As we all know, the joys of being in a different country do not come without hardships, and sometimes just trying to get the simple things done can be the most frustrating part. Contributing blogger Jon Gedge writes about finding the light at the end of this inevitable tunnel.
Today I am going to get my haircut.
This seems like an easy task. I always like it cut the same way it’s growing, shorter, but not too short because then my hair stands up and I can’t brush it down, yet not too long where I’ll have to return to get it cut again in a few weeks. Normally it’s a quick errand you fit into your busy schedule of running around in this sometimes fast paced, crazy world.
But when you’re traveling, sometimes the simplest of tasks at home can seem like a mountain of an obstacle in another country.
Last night I was thinking of what to eat for dinner. The fridge was mostly empty, with just the typical easy foods, like sandwiches and some leftover pasta from a couple nights before. Yet I was tired of eating those same old foods when just outside my apartment the options for good traditional Chinese food are endless. Different shops lined up from street to street with bright lights inviting everyone to enter. Families packed into crowded corners of the restaurants, with owners scrambling to find extra seats, all of them bringing hungry appetites with happy faces, anticipating the tasty food they would soon acquire.
Yet there we were watching from a sad, dark distance, like two hungry helpless street dogs licking our lips, seeing young and old enjoying their savory dishes.
“Wow, that looks gooood,” Jay said.
Sadly, looking at the posted menu, we only saw Chinese characters that we didn‘t understand.
“We don’t know how to order here,” I said. “Let’s find a place with pictures.”
Pictures of food are our savior and the only means to eat a decent meal out, a picture of duck or chicken on top of rice, or a bowl of noodles with pieces of beef, simmered until the meat is soft. We have, in a sense, become picture hunters, hunting for restaurants that have photos that we can point to with our hands and nod in agreement to, with wide smiles.
To the Chinese restaurant workers, we probably sound like cavemen from a foreign land, our English words sounding like grunts, while we nod our heads because we want delicious “FOOOOD!”
Although a short time has past, we now have our favorite hunting grounds that we visit regularly. The restaurant workers now recognize us, and know what foods we enjoy. Little by little, life has become easier. Even though I am in a country different from what I am accustomed to, I feel the normality of life getting easier day by day.
Days don’t always seem like being in a battlefield, where I have to be on my toes. No longer am I scared of walking, or riding my bike on the busy street, with cars and motorbikes flying by me at arms length. I don’t bother caring about loud fireworks popping at random parts of the day. Sure, I can't speak Chinese, and I don’t know how to buy everything I want, but in reality I have been getting by just fine.
Now for my next battle: What do I say to my barber today?
And now we ask you: When living in another country, how do you deal with not being able to get seemingly everyday things? Or what hardships do you imagine you might face if you ever made such a move? Comment below and let us know!
Contributing Blogger: Jon Gedge
Jon grew up in Honolulu,
Hawaii, and has worked as
a community volunteer in
the cities of Altamira and
Puerto Escondido, Mexico
I'm JR. I come from a long line of adventurers, some were nomadic explorers of the sea and others wandering cultivators of the earth. Ultimately, this legacy of drifters has deeply affected my view of travel. Read more...