Visiting Family Overseas... time, expense, agony, and fun! - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 31 Old 02-15-2008, 08:55 AM - Thread Starter
 
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This seems like the perfect place for this, so...

DH is Iranian, and his family lives in Iran. The only option to get there is a miserable 24 hour trip via airplane. There's not much to do there, I don't speak the language, and discovered on my first trip that I am allergic to lamb, which is very commonly used (think daily or near-daily use). Every time I go, I end up exhausting 3 weeks of vacation time (i.e. almost all of it for a given year) and am genearlly miserable.

Of course, I want my DS to know his family, and they want to see him so much, but I made the last two trips there by myself with DS and it was very contentious both times because I don't speak the language and only one of their family does, but he certainly didn't want to be tied to me the whole visit.

We went with DH in 2004, and I took DS by myself in 2005 and 2006. We skipped last year, and although my DH is pressuring me, I want to skip this year, too. DH is consumed by his business responsibilities and will not be able to go.

BUT DS starts Kindergarten in August, and our days of being foot loose and fancy free with our time will fly out the window. At that point we will probably only be able to go at Christmas (for 2 weeks) or spring break (probably 2 weeks but no more because we'd be missing a week of school). I am putting a moritorium on summer travel because of the heat and the lack of air conditioning.

So, as you can see, it is a big problem! I like my in-laws, they've never been anything other than kind and accomodating towards me, but on the flip side I hate using my whole vacation allotment for what amounts to a non-vacation.

Share your stories, trials, tribulations, and successes with visiting family overseas here!
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#2 of 31 Old 02-19-2008, 12:45 PM
 
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I hear you about using up the whole vacation to go see relatives.

My problem is that MY parents also live on the other side of the country from us, so after using up all our vacation to go see one side . . . then what? And what about taking a family vacation from time to time???? (sigh)

Don't get me wrong, I actually really like going to see the in-laws (in Croatia). They are wonderful people,, and they have a family house on one of the islands, so it's really a great vacation for kids. It's more about not having enough vacation time period . . .

Learning the language made a HUGE difference for me, I have to say. I remember what it was like the first few times I went (before knowing ANY of the language). Although most educated people over there speak at least SOME English I could get by for necessities, but it was SO tiring going out with DH's friends and not knowing any of what they were saying! They were nice and translated whenever they remembered to, but it is just not the same. I like to study languages, so since then I have tried my best to pick up Croatian, although I am far from fluent.

I know the cultural differences with visiting Iran would be much greater than in central Europe, though, and I can't help much with that. I do, however, have a funny story about a friend of ours who took his (American) wife to Tehran to visit his parents for the first time! She spoke NONE of the language, and her DH had to go out to visit someone. He was going to be longer than expected, and so sent someone back to tell her not to worry. The man knocked on the door, and when our friend's wife answered, he said "I have a massage for you". She about fell over until she realized he meant "message". To this day this is a running joke in our family whenever someone takes a phone message! : )
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#3 of 31 Old 02-27-2008, 05:19 PM
 
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LOl that is a great story!!!!


I don't have good advice for you OP. I can stand three days with my inlaws and then I'm climbing the walls! Could you only go for 10 days to iran if you go this summer? Why does it have to be for 3 weeks?
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#4 of 31 Old 02-28-2008, 04:41 AM
 
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There's not much to do there
In IRAN??? I guess you didn't go during the outdoor season? Wow.

We will be in this position soon. Though, I actually like it here and I can speak some of the language (and the "second" language of the country) so it's not so bad.

Being allergic to lamb in Iran is kind of funny in a "I'm-so-glad-that's-not-me" way, though. How horrible. Like going to China and finding out you're allergic to rice.

Could his in-laws meet you in Turkey? It's much easier and Istanbul is lovely, not too far or expensive for them, and it is a very fun place. However, they also eat a lot of lamb.

It's not that the stay-at-home-parent gets to stay home with the kids. The kids get to stay home with a parent. Lucky Mom to DD1 (4 y) and DD2 (18 mo), Wife to Mercenary Dad
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#5 of 31 Old 02-28-2008, 08:44 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by AladdinsLamp View Post
LOl that is a great story!!!!


I don't have good advice for you OP. I can stand three days with my inlaws and then I'm climbing the walls! Could you only go for 10 days to iran if you go this summer? Why does it have to be for 3 weeks?
This is an Iranian "thing." If you're going all that way, and paying for plane fare, you MUST stay for a long time. In fact, the first time we went for 4 weeks.

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In IRAN??? I guess you didn't go during the outdoor season? Wow. May I advise you never to come see the rest of Central Asia because compared to Iran, we really have nothing to do. People here go to Iran for parties and kicks!!!
It is a beautiful place. However (and I sound like such a pansy here) after the first trip where we traveled around the country, there wasn't much more to see. Also, our choices of accomodation are either in Karaj (about 45 minutes north of Tehran) in my BIL's house, or in Tehran proper with my SIL in her one bedroom apartment. I don't like the one bedroom situation because DS goes stir crazy. There's nothing to do in Karaj, and the drive into Tehran in those tiny diesel cars makes me want to throw up, especially after a week of eating salad, cold cereal, and rice.

Also, we've only been in the early springtime - March through April. It is still pretty cold when we are there. We can't go in summer because of the heat and the expense. Plane tickets are twice as expensive after March 31st, so our choices are winter or spring.

Keep in mind also that we've had a baby or young toddler with us every time we've gone, which limited our possibilities for activities. DS is almost 5 now, and finally potty trained, so I think we might have more options on subsequent trips.

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Being allergic to lamb in Iran is kind of funny in a "I'm-so-glad-that's-not-me" way, though. How horrible. Like going to China and finding out you're allergic to rice.
Yeah, it's a huge problem. My poor SIL spent hours butchering chickens for me because I am such a picky eater (I have sensory issues). I felt like such a burden to them. My husband swears that they don't care, but I feel like I'm putting them out. I never realized how bad my sensory integration disorder was until I couldn't control my environment like I do at home. Let me tell you, it's bad.

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Could his in-laws meet you in Turkey? It's much easier and Istanbul is lovely, not too far or expensive for them, and it is a very fun place. However, they also eat a lot of lamb.
This is what I want them to do, but for some reason my husband doesn't want to suggest it.

I do think part of the problem is that I feel so isolated there... I am so independent at home, but in Iran they are not comfortable with me taking a walk by myself. I'm not afraid, I love to travel and interact with the locals wherever I am, but they are not comfortable with me being alone outside the house, and that makes me wonder if I would get into trouble or something. I don't know. It's really hard.
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#6 of 31 Old 02-28-2008, 09:15 AM
 
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That's a really tough situation but I have to say that I don't think you should be the one to have to bear the responsibility of your in-law/son relationship. I hear that your husband is busy, but he needs to take this on or your in-laws need to come to or near you. I end up doing a lot of the in-law stuff solo too but we're from the same country, I love going there and I'm (mostly) ok with being the conduit. To spend all your vacation time doing something that makes you miserable doesn't seem right.
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#7 of 31 Old 02-28-2008, 09:34 AM
 
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Yeah, the kid thing is tough. Hard to enjoy the out-of-doors with an infant. I thought Iranians (based on what they do here, I haven't been there, but we watch it every day on the news, and see many of them in our city) liked picnics and hiking and so on.

I understand about feeling like you're putting them out. At least you can take comfort that they are spending less on chicken than on lamb, no?

Do you know why your husband doesn't want to suggest it, at least every other year? I can see why he'd want the kids to experience the culture, reinforce the language, etc. etc. but it would be so much easier for you if you could at least have one meal you controlled and could stay in a hotel, which (if Iranian hospitality is anything like here, and I suspect it is) is impossible if you are in Iran.

Would it be too expensive for his parents to go to Turkey? Too difficult for them? What are the barriers? Is there any way you could discuss it in a non-threatening way while expressing your desire to have a bit of a rest?

It's not that the stay-at-home-parent gets to stay home with the kids. The kids get to stay home with a parent. Lucky Mom to DD1 (4 y) and DD2 (18 mo), Wife to Mercenary Dad
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#8 of 31 Old 03-07-2008, 07:22 PM
 
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I haven't been in your position - this summer will be the first time we'll go to the Philippines to visit dh's family (they've visited us a few times). But what strikes me the most is the fact that you've gone there by yourself twice already and your dh is asking you to do it again?! Are your in-laws not able to come visit you instead? Unless their health is poor and/ or they work just as hard as you both do, I don't see any reason they couldn't make the trip sometimes (assuming you paying for their trip is about the same expense as for you and ds's).
Also, if I remember correctly from your other threads/ posts, your dh is working very hard on a business that is not profitable - would taking a vacation really make that much of a difference that he absolutely cannot leave?

mama to my August boys ('03 & '06) trying to figure out what to do after 5 losses
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#9 of 31 Old 03-08-2008, 04:07 AM
 
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I experience a different kind of agony. I am living in DH's country, so visiting family overseas means going back to the country where I know the language, etc. I love my family dearly. It's just… I hate my hometown. Hate. Hate. That's why I left when I was 18! I'd love to go back and visit the place where I lived most of my adult life until now, see old friends, etc. etc. but that's 1500 miles from my family.

Our next trip back will be for winter break, and it will be our first trip with baby. I'm due early September so s/he'll be 3.5 mos or so. How fun will that plane ride be?!
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#10 of 31 Old 03-09-2008, 04:31 AM
 
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3.5 months is nothing. Babies often sleep on planes. Believe me- I did it alone three times. I was also nervous but little babies are not very hard on airplanes. It's the one and up phase that is hell.

It's not that the stay-at-home-parent gets to stay home with the kids. The kids get to stay home with a parent. Lucky Mom to DD1 (4 y) and DD2 (18 mo), Wife to Mercenary Dad
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#11 of 31 Old 03-09-2008, 06:49 AM
 
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That's a really tough situation but I have to say that I don't think you should be the one to have to bear the responsibility of your in-law/son relationship. I hear that your husband is busy, but he needs to take this on or your in-laws need to come to or near you. I end up doing a lot of the in-law stuff solo too but we're from the same country, I love going there and I'm (mostly) ok with being the conduit. To spend all your vacation time doing something that makes you miserable doesn't seem right.
completely agree! I realize that your in-laws love your little boy and that you want to nurture that relationship, but it also has to be up to your DH to help out with this!

Going *on your own* with a small child to a country where you don't speak the language more than once (ore even once!) is truly above and beyond the call of duty.

Not to 'diss on your DH, Lisa, but time for him to step up to the plate on this one!
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#12 of 31 Old 03-09-2008, 05:12 PM
 
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Some of my and all of my husband's family are in Germany. Grandmother 1 came to visit after our daughter was born, grandma 2 also. I've been over to Germany once last year and found it very, very uncomfortable there with an infant. I am not going again as long as she is small or until someone able and willing to give me real help with a little child offers to take me in. No mercy visits, so grandmothers can squish on their granddaughter!

In your case, it wouldn't have occurred to go without my husband. I think it is great that he wants his family to see their grandchild but then he should make some time and go with her. And you would get a nice long break and could stay alone at home.

Or, you could learn Farsi and become more independant when you are in Iran. Maybe you would enjoy the visits then. Perhaps your husband could pass on Farsi to his daughter, too?
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#13 of 31 Old 03-09-2008, 09:24 PM
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My question is how come your Dh doesn't just use the money from your tickets and use it to buy his parents tickets to come to see your family here?
Dh did this for me, I was doing all the traveling, and got a bit fed up. Once we had older Ds in school my travel times were cut, but as adults the parents didn't have times that were bad, so we got tickets for them during the off season and had them here.
My friend did this also, her IL's are from India, she had them come visit her toddler twins for the whole summer one year, it was a nice change, they re arranged the bedrooms to give them space and her Dh spent all his off time with them and they vacationed as a family with the IL's
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#14 of 31 Old 03-10-2008, 07:02 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Iranians can't get visas to come to the US. There is no option other than for us to go there.

As to why my husband doesn't come, he owns a business and can't take time off from it.
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#15 of 31 Old 03-10-2008, 07:10 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Also, if I remember correctly from your other threads/ posts, your dh is working very hard on a business that is not profitable - would taking a vacation really make that much of a difference that he absolutely cannot leave?
Well actually things are looking up with the business! I'm making more money at work, so I'm able to cover more expenses, and he is able to take the money that he was paying me and is investing it in the business. DS starts public school in September and then well will be in a really good place. Finally. After 3.5 years.

I know it sounds crazy, y'all, but I've already agreed to a 2 week trip. Because I am cuckoo. Trust me, if they could come here I'd be all over it. Unfortunately due to the visa situation it's just going to be me.
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#16 of 31 Old 03-11-2008, 02:29 PM
 
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Also, our choices of accomodation are either in Karaj (about 45 minutes north of Tehran) in my BIL's house, or in Tehran proper with my SIL in her one bedroom apartment. I don't like the one bedroom situation because DS goes stir crazy.
I can really identify with this part, Lisa. My FIL lives in a teeny tiny little apartment in Tokyo, and this is the main reason DD and I haven’t gone over to Japan to visit in a long time. He always wants us to stay with him, but there’s just no way that me, DD, DH and FIL can all spend two weeks in that tiny apartment together. Plus FIL snores more loudly than anyone I’ve EVER met, and I’m a light sleeper. It’s just an impossible situation.

And since everyone else we know over there doesn’t really have room for us to stay for an extended time either (it’s Tokyo, after all, land of tiny accommodations) our only other solution is to stay in a hotel @$250 a night. Which makes it prohibitively expensive. Plus, living in a tiny hotel room with a rambunctious toddler doesn’t work very well either. With no place to just hang out and let DD do her thing, we have to do stuff out in Tokyo all day long, every single day. That’s a lot of fun, of course, but two weeks of never-ending activities is exhausting.

Add in the long plane journeys (3 hours to the West Coast, then 11 hours to Tokyo) and it all just makes the trip supremely unappealing. For the last 2 years, after visiting twice with DD, I’ve let DH go by himself.

FIL can come here, though. He has done it once before. We think he’s going to come in July this time. We have plenty of room for him!

I hope your next trip turns out to be a fun two weeks – or a least a tolerable two weeks. We’ll support you in your visiting-your-in-laws cuckoo-osity!!

"Mama, thank you for my little brother!" DD 7/05 DS 6/09
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#17 of 31 Old 03-11-2008, 02:41 PM
 
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Iranians can't get visas to come to the US. There is no option other than for us to go there.

As to why my husband doesn't come, he owns a business and can't take time off from it.
They can't? Here in Dubai there are many many many Iranians applying for visas and greencards and they are getting them. When I took my husband to finish his greencard documents (in Abu Dhabi) almost all of the ones that day who got them were from Iran. Maybe they have a hard time getting them in Iran?

loveeyes.gif Mama to a lively DD (10/05) energy.gifand DS (06/23) babyboy.gif!

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#18 of 31 Old 03-11-2008, 06:38 PM
 
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aww, thats a shame u don't like going to Iran.
Where in Iran do your inlaws live?

I actually really love going to Iran and seeing our family over there, really truely...I LOVE it.
The few things I do, I admit dislike is dealing with "taroof" (false politeness) and am usually stuck making and serving tea when people show up to say Hi, I really dislike that becos I usually rush when I hand out the tea. LOL. Oh and dh's bro-in-law is all about kabob, so after awhil I get sick of kabob with bread (we norm go to lil' village and not a big city, so its a very diff atmosphere)

But, otherwise i LOVE to go...we arer going in late April and I'm already getting excited about goin g. I love going tothe bazaars and stocking up some stuff thats much cheaper there, oh and exchanging my old gold for new gold pieces and usually talking dh ino buying me a new piece, buying some new manteaus (overgarments) and hijabs and basically love going.

I guess w/ every trip there r a few annoyances...such as the flights and how long it takes to get over there but overall I really enjoy going.

Umm Ibi

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This seems like the perfect place for this, so...

DH is Iranian, and his family lives in Iran. The only option to get there is a miserable 24 hour trip via airplane. There's not much to do there, I don't speak the language, and discovered on my first trip that I am allergic to lamb, which is very commonly used (think daily or near-daily use). Every time I go, I end up exhausting 3 weeks of vacation time (i.e. almost all of it for a given year) and am genearlly miserable.

Of course, I want my DS to know his family, and they want to see him so much, but I made the last two trips there by myself with DS and it was very contentious both times because I don't speak the language and only one of their family does, but he certainly didn't want to be tied to me the whole visit.

We went with DH in 2004, and I took DS by myself in 2005 and 2006. We skipped last year, and although my DH is pressuring me, I want to skip this year, too. DH is consumed by his business responsibilities and will not be able to go.

BUT DS starts Kindergarten in August, and our days of being foot loose and fancy free with our time will fly out the window. At that point we will probably only be able to go at Christmas (for 2 weeks) or spring break (probably 2 weeks but no more because we'd be missing a week of school). I am putting a moritorium on summer travel because of the heat and the lack of air conditioning.

So, as you can see, it is a big problem! I like my in-laws, they've never been anything other than kind and accomodating towards me, but on the flip side I hate using my whole vacation allotment for what amounts to a non-vacation.

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#19 of 31 Old 03-11-2008, 06:48 PM
 
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In IRAN??? I guess you didn't go during the outdoor season? Wow. May I advise you never to come see the rest of Central Asia because compared to Iran, we really have nothing to do. People here go to Iran for parties and kicks!!!
wow, im surprised too. Anytime we go there is stuff we do...even though we're going to a wee tiny village...we still visit people, walk around the farm (bagh), try to get to the next larger town over to buy stuff, picnic...stuff like this.

Or if there really is NOTHING to do, take a seriously long hamam.

Oh, funny story!!!! Ya'll ready!
I always take a shower, like every single morn, sometime twice a day...dh does to...becos well, we dont wanna stink. Well, in Iran...esp outside of the big cities, most people still shower once a week-then they do a big, drawn out bathing/hamam experience...well, the fact that we took a shower every morn. upon waking spread through dh's village like wildfire and after a few days there, some women or young girls would say stuff to me like...wow, you and your dh must have a VERY loving relationship, and wow, don't you guys ever sleep?
yup! They thought we were a EXTREMELY loving married couple (ahem), hence the need to shower every single morn. (Becos Muslims r supposed to do a ritual washing after "getting together" w/ the spouse) LOL LOL
yup, I couldnt believe how insane it was!
Meanwhile, id have to explain that no, its becos we are used to washing everyday becos in America everyone showers every morning, because Americans hate to be dirty and smell bad. Meanwhile, they'd chuckle, grin and give me a look like *yeah right*.
hehehehe....

*rolls eyes*
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#20 of 31 Old 03-11-2008, 06:53 PM
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Iranians can't get visas to come to the US. There is no option other than for us to go there.

As to why my husband doesn't come, he owns a business and can't take time off from it.
I had no idea, you think if was parents visiting a married child, it's ridiculous that they won't be given a visa, So sorry.
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#21 of 31 Old 03-21-2008, 09:28 AM
 
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Oh, Lisa, I commiserate. My ILs live in N Africa, and we have the same dilemma. It's the same conversation every year. We try to manage to go every 2-3 yrs, and it's always the same stupid/funny issues. Like we take extra unpaid time off, and by the end of a week, we end up ready to go home. All told, the whole expense of the trip is $10-12K, and if we'd do it this year it would be much more than that. We spend thousands on tickets, another thousand of gifts no one really cares for, and thousands more to buy them things once we are there (big-ticket items like appliances, used cars).

ILs live in a mountain village with no running water, electricity installed recently, and no road. So once we're out there, we're stuck. No bathroom, not even an outhouse, no shower as long as we're there, no private room. People nosing through our luggage and asking for what personal effects we have room to bring for ourselves.

They end up slaughtering a mutton for us to eat over the course of several days, and as badly as we want to be polite, we can't bring ourselves to eat it. The children and I develop diarrhea and our bodies end up covered in flea bites. By the middle of the second week, I am weepy and insane, and everyone thinks I hate them. I beg dh to take us somewhere, he ends up planning some lame little day trip and sneaks us away. When we get back, the ILs are angry because we were gone too long, and then MIL has some sort of vague episode of "illness" that lands her in the clinic so dh has to sit at her side until it's time to leave.

Last time we went, I swore the only way the kids and I will go again is if we go for just 10 days, we rent a car, and we stay in a hotel in a nearby town and make day trips out to the village to hang out. If they want us to stay overnight, they need to be ready to provide clean, flea-free space with a private toilet and the chance to have some quiet time alone at day's end. I doubt this will ever come to pass. So it might be a while before we all go again.

I don't have a solution, but I feel your pain. I am trying to position myself as more of an authority, not looking to earn anyone's respect or trying to be liked. More of a take-it-or-leave-it offer. I don't need them to like me. I want the kids to have some fond memories of them--but if they end up too sick to have any memories, what's the point?
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#22 of 31 Old 04-01-2008, 04:55 AM
 
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Hey, Lisa! Long time no chat! Thought I'd do some surfing through this multicultural forum I keep forgetting about and found your thread. I think it's great that you are willing to go to Iran--and on your own, no less--so that your children can know their grandparents. I've known so many multicultural spouses who wouldn't deign to travel accompanied, nevermind alone. And to Iran. Without a working knowledge of Farsi. You've got some chutzpah.

I know that it feels like you're putting your in-laws out by having special dietary requests, but keep in mind that in Islam, guests are a gift from God/Allah and by treating with you with respect, they are respecting God/Allah. Don't feel bad at all for refusing lamb, and as Mahtob (?) pointed out, hey--it's even cheaper for them! (Is chicken still cheaper than lamb? Bird flu altered that a bit here, but not sure about Iran.)

You can always stop and see us in Istanbul, we'd love to have you, gots plenty of room.

UmmIbi--LMAO at your shower story.
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#23 of 31 Old 04-02-2008, 11:34 AM
 
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My dh's family is in Greece, and this summer will be the second time that he's making the trip without me. Last time he took only one child, this time he will take two. I feel the same, I want the kids to know their family there, and know the language, but there is no way I can make the trip this year. I give you kudos Lisa, for having the gumption to go on your own without dh and without knowing the language.
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#24 of 31 Old 04-02-2008, 11:47 AM
 
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First of all, I think your DH needs to play a bigger part in family holidays particularly as you're spending them with His family.
I second the idea of learning the language and maybe if DH doesn't suggest them joining you in Turkey for a holiday, then you suggst it to them. Or how about they come to see you in intervening years - every fouth year they go to you and every second year you go to them.
On the holiday time issue, if your husbands businss is doing well - could you afford to take some unpaid leave to add to your holidays?
1jooj - fair play to your tenacity. I don't think I could spend a week in somewhere with no running water and no roads, not to mind my entire holiday. No bathroom , no shower, no private room and fleas - Argghhh. No I would have gone stir CRAZY within days.
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#25 of 31 Old 04-05-2008, 05:00 PM
 
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I'm a little surprised that so many seem to think it's simple to have even just a U.S. tourist visa as a citizen of a country with whom the States have a questionable relationship.

At any rate, the very best advice is to learn the language. I know it's not easy, but I speak from experience -- the more you are able to communicate independently, the more you are able to travel independently and find things to do independently, the better a time you will have. I look at my time in Egypt when I didn't speak the language at all as a kind of superficial blur -- the difference communication makes is just fantastic.

Aside from that, honestly, if your husband really can't get away and you consider it reasonable that he can't, I would look at going as a sort of a responsibility that just happens to suck up my vacation time, not a vacation so much itself. Just one of the possible downsides of marrying outside of a local community ... family before leisure when one has to make a choice between them, you know?
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#26 of 31 Old 04-07-2008, 05:30 AM
 
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I had no idea, you think if was parents visiting a married child, it's ridiculous that they won't be given a visa, So sorry.
Some countries are just on the "HOT" list of the US, I guess.
I've spent too many times getting my US visa renewed in the US Embassy in the Philippines to see people being denied visas to visit their dying parent, sister, brother in the US.
It's truly heartbreaking sometimes.
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#27 of 31 Old 04-08-2008, 03:43 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Hey all, thanks for keeping the conversation on this thread going!

We got back last night and all in all I'd say it was the best visit we've had. The one BIL that speaks passable English and understands most English has retired so he agreed to "take care of me" in DH's absence. DH did end up coming for the first week, then he went home and we stayed for another week.

The visit was too short for us to go too stir crazy, and after some ironing out of details (i.e. 8 PM is not a good time for BIL to show up to "take us out" as DS was falling asleep at 9 PM). We were able to get out of the house most days. And the elimination of the big party the night before we left (drove me SO NUTS because that's the one night we needed to go to sleep EARLY, HELLO) things went generally smoothly.

I swear DS did not eat a thing the entire time we were there. We had a layover in Detroit last night and I took him to a little diner because he wanted lemonade to drink. He wanted mac and cheese and I swear he had a religious moment when the server set it down in front of him. His eyes got so big. Then when he took the first bite he went all Homer Simpson on me, "Auuuuggghhhh, mac and cheese" and "Can't talk, eating." He has not been without food in both hands since we got up this morning. Right now he is eating a blueberry pancake and an apple.

As soon as I get the pictures up on flickr I will post a link here for those who are interested.

Oh and Kate, thanks for the invite! We may take you up on it the next time we go over there... I've been bugging DH to take Turkish Airlines so we can spend some time in Turkey.
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#28 of 31 Old 04-08-2008, 03:46 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Oh, Lisa, I commiserate. My ILs live in N Africa, and we have the same dilemma. It's the same conversation every year. We try to manage to go every 2-3 yrs, and it's always the same stupid/funny issues. Like we take extra unpaid time off, and by the end of a week, we end up ready to go home. All told, the whole expense of the trip is $10-12K, and if we'd do it this year it would be much more than that. We spend thousands on tickets, another thousand of gifts no one really cares for, and thousands more to buy them things once we are there (big-ticket items like appliances, used cars).

ILs live in a mountain village with no running water, electricity installed recently, and no road. So once we're out there, we're stuck. No bathroom, not even an outhouse, no shower as long as we're there, no private room. People nosing through our luggage and asking for what personal effects we have room to bring for ourselves.

They end up slaughtering a mutton for us to eat over the course of several days, and as badly as we want to be polite, we can't bring ourselves to eat it. The children and I develop diarrhea and our bodies end up covered in flea bites. By the middle of the second week, I am weepy and insane, and everyone thinks I hate them. I beg dh to take us somewhere, he ends up planning some lame little day trip and sneaks us away. When we get back, the ILs are angry because we were gone too long, and then MIL has some sort of vague episode of "illness" that lands her in the clinic so dh has to sit at her side until it's time to leave.

Last time we went, I swore the only way the kids and I will go again is if we go for just 10 days, we rent a car, and we stay in a hotel in a nearby town and make day trips out to the village to hang out. If they want us to stay overnight, they need to be ready to provide clean, flea-free space with a private toilet and the chance to have some quiet time alone at day's end. I doubt this will ever come to pass. So it might be a while before we all go again.

I don't have a solution, but I feel your pain. I am trying to position myself as more of an authority, not looking to earn anyone's respect or trying to be liked. More of a take-it-or-leave-it offer. I don't need them to like me. I want the kids to have some fond memories of them--but if they end up too sick to have any memories, what's the point?
All I can say is... you have more strength than I do because there is NO FREAKING WAY I would go in that situation. NO WAY.

But oh do I feel you on the weepy and insane bit... been there, done that, hated every second of it. I know at least one of the SILs thinks I am completely cracked, but there's not a whole lot I can do about it.
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#29 of 31 Old 04-09-2008, 02:39 PM
 
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Congrats, Lisa! Glad to see you survived the in-laws! What kind of fun things did you do while you were there? See anything good? Shop any great bargains? Inquiring minds want to know . . . .
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#30 of 31 Old 04-15-2008, 01:37 PM
 
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I hear you all on the traveling sucking up all the vacation time...

We live in Quebec.
My parent just retired and bought a condo in Morrocco where they will now be spending most of their time.
My sister lives in Switzerland (where we grew up).
My MIL lives in BC (Canada's West Coast).
My FIL lives in Iran...
... and the rest of the extended family (uncles/aunts/cousins) are sprinkled a bit all over the place (mostly US/Germany/Czech Republic).

You can imagine that there is NO WAY we can see everyone on a regular basis. We manage to see my MIL several times a year (she flies to visit and we go maybe once a year). We see my parents & sister about once every 2 years (we alternate between us going and them coming). And we see FIL about once every 3-4 years (when he comes to visit as we haven't yet managed a trip to Iran).

It's hard; but in our situation we need to have a "rotating" schedule to go visit everyone somewhat regularily. Since we don't want all of our vacation time to be consumed with visiting family, we generally combine it with some kind of other trip to a NEW place. For example, we are planning a trip to California (San Fran/Napa) in the coming year and we'll most likely "append" to that a short hop to Vancouver to see MIL.
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