My husband, our three girls (ages 6, 11, and 14) have spent the past five years living in a small town outside of Bogota, Colombia. We have endeavored as much as possible to immerse ourselves in local life and travel around Colombia and South America as work and school schedules permit.
What has led us as a family on this grand adventure?
I was born in the Ukraine, raised in the US from the age of 8, lived in Spain and Italy, backpacked through Southeast Asia for a year in my twenties and traveled to over 50 countries. You could say that travel and immersing myself in foreign cultures is a passion! My husband was born in Argentina, raised there and in Venezuela, and wound up living in the US and backpacking in Asia with me. Travel is in our blood.
I spent most of my thirties in the US raising kids. They needed a stable environment, we thought. Or maybe we were just too overwhelmed with the responsibilities and, let’s face it, the work of raising young children. But as our third daughter was born as I was approaching forty, I started to feel like it was now or never. Time to hit the road before my oldest daughter is too old to want to leave her friends and the comforts of home.
I started planning and strategizing how we could fulfill my dream of travel and discovering foreign cultures with three kids in tow, while honoring my husband’s love for his job and basically not wanting to give up the trappings for “conventional” life for life on the road. Fair enough, everybody’s dream is different.
Luckily, my husband works for an international organization with offices all over the world. He was spending a significant part of his life traveling while we were in the US and he needed to spend more time getting to know operations in field offices. Given my wanderlust, it seemed natural that we should travel with him. What if we spent a year traveling as a family as he worked out of his organization’s main offices in Colombia, China, Ghana and India?
This was the plan until three months before departure when we traveled from Boston to Washington DC to see some friends. After a week alone with my kids (fun and exhausting!), I realized that there was no way I could take care of three kids on my own across continents, while my husband worked and traveled. Or rather, I probably could do it but I just might die of exhaustion in the process. Plus, I wanted to keep coaching while on the road.
I thought of hiring a college student who would travel with us in exchange for us paying all the travel expenses. There were plenty of students who were game but interviewing them, I quickly started to feel that bringing a student along was like bringing a fourth child. I remembered myself in my early twenties. No, thanks!
So three months before our planned departure, I called my husband at work in a panic and said, “Can we just go to one country, maybe Colombia?” His relief was palpable as he replied, “Finally, you have come to your senses”. He really preferred that we lived in one country so he could travel when he needed to for work without worrying about how the kids and I are doing.
After that, it all fell into place. We found a Walforf School (the type of school my kids go to in the US) in Chia, a small town in the Andes just thirty minutes outside of Bogota, where my husband’s office is. They have great internet connection so I could continue working with my coaching clients in the US, Europe and Asia. We decided to move to Chia for a year and use it as a base to explore Colombia and other South American countries as time and school schedules allow.
The rest is history, as they say, and a year has turned into five and perhaps more. This is my chronicle of our adventures. Enjoy and feel free to post comments and let me know what you think. I love getting feedback.