I am finally starting to feel like we live here (as opposed to being on an extended vacation). I feel comfortable driving. I know my way around. We have some friends and community.
Today, some neighbors and I managed to pile three adults and four kids into our tiny Chevy and drive off into the mountains to a natural park near the little town of Sopo. It was like Thelma and Louise but with four kids in tow. We were the only people in that park. The sun was shining. The spectacular mountains surrounded us. We went for a little hike and the kids picked wild flowers and played “hide and seek”. Driving back, I was weaving in and out of traffic with the best of them. I am starting to get the hang of things here.
Getting my sea legs, I am only now realizing what a huge change it is to move to a foreign country, a developing country, with kids. At first, it was all exciting and vacation-like. Then real life began (the alarm situation, parasites, Noemi, adjusting to a new school and a different culture) and it was very hard at times. It was very different compared to anything I have ever experienced before. I can see now how I saw everything through a very American lens. I think of myself as pretty open-minded but I realize now how hard it is to be open-minded when my children are involved. I don’t know about you but I definitely have strong opinions about what’s best for my kids or how I want them to grow up. And when the local culture clashes with my ideals for raising my kids, I am not so open-minded after all.
Just in the last couple of days, something started to shift. All of the sudden, all of the things that bugged me (people arriving late for everything, the crazy drivers, the parasites, the sugar in everything offered to my children, no toilet paper in most public bathrooms) don’t seem like such a big deal anymore. In fact, they seem like a very small price to pay for the privilege of living in another culture, of hearing my kids speak more and more Spanish every day, of being surrounded by gorgeous mountains, of having lots of help, of getting to know another culture on a deeper level, of exploring local towns, foods and attractions, of going out dancing with my husband every weekend.
A month ago I was wondering why on earth people who are not Colombian choose to live here. Now, I am wondering how we can possibly ever leave and go back to the States. I guess we are only two and a half months into our year-long adventure so it’s too early to worry about it now. Stay tuned….