Things we're excited about when we go home
It’s been a long journey across Latin America, and with our flight back home rapidly approaching, we’ve finally let ourselves start to dream of the things we’ve missed from home. Before we bought our tickets, it was almost too difficult to think about the things we craved, whether it was a good cup of coffee with our cat next to us or a living space all to ourselves. But we have a departure date, and the things we’ve missed are no longer figments of our imagination — they’re things we’ll have come mid-March. From the big things to small conveniences, this is what we’re most excited about going home.
Snuggling with our cat. Without a doubt, missing our fur baby has been the hardest part of this trip. We can thankfully video chat with friends and family, but the anticipation of having our cat curled up on our laps or snuggling with us in bed is overwhelming.
Spending time with our friends and families. We love meeting new people while traveling, but the sadness of forming friendships and then parting ways can ache. We’re looking forward to casual coffee dates with friends, communal dinners, and being able to see people we love for more than just a few days.
The endless variety of food. We’ll definitely miss the empanadas, alfajores, locro de papa, ceviche, mole, tortas, and tamales, but we’re also really excited to have choices like Syrian, Ethiopian, Indian, Thai, and Japanese food in our neighborhood.
Grocery stores with wide selections and prices on the items. Kind of related to the point above, but deserving a point of its own. If you’ve never been to an American grocery store, prepare yourself for sensory overload. Aisles dedicated to different pastas, sauces, cereals, rices. You name it, it probably exists in an American grocery store, and there are probably multiple brands to choose from. Tahini, tofu, coconut milk, kefir. We can’t wait to make some of our favorite dishes that aren’t pasta or rice-based, and we’re pretty excited to go back to being vegetarian and hopefully even vegan with all the wonderful plant-based products we have access to back home.
Access to a fully equipped kitchen and ample ingredients. Damn, the things we’d do for a pot with handles, a pan that doesn’t burn everything, and a sharp knife. Any time we’ve come across a decently stocked kitchen while traveling, we’ve extended our stay. We love to cook, but man is it that much more enjoyable to spend time in the kitchen when you have the equipment you need. Also, the ability to buy things like a big jar of peanut butter, good olive oil, and lots of spices in the cupboard to choose from is exciting.
Not having our stuff stolen. Thankfully, we haven’t had anything of value go missing, but it’s still frustrating when the brand new bottle of olive oil disappears from your box in the kitchen, or when that bit of milk you had in the fridge for your morning coffee is mysteriously gone.
Good coffee. It’s a shame that despite producing some of the best coffee in the world, it is almost impossible to find good beans outside of artesanal coffee shops. All the high-end stuff we’re used to at the grocery store back home may come from Latin America, but we’ve had to drink the terrible instant stuff for most of our time here.
Not having so much sugar. Almost everything in Latin America is loaded with sugar. We never thought pasta sauce or beans needed sugar, but they’ll throw tablespoons of the white powder into just about anything here. Unsweetened things like yogurt and tomato sauce sound so appetizing.
A washing machine. We’ve never had a washing machine in our apartment, but even access to a DIY laundromat is going to be a luxury. In Latin America, your options are almost always to hand wash your clothes or send them off to be done by someone else, and the few times we’ve had other people do our wash we’ve had articles go missing. When we do rent an Airbnb with a washing machine, it’s heaven. We can’t lie, we’ve definitely spent evenings drinking wine next to the washer machine singing its praise.
Not wearing the same three outfits. Living out of a backpack means you have the same rotating clothes to choose from, and after a year and a half, not a single article is in good condition. Everything has holes or is stretched or stained. Opening up the boxes of clothes we have in storage is going to feel like a shopping spree.
Hanging our clothes in a closet. Ah, the luxury of getting to take our clothes out of an overstuffed backpack and hang them up to choose what we want to wear sounds heavenly.
Having choices other than overly-fragranced products. We took our unscented laundry detergent for granted all those years. Now, everything comes out of the wash smelling like horrible artificial jasmine or lemon and it makes our noses and heads hurt. We can’t wait to say goodbye to chemical air freshener sprays and smelly detergents.
Consistent WiFi. We’ve come to the conclusion that no WiFi may be better than spotty WiFi, because there have been entire afternoons where — enticed by the prospect of opening a website or downloading a podcast or planning a call with friends — we’ve sat in front of a computer clicking the refresh button over and over again. We’re looking forward to being able to complete the online things we want to do without wasting so much time because of slow internet.
Upgrading all our broken electronics. Our phone screens are shattered. Rebecca’s has no memory and just randomly deletes all her apps. Jared’s battery doesn’t last more than an hour. And one of our notebook computers keeps freezing. Using a device that doesn’t put fiberglass in your fingers or that doesn’t shut down and delete what you’re working on sounds awesome.
Working on long-term projects and being plugged back into a community. We come from community organizer backgrounds, and it’s hard feeling like you aren’t doing your part to make the place you’re from better. As frustrating and emotionally grueling as organizing and activism can be (let’s be real, burnout was a big reason we did this trip), we’re excited to get our hands dirty again fighting for the things we believe in.
Ever spent a long time abroad? What are some of the things you miss most about home when you’re away? Let us know in the comments!