Writing the closing scenes of my new book brought good and not so good memories flooding back. They came in erratic waves, like the mad traffic that used to vibrate past our stone cottage in Bodrum. Our time in Turkey was the best of times, a four year white knuckle ride that frequently left us breathless. Like all adventures, it wasn’t without its challenges. Language, culture, resentment, home sickness, red-tape, isolation, plunging interest rates, political uncertainty, the dreadful expat rat pack – these were just a few of my least favourite things. They made me sad and from time to time, they queered our pitch. I’m glad to say we batted most of them off. Like seasoned old pros, we settled down to a life of wanton self-indulgence in an emigrey bubble of our own making, for a while at least. The trouble is, all bubbles burst sooner or later and now we’re back on planet Earth. We’re grown-ups again, albeit a little older, a little wiser and with completely different priorities.
I’ve often been asked what we would do differently if we had our time over again. The answer is very little. Before we stepped off the treadmill and abandoned the long grey days, Liam became my very own forensic researcher. “Dib, dib, dib, dob, dob, dob,” as the Scouts say and, just like the Scouts, “Be Prepared,” was Liam’s mantra. Even so, despite extensive preparation, we still got tripped up. You see, whether you move to a foreign land for the filthy lucre, the thrill of discovery or just to put your feet up and wait for the Grim Reaper’s call, something unexpected will pull the cultural rug from under you. Trust me. It will happen whether you like it or not so best get used to the idea. That’s not to say you should just jump in the deep end without a rubber ring, that would be daft. No, it makes sense to to avoid that painful belly-flop. Do your homework and find out as much as you can from the people who have been there, done that and bought all the fake tee-shirts. In the long run, it will save you a lot of heartache. And if you like to take your advice in handy sound bites, check out HiFX Expat Tip page, from those in the know. There’s even a little tit-bit in there from me.