Wed, 14 Dec 1994 10:25:47 EST

When I returned from my stint in the field, my son was three and a half
years old; we'd been there off and on since he was 18 months, and from 2
we stayed. We'd lived in a relatively affluent section of a town in the
Caribbean. He definitely was in culture shock -- maybe not ethnicized
but absolutely affected! He couldn't get over the streets, the houses --
in the poor parts of Washington DC -- the fast pace of the cars [fast
there was about 25 mph... slow here is 25 mph]. He kept saying for
months how "rich the 'states '" seemed in contrast. He commented on the
homeless, with confusion, since he felt the other place was less affluent
but there was not the begging and desperate folks on street corners, only
one regular mad woman who begged around the town. He missed the
hummingbirds, he missed the people talking to him in a particular way.
He commented on all the perfumed smells here and the lack of flower
smells. Not exactly cultural -- but definitely environmental
adjustments. He missed the fresh food... seven years later, his
preferences are for fish poached in a sauce, rice and salad... meat only
in a stew... Heavy meat seems odd since his early tastes were formed
there. He missed the ability to see the weather changing -- we lived
high atop a mountain and you could see storms coming; he missed his daily
rainbow. I missed the people's courage and honesty and kindness and
willingness to be "engaged" in social life around them, even problems on
the street. Not very theoretical, but real withdrawal from a wonderful
experience for both of us.