We all find our eyes wandering to other cultures while traveling, but most of us limit ourselves to swiping a few choice customs and hoping they catch on at home (we’re still trying to import the siesta). Some brave IgoUgo members, though, take culture envy to the next level by embracing life as expatriates, and their efforts to adapt to their new countries are some of our favorite travel tales.
One incarnation of the expatriate is the “vagabonder,” as Shady Ady calls himself, living in one country for several months before following a whim to his next port of call. This traveling Englishman landed in Kenya, Poland, and the US en route to his current home in Ecuador. His sharp wit and easygoing personality allow him to breeze through the inevitable misunderstandings of expat life, like his invitation to join an Ecuadorian running team, which he graciously accepted even after realizing he was invited to obtain US visas for the team. Yes, we did say he’s from England.
Other expats settle in one place to establish families and businesses, à la Casa Machaya. The bed-and-breakfast owner left his native Toronto for Oaxaca, Mexico, where he divulges the quirks of Mexican life in his culture-infused reviews. From descriptions of driving and mourning in Oaxaca to his hilarious guide to the intricacies of becoming a compadre, Casa Machaya answers the questions we’re too polite to ask.
And when it’s time to head home, if only for a visit, the expatriate returns with a new perspective. Living in Scotland piqued Red Mezz’s interest in rural towns, including her own childhood home in Waverly, Tennessee. Perhaps her 4-year stay in Scotland was a natural progression from those US roots, as one thing Red Mezz loves about Edinburgh is its small-town feel: “I’ve always said I could never live in a city, and I don't feel that I ever have.”
As these travelers will attest, sometimes home turns out to be far away from home.