Okay, so we're not saying that we're 100% happy to be back in the UK. For one thing, it's bloody freezing and we haven't really seen the sun for a month, but after two years in Latin America, there are definitely some major pluses to being back on this little island we call home.
the lack of shit buckets
After months of having to view the remnants of other people's bottom wipes, it is a joy to be able to flush away all evidence! Seriously guys, never underestimate the value of good plumbing. After a difficult readjustment period, usually involving standing up from the toilet and waddling over to the nearest bin before realising you can just chuck in the bowl, the paper now almost always* makes it to the toilet.
*apologies to anybody we have stayed with or bathrooms we have used since our return - some odd bits of paper may have made it to the bin.
the wondeful world of supermarkets
Although we love being able to purchase fresh fruit and veg from little old ladies in markets, we bloody love supermarkets! Sure, they lie to us, convince us to buy 2-4-1 chocolate hobnobs (when the our tightening waistbands are screaming otherwise) and take advantage of farmers, but there are few other things that have given us so much joy than hours spent pushing a trolley around Sainsbury's with every possible taste and dish right there at our fingertips.
Proper British pubs
Now, I'm not talking about your used-to-be-proper but now upholsters everything in Laura Ashley fabric gastro-pub. No, I mean muddy wellies, an open fire (with or without sleeping dog), no music, no TV, a clientele of men who shoot at the weekends and absolutely no food on offer. The sort that was selling craft ale long before it was cool and knows a thing or two about a good pint of cider
My first sup of perfectly dry apple-ey goodness was so good, I almost swore never to leave home again. Almost.
the joys of central heating
There is a magical dial in my parent's house. You turn it and all around you, the air starts to heat up. Considering we came from tropical conditions, it's definitely not warm enough to be wandering around the shorts in shorts and a vest top (I tried - Dad spouted something about the electricity bill) but compared to the baltic conditions outside, I'll take it!
the one, the only, PG tips
We have been suckling at the teet of the coffee gods for so long, that we've forgotten about the joys of china teapots and endless cuppas! Truly, there is very little as comforting to a Brit than a lovely cup of tea.
Whether that means we should continue to have ten cups a day remains to be decided.
the surprising abundance of safe drivers
Sure, there are still some numpties on the roads here, but in general, people aren't actively trying to mow anybody down, and usually will try and avoid hitting you - it's a bloody novelty.
And the best bit, cars actually stop at zebra crossings!
my actual, very own, bloody lovely wardrobe
After living out of a backpack for so long, we've both gotten used to having a very limited selection of clothes to pick from, inevitably wearing the same things over and over again for fear of having to unpack the backpack entirely if we want an item at the bottom. Now, we arrive home and remember that one, there is an entire receptacle for storing items of clothing, and that two, we have so many different options.
Sure, I don't need six cream cardigans - but it's a pretty nice to have the choice sometimes.
All the foods!
Between us, we're fairly certain that since arriving home, we have ticked off pretty much every major nationality when it comes to restaurant dining and takeaway. And whilst it wasn't all great, just having the opportunity to eat it has been amazing.
We take for granted how much variety is on offer, even in the smallest British town. And whilst continuing to eat curries and Thai food is not going to help us lose the extra weight we gained gallivanting across the globe - everybody needs a treat meal now and again!
silence is golden
Latin America is full of so much life and energy, but sometimes that 'energy' can get a little too much. Such as at 3 a.m. on a bus when the man behind and in-front of you decide that it is simply too peaceful and that what we all need is some lively music played through tinny phone speakers. In some countries, peace and quiet is simply not a loved concept.
As the months pass by and British civility becomes less unique, we're sure that this is something we will soon miss, but for now silence, really is, golden.
Oh, and clearly defined queuing systems! Gosh we love those!
no more handwashing for me - I've rediscovered the washing machine
For the first year or so we mostly used launderettes, but after months of receiving clothes that either didn't smell great or were still dirty (as well as one delightful lady that drew massive 'A's on all our clothes in permanent market), we opted to wash our own clothes whenever possible.
Whilst this meant that we no longer had to horde and collect dirty and smelly clothes in our backpack for up to two weeks at a time (no matter how good your hygiene, it will smell pretty whiffy by that point!), by the time that we boarded our flight home, we'd done so much hand washing that calluses have begun to appear and clothes have several new holes caused solely by scrubbing too hard.
But, my god, washing machines are great. Dirty clothes go in, press a button and thirty minutes later they come out clean AND smell wonderful.
the beautiful british pricing system
Don't get us wrong, we love a good bargain. A friendly conversation, a connection and, eventually, 50% off. However, sometimes I don't want to barter. I want to buy a banana without the first price quoted being the going rate for fifteen.
It's going to take a little while to fully trust the greengrocer in the local markets here, but bloody hell, it's lovely to know that the price he gives us, is well, the actual price!
water. from the tap.
With the exception of a couple of more developed countries, you generally can't drink the tap water in Latin America (well, you can, but unless you have a private bathroom with a proper toilet door to deal with the consequences, it's really not advisable - trust me, Andrew still doesn't look at me in the same way!). This means gallon upon gallon of bottled water and a perpetual fear that you're slowly killing the planet.
But here, we have taps that not only dole out lovely safe, perfectly clear drinking water, but on occasion, it's actually hot!