Toucans and macaws glide around the lush jungle canopy and scores of monkeys parade through the overhanging branches. Neon-green and electric-blue butterflies of preposterous sizes flit across gurgling streams, while waterfalls drop into deep pools. You also might worry that malaria, dengue fever, and other exotic diseases would run rampant.
Or perhaps that isolation would be a problem. You would be wrong…. Today a welcoming and modern town, it was a major river port and trading post in colonial times. Home to approximately 35, people, Tena is the capital of the Napo province. And because of its location at the junction of mountains and jungle, Tena has most of the benefits of the Amazon, with few of the disadvantages. There is no problem with stifling humidity or unbearable heat, and—though it can rain at any time of year—the precipitation is moderate. So what does Tena have to offer potential expats? In recent years, it has become a hub for eco-tourism and adventure.
Many of the several dozen expats who have settled here are active in running businesses, a number of which cater to visitors. Tena is the place for whitewater rafting.
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Rainfall washes down the mountainsides into several nearby rivers, creating rapids-laced runs. Kayaking, rafting, and tubing are all options, depending upon the river and the time of year. Trekking is also popular among locals and visitors alike, with trails of varying levels running through the forest. The northwest side contains the primary town square, quieter neighborhoods, and hostels—ideal for a leisurely stroll. Crossing the footbridge over the newly conjoined river brings you to the larger section of town.
And yes, they always want the quick and easy answer. Really, how do you summarize a life living abroad or traveling the world? How do you condense it into just a few short sentences? Is it even possible? Their stories and times were entertaining and important for them as much as any tales that I may have had.
Time can make people grow somewhat apart as they pursue their directions and desires in life. I find the biggest culture shock of coming home are Pedestrian Crossings — cars actually stop!
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For most destinations that I venture to, zebra crossings are there for decoration only. Stopping is optional. Franny, I love seeing you comment on the site! When we get together, you can listen! I know you will. OH and PS — my reverse culture shock is always awful and I get depressed for like 2 months.
We went through some of the same reactions when we visited our family and friends in the States over the holidays. I head to Europe to live out of my backpack again August 23rd! Oh yes, I so know that glazed eyes look…. I have to accept it though, so this have sometimes made me shut my mouth about our trips. Such a pity. One funny thing that I forgot to mention earlier.
If travelling to North America or mainkland Europe, you quickly get into the habit of looking the other way when crossing the road and even walking on the other side of the pavement. It is a shock to get back home to be walking into people or nearly being decked by cars when checking the road the wrong way. Hi Matt!
Blogtrotter is showing some sights of the most northern capital city in the world. Enjoy and have a great weekend! First off, welcome home, Matt! But I do the same thing when people start going on and on about reality shows. Thank God for the Internet, where we can connect with people who share our passions and obsess about them as much we do. I fully expect it to be surreal, and am already plotting my strategy to be able to take off again. I totally agree Matt.
I actually slept on the floor, next to my bed, in my childhood room after a trip because it just felt too…odd to be back. Good point. I do enjoy coming home to see my friends but then again, being home reminds me how much I like being away. So when and where are you plotting your escape next? So true Matt. I popped home for a wedding for the 1st time in almost two years not long ago. I found it a bit of a weird paradox. On the one hand, it really felt like time had stood still in my absence and nothing had changed, people were still doing the same thing etc.
However, at the same time, people had moved on, found new friends, partners etc and so had new parts of their lives of which I had no involvement — which made me fee quite detached at times. Well stated. I returned from 4 months in Rome to live in the fast paced, heart wrenching world of NYC and the difference between those two worlds was indeed shocking and I felt very alone in my feelings!!! The stories that I shared with them is incomparable to the actual magic that I felt during my travels….
Great film. Plus i had lunch with the filmmaker, Brook, about a year ago in NYC. Great guy. This is exactly how I felt when I came back from studying abroad in Australia in , and then again how I felt after coming back from teaching English in Prague earlier this year. You feel so different, and yet the only people who really understand the difference are those that were there with you. I am going back home to Chicago this Sunday after working in Saudi Arabia for 5 years. I am scared and confused. I thought I would be happy of returning back home,but now I feel sad ,scared and cry a lot.
Is this how I suppose to feel? I like your travel blog Matt, and ths article caught my eye as it reminded me of how I frequently felt after returning home Ottawa, Canada from living overseas. About two months ago I returned to the US after a year spent in Thailand. I cannot believe that I am still going through the culture shock of being home, and it only seems to get worse.
The feelings suck. It was good to read your article, there are many things that I agree with and it is comforting. I agree with the travel stories bit. People get bored very quickly because they think you are bragging even when they ask you! I have so many stories to tell but feel like I have no one to tell them too. My home town does feel like it was frozen apart from my friends who are now all married and have children.
Its tough, when does it get better matt? It never does but luckily there is a great online community of travelers to share your stories with. So glad I found your post, Matt, and all the thoughtful comments that followed. I just returned from a three month odyssey that included long, incredibly rich interludes in Morocco, Spain, followed by some amazing experiences in Italy, Corfu, and Albania. I just returned last Tuesday night and for these past five days have felt like something of a zombie.
Tonight I may still feel lower than pond scum but perhaps not as low as the looooong day following my return last week. At least I know what the prognosis is and can do something about it. Thanks so much for letting me discover this wealth of insight here. By that I mean, people are living their own lives in the way that drives them. Its not the stories that interest people necessarily, its how connected they feel as a result of them.
There is something to be said about great art though. There is an art in telling story so it relates to people. How would we ever truly know? I wonder sometimes…. K, europe etc for 6 months, came home for 6 weeks and then went off to the U. Hey- brilliant post. I spent over a year travelling and working in Asia, and coming back seemed easy enough at first. Trying to explain it seems impossible to anyone here, but you really hit the nail on the head.
Prior to Switzerland, I was working full time. My boyfriend was offered an incredible work opportunity for years in Europe, and he said he wouldnt go unless I quit my job and went with him. It was scary to give up everything, but I did it. I gave my car to my daughter, quit a great job, and packed up my entire house of belonging to ship overseas. Traveling has always been my dream, and Even though we had a house in Switzerland, I traveled alot with my boyfriend on business trips; Amazing adventures.
Being back in California is akward. This just depresses me further. He is restless though not traveling 3 days a week. It helps me to read the post here. Thank you. Thank you for writting this. It was the hardest decision that I have ever made and I feel guilty for it almost everyday. I still have a hard time trying to relate to my good friends. I know that this has been more harmful than helpful. My therapist is having a field day with this concept. At least you can talk to someone! I can tell you that I already know that it will be a short stay.
Could not agree more.
I spent 5 years essentially living on the road in the States. I just recently accepted an international job and have been traveling through several countries for a little over six months. Heading back to the states tomorrow. Hey… Your article was really amazing! But I am terrified! America has become this really great place with amazing friends and awesome places to travel and see.
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Reverse culture shock can hit hard. I did not want to adapt back home and I struggled for a while. I have this video blog with tips to help people ease themselves back home. I hope it helps! Last year I went back home after living abroad for 10 years. Those 10 days went by fast…. Hey Matt. In my mind I pictured myself staying for a while and settling down a bit.
Will it ever end? Will I settle down and resume a normal life? Or will I continue this circle of travel and saving, travel and saving? Not that its a bad thing I guess. I wanted to thank you for this post. My husband and I recently took a short 4-month RTW trip and have been home for one month.
I found your article just before posting my own I actually linked yours in my own in case someone would like to read more on the subject , and I just wanted to say thanks. I avoided searching for information on coping once you got home because I wanted to figure out my own emotions for myself first. I never actually experienced a culture shock while on our trip of course, we moved very quickly , but I definitely did when we got home.
Everything was just… weird. And it still kind of is. So, I appreciate you sharing your experiences on the subject. I am so glad to stumble upon this post! I lived abroad in Florence for two months for grad school and coming back to my old life in NYC is definitely challenging to adjust to. Its hard transitioning from a pleasure seeking experience in Italy to a go go fast-paced life in New York City.
Your experiences have changed you. Life is best experienced through images and feelings… sometimes there are no words to describe them. I am experiencing the shock of coming home now. After almost ten years in North America, I came back to my Asian home.
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The home culture also changed while I have been away, and I was not part of this evolution. Thanks for your sharing. Thanks Matt, I can really relate to a lot of what you have said. I have done quite a bit of traverling in my time, with long periods away from home. I have just returned to the UK after 2 years living in Thailand. Im finding it very hard to adjust back to my old life and fear I never will. Im actually sometimes weirdly envious of friends that have not travelled but seem to be more content with living a life more rooted.
Im interested in hearing from people who have made the transition from long time traveling, or living abroad to coming home back to there native contry and being happy and content. Thanks matt for thie intresting blog, thanks for reading. Hello there! Does anyone have a suggestion on the ideal stretch of days? However, I will definitely be exercising and on the internet working and planning for the near future. Home is hard to define for myself as I left England at Ten years in France then 13 in Florida and another 4 in Thailand leaves me really wondering what is home.
The whole EU thing is interesting and makes England a whole lot bigger. Living in the U. Although in the U. Also I missed my American weather and the overly happy, courteous people that I thought were strange when first moved to US. I have so enjoyed reading all the comments on here. Canada,China and Australia to name a few. I have recently returned to home to U.
The heat and humidity in Summer started to become too much for me as I was in Brisbane. I think as with many things it is such an individual experience as to how people cope coming back home. Also the number of years and age of a person too. The U. I know it will take time to adjust back, but if I make the effort then I will.
Yes, people who have not travelled are more secure and have stronger roots. However, I have a priceless experience of life and other cultures that I would not want to trade. I see the World through a much broader perspective.
Most people come to see this in later years. So I suppose at the end of the day life is swings and roundabouts. Yes,I have given up some things, but gained immeasurably in others. The changed perspective when you come home is really sign of the growth a person has experienced. It is our adjustment to this truth hat is the important thing. I can relate to this, but in a different way.