My friend Coleen calls me Saint Nora of the Perpetually Lost because I have a terrible sense of direction. I don’t know my right from my left. That’s a sign of being very hemisphere balanced, though, using both sides of my brain equally, so it’s a good thing.
Except when I’m driving. Or walking. Or giving directions.
One of the questions on the language self assessment I use is something like "I can give and understand directions." According to that part of the test, I’m still a novice English speaker.
I have colleagues that live about 1/4 mile from me. When we’re all home they have me over for dinner once a week. Since it’s dark by 7 pm all year round here, I always have to get home in the dark. This is not a problem now that I have a nice big truck with nice big headlights, but sometimes I try to walk or ride my bike home. It’s especially fun when there’s no moon.
The first time I walked home in the dark I wandered around for about 45 minutes, going in circles. There were goats rustling around in the fields around me and the path that I was walking on, but it was dark so I was sure they were snakes. So, I stomped really loudly to scare them off, and decided that I would never go out with just my mini flashlight again. I should have brought my machete.
I finally gave up trying to find my house, so I went into someone’s yard. It was pretty dark, and they just had one kerosene lantern lit, so I shined my flashlight on my face and said something like "I’m lost. I live by Espoir Plus – do you know where my house is?"
People here are so wonderful-he walked me all the way home. Ok, so twice he stopped and asked me if I knew where I was and could go alone, and each time I had to say that I didn’t. Aaah, language and culture learning, just full of opportunities to laugh at yourself.
Before you worry about me asking a stranger to take me home, remember that I have an enormous dog. Also know that I live in a very small place – I’m sure it was immediately the talk of the town how the crazy foreign lady got lost just blocks from her house, and who helped her get home. Everybody knowing what goes on with everybody else really makes for a lot of security, everyone watching out for one another. It’s kind of nice, actually…