There comes a time in every expat’s life when he gets a visit from across the ocean from his parents. My time was this Christmas.
My wife and I spent most of October, November, and December preparing the house – doing all the various DIY, obscure cleaning, and upgrade jobs that we’d been putting off.
Our place is small, so my mother and her partner stayed at a local hotel. We picked them up and took them to the hotel on their first day to find that my mother had been made “Guest of the day”, which was a source of amusement for us.
Many of the things that my mother and her partner noticed about North Central Florida, I remembered noticing myself when I first visited several years ago, but they’ve since become my everyday normality, so I barely notice them anymore. They seemed surprised by how neat and tidy everything was. Parts of Britain do certainly have severe litter problems, although like in the USA, it can vary quite a bit from from place to place.
My mother and her partner are less flexible than me – although I moan about some things in the US, I am essentially a go-with-the-flow sort who likes to explore things. When it comes to food, for instance, although I am lukewarm on certain elements of mainstream American eating, I do like many things about the Floridian diet, such as the fresh seafood, as well as Mexican and Cajun dishes (plus Chinese, Indian, Thai, Caribbean, and Italian). My mother’s partner is much more conservative with his eating habits, however, so we ended up eating at places that served food such as “British Fish and Chips” (which is never quite like the real thing in the USA, anyway), rather than at the places where they serve a more local menu.
|In a cafe in St Augustine|
All in all the trip was a success, however. We did start running out of touristy things to do with my parents towards the end, but that was kind of inevitable - Gainesville is essentially a working college town, not a holiday resort, so there are only so many sights to see. We did manage to find some alligators for them to photograph, however, and take them on day trips to both the Gulf and Atlantic coasts, including a visit to America’s oldest continuously occupied settlement, St Augustine.