Tuesday, August 15, 2006

I never told many of you that while gathering material for a recent (no cracks here, please) blog post, I wanted to find a picture of a classic "argentine mullet." So like any self respecting gen-y-er, I googled just that. I didn't find jack, except for a blog by a fabulosa Australian named Camille Mansella. Keep that name in mind, she may have her own travel show one of these days.

Being a seasoned world traveler, I figured she would be able to offer the Boardman a bit of guidance on the return to the Motherland after long travels. So I asked. And she came through, big time.

Camille's tips on reverse culture shock:
1. You are going home to summer, excellent. Much less depressing and there will be a holiday feel to it.
2. Move somewhere new. Pick a new town or city to live in, then it's still all different and you are still doing fabulous things.
3. Visit friends in other cities. Make an effort cos if you can travel to the other side of the world, you can travel to the other side of your own city, state or country.
4. Go to a tourist attraction in your town that you've always wanted to go to, or that visitors always rave about.
5. Plan your next holiday/trip on the plane home.
6. Only show some of your photos to friends and family. The majority get bored and don't care about your life altering experience. Current gossip is much more interesting to them and this fact can hurt.
7. Do something to give back or continue the experience. Eg take Spanish classes, mentor new migrants in English language or volunteer at your Visitor Information Centre.
8. Hold onto your experiences. It's far too easy to get sucked back into 'real' life and you need to keep reminding yourself of your traveler fabulosity!

Since I got back June 28th, I have found success following all of the above. No Spanish classes or anything yet, but I like the idea once I sleep in the same bed for more than a week.

Even with such great guidance, coming back is a bitch, and I already miss speaking Spanish and all that crazy but wonderful Latin experience of life. Most of all, I REALLY miss the kissing upon greeting. You meet a woman in this country, even a friend of a friend, and you SHAKE HANDS.

Lame. Lame. Lame.

It's not that I am looking for heavy petting with every woman I meet (there was a time in my life where that was true, a hormonal headjamming called "late male adolescence"), but it seems so stiff and wooden to shake hands when a casual cheek kiss is just such a nicer, friendlier, and warmer way to start off a relationship.

Well, chalk it up to general uptightness of Americans. I want to believe it hasn't always been this way, but it probably has, I just didn't notice as much. After all, we were founded by a bunch of Puritans. If there is one word to describe Puritans it would be uptight. Or maybe unhappy.

I do like the hugging though. Some Americans hug. Latins don't really hug. I actually missed it. With friends, I say do both. Sometimes though, a cheek kiss is just a better fit. I would really like to teach people the pleasures and benefits of the greeting cheek kiss, but have still not figured out exactly how. Believe me, I am speaking from experience when I say that dropping something like:

"OKAY, I am going to do the Latin/cheek kiss now"

feels like something out of an awkward junior high date, also speaking from experience. So if you don't announce, you just have to go for it. Going for it is a relative strong suit of mine, so surely if anyone can do it, the Boardman can, right?

I have tried going for it a few times with certain women (just to be clear, with whom I have platonic, but warm, relationships) but as they are getting closer I realize they are about to pull the hug trigger, but since I am already committed it usually ends up with my face/puckered lips in their hair, or worse, ear.

That just does not work. I guess my plans for grassroots cultural change will have to take a different strategy.

Regardless, here I am, wanting to kiss girls and getting sorted for the stage Travel + 1 of my life. I will disclose more in the next few entries, so stay tuned!