I’m not sure what independence means to you, but living overseas on and off for just about 6 of the past 13 years, I find that I don’t take much for granted anymore when it comes to our physical liberties, civil rights or freedom of, well … just about everything.
Today, on my first day off for a US holiday since moving to Honduras, I’m heading to the store to get photos taken for my work permit and resident visa. An ironic errand for a 4th of July holiday, right? But just as we ask that immigrants to our shores to get properly documented, I must do the same. I am an expat, (not a patriot of the country in which I am currently residing) and as a responsible Honduran guest I need to take care of immigration business. Oh, did I mention the photo studio is located in a mall?! How terribly American of me — shopping on a holiday. I don’t have much choice though. It’s got to be done. I’m feeling a good, robust Honduran coffee in my future.
The next order of business, getting a medical certificate from a local doctor. I wonder … is this required of people applying for a Green Card? Independence is a big deal to me and not one that comes so easily here. I’ll be accompanied by Jorge when I walk around the mall and there will be guys with big fat shotguns or other, more serious weapons dotted around the facility with flak jackets on and if we head out to Progresso to the souvenir shop there will likely be a stop at at least one checkpoint. It’s all become just part of life, and other than being self conscious about what I’m shopping for, I don’t mind anymore. It makes me feel more secure.
But not to worry. This is not a sad, lonely Independence Day for me. I am invited to a 4th of July BBQ WITH fireworks tonight, so all is not lost on this expat on this most patriotic of holidays.
UPDATE: I didn’t get this posted before heading out this morning so here is the latest on my día de descanso de las compras — leisurely day of shopping.
We made our way through the mall to get the photos taken care of before heading out to Progresso so I could shop for Honduran crafts to bring back on a quick trip to the States this weekend. We were stopped twice. At this point, Jorge has come to expect it as we’re exiting the toll both so he goes through the righthand side and prepares to be pulled over. He gets his license ready, his gun permit and once in a while pulls the gun off his clip or out of the box in the console. Everything checks out and we’re on our way.
I have a new M.O. though. When Jorge is asked to roll my window down I look at the police officer with a big smile and an exuberant, “Hi! or Howdy! or How are ya?!” I think it’s so unexpected that they just give me this funny look and bid Jorge a fond farewell with a look that says, “Wow, this guy has his work cut out for himself, she can’t even say Hola, or Buen Dia!”
So you see, Independence means different things to us all, but to me it means learning to live with a few less freedoms in my day-to-day life, while enjoying the safety and security that comes with a bit less autonomy.
That said, I wish you all a very happy Independence Day wherever you are, in whatever way you’re celebrating and if you’re out there doing what you do to help keep us all safe and sound and to preserve our freedoms, thank you, and I hope you get a little bit of time to observe this important 4th of July holiday.
And finally — I’d like to ask a favor, please? Will you check out the link to my earlier blog — TheXpatFiles and let me know if it loads for you? I moved it to a new hosting service in preparation of reviving it and it’s not playing nicely with my devices so I’m not sure it’s working properly. If you wouldn’t mind letting me know, I’d really appreciate it.