Everyone knows that living in another country for an extended period of time makes you, well…different. This is only exaggerated when you live overseas as a kid, during your formative years. As self-proclaimed weirdos, we TCKs love nothing more than finding others who can relate to our cultural oddities. So, I decided to share with you a few of my personal hangups derived from years of living in Honduras.
One. Going barefoot. There are two reasons for this. First, going barefoot is very counterculture in Honduras. Only the poorest of the poor go barefoot outside their houses, and people wear shoes indoors all the time as well. Not only that, but you don’t ever wear your shower flip flops to town, but put on nice sandals or shoes for leaving the house. Nice shoes, or clean shoes at least, are important.
Second, I saw what the dogs and men (and sometimes the women) did beside the road, and really, it kind of took away any desire to step outside barefoot. Indoors wasn’t contamination-free either, since the dust from the street seeped in through every crack and crevice, so we wore shoes there as well. I used to step out of my sandals into my bed, and back into them when I got up in the morning. Although I now go barefoot indoors, I still don’t like leaving the house without shoes (something my crunchy barefoot friends can’t fathom).
Two. Mint green. Stores have been awash with mint green clothing for years now, but I bet the people who buy and wear it didn’t spend as many years looking at the color as I have. It is one of the go-to paint colors in Honduras, and years of houses and ceilings painted mint green have basically cured me of ever loving the color. The one exception- mint chocolate chip ice cream. It simply doesn’t taste right if it isn’t green.
Three. “Natives.” It seemed to me the word was usually used in a derogatory sense, and I still dislike using it, or hearing it used. Call them locals, or Hondurans, but enough with the “natives” already.
Four. Coleslaw is the ultimate insult to cabbage. I mean, if you’ve tried it chopped in long crispy slivers with lime and salt and cumin, how can you ever go back to eating it as a mayonnaisey ‘Murican mush?
Five. “How Great Thou Art”. When people came to visit us in Erandique, sometimes we didn’t quite know how to fill their time, especially if they were the kind of guests that always needed to be doing something (See, How To Be a Good Missionary-Visitor). Erandique is a small town, way back in the mountains, and certainly not packed with tourist attractions. There was one thing to do though, and believe me, we took advantage of it. If we drove about an hour, we’d come to the base of the Congolon peak. From there, it was a thirty or forty minute hike to the top, where there was nearly a 360 degree view of the surrounding mountains, and you could see all the way to El Salvador.
It was a beautiful view, I’ll grant you, and the first five times or so were pretty fun, despite the steep hike to the top. After a while though, the thrill wore off for us, but of course, each group of visitors saw it with fresh, amazed eyes. Do you know what comes to their minds when Christians see beautiful views? That’s right, “How Great Thou Art”.
I cannot tell you how many times I helped sing that after heaving myself to the top of Congolon with yet another group of people. Although it’s a great song, and although it’s great to praise God when you see an amazing view, to this day I dislike it because of overuse. (And possibly because it’s associated with hiking. Hah.) On that note, can someone please write a few new songs to sing on mountaintops?
So there you go, a few of my weird TCK hangups. Do any of them ring a bell with you? Now it’s your turn; tell me yours. Solidarity, TCKs! If you’re interested in finding out more about Third Culture Kids, you can find a whole book about them here.