JP and I landed in Atlanta about an hour ago and made our first contact with US soil in 4 and a half months. I was so jarred when I came back from Ecuador having never done this before that I was sure I would have almost no reaction this time; having spent all the shock I had over my own country a few years ago. Also, the DR is a lot more similar to the US than is Ecuador. However, I still was extremely surprised by how weird it is to come back to your own country and have it feel unfamiliar. When we got onto the plane all of the flight attendants spoke English as their first language, which was weird, and then when we landed all of the people we have seen in the Atlanta airport (obviously) also speak English as their first language. It is so weird to be able to use my own language to communicate with service people. It’s like planning to go through an obstacle course and then realizing that it is just a plain soccer field. “It was brighter, shinier, and cleaner than I ever imagined Atlanta being. I have always thought of Atlanta as an armpit of America, but after Santo Domingo I realized that one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.” Those are JP’s very offensive words, not mine.
Once we got into the airport we had a burrito (amazing) from Qdoba, and the lady behind the counter was super friendly (service with a smile is something I forgot existed). I thought, “What an extraordinarily friendly lady!” and then I went to get a coffee and that lady was also super friendly. I then remembered that in the US people are encouraged to act that way to customers. I also used US DOLLARS for both of these transactions, which I fumbled awkwardly trying to be sure I counted it right. It’s better than when I came back from Ecuador though and tried to pay at the Dunkin Donuts in the Miami airport for a bagel they had already made for me with the only money I had, Ecuadorian change, without realizing it. Now I am sitting waiting for the plane and JP is getting his calves massaged by a chair in Brookstone or something. I really didn’t expect to be surprised by anything here. I am a little glad that I am.