I sometimes describe my children as living in a bubble. They attend a confessional Lutheran church where their father is the Cantor. They are schooled at home by their mother. Those two places--church and home--make up the bulk of their lives. Poor dears--they don't even watch television, listen to the radio, or go to the movies very much (not that they are clamoring to do so). The primary means by which they escape the rather limited boundaries of their daily activities is through the internet and the written word.
One of the benefits of our trip to Grenada, then, has been for them to see a world far removed--both geographically and culturally--from their own. They have experienced what it is like to be in the minority. They have seen people living in houses on stilts on the side of a mountain. They have watched their father drive on the left side of the road while sitting in the right side of the car. They have been schooled in some of the American behaviors that islanders find offensive (talking too loud, wearing revealing swimsuits in places of business). They have experienced going outside at night and actually being able to see the stars because the city lights are not hiding them from view. They have had the experience of living without air conditioning, with only the the trade winds to offer a cooling breeze (the windows in our own house in Chicagoland are in such poor condition that we can't open enough of them to get decent ventilation--so when warm weather comes to Chicago, our a/c goes on and stays on for the season). They have had to strain to understand their conversation partners, not because those conversation partners don't speak English but because they do so with a vocabulary and dialect that is often quite alien to our own.
They have learned what it is like to have long hours of nothingness stretch out before them, nothingness that they must fill with only books and nature (and yes, a little internet). They have eaten things they have never eaten before: callaloo, barracuda, bluggoe, plantains, mango, star fruit (the Wikipedia entry on this one is kind of worrisome--I hadn't read it before!), papaya, pumpkin soup, breadfruit, conch (pronounced "conk"), nutmeg jam & syrup, pigeon peas, and chayote (our maid called it christophene). They have seen trees, animals, and plants that are unknown to them in the suburbs. And in all of this I think they have been given a new perspective on their life and home and country.
As for me--in addition to all of the things enumerated above, I have learned to embrace make-up freedom, frizzy hair, ponytails, and sweat. And--my committed pale face, landlubber and beach-shunner status notwithstanding--I have even come to love island life. Note to LCMS: if you ever decide to start a mission in Grenada, I know a great musician who would love to serve it.
In the meantime, home beckons. See you on the mainland!
(And by the way, this is my 501st post!