Category: Living Abroad

Medieval Torture Device; Socialized Medicine

Having a baby under Canada’s socialized medicine, I had zero complaints about socialized medicine. I could get into my GP within 24 hours most of the time. We didn’t have to spend hours fighting with various insurers whose policies change as often as Facebook seems to change privacy settings. And given basic pregnancy was dealt... Read more »

The Ugly American

Lima, Peru-1972-1973 English books being in limited supply, I was often desperate to read something, anything, in English. So I re-read The Bible and parts of whatever encyclopedia was on the shelf. It’s hard to run out of multi-volume encyclopedias. Among one happy find was the 1958 bestseller book by Eugene Burdick and William Lederer, The... Read more »

Miguel's Tasks; or fluency doesn't equate understanding

Linguistic fluency doesn’t mean you will communicate clearly, it only means that you ought to. For although my husband and I are both native English speakers, from time to time even we miscommunicate with a remarkable ease. So in Ecuador in 1986 it wasn’t uncommon for fluent Spanish speakers to hit vocabulary speed bumps. Take... Read more »
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Foreigners in a Foreign Land

Vocabulary, Culture and Foreigners Monique had immigrated to Canada from Egypt, a place so polluted that the white dress she began her day in was gray by dinner. Although her English was very good, she lacked many colloquialisms and customs peculiar to her new North American homeland. Like what type of winter coat does one... Read more »

The 4th of July War on Contraception

So much for freedom, a popular topic in America on July 4th. I hate to be a rainy day washout at your outdoor July 4th picnic, but before you party on or light the illegal fireworks, can we talk? When the Trump GOP Party, the party in power, continues their war on contraception to eliminate women’s reproductive... Read more »

Grating Expectations

“Why the hell don’t they learn English?” asked a monolingual American character in the 1971 film $ (Dollars). Sounding like a 2018 Fox News pundit, the American character was livid about those Germans living in Germany who didn’t speak English. Just like now in Charlotte NC where my multi-lingual friend lives. Despite an almost lifetime in the USA, her... Read more »
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The Placebo Effect; or The Karma of Things

  What is a Roman Catholic Church without the karma of its icons? So thought Maria when she learned that her hometown church’s icons had been stolen. Stolen! Can you imagine it? In Mexico! But with monetary donations from friends and family, a collection was raised to buy new icons. May I stash them out... Read more »

The Great Stolen Life Jackets Episode of Ecuador

As if living through the kidnapping of the President of Ecuador by the Air Force wasn’t exciting enough, the 500 mile open water flight home from the Galapagos to Guayaquil gave me a new safety item to consider. The life jackets. Our family trip to the Galapagos had been every thing one hoped it would be,... Read more »

The Mutiny on the 7-2-7

In the mid-1970s, Gary and I decided to go back to Lima, Peru to visit his parents before they moved back to America after over a dozen years abroad. Peru was pretty much the same. If anything, it seemed to be economically worse off. As I sat alone in a car, young women would approach... Read more »
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The Mother-in-Law (The Interview Oprah Missed)

You heard us before you saw us. With a jubilant scream, we’d run across rooms to embrace–startling bystanders and timid animals alike. At this point our heads would tilt together as we jabbered and finished each other’s sentences. So much to catch up from the last time we’d been together. My wonderful, BFF mother-in-law, Bea,... Read more »
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    Candace Drimmer

    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 my father had accepted a job in Houston TX. I was ecstatic, it was a foreign land in 1961 America. After high school graduation, my parents’ gave me a matched set of fawn-colored hardsided American Tourister luggage. Taking the hint, I went to college; well four colleges in five years--it was the 60s after all. Meeting a young hirsute anti-war, soon-to-be-Peace Corps volunteer, I fell in love. After finishing up college coursework for my degree, but before I even walking a graduation stage, I grabbed the paper airline ticket my boyfriend had sent me, my brand-new passport, and was off to the airport and Lima, Peru.

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