First Impressions of a Recent Expat

Trip Start Sep 17, 2013
Trip End May 31, 2014

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Flag of United States  , New Mexico
Sunday, November 3, 2013

This series of blogs is for my Aussie friends. Before things begin to feel normal here, I want to record what is most striking about moving back to the United States. Obviously this is specific to our experiences in Carlsbad, New Mexico, so if you live elsewhere in the United States, it may not be true to your experiences. I began this topic thinking everything could fit into one blog, but it's just too much to read all at once.
Food: I'm enjoying half and half in my tea, but I can't find much good tea. The only decent tea available in the shops is Twinings, and it comes in boxes of 20. That's enough to last about half a week. Other brands of tea available include Lipton, Luzianne, Bigelow, and Celestial Seasonings. The first three are undrinkable and the fourth is herbal teas.
There are too many types of salsa to try them all. I'm starting off on a tasting survey of salsas, just like I did with my tea survey at Woolworths in Rutherford. My method: Each time I need a new jar of salsa, I buy a different kind. I'm limiting the trial to salsas made in southern New Mexico, so Old El Paso and other national brands are out. I figure that by the time I've tried them all I'll forget what the first ones tasted like, so I'll just try them all again. That's what I did with the teas, and I enjoyed every cuppa!
There is only a tiny section of frozen potato foods in the grocery store. I missed the potato gems the first time I searched for them because there are so few types of frozen potatoes in the freezer at the store here. On the other hand, there are so many different brands and different flavours within each brand of ice cream available that the ice cream section fills an aisle at the store. Frozen meals fill another complete aisle. They seem to be mostly Mexican and Italian meals.
There are heaps more corn chips and far fewer flavoured potato chips than in Woolworths. Cheeses are both different and the same. Almost all tasty cheeses are dyed yellow, and you have to search to find an un-dyed one. There is a lot of queso fresco, queso blanco, and queso manchego, but that is because we are so close to the Mexican border. The kids are enjoying Colby-Jack cheese in their quesadillas, though they and their friends loved quesadillas with vintage cheese in Rutherford. Cheddar cheese is equally common in both countries, but the names are completely different. In Australia we had tasty, tangy, and vintage. Here we have mild, medium, and sharp.
There is no Vegemite, and there is no lamb or meat-counter-prepared chicken schnitzel. I really miss the lamb, and I got schnitzel recipes from a dozen friends who always made their own, so we're better off there. I guess we'll have to live without the Vegemite and the lamb . . .
Grocery stores here include the bottle shop, and more than half the mornings when I've stopped by after dropping the kids at school I'm in line behind a person with a flat of beer cans and a big bottle of whisky. I'm talking like two liters or larger. This is at 8:15 a.m. There is nothing else in their shopping order. I wonder what their day will be like.
Traffic: The funniest thing is watching traffic during the morning and afternoon when school is beginning and ending. The main roads that pass anywhere near schools have unattended zebra stripes, and flashing yellow lights that direct traffic to travel 20 km/hour when flashing. I've never seen a child or any pedestrian, in fact, at any one of the many crossings in the town. Imagine traffic on the New England Highway traveling for at least one kilometer at 20 km/hour. Watching the cars is like watching a slow-motion movie.
The town is full of four-way stop signs. All traffic must stop at the intersection, and the first one there goes first, the second one goes second, and so on. I really miss roundabouts. Traffic keeps moving, and figuring out the order of who goes first is easier.  Here cars rush up to the four-way stop and slam on the brakes to make it clear they are next in line. Easing up to the intersection just leads to confusion because the car isn't at a complete stop yet. Roundabouts and how people approach them make sense, but these stop signs sure don't.
When I'm approaching my car in a parking lot, I have to look carefully and think about which side I'm going to find the steering wheel on. This is the same problem I had in Rutherford in the early days! For the first six months there I always paid for my fuel, walked back to my car and opened the passenger door. After staring into the car in surprise, I had to close the door and walk around to the driver's side. Here I stop a few steps away and look the car over first. Then I approach it slowly and carefully. If you didn't know any better, you would think I was expecting to find a bomb. Yesterday Liam and I were at the shops. He got into the backseat of the car, and when I got in the front, he told me I was in the wrong side. He had gotten used to seeing me driving on the right side of the car.
Let me know what other topics you would like to know about. Next I'll write about school and money.
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jennifer on

Melinda, You might try Cost Plus World Market for your Vegemite-they import food items from all over the globe. As far as the schnitzel, if you can find a german eatery in Carlsbad, I'm guessing they will have your Schnitzel. What else were you looking for? Jen

Katy on

Welcome "HOME" . How does it feel to be back on American soil? Just where do you live? I didn't know New Mexico would be so different from other states. When did you get back in the states?
i saw your used to be renter at Brisco's office last week. She was cleanjing out her office. She said she was moving to Frisco. That was the first time I saw hersince I went to visit her when she moved in. Also that Gary in Dee Burns house moved last weekend. Dee kicked them out. She said now she will tear the house down. She's done with renters.
We are up to our eyeballs in nuts. Some friends are helping us get them shelled. Our trees were loaded this year. We had something like 26 beer boxes full.
They predict rain or snow for tonight. It will be the first snow if we get snow. We have really had beautiful weather so far. I hate to think of cold weather coming.

Past my bedtime so will sign off. I feel we are neighbors again.

Take care---Katy

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