Part of the joy of living overseas is not only sharing our traditions with others, but also partaking in myriad cultural celebrations that are new to us.
Posts tagged ‘photography’
Two weeks can fly by in the blink of an eye, but sometimes this rapid passage of time can obscure huge changes. Junebug returned from Europe as the same smiling, cooing baby D remembered, but she clearly underwent a major developmental leap on her first extended trip, during which she marked the end of her fifth month.
Coming home from the airport, the kids in their car seats and the trunk stuffed to capacity with bags and travel car seats, it would not be immediately clear to the casual observer which one of us had just returned from a two-week vacation. S, coming off an all-day flight alone with two kids, did not project the picture-perfect image of relaxation. D, meanwhile, looked liked he had gotten some sun and leisure during his family’s absence.
Cambridge is where D began his brief visit to England and also where his trip ended. Because his friend is a postdoc at one of the thirty-one distinct colleges that comprise Cambridge University, D had a chance to peek behind the curtain and experience this venerable institution of higher learning as both a tourist and an insider.
Perhaps because England always seemed both familiar and easily accessible, D never really troubled to explore it. He had flown through Heathrow multiple times but only left the airport once – a short visit when S was pregnant with Munchkin and had to go to London for an antenatal screening. His visit this month was equally brief, but covered quite a bit more ground.
Our first Thanksgiving together very nearly caused some family strife. S’s parents had invited us to spend the extended weekend with them shortly after we had started dating – many months before the actual holiday – and when D’s mom got wind of the plan, she laid on a massive guilt trip, accusing D of sabotaging her favorite family holiday over “some girl he barely knew.” We wound up doing two Thanksgivings to mollify her, flying from Chicago to Connecticut and then driving to Maine, making sure to spend equal amounts of time with both families.
No matter how many trips one has taken or how long one has lived abroad, there is still something slightly surreal about stepping off an airplane in a country that feels completely different from the place one had departed earlier that same day. Sometimes it’s a foreign language, unfamiliar food, or a difference in culture that strikes one viscerally. At other times it’s something as simple as the weather. There was no surer sign than watching the frigid wind whisk away plumes of the passersby’s hot breath to confirm for D that he had left Rwanda’s placid clime far behind.
Despite being located in the same geographic neighborhood as Kenya, where we started our Foreign Service career, Rwanda strikes us as more dissimilar than it is alike its regional neighbors. In one respect, however, our experience in Kigali parallels the two years we spent in Nairobi almost exactly: being an expat in East Africa is a study in contrasts.