Being a bi-cultural family often means missing the other culture, whichever one you happen to be in. Contentment, thankfulness, being present– these are virtues I want to cultivate in my children, and they are some of the hardest ones for me. I do look at pictures from friends who are living abroad, and I want what they have. Somehow it looks better. I look at families that get to travel often, and suddenly our lovely life here looks less-than.
And yet one of the greatest gifts of being bi-cultural is perspective. Our modest life here is made up of things which other families only dream of, their whole lives: relative safety and security, peacefulness, and all of us together. If I chose what I want for my family, wouldn’t I pick those very things? Those things that I already have, right now?
Listing out what I am grateful for is always a good exercise for me. Here are some random things I love about where we are now, and what I loved about Peru:
1. Yards and Parks
I do love having grassy, barefoot-ready spaces, perfect for kids, where we are. My parents have two acres surrounded by woods, and Janio can wander at will for hours. We have many, many beautiful parks close by and it’s easy to find a place to picnic or play a pick-up soccer game.
I am grateful that I had choices for Janio’s birth. I got to choose midwives, a birth center, and a water birth. It was perfect for what I needed. Here we have endless school options: public, charter, private, Classical, Christian, Montessori, homeschooling. I’m thankful for library after public library full of books to choose from. There is so much available to us here and I suspect most American parents have no idea what a rarity this is around the world.
I love my car seats here! We brought a seat to Peru, but half of the taxis didn’t even have working seat belts. It’s nice to have good sidewalks. And oh my… clean water, right out of the tap. Here I don’t have to boil or buy water: it’s ready for drinking and safe baths, instantly. I am thankful for clean, safe water.
1. Fresh Food
We miss Peruvian food everyday. When we are in Peru, we can find fresh, healthy food always. Even somewhere like a bus station, the food is actually… food. Not packaged, and not processed. Janio’s first foods were in Peru, and his tias made sure he had hearty broths with chicken livers, good vegetables, coconut milk, and fruits you can only find in the jungle. I have never eaten so well as I do in the Peruvian jungle.
2. Less Choices
I know, I just said I loved the choices here in the U.S. There is something to simplified choices too, though. I didn’t miss having 37 different cereals to choose from. Greed and materialism are present everywhere, even in small towns in Peru, but I think there is something wonderful about raising children in a place where there is less stuff. There are less choices in being somewhere small, but it means the pace is different as well. There is more walking, and there are less cars.
Oh man. The weather in Moyobamba is something else. Hot enough for afternoon swims, and cool every night. There is always rain around the corner to clear the air and keep everything thing green. And no winter! I did miss seasons, there, but… not enough to wish away eternal summer.
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Of course, what I meant to write under both countries were family and friends. It is hard to always be away from a whole country of friends and family. But wherever where are, it makes us especially thankful for who we’re with, right then.