The culture shock of returning back to ‘normal’ life.

Culture shock one…

After travelling in Latin America for just over 5 months our first taste of the culture change was returning to the US. Tony and I flew Spirit Airlines which turned out to be a bit like the Walmart of the skies judging by some of the passengers flying with them. A man was boarding the plane in Atlanta holding a fluff ball excuse of a dog and was complaining to the air steward that he was charged an extra $100 by the Airline to bring his ‘dog’ on the plane. He kept repeating his displeasure loudly for all to hear. He said it was a service dog and should come on for free. The stewardess (God bless her) told him (and I quote) “Quit your complaining and to sit down while I find you a seat. It turned out the dog provided ‘emotional’ assistance to the man. Tony and I looked at each other, rolled our eyes and thought ‘Only in America’…

One of the best and worst things about the States is everything is BIG – case in point this Chicago Pizza we ate at Diane and Mike’s house the first night we were in San Diego. Half a pizza was enough even for us hungry cyclists. That brings me to one of the best things about the States – the hospitality.

What to wear…

Next it was back to NZ for me. The previous 11 months had consisted of living out of two tiny bags with very limited outfit choices – one for on the bike and one for off the bike. I arrived after 40 hours of travel feeling tired and very disheveled in my ‘off the bike outfit’. I felt a bit like a hobo (which is pretty much what I had been). I had two big bags of clothes waiting for me at Cheryl’s house. How exciting it was to have a choice of more than one outfit. I was so excited to pull on a proper pair of jeans and pondered which top (more than one) to wear with them.

My off the bike outfit (for colder weather) from the last 11 months.


The next small pleasure for me was my toilet bag. The first thing I noticed was how much it weighed! It was soooooo heavy – what could possibly weigh so much?? I opened it up and honestly for the first night I didn’t delve any deeper into it than to retrieve a hairbrush and toothbrush. I had lotions and potions for just about every conceivable situation – I could now pamper my skin and hair and wondered how I survived for so long without deodorant!

Toilet bag comparisons – what I needed while on the road on the left and what I thought was essential prior to that in the ride.

Culture shock two – the Kiwi accent…

We didn’t meet many Kiwis on the road over the last 11 months so my ears pricked up when I started to hear the familiar twangs of a fellow Kiwi speaker when I was waiting to board my flight to NZ from LA. Apparently the Kiwi accent has been voted the worlds most sexiest accent in 2019 by travel site Big 7 Media (I hear you say who)?? As I was sitting there listening I wondered where Big 7 Media had got their survey participants from. Were they all deaf people reading lips?? This was further confirmed when I watched NZ’s Dancing with the Stars after I returned home. The two hosts of the show Dai Henwood and Sharyn Casey were soooooo ‘Kiwi’ as they gushed over the dancers. Did I find it romantic? No! More like cringe worthy. Maybe we have come a long way from the ‘80s and ‘90s when if you wanted to hook up with someone you’d say ‘wanna a root’, but that phrase uttered with a Kiwi accent just doesn’t do it for me.


As it turns out driving back on the left hand side of the road was just like riding a bike – it just seemed natural. Riding and walking on the left however was a totally different story. The first time I rode my bike after coming home I happily toddled off on the right hand side of the road. Once I realised and switched to the left I felt like I was on the wrong side of the road. I now find myself walking on the right hand side of the footpath and have to keep reminding myself that I need to ‘keep left, keep left’.

The Price of Avocados:

After paying next to nothing for avocados over the last 5 months in Central America the photo below says it all. Needless to say avocados may be off the menu for a wee while until they’re a little cheaper than $4.98 each.

But there’s some really great things about being home too. I get to see my mum and sister, catch up with friends I haven’t seen for a year and enjoy the wonderful food here (‘fush and chups’ and bakeries).

Hmmmmm, how am I going to resist!


Two solemates sharing bikepacking adventures that are off the beaten track.

One thought on “The culture shock of returning back to ‘normal’ life.

  1. I just love your observations. Although my trip was only two months long, having jeans and shampoo and lotion was suddenly such a luxury! And avocados? I didn’t even buy them for dinner salad I made for your hubby last night. But don’t worry- we did feed him well. Miss you here in Tahoe but considering what conditions Tony rode through to get here…. I am sure you are glad you are on the left side. Ride left, left, left my friend

    Liked by 1 person

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