Monday, December 5, 2011

November: Prep Month

November was prep month; meaning I spent hours writing lists, organizing cupboards and closets, packing, washing curtains, mending clothes, cleaning fans, wiping down dusty suitcases and studying re-entry books.

With the whole month of December packed full of visits from friends, November was it.

Jason teased me that I was going overboard with nesting due to pregnancy hormones, but I firmly believe that in order to experience a positive cross-cultural transition some special planning was in order. Especially considering that others would be living in our home while we were away.

Although it’s one thing to physically prepare for a cross-cultural move, there are definite mental and emotional things to consider as well. What’s it like transitioning between two countries and cultures that have so little in common? Two books that have graced my nightstand this past month were ‘Re-Entry' and the 'Art of Coming Home’.

Some of the challenges the books covered were these:

Climate changes. Temperatures in Port au Prince rarely dip under 20 degrees Celsius over the winter months. During the afternoons it’s still easily in the low 30’s. Over the last three years our bodies have adapted. 35 degrees is no longer hot, and 20 degrees means we pull out our sweaters and extra blankets.

Going from that to Chilliwack, where temperatures have stubbornly hovered around 0 degrees will be a shock to our systems!

Traffic in Port au Prince is crazy. Every time I drive I feel like I’m in some bizarre video game twisting the wheel this way and that to avoid potholes, animals, pedestrians, dump trucks, rocks and garbage. The only difference is, is that its real life and doesn’t come with a ‘redo’ or ‘try again’ button. After three years though, it’s my new normal. I actually enjoy the challenge and feel like I’ve learned some impressive defensive driving tactics. Also, my average speed is 15km/h, with 30km/h being my maximum. Going from that to driving on highways with 100 km/h speed limits is mind boggling.

Shopping in Haiti is all about bartering and building relationships. During the process there is a lot of talking, joking, and touching involved. When you finally agree on a price many vendors pull change out of various undergarments. Going from that to electronic self checkouts seems crazy.

I buy my fruits and vegetables in outdoor markets. Most of the food is on the ground, dusty and dirty. I bleach everything I buy for 20 minutes before considering it safe to eat. Now go to your local Safeway and see the magnificent display of brightly polished shining fruits and vegetables. Don’t be surprised if you’ll find me there just looking at it all in awe one morning.

Physical changes. The last time my friends and family saw me was when I was 12 weeks pregnant and hardly showing. Since then my baby bump has grown rapidly and most days I feel more elephant than human. Throw in clumsiness, forgetfulness and fatigue and I’m certain I’m up for an interesting cross-cultural transition!

Not to forget the lack of exotic pets in Canada.

What are we going to do without frogs on our couch, my pet gecko in the kitchen, cockroaches snacking on our lasagne and tarantulas skittering across the floor?


  1. Wishing you all the best as you make these look great, by the way! -Cath

  2. great post :) looks like you are preparing well! enjoy the transition

  3. Dear, you DO have a lot to think about! Never really thought of that. Wishing you a safe journey, God be with you as you travel. Looking forward to having you back!

    PS; "clumsiness, forgetfulness" is not only a 'pregnancy disease' I'm starting to thing it's 'normal' for me, and I could probably add a few things to that list! (Don't like it very much though!)

    Love ya, Jenny

  4. What a great way to present those contrasts.

  5. Good luck transitioning to your belly. Martha

  6. I don't know, Will. I think I could do without the tarantulas.:)

    May God carefully carry you all here and give you emotional strength for the differences and physical strength for the exhaustion that comes with carrying a precious little one.
    Leanne Overduin