Things That Remind Me Of Home (and Things That Don’t)

Anyone who has moved abroad to live probably gives in to some sort of maudlin sentimentality at some point. I recently listened for the first time in years to the song “Caledonia” about my home country of Scotland and it got me thinking about the place again. To be fair, there are lots of everyday things which always remind me that I live somewhere different now and here are some of them.

Shoe repair. This might not seem like a big deal but the different way of doing things always jars with me. Back in the UK shops called Mr Shoe or The Old Cobbler or something will repair shoes and cut keys at an exorbitant cost but with great comfort. Here in Bolivia an old guy in ripped trousers with no teeth will sit on a chair under a blazing sun all day sewing leather uppers for next to nothing. Which way do I prefer? I love the fact that you need to speak more to people in order to get things done here but I have to admit that the tough life that people like cobblers live does get to me sometimes.

Exotic flowers. I sometimes catch sight of an exuberant flower, a brightly coloured bird or a giant insect and realise that I now live in tropical country. Which would also explain why my arms are no longer quite so blindingly pale. I never seem to fail to be amazed by the vivid colours I come across here. When we went to the UK for a trip my South American wife found the whole place a bit grey and washed out. I disagreed but I have to confess that I got the same impression after having been away for a while.

Soccer socks. In Scotland I loved watching the football (soccer) games on the telly. Yet here I find that I am left completely cold by the latest news about teams like Bolivar and Wilstermann. I lived in Spain for a while and enjoyed the footie there so it isn’t just that life in a foreign country makes you lose this pleasure, so what could it be? The level here probably isn’t that much different from the Scottish 2nd division dross I used to watch, so it can’t be that either.

Light fixtures. I never cease to be amazed by the quality of the natural light here. Just about every day is so bright and clear. In the UK most days are grey and cloudy, and even the best days end in darkness at 4pm unles you switch on all the lights in the house. I have to admit that British summers are class though, with the evenings bright until about 10pm.

Going through a list like this from time to time probably helps me realise that I live somewhere interesting but that I also have another home which isn’t that bad at all.

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