Return Impressions

We’ve been back in the USA for two weeks. In some ways it still seems surreal, as if we’ll wake up and it’ll be a weird dream. When we were learning French while living in France and learning our new environment in Cameroon, we made many blunders. Well the same thing happens even in our passport country.

In my jet lag state, I purchased a small bowl with the sole purpose in mind as an egg cracking bowl. In Cameroon we had to break our eggs in a small bowl to verify it wasn’t rotten before we added it to a mixture or fry it. I made a mental note when we arrived at our duplex where the candles were in case the power goes out.

We couldn’t stop laughing as we saw the Original Squatty Potty. What!?! Original to who? In Cameroon the majority of homes don’t have indoor plumbing, they have a squatty potty place where it’s a hole in the ground and you squat over it. Many public toilets in Cameroon are also squatty potties, some you can flush and some you can’t.


Wal-Mart, Target, IKEA, Price Chopper – all of these stores are overwhelming. It’s not the size that’s overwhelming to us, it’s all the choices and you can literally buy anything. There are so many choices and we find it mentally exhausting to make so many decisions about things that don’t seem that important to us. We were at a store and the sales associate came up and told us if we don’t find our size or a shelf is empty to just ask and they probably have it in stock in the back of the store – just hearing that made my head spin. We are used to having one or two choices tops. We find Aldi quite comforting and love that they only have one of each product. We’ve always been avid Aldi customers while living in the USA and were happy it’s still going strong.

We have yet to hear, “C’est fini” at a store or restaurant. In Cameroon it’s common to be at a restaurant and you choose something from the menu only to be told, “C’est fini,” which means it’s finished, it’s not an option, you can’t order it because they don’t have it. The same is true in stores. You can ask about a product and you’ll get the same response.

Public bathrooms are awesome! Not only are there like a zillion bathrooms everywhere, but these bathrooms have toilets – not just a hole in the floor, they have toilet paper, even if they aren’t the cleanest for US standards – they are super clean compared to a Cameroon public toilet, the doors close and lock, there is soap and running water to wash your hands, there is either a working hand dryer or paper towels to dry your hands. I’ve been visiting almost all the restrooms in the places we go because I can and they don’t gross me out.

I can eat fresh, raw produce at a restaurant again! We couldn’t do that in Cameroon because we needed to soak all our produce in a bleach solution and then rinse it before it’s safe to eat and restaurants there didn’t do this treatment. We can have ice cubes in our drinks when at a restaurant. We couldn’t do that in Cameroon because the ice cubes would have to be made with filtered water, not the dirty tap water or otherwise amoeba and/or giardia would come visit our intestines.

I can turn on the tap, fill my glass and drink it. I can brush my teeth using the tap water. We can take a shower anytime of the day and have full water pressure and hot water. I can start and finish a load of laundry in an hour!

I haven’t fully grasped mentally that we aren’t needing to pack to go overseas.  Mentally I’m in stock up mode where if I find a good fitting sturdy sandal I think I should buy three pairs so it’ll last me the next four years.  I’m also finding myself wanting to eat out a lot because in my head I have a short period of time to enjoy the restaurants before leaving.  I’m just not mentally shifted over yet and have to consciously tell myself that I don’t need to stock up or there will be time to eat at such and such restaurant in the future.

We are settling into our new place and would be happy to share our address and/or phone numbers with you.  If you don’t have our address and/or phone numbers and would like them, please let us know and we’ll get them to you.

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8 Responses to Return Impressions

  1. Pop-pop says:

    Welcome home. Enjoy the choices! Can’t wait to see you all!

  2. George Bruneau says:

    Sounds like normal and exhausting reverse cultural shock is in progress!

  3. Jill says:

    The little things we take for granted!

  4. Lori L. Dugan says:

    Welcome home!!! Pace yourself with all the choices. Looking forward to seeing you.

  5. Barbara says:

    So many things for which to be thankful. So glad you are ” home”.
    On a sillier note…you will also have the challenge of finding the right bras amid that plethora of offerings. LOL
    The good news is that you won’t have to worry about ants eating your clothing 😉

  6. Linda & Walt Graham says:

    Glad you are back and looking forward to seeing you when you get to PA

  7. MawMaw says:

    It’s a neat thing for you to share the many types of things that bring joy to your days being back home. Glad to have the four of you in person within arms reach for hugs, to see up close and to walk alongside. Love you all.

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