We landed in San Juan, Puerto Rico on Thursday.
I can't say that I've been here long enough to really get an accurate picture of what my life is going to be like, especially since most of our worldly possessions are on a boat. It will be a couple more weeks before they arrive, but in the mean time we're making the best of the few things we have.
I didn't think I would have as much culture shock as an "average" person, but I was wrong. I vacillate between terrified and elated. My husband and I will be out shopping for beach stuff with our son, and I'll fall back into my normal "out shopping with husband" mode, when something completely new and different strikes me, and it hits me all over again we're essentially living in a foreign country.
Because despite English being one of the two official languages of Puerto Rico, despite not needing a passport and everything being in dollars, this is still another culture. I've experienced culture shock before, in many small ways, moving from Upstate New York to Atlanta, Georgia. I thought I was ready; prepared. I was wrong.
All of the signs are in Spanish. The street signs, the Interstate exit signs, the signs at the Wal*mart. Everyone speaks mostly Spanish, although we haven't had issues checking out at stores and eating between the little Spanish I know, and the little English the person on the other side knows.
I feel bad for writing this. I feel like I'm complaining. All I thought about before we moved was what a fun adventure it was going to be. And it is. And will continue to be fun, and I'm far from miserable. I just didn't realize how emotionally draining it can be to constantly be assaulted with new things. It's not like we can hole up in our house until we feel ready to face the world either.
The neighborhood we live in, known for it's dominance of people from the United States, is still 99% native Puerto Ricans. Despite the temperature staying around 80 degrees year round, most houses don't have central AC. The houses are older, and don't seal up properly, so if you choose to run the AC units in the wall, you're essentially cooling the outside. Not to mention electric is more expensive than in the States. There's Walgreens and CVS and Mcdonald's and Walmart, and Burger King, and even a Firehouse subs. But despite how familiar those places are, it is still very different experiencing it on the other side of the language barrier.
All in all, I've having fun. I like practicing my Spanish on unsuspecting people, and we live a block away from one of the most gorgeous beaches in the world. I can eat all the mangoes I want, and outside the Walmarts, they have a Frutera place you can get fresh fruit smoothies for super cheap. I haven't even begun to scratch the surface of all the cool food we can get here.
I'm enjoying this part of my life, but change is always scary in a way. I think it's good for us to figure out why we feel what we do, and how to fix that. For me, I'm going to get better at Spanish and spend lots of time at the beach.