On my first trip back to the United States in December of 2009, I had been in the Peace Corps for more than nine months. I wrote a blog post about America’s Top 10. Now that I’m on my fourth trip back, I thought I’d do another list, with a different 10 things. Here goes.
10. Prices – Somehow a lot of essentials are actually cheaper in the USA, at least relative to income.
9. Music – You hang out somewhere and you might hear a wide variety of music, much of it good.
8. Exercise space – I can jog without spraining an ankle.
7. Security – From the security of not living on a fault line to the security of knowing your government (or a foreign force) isn’t going to murder you, America feels like a safe place.
6. Being the center of attention. Something even moderately scandalous, like a congressman sexting, gets tons of media coverage and is immediately put to an end. Not the case in a country of little national interest to any other country, like Haiti, where scandalous things like camp evictions, fraudulent elections, the spread of cholera from negligent UN Peacekeepers, and the US-forced killing of the entire pork population happen with impunity.
5. Quiet – Sounds I don’t hear in America include roosters crowing, dogs barking, enormous trucks passing on tiny streets, people selling things outside our gate, and the hum of generators.
4. Sanitation systems – including potable water that doesn’t carry disease and a clean place to go to the bathroom.
3. The middle class – You don’t even notice how the vast majority of people in America are middle class until you see other places where the vast majority are poor or ultra poor.
2. Trees – There are lots of them in America, something I didn’t appreciate until I lived in a country that is something like 98 percent deforested.
1. Education – Everyone gets to go to school for free!