As an expat, one of the highlights of life is having visitors from overseas. Friends and family from your home country, or, in my case, visits from new friends you have made on line. Someone to remind you of where you came from.
I think that visitors are so much more meaningful when you live overseas than when you live at home. For me it means I have the chance to speak my own language, which I rarely do here, communicate with someone from the same culture, and, best of all, someone to bring me all those things I have been missing so much, like Cadbury chocolate, suet to make dumplings, Bisto for gravy, Bird’s custard powder and many more unobtainable items here. Someone once tried to bring me parsnips but the nasty man at customs took them away!But it isn’t easy having visitors. For a start, the whole house has to be cleaned, and not just cleaned in the usual way, I also have to get rid of all those nasty bugs which I am quite used to, but I know will cause most visitors to freak out. I now laugh when I see a tarantula in the bathroom, but I am pretty sure that would not be the universal reaction. Dominicans are always so excited to have visitors from overseas that they go into overdrive and the house has to be painted, garden totally manicured, streets swept – they really do put out the red carpet, wanting everything to be perfect.
Excitement increases as they time arrives and I look forward to showing them the way of life here, hoping that they fall in love with the country and our way of life, just like I have done. And the visitors themselves are usually looking forward to a week or so in what they think will be a Caribbean paradise.
However reality is sometimes never the same as expectations on both sides. To be fair, I have had some fabulous visitors who eat what we eat, love the things about the country I love, and fit into daily life here perfectly. I am always sad to see them go.
Then there are the others who are just totally unable to accept that things are different, and want everything to be the same as it was where they came from. Every day brings with it a litany of complaints and problems. How can we wash the dishes with no hot water? How can with live with no electricity every so often? What do I mean we have to ration water for a couple of days until the street supply arrives? Why does the internet go off sometimes? How on earth can we eat Dominican food? Why doesn’t the corner shop sell peanut butter? How can we survive without a dishwasher, a bread maker, a food processor? The list is endless.
Life becomes stressful as they moan about the lack of a power shower, instant hot water, the mosquitoes, the cockerels crowing, the heat, and I find myself wondering why these people ever leave home in the first place. Maybe these are the very same people who go to an all inclusive resort for two weeks, never to set foot outside and never interact with the country nor its people.
It is a times like this when I realize how much the country I came from, the UK, as well as other developed countries, has changed since I left and how I seem to be stuck in a time warp. It also makes me realize that I have changed too. I cannot now imagine how one can feel that the world will end if I am unable to watch a certain unmissable TV show like “Big Brother”. We hardly ever watch television now. I would now rather make my own pizzas from scratch as there are none to buy where we live, than call for home delivery and I enjoy the very simplicity of life, rather than the rushed, complex, gadget driven, convenience food life that I came from. Maybe you do have to experience this way of life for longer than a week to see the benefit and to appreciate the lack of stress which comes from having to slow down, having to accept that you cannot do anything using electricity for a couple of hours as there is none, or that you just have to wait for 30 minutes for the internet to return.
So having visitors can be such a pleasure, and those that are not, are a stark reminder of why I am here in the first place, and why I do not think I will ever return.
by Lindsay de Feliz.
Lindsay lives in the middle of nowhere in the Dominican Republic with her Dominican husband, one stepson, 8 cats and 3 dogs. She was formerly Marketing Director of various financial companies in the City of London, and left the UK around 11 years ago to travel the world as a scuba diving instructor. She eventually came to the Dominican Republic on a 6 month contract, fell in love with the country and its people and stayed. Lindsay has a blog www.yoursaucepans.blogspot.com and is currently writing a book about her experiences over the last 10 years.
Lindsay de Feliz is the author of What About Your Saucepans? Published by Summertime and available on Amazon in both book and kindle versions.
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