LimboExpat  by Andy Mayer

Moving sucks!

shipping container

It does not matter if you are moving out of home for the first time where you can shove all your measly possessions in the back of a hatchback, moving states where your possessions are shoved into a  borrowed van or if you are moving to a new country and all your possessions are shoved into a 40ft container.

It just sucks. FAAAAAAARK IT SUCKS!!!

All the buddhist meditation, yoga classes and retreats amount to Sweet FA when you  live out of a suitcase as stomping, bitching, moaning and drinking too much cheap wine seems to be on an exponential curve.


My eyes open every morning (well not this week as my eyelids stuck together with conjunctivitis) but normally they open and as my vision comes into focus and I see the mattress on the floor next to the double bed, the really ugly gold and white polyester curtains, the dusty laminate floor and the blank cream colored walls and  I wish it was 10pm and I could be heading to bed again.

Conjuctivitis- The antithesis to Morning Glory
Conjuctivitis- The antithesis to Morning Glory

I am in a shitty place mentally. I have just moved to one of the best countries in the world and I am floundering. We are all floundering. Even the dog is floundering.


Living in temporary accommodation for more than 3 months anywhere in the world is like groundhog day. Living without your possessions and realising Summer has long gone and Winter is approaching  at a rate of knots is daunting. You only have a suitcase with your summer clothes , enough OB Tampons for 3 periods and your face cream is down to wiping the inside lid with your finger.


Our life the past 3 months.

You never consider  when you pack up your old life  it might be  3-9 months before you will be reunited with your “stuff”. In some cases you are never reunited with your stuff.

I know some of you are nodding in agreement because you too are living in cramped quarters, kids are bickering wondering when they will see their stuff, sleep in their bed, pat the dog/ cat/turtle  again and when Mum and Dad will stop huffing and puffing saying “Excuse Me “ just that little bit to gruffly passing through the  kitchen reheating the 3rd premade supermarket dinner that week.

You may be trying to familiarize yourself with a new language, settling kids into a new school or  being the new kid in the office at the same time  trying to navigate the immigration systems and get the much desired residency card. Either way it is tiring and soul sapping.

Limbo is like a long boring game of  connect 4 where there is  no  chance of winning .It drags on. You toss and turn in a bed that is uncomfortable, too hot or too bloody small. You are living in a new country but really it just feels like you are existing. You have no identity, no friends and  are not plugged in.


At the end of a boring day you click on the remote and hope in vain there will be a show in your mother tongue. The shows on Portuguese TV are pretty slim pickings. Our nightly viewing is  limited to Big Bang Theory, American Pickers and Storage Wars none of which float my boat. We have become a huge fan of Inspector Morse  ( we call Old Morse) and now understand why old people like the show so much. It’s boring and not much happens so you can actually have a bit of a nana nap and still be up to date with the story line. New Morse is our favorite but like it’s predecessor it too drags on a bit and you  find yourself wishing Eddie Redmayne played young Morse. Infact I find myself wishing Old Morse was played by George Clooney.  Ahh Limbo makes you shallow and boring even if you are in the best expat country in the world?

I just discovered as I chastised our boys about not helping out around the apartment. “We no longer have a housekeeper you guys need to take the rubbish out, put the recycling in the bin and empty the bloody dishwasher! ” I then yelled ” Electronics off and 30 mins reading right now off to bed” .

My eldest pointed out unfairly, “but mum it’s only 6.30pm”.

whoops. thought it was 7.30
whoops. thought it was 7.30

Some of you may be rolling your eyes  thinking

“well what about the refugees?”

“You have a roof over your head!”

“You are practically on holidays “.

Don’t think that has not crossed my mind but this nagging, dragging rather lonely feeling  is not a holiday, it’s not my roof and we are economic refugees . It  has me longing for our old life and I know having friends make a big difference.

I believe I have been here before it’s called Transition and it has an end with friends.





ShakenExpat  by Andy Mayer

Shaken or Stirred?
Shaken or Stirred?

I am a James Bond fan  and just put 2 and 2 together  that I order “shaken not  stirred” just like 007, but am not a follower I am a leader (a slow one). I like my Martini’s to be dirty, in fact have often told a barman the dirtier the better but this article is not about Martini’s  or how dirty things get after adding Vodka, it’s about being shaken or stirred.

The best 007 yet....
The best 007 yet….

I am feeling shaken at the moment which has stirred my pot (belly) so to speak. I can feel it  in my waters. There is a big  change afoot and it has a visceral impact. I am all over the show, one minute embracing change and feeling brave and sanctimonious about how often I deal with change and the next feeling like a coward pining for the past. I complained a lot living in Mongolia about the weather , the pollution,the drivers, the bad attitudes (including mine) among other things. I complained  in Saudi about the weather, the abeya, the stores closing 5 times a day for prayer, the drivers, the attitudes (mine again). I definitely complained living in Iraqi Kurdistan for my brief time about the weather, the electricity, the stinking minging drains, the drivers and my attitude.  Here I am sitting on my fat arse in Dubai awaiting change, but change is already upon us. I have been here 4 weeks, I know that because I sent my passport for an extended visa. It was only valid for 30 days. 

Who actually gets one of those first try?
Who actually gets one of those first try?

It has been 30 days of no running, no cooking, no routine, no possessions. I beat myself up about all the 30 days challenges that could have been completed. BUT no I preferred to wallow in self pity and indulge in a mojito or 10, puff a shisa, take the lift not stairs and wait for my biggest excuse to not exercise…. the carpet in our temporary lodging is polyester and smells funny?. WTF goes on in  my head? clearly it is shaken in limbo land. 

not all beaches and holidays
not all beaches and holidays

I am not going to bang on about my situation because I am not alone. Around the world there are hundreds of us all in a slightly different position but still limbo. The repats, the not sure expats, the repats-soon-to-be-expats again , the nationals about to be expats, the expats who lost jobs or are in domestic conflict. Far out so much limbo.

I am sensing a pattern. A probability and familiarity in myself. “I has gots ta change me ‘tude”


 This post is about all the shaken and stirred expatmummas out there who are staring change in the face and glaring at it with suspicion, excitement and apprehension. The changes appear only to be on the outside but it is all smoke and mirrors it’s really what’s going on, on the inside.

war totally fucks  with everyones lives
war totally fucks with everyones lives

I am talking about expat movements causing limbo for many spouses around this globe. Some of us are in limbo because

  1. our home has been packed and we are in temporary lodgings
  2. a contract has finished and our spouse is awaiting a new offer
  3. our job ended and we are looking for a new one
  4. there is an economic crisis in the expat country and we are temporarily based elsewhere
  5. there is a war or threat of war in the expat country and we are temporarily relocated
  6. all of the above
  7. documentation has not been approved for visa’s
  8. political issues at work are forcing families to be separated
  9. there is an epidemic in the expat country and people are advised to leave

possibly the biggest one is ……….

10. we have not gotten our heads around the change that has already taken place.

Somebody smart said it takes 12 months to settle into a new place. That is waaay too long

It is a shaken mixed up crazy world and crazy times we live in but we probably wouldn’t change it for quids. Actually the British pound( quid) is doing better than the USD isn’t it? Change. hmmmm


P.S. We must embrace the fact we need a little nurturing and love in times of limbo. Go call your limbo mate today please. Hug an expat she may need it more than you know.

In the meantime : Pass the shisha would you.

andy xoxo