The Rat in the Toilet

Leaves pile up at the foot of the dogwood tree where the bored 11-year-old girl sits perched like an eagle, gazing expectantly out to the horizon. If only something would happen, if only there was something new, something different. That evening she feels like she won the lottery when told by her parents that they are moving fromPrinceton,New JerseytoHouston,Texas.Texas. She is thrilled.Texas! Now that is definitely something truly new and different.

Though it sounds rather provincial today in today’s world where with the click of a mouse the world opens—in that 1961 America, the idea of moving did offer adventure and unimagined possibilities. And best of all, a change.

When in 1972 that very same child had become a young woman, she couldn’t get her passport fast enough to follow her American boyfriend to where his family lived inLima,Peru. Transforming the boyfriend into husband, they spent the following years moving about the Americas from Lima, Peru to Toronto and Vancouver, Canada; Asuncion, Paraguay to Willemstad, Curacao; and Guayaquil, Ecuador to Mexico City, Mexico and various parts of Gringolandia too.

Though she couldn’t follow the MS Magazine ideal of the stabile career, opportunities abounded. From pounding the boards of semi-professional theatre (and not so professional theatres) to writing for magazines, newspapers, radio; to researching and writing guidebooks on ‘how to live abroad’ and community development work; new experiences seemed to pop up as easily as the rat out of the toilet had in the house inGuayaquil,Ecuador.

Whether it was working with expatriate organizations, with Chevra Kadisha, mentoring new expatriates or learning new skills, she certainly got the life that she had wanted—an adventurous one. Yes, I certainly did.


PS. In Ecuador I learned that the way to keep sewer rats from entering a house is to pour a cup of used motor oil down each toilet—to grease the pipe, and encourage the critter not to exit the sewers into your house. Although environmental naughty, in the reality of the third-world it also was very functional. And since even our children’s school had problems with toilet rats exiting toilets, what was a mother to do?

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    Candace Drimmer

    TIMELINE June 1972 to June 1973---Candace moves to Lima (Peru)----- June 1973 to May 1974---Candace and The Husband live in Glendale AZ----- May 1974 to August 1974---Living in Toronto, Ontario (Canada)----- September 1974 to May 1975---Living in Aberdeen SD----- May 1975 to July 1979---Living in Vancouver, British Columbia (Canada)----- July 1979 to June 1980---Living in Asuncion (Paraguay)----- June 1980 to September 1980---Living in NYC----- September 1980 to November 1982---Living in Connecticut----- November 1982 to January 1983---Living in Ponce, Puerto Rico (USA)----- February 1983 to July 1986---Living in Willemstad, Curacao (Netherlands Antilles)----- July 1986 to July 1989---Living in Guayaquil (Ecuador)----- July 1989 to July 1995---Living in Connecticut (yes, again)----- July 1995 to August 2001---Living in Mexico City (Mexico)----- August 2001---Return to Gringolandia (a.k.a. United States of America)----- I was an accidental expatriate; love and marriage led me to it. One day I was a bandy-legged kid sitting atop my dogwood tree looking out of my small backyard world in 1950s New Jersey, wanting to move somewhere--anywhere, different. Next thing I knew I met a young hirsute anti-war, soon-to-be-Peace Corps volunteer, fell in love and moved to Peru in the 1970s. WHAT an adventure it's been!! NOTE: I gave up Facebook, so apologies that I cannot answer any comments since it is only set up via FB.

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