Best of Two Worlds

There’s something truly refreshing about spending time in your home country during vacations. For one thing, hanging out with your dearest family and friends can be a real stress reliever. Also, there are few places more humid than Puerto Vallarta in August, so the refreshment is pretty much automatic.

Also, did you know that Canadians have their indoor climate control almost perfectly managed? I mean, it makes sense considering that controlling the temperature of their environment is actually a matter of survival for about half the year. But for our family, it’s miraculous to stay in a house that is basically twenty-three degrees Celsius at all times without a direct blast of air in your face.

For two and a half weeks, our family spent our time in Winnipeg, Manitoba with my brother and his family, and with my parents in their home in a nearby town. We also saw a variety of relatives and friends. It was love overload, and it was glorious.

We did a lot of fun things too, like music and theatre festivals, shopping, biking, hiking and ice cream sampling across the city. We took in the Canadian Museum of Human Rights and went on a riverboat tour. We ate all the things we knew we’d never find in Mexico (or at least for prices we can afford on a teacher’s salary), like Mountain Dew and Tim Horton’s doughnuts, Smarties candy and root beer.

These are prime vacation conditions: lots of love, lots of fun, and lots of sugar. And that means that when we woke up at 4 am on July 26 in order to get to our 6:30 am flight (who invented those?), we were not very happy. I say “not very happy” like I might describe a hurricane as “fairly breezy.” Allow me to describe this through a teenager’s eyes:

Getting up on summer holidays before 10 am is not okay. Saying goodbye to your favorite people (because your parents are no longer your favorite people by a long shot) is not okay. Realizing that you are about to go back to a world without 7-11, where Mountain Dew Slurpees are on tap every day, is not okay.

So now we are back in Mexico, and might I say that people around here are a bit disgruntled. It’s hot, there are no Timbits, and we ate the Canadian Snack Stash we brought home in the first twenty-four hours. The kids are texting their cousins back in Canada and they won’t let me see.
This is the reality of the expat: you go home but then you have to go back home. And when you have children, this can be confusing and sad for them, particularly if they don’t really have an accurate picture of life in the country you are visiting. Sure, it’s amazing to be received like visiting royalty, taken all over the city to do fun things and to eat great food. It’s wonderful to spend time with people who don’t know your most annoying habits or at least don’t have time to become annoyed by them.

But they don’t yet realize that life will become regular the longer they spend time anywhere. For example, most of our family in Canada cannot believe our luck as we live our lives in a beautiful beach paradise. They don’t know that the heat can become downright oppressive, and driving your car on cobblestones every day isn’t really as charming as it sounds.

Just like them, my children don’t know that I spent twenty-six winters wishing I lived somewhere much warmer. They don’t know the necessity of plugging in your car to an electrical outlet, the only way to ensure you will actually be able to start it on a January morning.
The grass is certainly green in Winnipeg in summer, but it’s mighty green to me in Vallarta right around Christmas time. I figure our family is living a “best of both worlds” kind of life. Now, if we could get some Mountain Dew down here, we might convince our kids as well.