About 2 weeks ago, my family and I traveled nearly 8,000 miles to the USA to see my relatives. As many of you already know, I am an American expat, who moved to the Philippines 11 years ago. Since living in the Philippines I have created a wonderful family & lifestyle with the woman I married. But what I want to share with you today are the Things I Noticed when I Returned to America.
As we were getting our luggage, I kissed my wife - ZAP! We got a static shock. We never experience static shock in the Philippines. So before every kiss, we made sure we touched hands before engaging in any lip locks.
In the airport, the malls, the homes - everywhere we go, we are walking on wall-to-wall carpeting. In the Philippines, we have tiled floors. Either clay, marble or some other exotic stone. But in the USA, we noticed lots of carpeting. What I like about the carpeting is that it dampens sound and prevents echoes. Carpet also feels nice underfoot, but this is only if you are not wearing socks (I never wear socks with my sandals in the Philippines).
3. Ring-Ring! Ring-Ring!
As soon as we picked up our bags from the luggage carousel, my cell phone began ringing. I answered and we greeted by a telemarketer telling me that I have been pre-approved for an equity line of credit. Really? In the Philippines, I don't ever recall getting an unsolicited call from a telemarketer.
4. Car Rental Service
Before leaving the airport, we stopped by a car rental agency and picked up our rental car. In the Philippines I have never seen or experienced a personal rental car. Yes, you can hire a car with a driver, but you cannot rent your own car. But in the Philippines, you can rent a moped or motorcycle. On our island people use Tablas Scooters.
5. How do I Start this Car?
Keyless cars. After we loaded into the car, I picked up the key fob on the car's dashboard. 'Where's the key?' I asked the rental agent. As he's walking away he shouts over his shoulder, 'It's keyless. Just get in and push the button and it will start. Easy-peasy.' Easy-peasy my behind. I'm pushing the button and nothing is happening. I put on my seat belt. I push the button - Nothing. I say, 'Start' while I push the button - Nothing. I step on the brake, push the button, 'eureka!' it starts. I put the car in gear and begin to drive. 'Play some music Daddy!' Oh know. How do I turn on the radio?
6. Driving in the City is Not Stressful - Organized Roadways & Hi-Ways
People aren’t cutting me off all the time or running red lights. The roads are big. Signage is often clear and well in advance of where you need to turn. I was so glad to experience a city with organized roads, hi-ways and people who understood the rules for driving. In the Philippines it is extremely evident that the roads are congested, the hi-ways are undersized, and that most people have no idea what the rules are for driving. (Yes, people have driver's license, but this is another story).
7. Monster Trucks
Wow, pickup trucks in the USA are HUGE! I didn't know that personal trucks were made this big. Some of these are so high and wide, I'm sure they could haul a tank.
8. Cheese & Sauce (or is it Cheesy Sauce?) on Everything
Before visiting my family, we stopped to get something to eat. Looking through the menu we noticed that everything is covered with cheese, lots of sauce, or both. Maybe this is why my wife and daughter were telling me that everyone in the USA looks 'BIG' (I guess they were inferring girth not height). Fortunately, the waitress was able to put the cheese and the salty sauce on the side of our massive meals.
9. FREE REFILLS
Free Refills on all of our drinks: coffee, water, iced tea, soft drinks (and I'm sure they would provide free refills on cheese and sauce too). I guess people need to drink a lot to compensate for all the salt in the sauces.
10. Decaf Coffee
I think this is a good idea for the USA. Everyone we encountered in the USA looks stressed and in a rush. I guess the decaf coffee is one way to counter the stress. At home we use massive doses of Vitamin Sea to counter the effects of stress. You know, I don't think we have many cases of hypertension (high blood pressure caused by stress) in the Philippines.
11. Grocery Stores?
Before stopping at my sister's place, we decided to grab a few groceries, so we stopped at Walmart. When we started looking for fresh produce and meat, we noticed that everything was the color of fresh, but it wasn't really fresh - it was pre-ripe (which means it won't be as flavorful). Also the meats are different. Yes, it is farm raised, but our livestock is free range or fresh from the ocean. Here it is definitely something different (because when we ate the food, we became constipated and gained weight**). My daughter asked us why there were so many aisles of boxed, canned, frozen and bottled food. At home, our groceries are sold fresh so it can be made the 'old fashioned way' - not by adding water and tossed in the microwave.
12. Plastic Bags, Bottles and Limited Recycling
When we checked out from the grocery store, we didn't have a cashier. Instead we scanned our own groceries, bagged our own groceries and paid with a credit card. Needless to say, we looked like foreigners in a foreign land (especially when it came to paying). We paid with 'plastic' a credit card. In the Philippines, we almost always use cash to pay for our groceries. We also don't bag in plastic bags - we bring our own cloth bags or recycled boxes. Sometimes we will bring used bottles and top them off with a new supply of vinegar, oil or other spices.
With fatigue taking from travel taking its affect on us, we decide it is time to make it to my sister's place where we are greeted with warm a welcome, lots of hugs, and the frequent question, 'Aren't you glad to be back in the Real World?'. We all hugged back, smiled, and are genuinely happy to see everyone, but we all silently agree that we prefer living in what we know to be the 'real world'.
** I contacted my doctor and we discussed the unusual gain in weight, constipation and gain in weight. He explained that due to the amount of antibiotics injected into the US meats, that the probiotics (that are used to naturally digest the food in the gut of our bodies) were being killed. He suggested that we get a quality probiotic to restore our bodies to a healthy level. We bought a quality probiotic and we are feeling better and our clothes are fitting better.
Enjoy the Hilarious Adventures of my Move to the Philippines
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