We’re Alive and Happy

I’m sitting in my parents kitchen right now in flannel pj pants and a wool sweater. It’s drizzling outside and there’s a very small, very, very small part of me that wishes it was warmer. The rest of me thinks going back to bed and sleeping until next week would be fun.

I’ll give you the nutshell version of the trip here. We left the base Tuesday just as work was finishing and Jean was driving fast because we were hoping to make two stops when we got into town before we went to our friends house for the night. We got 30 minutes down the road and after going over our packing activities in my head I realized I forgot to do the usual passport check. This is standard procedure before we travel. You try to cover your bases knowing it’s a two hour drive to town.

L: Chris, did you remember your passport?
C: No, I forgot my passport.
L: Okay, I was just asking! I didn’t want to nag…
C: No, I really forgot my passport.
L: Silence
C: No, I really DID forget my passport! Jean, nou bezwen retourne a la kay nou! M’ pa gen passport mwen!
At which point the truck gets turned around, we switch drivers, call Barb to meet us on the road with the passport, hit a bump, bend the frame on the truck and know we will in fact be going home, doing a truck switch and then starting all over again. Sigh.

The crazy thing about all of it was the fact that I didn’t believe Chris. I thought he was being sarcastic. I thought this because sometimes he’ll tell me things straight faced, I believe him, then he says “Actually, I just made that up.” I also have a tendency to be sarcastic myself. In hindsight it’s pretty funny that I didn’t even react.

With the turn around and vehicle switch we knew we weren’t going to make it to do our errands before everything closed so we just enjoyed the drive in and took Route Neuf to cut down some time. We got to the Martins house, got out of the truck and Jean and Chris looked at each other and said, “Okay, where’s the key to the lock box?” Turns out Jean put the key he had back in the house when we switched vehicles thinking that Chris had his master keys with him. Chris always leaves his master keys with whoever is looking after the house and thought Jean put the other set in his pocket. Oops. We got a hammer and bashed the lock open and all was good.

Yes, you’re probably shaking your head right now. For the record I would like to point out the fact that until I started traveling with Chris I never had problems. I can travel on my own and things are uneventful. If I travel with him, even if it’s only for part of the trip, things happen. I think he’s jinxed and I get it by association.

Wednesdays travels were fine. We left on time, arrived early at every stop, customs was a breeze and all of our bags arrived. We spent Thursday with our friends in Seattle so Chris and Joel could get the van running. When we arrived the motor and transmission were sitting in the driveway. By 1 pm Thursday it was all in and the van started on the first try. The drive up to Canada on Friday left Chris with an ear to ear grin. It was fun to see him so happy with the van.

Yesterday my friend Renee got married in Vernon. We had fun visiting with friends. Hugs from people you love feel so much better when you have to anticipate them for a long time. I hadn’t seen some of these people in over a year. Some it was longer. So fun! The wedding was beautiful and fun.

We’ll be hanging out with Mom and Dad until tomorrow morning when we hit the road to go camping. Groceries have been bought so it’s just a matter of loading the cooler. Can’t wait. I seem to have contracted a cold. I think it’s from being so over tired over the last few weeks. My dad calls it ‘meltdown’. I’m looking forward to getting where we can’t be in touch with anyone and have no schedule. I want to nap and read and sit by a campfire. Yay!

It’s funny coming back into the land of your birth after living abroad. I’ve been thinking about this stuff over the last few days. There are definitely things that I’m noticing now that I haven’t really paid much attention to in the past. People watching in airports is interesting. I really noticed this time around the differences between American women and women from other parts of the world – mostly in the way that many (at least a lot of the ones I saw in the airport) American women try too hard to be beautiful. There’s so much pressure to be thin and covered in makeup. There’s a different idea about beauty in a lot of other countries. It seems like women from other cultures are more comfortable in their skin. That’s one thing I like about Haiti – I feel beautiful when I’m gross and sweaty and have a grey streak of hair and no make up on my face.

When we got to LA we were switching terminals and as we waited at the cross walk Chris said, “Wow! All the cars are so new, and clean and not banged up.” I noticed that there was usually only one person in a giant SUV. In Haiti, a giant SUV would hold 25 people!

I realized that I’m also struggling with the idea of being an EXPAT. I would hear people refer to us as that and it would always make me cringe, for some reason. I don’t really know why. Traveling reinforces the fact that I don’t really know where I’m from, where we’re from. Chris has two passports – his Mom is American, his Dad is British and he was born in Canada. He’s a dualy. He lived in Canada until he was 15, then his family moved to the US, then he moved to Haiti 5 years ago. I was born and raised in the same community. I am Canadian through and through. When we got to the Canadian border on Friday we had to hand over my Canadian passport, Chris’ US (so he wouldn’t get in trouble or have to pay duty for taking a US registered vehicle over the border) passport. When the border guard asked us where we live there was a pause, then “Haiti…” I realized that one of the hardest things for me to tell people now is where I live. For a long time I told people I was working in Haiti. Now I feel like that’s becoming home. But Canada will always be home too. I can’t separate myself from that. My family still lives in the same house that I grew up in. Chris calls himself Canadian, but the US is also home for him. It can get confusing, but I’m realizing that maybe we’ll just be one of those families that makes home all over the place. We will however, always have to get our story straight and remember where we are and tell the important people the least confusing story of our lives :)

Those are just a few thoughts running through my head. I know there’s a lot more floating around in my head but nothing that’s worth writing about yet. I do know that it feels good to be home (this version of it) and with family and friends. It’s kind of like we haven’t left, but it’s been 7 months since I’ve sat here and done things that are oh so familiar to me. I’m catching up on all things family and am loving it. My family will be joining us for 5 days of camping for the September long weekend which we’re looking forward to. Should be fun.

Okay, that’s the update :) As of now the blog is going into hibernation for about two weeks. I hope the back to school and last bits of summer treat everyone well. Take care!

~Leslie

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This entry was posted in this is life, travels and adventures by Leslie. Bookmark the permalink.

About Leslie

I'm Leslie. Wife. Mother. Missionary. In the day to day my husband and I are responsible for running Clean Water for Haiti, a humanitarian mission that builds and distributes water filters to Haitian families. Living in Haiti full time provides lots of stories, and as I tell my husband, our grandkids probably won't believe most of them. Maybe writing them down will give me some credibility.

3 thoughts on “We’re Alive and Happy

  1. Glad to hear you guys made it to your parents’ place safely! Enjoy your time alone and enjoy the great outdoors!! And have a fabulous time with your family over the long weekend! Can’t wait to hear more from you when you get back!

  2. Actually, to my ear, EXPAT sounds exotic, someone steeped in other cultures, someone whose sense of dress has matured beyond style into a timelessness. EXPAT has the ring of an author and the authority of hard won knowledge. It rings of someone with endlessly fascinating stories and even more fascinating friends. Especially the fascinating friends. Enjoy my friend, you two have a good R&R. Barb J

  3. I miss you, and i can’t figure out if you’re closer or farther from me now. Too lazy to look at a map to check, but the point is, Thanks for all the work you do, and all you write about it. I hope you are having a great time camping.

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