Well, after a full year in Boquete, I came back two and a half weeks ago. I feel sort of in limbo, a bit confused about where I want to be... Things seem so different and yet the same. I'm going through all the motions of daily living here, as if I'd never left---shopping at the same Mexican market, or at Trader Joe's, getting the car serviced at the dealership, undergoing routine health exams before seeing my doctor for an annual physicial, and reconnecting with a few friends & family. Next week I'll be traveling to Solano county for a work seminar. And I'll be taking some nursing courses because my license is up for renewal. It's all so routine and mundane. As if I awoke from a dream and hadn't actually been in Boquete at all.
I love all the technology at our disposal these days. Can't even imagine what it used to be like without the internet. But with the internet, and VOIP, and teleconferencing, and Skype and webcams,--- boundaries and borders get really blurred and I sometimes get the feeling I'm on a holodeck.
Culture shock refers to an emotional discomfort suffered when a person relocates to another country or a place different from one's origin. There's an anxiety component that develops when one encounters differences in socially accepted norms of behavior and daily living. So, I guess what I'm feeling isn't actually culture shock. There were no surprises or conflicts for me here. After a year of driving a rustic 20 yr old jeep at 30-40 mph on the near-isolated roads of Chiriqui province, I hopped into my late model compact in California and zipped down the freeway at 70 mph without second thoughts. Like shifting gears, I just keep going.
But something is different. Can't say I feel disoriented, exactly, because I function adequately, I react appropriately, and I communicate normally in my environment. As if I were a universal game piece, interchangeable from one board to the next, but sentient and without a clear opinion regarding which game is preferable. It's another reality. I think it's helping me grasp the surrealism of a particular movie genre my son loves. Have no idea what the genre is called. But I'd categorize movies such as The Matrix, and more recently, Inception, and the Book of Eli as belonging to it.
I snapped a few photos today of main street in our little town. It's undergoing some kind of upgrade since I last saw it. Viewing these pics reminds me of the aforementioned movie landscapes. Maybe this has something to do with feeling ungrounded. I thought the highway expansion in Boquete was unsettling....