Alexandra Anderson is a Peruvian-born Communications professional now living in Houston, Texas. She is responsible for the bilingual content at Mecomi. As a single mom, former dancer, and self-defense instructor, she is most passionate about helping people overcome obstacles in life and getting organized.
05/10/2021 Alexandra Anderson
A stranger in a strange land
I am a stranger in a strange land.
Fifteen months ago, I moved overseas from Lima, Peru to Houston, Texas. Even though more than a year has passed, I still feel like a stranger. I’m not convinced that feeling will ever go away.
Being a stranger in a strange land means you have left your comfort zone. Maybe you wanted a change. Maybe you went looking for a life upgrade. In any case, you left the familiar in search of a better unknown.
I moved to the US to offer my teenage daughter more options than she could ever have had in Peru, more options, certainly, than I had. I knew it would be hard for both of us, but I believed the benefits would outweigh the drawbacks.
Being a stranger in a strange land--whether you're a temporary traveller or student or a long-term resident--means you will encounter new people, new relations, new protocols. If you choose to stay, like I have, you have to learn the ways of your adopted homeland fast.
We knew it would be different up north. And if you know any Peruvians, you shouldn't be surprised. For us, food is everything! It’s how we demonstrate our creativity and care for others. Food has the power to mirror a cultural reality and provide variety.
But it can also stand out as a reminder of what you’ve left behind. I miss the familiar flavors of home. Which brings the aching feeling of how much I miss my family and friends.
Eating food I don’t particularly enjoy, like Tex-Mex, makes me homesick, too. I become nostalgic for the tastes of my hometown, which in my mind takes on mythic proportions. I can almost taste the freshly-picked giant avocados, the bitterness of the local key limes, the buttery flavor of Tumbay potatoes, the sweetness of a homemade Chicha Morada (purple corn juice).I talk glowingly about Peru’s traditional dishes with new friends and acquaintances. With anyone who will listen, really.
But now I find myself living in a state where eating Tex-Mex three nights a week is the norm. After only two months in Texas, I was fed up with the Holy Trinity of tacos, fajitas and margaritas.
Being a stranger in a strange land means you will become the greatest fan of your own culture and food, falling in love again with what you left behind. But it also means respectfully accepting a new culture.
While part of my heart remains forever in Peru, the other is quietly adapting to life in the Lone Star State. There’s a saying here: Fake it until you make it. And as Texas becomes the newest love in my life, eating Tex-Mex one night a week is a small price to pay.