Monday, November 24, 2008

The Sound of Settling

Things have been going pretty well! We found a house, but our furniture hasn’t arrived yet so the military loaned us a few things until it comes. Also the house doesn’t have a stove or a refrigerator right now. We’ve been living like squatters for a week. The boys built a fort next to the stairway out of empty boxes and miscellaneous junk to add to the décor. All we need now is a crackhead in the spare bedroom.

This move is a little different because along with settling into a new house and new school, we're also adjusting to life in a different country. One thing we have to get used to is standing out every time we open our mouths. We can try to blend in as much as we want, but as soon as we speak, people know we’re foreigners.

Unlike living in the south, where we were the fast-talking northerners, we’re the slow talkers around here. In the same amount of time it takes me to say “Hellllllooooo, howwww arrrrre yoooooou,” they could tell you what village they live in, who was beheaded there, what their mum made for dinner three nights ago, and their favorite childhood pastime. However, it’s likely you would not understand a thing they said and then you are faced with two options: 1. Ask them to repeat themselves and risk not understanding the whole thing again and looking like a big foreign dummy. Or 2. Smile and nod and look like a big foreign dummy.


Using electricity is a lot more involved here. In our house every outlet has a switch to turn the outlet on or off. And everything uses 220 volts with this giant three-pronged plug. It’s like you’re plugging in some kind of giant power-sucking appliance even when it’s just a little tiny nightlight.

We have to use transformers to plug in our American appliances. I thought the transformer would look like this:

Instead it looks more like this:

It’s a big, black box that weighs about 15 lbs. and makes a loud whirring noise whenever you plug anything into it. It sounds like that part in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation when the Griswold’s turn on the Christmas lights.


When we first started driving here it was a little scary. Being on the left side of the road, all the oncoming traffic suddenly looks like it’s speeding recklessly at you on the wrong side of the highway. That worked in our favor because it’s natural to want to stay out of the way. Roundabouts are a little intimidating. The nice thing is if you miss your exit you can go around again and again until you get it right. Then you will feel like Mr. Bean.

Once you are off the highway and on a narrow, two-lane, country road, the idea seems to be to get where you are going as fast as possible without sliding off the road or hitting any sheep. And don’t pay any attention to the rain, just drive as you normally would.

Donn has been doing most of the driving here, but I assist by reading every sign we pass in a British accent.

Old Things

People here take pride in things that are old. In a lot of the villages they even build new buildings to look like they are old. Everything looks like it’s from the 1600’s. I keep expecting to see a chimney sweep walking down the sidewalk. It makes pretty much any city in the US seem like a trip into the future.


No Wal-marts. However…there are stores just like wal-mart, which I was surprised to learn. I thought everyone shopped at little markets, being it’s the 1600’s and all. But there are places like Tesco.

Imagine stepping into the vast expanse of Wal-mart without knowing where anything is or even what most of the products are unless you actually read the labels. That was what we faced when we walked into Tesco. It was extremely crowded and everyone was rushing around and there we stood, staring at everything like we had the word HELP written on our foreheads. The most exciting part of the shopping experience was taking the cart up the giant cart-friendly escalator. Weeee!


The boys both started school today (I'll write more about their little school another time). It was very exciting because we’ve been hanging out with basically just each other for the past month. The family togetherness ended about two weeks ago and since then they’ve been fighting like rabid badgers. Now they can interact with people they don’t live with and maybe things will be a little more peaceful at home. Come on, let’s have some brotherly love.


Aunt Becky said...

Sounds totally crazy. I'm dying to hear more!

Nit said...

Sounds very overwhelming...gotta love the military life! :)