anymore. The only place I saw them was at the rest area or a convenience store.

Comics…the newspapers have comics! And the Sunday paper has ads for everything you could possibly want (but probably don’t need.)

People speak English. Obvious, I know. But I am so used to translating menus and thinking ahead about what I will say I felt kind of lazy.

Headphones are on nearly every head. Not just kids. Not just little white earbuds…but every kind of large and small headphone you can imagine. The spectrum of what they are listening to is probably as varied as the types of headphones. NPR? Music? Books? Podcasts? Is it just the fad or are they saying “don’t bother me?”

Credit, everywhere. Pretty much every store I went to offered me a discount if I would apply for their credit card. And when I said I lived out of the country, they thought I meant Canada!

Some things cost a lot. Restaurant food. A glass of wine. Parking downtown. Gas (around $4.40/gal) A cup of coffee.

Some things are less expensive. Clothing. English books. Hair clips. A set of outdoor furniture at Fred Meyer with 6 chairs, a table, cushions, and an umbrella for under $250. In Mazatlan it would be at least $1,200 dollars!

What did I bring back? Different things than I thought I would. Books, Clothing, Seeds, Tea, Casement window hardware, French door hardware, Yarn, Aloe Vera, Vitamins, Last season’s Dog Whisperer on DVD, Dog toys, and Dog tags with our Maz information.

What didn’t I buy? Peanut butter. (too heavy) Frontline Plus for the dogs (no time to go to a different pet store) A WII Fit (decided it was too frivolous)

What had I forgotten? That it is stunningly beautiful there in the summer. There were lovely sunsets, sunny days in the 70’s, and nice cool nights perfect for sleeping.

It was a great week, but I am glad to be home!

Share and Enjoy !

More about Nancy

I'm Nancy, a US expat living in San Antonio Tlayacapan, Jalisco after 11 years in Mazatlán, México.

    1. Very interesting. I’m heading back to the States for 3 weeks in August after a 2 year break. I hadn’t thought about culture shock. This should be interesting!

    1. Your list sounds pretty much like how I felt when we went to Tucson. The “everyone speaks english” thing is so weird. I too, am so used to thinking about what I am going to say before going to do things and also you can understand what everyone is saying without doing any work.
      The variety of stuff in the grocery store boggled my mind also. So many different brands and types of one thing.
      I found it almost overwhelming.

    1. I had no idea what outdoor furniture cost in the US but I have been pricing it here – that set at Fred Myers had my jaw dropping!

      Every year when we would return to the US the first thing I would notice was that I couldn’t avoid eavesdropping on conversations around me. I can tune out Spanish easily but English comes in whether I want it to or not.

      Sounds like you had a wonderful trip, just long enough and not too long.

    1. Glad you’re home safe and sound and that you had a good trip!

      I grew up in northern Ontario where the french speaking population is bigger than the English speaking population. Now that I’ve been in southern Ontario for about 15 yrs, I find it funny to hear french being spoken because there is such a small french speaking population here!

    1. We’re glad to hear that you’re back! But sad to hear no peanut butter…

      Welcome home!

Comments are closed.