As you know, I recently visited Australia. I already posted pictures of my snorkel adventures on the Great Barrier Reef, but I also snorkeled in Clovelly Bay, Sydney.
It was freezing cold (to someone who lives on Guam) but I saw my first groupers outside of an aquarium, and that was magical.
I highly recommend that anyone who wants to follow in my footsteps and snorkel any of the Sydney stops from Manly Beach to Clovelly Bay to get a wet suit. I should have, but it was the middle of the summer in Australia and I thought it would be really hot.
Turns out, that is not how Australia works. Water coming up from South America is cold year round. Now I know.
At any rate, it was my first time snorkeling or diving outside a tropical environment since childhood. Instead of coral, there are plants and something that looks an awful lot like moss.
That was quite different. Most of the fish were less colorful, which I expected. However, some were surprising colorful for living in cold water.
I hadn’t snorkeled in a cold environment since my trip to Catalina Bay in Middle School. I remember the huge kelp forests, and how the little orange Garibaldi fish and bright purple star fish really stuck out in the sea of greens. This felt very similar to that.
Living overseas can be really cool. I see all kinds of new and different things, and that’s always neat. How many people get to go to a Buddha’s Birthday parade in Seoul or swim with a sea turtle? I know that I am lucky.
On the other hand, there are a lot of things that you just can’t get in other places in the world.
Fun Fact: Did you know that cocktails were invented in the United States? Some claim it was in New Orleans, and some claim that it was in New York, but no one disputes that they are a uniquely American invention.
This means that it is also pretty uniquely American to find a wide variety of alcohol and things to mix with it. (For non-US friends, I am talking about things you mix with alcohol like bitters, grenadine, and vermouth.) So, it is cool to see things like that on the shelves.
Then there are produce options!
In South Korea there is a poisonous berry that grows wild. It looks a lot like a raspberry. As a result, they do not think raspberries are food and do not import or grow them. This is a shame, as they are my very favorite fruit.
In Guam we mostly don’t have fresh fruits and vegetables. Everything has to go through costumes in Hawaii (as per US law,) so by the time it gets here it is rotten. And unlike Hawaii, we are not a volcanic island where it is easy to grow things. We are a coral island, which means that the soil is harsh and infertile.
So it’s apples and oranges, and broccoli. That’s what can make it here, so that is what we eat.
I also miss things that are hard to explain. For example, we do have Chinese food here. However, we are very close to China and so we have Chinese Chinese food here. As it turns out, I don’t really like Chinese Chinese food. I like American Chinese food.
Another thing I really miss is good tortilla soup and carnitas. The people of Guam have some Spanish influence in their culture, but it’s just not the same.
I went all through High School and College in Arizona, and every now and then I am just dying to have some really good Mexican Food.
Thankfully, I can get good Korean and Thai food on Guam, so at least there is that.
I guess the hardest part for me living overseas is shoes. Even in the US, I have absolutely broken down crying while looking for shoes.
See, I wear a size 12 in women’s. Yes, that’s right, a size 12.
Don’t bother leaving all the jokes in the comments. I have heard every single one. Yes, if I am in a hurricane I won’t blow over. I don’t need skis to go skiing. I am probably related to big foot. Ha. Ha. Ha.
All I really want to cute shoes like girls wear on TV. I want sexy pumps and cute boots and adorable sandals.
However, no one makes those things in size 12.
In Asia I can’t buy shoes at all. These just aren’t any. I tried ordering online, but so many places have sizes that “run small” and they don’t tell you. I ordered a pair from Chinese Laundry because I was so excited to see a size 12 on their site. I don’t know whose idea of a size 12 it was, but I could have cut off all my toes and still not fit my foot into it. So, I have to buy shoes in person.
I was excited to do this while stateside.
I went all the places that folks had suggested to me, like Nordstrom’s Rack and DSW. And I have to tell you: I have nothing nice to say about those places or the people who work there. Same for Target, Walmart, Journeys, and every other shoe store besides Payless.
Not only is Payless literally the only store in the United States that still carries shoes in my size, but the lady there was nice. I have no idea why shoe salesmen in other stores have to be nasty, act shocked, or ask if I am transsexual (I am not.) However, there are some mean and really rotten shoe salespeople, and I think I talked to all of them.
So at long last, I got two new pairs of shoes. With one more year in Guam, and likely another Asian posting in our future, I sure hope these two pairs last me a long time.
Anyway, I think a lot of times people look at my blog and they think that it’s really glamorous living overseas. And yeah, sometimes it has its moments. But I do live a life without raspberries and shoes, so maybe keep that in mind before you think my life is “perfect.”