Only twelve ways we expats have more fun, you ask? I know, there are many more, but do you want to read a list of a hundred? No, I didn’t think so. So here’s twelve:

ONE: You have fun watching your expat kids morph into foreigners.

expat life
The middle one is my daughter number one taking part in a fashion show in Indonesia. Left is her German friend, right her Dutch friend.

TWO: You get to eat exotic foods like, say, fertility sausage made from goat meat. A Kenyan farmer was feeling sorry for my husband because after a year of marriage I had failed to produce a mtoto, a baby. He gave my prince a fertility sausage for me to eat. Yes, I ate some. And it worked! I got pregnant four years later on another continent (with the one on the picture above).

THREE: As an expat you may be lucky to visit wineries in Chili, South Africa, France, or even Moldova. How exiting is it to see Vladimir Putin’s personal wine stash in the huge Cricova winery cellars in Moldova?


Okay, not so much, but the place itself is cool (and cold too). It boasts 120 km (75 m) of labyrinthine underground roadways and the number of bottles stored there is mind boggling. So are the cobwebs and dust covering the bottles.

FOUR: As an expat traveler you get fabulous opportunities to visit exotic places, for example a tropical rain forest in Ecuador.

Ecuador rainforest

FIVE: You may get a chance to visit the homes of interesting people, such as the mud hut of a Kenyan farmer, the palace of a Ghanaian chief, or the home of a Gypsy family in Romania.

Gypsy family
Here’s my story: Dancing with the Gypsies

SIX: You’ll have a chance to get chased by exotic animals – lions or tigers, or maybe a water buffalo. This happened to me in Indonesia, although nobody ever believed me. I was on a hike through rice paddies and fields with my Hash House Harriers running club mates. A Swiss friend and I had lost the trail and were by ourselves in the wilds of the Java countryside. And suddenly there was this water buffalo and it didn’t look friendly and it started chasing us. We ran like crazy, made it back to the group completely out of breath, and no one believed us. Supposedly water buffaloes don’t chase people. Oh, yeah?

SEVEN: If you’re lucky and at some time in your expat life you live in France, as I do now, you’ll have a great time visiting markets – food markets, flea markets and antique markets. The antique markets offer items of the most funky sort, like this mannequin I found one time:

IMG_4283-3-450x556

Wouldn’t you just love having her in your entry way?

EIGHT:  Are you a church-going expat? Being an expat in Ghana, West Africa, you’ll have the great comforts of having your hair done at the Repent Hair Salon, your car fixed at the Blessed Assurance Auto Repair Shop and having lunch at God is King Fast Food. Have a leaky faucet? Do not despair: Call Seek Christ Plumbing Works. If you are a less religious soul, you might want to savor a meal at the Don’t Mind Your Wife Chop Bar, or a drink or two at the Puky Bar, a drinking establishment not far from our house in Accra when we lived there.

Don't Mind Your Wife

NINE: You may get to watch Albanians cure olives! I know, I know, maybe not so exciting, but who’d ever think a Dutch girl would find herself having fun visiting olive farmers in Albania and having lunch with them? And no, curing olives is not a pretty business but they sure taste good when they’re done.

Olives curing
TEN: You accidentally run into colorful, noisy foreign demonstrations, festivals or parades, like this Easter parade in Costa Rica. For a sober Dutch person of lapsed Protestant vintage, this was fun to see. Lots of dancers in costumes and interesting floats.

San Ramon Easter Parade
ELEVEN: As an expat you may start a collection of handmade carpets — oriental, Persian, Moroccan. And sometimes you get to actually see how they are made. In a village in Armenia I watched the women comb the wool, spin the wool and weave the wool into carpets.

Armenian Carpets

These two women were combing the wool, which is done before it can be spun. You can see the wool in boxes next to them. Think of all that work that goes into making a handmade carpet!

TWELVE: In various places the world over you can go to spas and get yourself smeared with various exotic mixtures and concoctions. In Israel you can smear yourself all over with Dead Sea mud. How fun is that!

Dead Sea Mud
And yes, that’s me, the short one on the right on the picture. Oh, and I swam floated in the Dead Sea too, but I must confess here that the water feels slimy and disgusting and it stinks. That’s why it’s so good for you. Maybe.

Okay, that’s my twelve and now it’s your turn. Please tell me about your expat travel fun: Hit that comment button and entertain me.

Note: This post is an updated version of a story I posted a number of years ago.

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Do you love to complain about the miseries of your expat life? About how nothing works and they don’t import your favorite brand of peanut butter and the streets are full of potholes. No? Me neither.

Well, I must admit to an occasional lapse when the internet doesn’t work. Generally though, I find it more interesting to look for the amusing side of life in a foreign country. It helps to keep the budget for antidepressants at a manageable level.

The most fun I had living abroad was in Ghana, West Africa, where I actually lived twice, for a total of almost 8 years. (Our first daughter was born there, delivered by a doctor wearing a butcher apron and rubber boots, but that’s another story.) What I love about Ghana is not the steamy tropical climate, the malarial mosquitoes and the power outages. What I love most is the people.

Ghanaians are outgoing, down to earth and they say it as they see it. They have a fun sense of humor and it’s easy to joke and laugh with them. Of course the fact that English is the official language is a big bonus.

It is easy to recognize the Ghanaian character by looking at the posters, bill boards and shop signs you find everywhere along the roads and streets. You can even see it in their coffins. In the coffins of the well to do, at any rate.

Ghana coffins

Coffins: lobster, pineapple, beer bottle and others. Design your own.

So for your entertainment, here are some more photos expressing the Ghanaian character and culture.

Ghanaian restroom

Is this clear?

Do you need computer classes? Are you a Christian person? Here’s the place for you:

Peace and Love, but if you are a lazy man, don’t come here to eat. Click on photo for more fun info.

Peace and Love Spot

Are you suffering? Here’s the place to go:

Ghanaian herbal remedies

A cure for everything

And here a poster that needs no explanation:

Ghana AIDS poster

This is probably enough for today.

* * *

In what country did you most enjoy the people and the culture? Or what do you like most about the characteristics of your own people?

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