Thursday, September 4, 2008

Patagonia on my mind

It's been a long dry spell in Joy's blog world. If you don't know by now (as most friends and family do) we have left Patagonia. We now live in Fort Collins, Colorado, 30 miles away from Greeley, where Luis started back in as a programmer, this time with Colorado State Univ./the National Park System. Lucas and Maite attend a Preschool parent Co-op, and I am a stay-at-home mom, for now.

Here are a few of the changes in our lives:

  • English! Everybody speaks it! My grammar is perfect! I have no accent!! The other three members of the family aren't quite as thrilled. Despite his initial complaint that he couldn't understand anyone, Lucas is doing a good job of remembering English. And Maite is a fast learner, especially quick with phrases like "can I have some candy please?"
  • No more Daddy. He's around a lot less these days. Working 8 hours a day really puts a crimp in his style.
  • No more camping on a Wednesday. As I mentioned above, gainful employment has its pitfalls.
  • We have to clean our own house! Goodbye domestic help. Guess who is scrubbing the floors these days?
  • Huge supermarkets! I am overwhelmed by products and choices! Does this stuff truly improve the quality of my life?
  • Bikers on established bike paths! Fort Collins is a bike crazy city, with loads of established bike trails. Lots of parents pulling their children in little trailers behind their bikes, all with helmets. Gone are the days of balancing various children on the handlebars as they weave through traffic.
  • Orderly traffic. Sigh. Boy I've missed that this past year.
  • Retail, retail, retail. This ciaty is ultra jam packed with Lowes, REI, Super Target, Sports Authority, Old Navy, Michaels, Walmart, Kmart, etc., . . . . . the list goes on an on. Nothing new for Americans, but when you see it all with fresh eyes after a year away . . . . just plain wow. For the record, the first place I always head to when I need something is Goodwill. I love a good castoff. People want to know how we saved enough money in two years to spend a year abroad not working. Here's the secret: Goodwill. God bless 'em.
  • Giant vehicles. Yeegads the trucks are big here. I wince to think of filling the tanks on those SUVs.
  • Blonde, blue eyed children abound. Lucas and Maite no longer stand out on that account. Now they stand out because we speak Spanish in public.
  • The size of the houses, the yards, the amout of stuff. If you've ever been inside a house in a foreign country, you will be struck by how much smaller the homes are, (unless your hosts are particularly well off) and how much less stuff people have.
  • No more spontaneous late night meals with friends on weekdays. Not surprisingly, our lives have become more structured these days.
  • Clean, tidy public spaces. The public parks here in Fort Collins are spacious, gorgeous, and, from I've seen so far, well used. Lots of wide open fields for sports. I've traveled enough to know that huge green parks are very particular to the U.S. It's one of my favorite features of my country.
  • And, the number one biggest change is: no more grandparents, uncles and aunts nearby. Now it's just the four of us, on our own, like most other Americans. Unless I can succeed in convincing my parents to move to Fort Collins, that is.
And, of course, I no longer have such an interesting country to blog about. But, I promise, if anymore exciting blog material finds it's way to my finger tips, I will surely let you know!