I started this post at the end of July and have been adding to it since then. As I reread it, I appreciate how incredibly fortunate I am to have creature comforts and conveniences waiting for me at home.
Beyond my friends and family, here are a few things I am very excited about reacquainting myself with when I arrive in the US.
Household paper products: Most toilet paper in South America feels like sandpaper. This is not great on normal days. During my six different bouts of stomach problems, it was torture. I cannot wait for some fluffy, cottony toilet paper. I suspect I will find whatever they have at the Atlanta airport (my first stop on the way home) to be luxorious.
Same goes for napkins. Many restaurants do not even pretend to have napkins. Of those that do, most offer squares of something that are smaller than standard cocktail napkins in the US and have a consistency similar to wax paper. And you know how absorbent wax paper is.
Easy access to cash and using my credit card: In Argentina, I suffered from a constant fear of running out of money. For three months, I lived a cash-only life because of the significant difference between the official exchange rate and the blue rate. In Colombia, I could use my credit card at some places, and could get cash from an ATM at any time, on just about any block in the city. Here, I worry about being stuck somewhere unable to pay for my dinner or my cab home.
In general, I did not want to carry too much cash at one time in case I got mugged or pick-pocketed. In Bs As, I had to develop the habit of checking how much cash I had in my wallet before leaving each morning. The worst days were when I was carrying thousands of pesos because I had just changed money or was on my way to pay the travel agency. The largest bill here is 100 ARS, so those were thick wads of cash.
Fluffy towels and cleaner t-shirts and sweaters: In much of South America, people do not own clothes dryers because the machines and electricity are expensive and air drying works well (or, well enough—humid days slow the process, items like jeans and socks can take a very long time to dry, etc.). While I cannot argue with any of this, I do miss fluffy towels. Air-dried towels are crunchy.
Also, I have come to appreciate the role driers play in removing lint, animal hair, and other similar items from clothes. As an example, I have a green t-shirt that I often wear with a black cotton sweater. The t-shirt took on a lot of black fuzz from the sweater. Most of the fuzz has remained there for months. I know that driers contribute to pilling and clothes getting worn out, which is a drawback of using them. So, I am going to try to air dry more clothes once I am home (but not the towels).
Peanut butter: I really enjoy peanut butter. I usually eat it straight out of the jar, or in a chocolatey dessert. Most of the rest of the world does not like peanut butter and cannot understand why Americans have such an affinity for it. For the past few weeks, I have had a deep craving for Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. Or for the amazing double chocolate-double peanut butter cookies that I bake using a recipe from the Tate’s Bake Shop cookbook.
Chocolate desserts without dulce de leche: Dulce de leche, a caramel-like mixture, is Argentina’s national food. People eat it at all four meals. I wish I was exaggerating. Ice cream shops have whole lists of their dulce de leche offerings. I enjoy it. But not so much that I want it every day. It is impossible to get a piece of chocolate cake, cup of chocolate mousse, or any non-brownie chocolate dessert without a layer of dulce de leche.