Quick link: Don’t Ignore Your Passport Country
Its hard to care about more than one place in the world. I tend to focus on where I am and forget about where I was, my heart can take only so much. But I don’t think that’s necessarily healthy in the long run.
I have a confession to make. I don’t pay much attention to news from the United States. I’m much more likely to click on the BBC or Al-Jazeera than on CNN or my more local, Minneapolis Star Tribune. I sort of follow election news, trying to keep my cynicism in check. And I follow the big stories, like the shooting at the night club in Florida, albeit mostly only reading headlines as I can’t bear the horror and grief of faraway places and close by places anymore.
July forced me to reconsider this policy of simply scanning. Children with guns. Police officers slaughtered. Trump and Clinton. The shooting of a black man by a police officer after being stopped for a broken taillight with his girlfriend and a child in the car and caught on videotape that happened ten minutes from my childhood home. I can picture the intersection.
Something is happening in the country of my birth, something massive and important and heartbreaking and, I hope, something that will force the country to change. And even though the struggle and pain cut deeply, on top of cuts that are already deep and caused by more local and physically close hardships, I don’t want to miss this moment in history.
Click here to read the rest of Don’t Ignore Your Passport Country
Quick link: Making Your House Abroad a Home
How do you make your house a home when living abroad? Here is a bit of how we find houses in Djibouti and below is an excerpt from today’s story at A Life Overseas about transforming that house into a home.
We rent. We buy used furniture or inherit ancient hand me downs. Our houses are not built straight so the hallway rug runs crookedly along the floorboards and the screen doors don’t fit into the door frames and the bathroom doors don’t quite close tightly. Our sinks and showers don’t drain well and we use our hand to push all the water slightly uphill, toward the drain. Our faucets wobble and our electrical outlets dangle out of the walls like spiders. There are strange chunks hacked out of the cement inside the house and the walls in the bedroom are the color of melted makeup.
We’re expats. Like I said, we rent.
There two (plus many more) ways to move into a home. You can be a ‘take what you get’ expat or a ‘make what you want’ expat.
Click here Making Your House Abroad a Home to read the rest of the piece and then let me know what kind you are. What kind would you guess I am?
I haven’t opened my blog in so long it actually kicked me out and I had to remember my password, which took awhile. I haven’t checked on the various sites I write for to see if they have posted my essays lately and so I haven’t shared them. This morning I finally had a few minutes to look and the scraps of energy it requires to post links. So, here it is.
Quick link: To Find a House, to Make a Home
This is published by EthnoTraveler and is about the challenging search for housing when you live in a country with no realtors, no newspaper ads, no internet searchable data bases. I take that all back. There are a few of each of those. The internet help I found was months out of date and the realtor who supposedly worked for the rental agency wasn’t actually in the office, which was rarely open.
Anyway, here is a short piece about what it is like to find housing in Djibouti and about what it means to expats once we finally feel we’ve settled.
Ajuuro wandered miles of dirt roads, rocky paths, and narrow alleyways. He knocked on the doors of strangers, pestered the guards sitting outside the houses they protected, and fumbled his way through conversations using Amharic, Somali, English, and French, some languages flowing more fluently from his tongue than others. He demanded phone numbers, house keys, landlords’ names and addresses; he insisted on access to locked rooms. Then he called up the people who had employed him to schedule a day of house hunting.
Ajuuro was a dilal, a house finder. He was Ethiopian, living in Djibouti, trying to support a new wife and earn enough money to care for his weakening body as chronic sickness took an ever stronger hold on him. His job was an unofficial one. He had no website or business card. He was paid in cash. The only way to contact him was on a phone he sometimes answered and that sometimes had enough credit on it to return the call. The only way to find out about him was to know someone who knew someone who knew him and that is the way most independent expatriates – not employed by government, military, or high-end businesses – find housing in Djibouti…
Click here to read the rest: To Find a House, to Make a Home
Quick link: Saudade, a Song for the Modern Soul
Ute quoted Dicionário Houaiss da língua portuguesa:
“A somewhat melancholic feeling of incompleteness. It is related to thinking back on situations of privation due to the absence of someone or something, to move away from a place or thing, or to the absence of a set of particular and desirable experiences and pleasures once lived.”
Here is an excerpt from my essay at SheLoves about saudade, my first attempt at handling the word with my own words.
“I grew up with a paradoxical sense of belonging to many and to none at the same time. It is an interesting type of “belonging,”… resulting in a subtle sense of saudade flavoring my life’s journey.” Karen Noiva
I struggled with the word “belong” this month. I don’t believe in writer’s block but I do believe that my creative writing abilities suffer when I experience jet lag, culture shock, and the overstimulation that generally accompanies visits to the United States. So it came as no surprise that in the London Heathrow airport as I tried to fill the time by getting work done, my brain froze.
I turned to my daughter Maggie, and said, “I’m supposed to write about belonging. Help.”
She said, “Write about home.”
Click here to read Saudade, a Song for the Modern Soul. (even if you can’t read, you can at least enjoy the photos)
*image via Flickr