Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Donde estaba?

I'm back!  I know it's been a while since I posted - life has been busy.  Here's a quick montage of what's been going on:

*We went to Guaduas for a weekend.  BEAUTIFUL.  The weather was amazing, we got to view all of the vacas (cattle) with Camilo's grandfather, which was way cooler than you realize, I ate a lot of fresh fruit (as in fresh from the orchard), I met more of Camilo's family and got to pet a really pretty horse named Ketorolaco.  I took a ton of photos:

Also played a lot with this little guy :)

*We moved into our apartment!!!!!  Feels so nice to have our own place and be sleeping in a bed and not living out of suitcases anymore.  Though honestly I haven't quite had time to fully unpack, so technically I am still sort of living out of them.  But I have hung up at least half of my wardrobe (we need to buy more hangers).  About 80% of the furniture in our place is borrowed.  We "borrowed" some plates and bowls from the farm, which are a 70's retro orange floral pattern that I actually quite like.  All of our silverware and some of our other dishes are currently being borrowed from Camilo's mom (along with our bed).  And speaking of our bed, I am currently sleeping on sheets that look like this:

Yep.  These were Camilo's sheets back in the 90's.  They're super rad, no?  I'm just thankful we have sheets.  Eventually we will buy these sorts of things but for now we'll take what we can get.  Though cost of living is cheaper here, things like sheets, towels, home appliances, etc. are not so cheap.  Oh well.  We'll get there.

Here's one more picture from our place, then I have to skidaddle.  I promise I will post more about my adventures, with more pictures, SOON! 

Happy holidays lovely people - miss you and love you all dearly.



Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Risking Everything

So I like to think of myself as fearless (aside from spiders), especially with this big move.  A lot of people asked me if I was nervous, scared, worried, etc.  I told them all no, which for the most part is true.

There is one fear I've kept to myself though.  I suppose talking about it is better than keeping it inside.

My fear is this: the cold, dark fact that something bad could happen to someone I love dearly while I'm thousands of miles away.  It scares the {expletive} out of me.  I try my best not to think about it.  I know I need to focus on the positive.  But having just taken a leap across many, many miles, I've been thinking about it a lot more recently..

So how do we cope with such thoughts?  It doesn't help to worry about it; death and grief are inevitable, a part of life.  I usually would tell myself to relish every moment with my loved ones; make sure to spend more time with them, etc.  But now that I'm here, it's hard to do that.  I don't have a phone set up yet, and even when I do get one, I have to rely on apps to communicate with my friends and family.  And they have to have said apps and be logged into them at the same time - I can't just pick up my phone and call (well, not without a hefty fee).

I'm sure some people turn to the Bible, others may cuddle with their pets, some even turn to drugs (prescription or not) and alcohol.  Where do I look for comfort?

"Risking Everything" is a book of poetry compiled by Roger Housden, featuring poetry from Robert Bly to Mary Oliver to Rainer Maria Rilke.  I have had this book for somewhere around 10 years and it has helped me cope through many difficult situations in my life; from the loss of a loved one to the loss of love; divorce, heartache and grief.  It reminds me to celebrate life, cherish those nearest and dearest to me; yet also to embrace the darkness and sorrow that can creep into my thoughts - and allow it to break my heart wide open.  And to take risks.  Risks in love, life and happiness.  To take a risk on myself.

As Housden puts it: "The risk they urge us toward is the forgetting of our familiar lamentations for a moment and the taking of that tiny yet momentous step - the willingness to try on the life that is truly ours."

I love that.  

I've included one of my favorite poems in "Risking Everything" and hope it inspires you the way it has inspired me.  I will include a list of some of my other favorites at the end.

Things to Think
Think in ways you've never thought before.

If the phone rings, think of it as carrying a message

Larger than anything you've ever heard,
Vaster than a hundred lines of Yeats.

Think that someone may bring a bear to your door,
Maybe wounded and deranged; or think that a moose
Has risen out of the lake, and he's carrying on his antlers
A child of your own whom you've never seen.

When someone knocks on the door,
Think that he's about
To give you something large: tell you you're forgiven,
Or that it's not necessary to work all the time,
Or that it's been decided that if you lie down no one will die.
  ~Robert Bly~

Other poems I have bookmarked:

Mary Oliver: When Death Comes
                     Wild Geese
                     The Journey
                     In Blackwater Woods

Pablo Neruda: Poetry

Rainer Maria Rilke: Sunset

Naomi Shihab Nye: So Much Happiness
Edith Sodergran: On Foot I Had to Walk Through the Solar Systems

Hafiz: A Strange Feather

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe: The Holy Longing

Dorianne Laux: Dust

 "We can only travel down through the truth of our lives on our own.  Yet there is consolation, perhaps, in knowing that we are all on this journey together."


So what helps you cope?  Are their any poems that you turn to during difficult times in your life?  Feel free to share in the comments :)


Sunday, December 9, 2012

Bienvenida a Colombia

So we're getting settled, slowly but surely.  Tomorrow we should know if the apartment we want is still available and get an idea of when we can move in.  Hopefully soon.  It's great staying at Camilo's sister's apartment, but we haven't had a place of our own since October and seriously, we're tired of living out of suitcases.  And I think once we do get our own place, the "we're on vacation" sensation will be taken over by the "we actually live here now" realization.

It's sinking in a little more each day.  I keep reminding myself that we aren't just visiting.  We live here now.  For reals.  And with this realization I'm beginning to notice some of the differences I will need to adjust to.  I plan on writing a more dedicated post (or posts) on this subject, but here are a few to get us started:

1. Here in Colombia, unless you manage to find an affordable furnished apartment with furnishings you like, your apartment will not come with a refrigerator.  Camilo told me this before we came, but I was all "You crazy, of course there will be a refrigerator!"  Nope.  Apparently you buy a refrigerator and move it with you anytime you switch apartments.  So we will have to purchase one I guess.  I'm just hoping we can find a used one in good shape so we don't spend too much..

2. Traffic.  Or more so, crazy drivers everywhere.  The top three types of crazy drivers are: Taxis, Motorcycles and Buses, in no particular order.  There are a lot of potholes.  The motorcycles weave between cars.  The buses barely stop for 5 seconds, so if you are getting on, HOLD ON TO SOMETHING and make sure your body is fully inside.  When you need to get off the bus, jump out as soon as humanly possible because the minute your feet hit the pavement the bus is driving away.  Are there lanes?  Yes.  Do people necessarily follow them?  No.  Make a lane if you need to.  I recall last year when we visited and took a taxi from the airport.  A traffic light was out and everyone decided they should get to be the ones to go next so traffic was at a dead stop.  What did our taxi driver decide to do?  Drive on the sidewalk.  He then said "Bienvenida a Colombia!"  I am way too terrified to ever attempt to drive here.  So I know I'll get plenty of exercise walking wherever I need to go.  Perhaps I can practice driving stick shift in the country side (automatic cars aren't so popular here and more expensive, I believe).  Oh, did I mention that cars often share the road with carts pulled by horses and donkeys?  Because they do.  In the city.  Yep.

3. Lines.  As in people lines.  They don't exist.  Not really, anyway.  Think you're waiting in one?  Oh, did someone just budge in front of you because there was an inch of space between you and the person ahead of you?  Even if it's your turn, say, at the grocery store, and you're the next person up.  The person behind you is literally at your back, trying to push their way in.  I am not a pushy person.  I'm not one to be pushed, either.  But it's something I have to get used to.  Not taking it personally.  And getting into the spirit of pushing others when they're being just a smidge too slow or allowing just a teensy amount of space between them and the person in front of them.

4. I'll make this next one more positive, because believe me, there are many positive differences here.  I'll start with fruit.  People, if you think you've had fresh fruit, you haven't.  Well, unless you live somewhere tropical I guess.  Next time you're at the grocer, look at where the fruit is from.  If it's from Colombia (or another tropical region), imagine what it must be like IN said place.  It is UH MAY ZING.   I have been drinking fresh squeezed orange juice every morning.  I have eaten the most delicious bananas of my life.  There are fruits I don't even know how to pronounce and OMNOMNOM they are fantastical.  Funny thing, the apples are imported from the U.S., and so far, they taste better than the apples I've had in the U.S.  Well the red delicious anyway.  (I will note, however, the best apples I've eaten in my 30 years were in Poland.  Go there.  Just for the apples.  You'll thank me.)  In all seriousness, I think this was an excellent move for me just for the fact that I will be eating a mountain load more of fruit than ever before in my life.  Oh and the avocados?   THEY ARE THE SIZE OF COCONUTS.  I'll just leave that there...

5.  The cost of living is WAY less than the states.  Granted there are plenty of places that can be costly (fancy restaurants, clubs, malls) and the yearly salaries here are much less than you would make in the U.S. (let's just say I'll be lucky if I get 10-15k a year.  And that's actually somewhat decent)  But if you stop at a tienda for 2 beers and a snack, the cost is around $3.  I like that.  Quite a lot.

That's it for the night, because I am pretty tired and need to repaint my nails because they are a horrible blue color that looked better in the bottle and I'm meeting Camilo's grandfather tomorrow for the first time.  First impressions, yo.

I would like to end this with an I LOVE YOU ALL.  Seriously from the bottom of my heart.  I want you all to know I'm very happy and content here, and though I miss you dearly, I'm so glad I came.  I really do feel at home here.  And I hope you will come and visit us.  Just as soon as we find a place to live...


On moving to Colombia

So I did it, finally.  After all the talking and planning and daydreaming, I finally moved to Colombia.  While such a drastic move might take some people a while to chew on, I knew right away when Camilo asked me what my answer was.  Yes.  I will move to Colombia with you.  Because I'm crazy and I love you and for some reason I know in my heart this is the right thing for me.


And so here we are, sleeping on a mattress on the floor of the guestroom in your sister's apartment.  Living out of our suitcases until we find a place of our own, which we're 90% sure we found the one we want and crossing our fingers we get.  We have a "sort of" plan.  We know what we want to accomplish but so far we're just trusting that it will all work out.  Because we're both procrastinators and neither of us is in the profession of planning things.  You would think that, me being a Virgo, I would have everything planned accordingly and on a set schedule.  But I don't.  I'm good at making lists.  Said lists usually just sit in the notebook without getting checked off, save for one or two items that I check just to make myself feel accomplished.

I'm not worried though.  We tend to somehow make these things work, our crazy ideas.  "We should take a vacation.  We haven't been on a plane in two months.  Want to go to [insert city name here]?" And what do you know, one week before our planned trip date we book the tickets and figure we can take care of the hotel the day before we leave and without any set plans, we go.  I guess in a nutshell that's how we ended up here, though there was some planning  and we bought the tickets one month in advance.  You can talk and talk and picture what it is you want to do, but until you click the "book flight" button you don't realize how real it is...

Which brings me to some things I want to share about my pre-move to Colombia.

Anyone who knows me knows I have had no qualms about moving here.  I've been happy and excited and 100% sure since the notion was brought up.  I know that certain friends and family plan to visit within the year, and I know that Camilo's friends and family will do everything they can to make this a warm, welcoming experience.  I didn't know how it would be saying goodbye to my friends, but surprisingly, it wasn't bad at all.  I guess knowing we'll keep in touch and see each other in a few months helped.  I hugged everyone and said "See you later" and that was that.

Then I went home to Roy Lake to spend my final two weeks with the family.

All went well.  I didn't feel scared or sad and I generally had the same feeling as when I said goodbye to my friends.  I was excited, everyone was excited for me, and I knew everything would be O.K.

Fast forward to my last night at home.  I had said goodbye to my sister earlier that day and, though it was hard and I hugged her tighter than I think I ever have, I was fine (well okay I secretly teared up a little, but I managed not to cry).  

My BF Krystal came that night with her three girls.  We had hung out quite a lot since I had been home, so I didn't think it would be any different.  We had dinner, watched a movie, played pool and the girls drew pictures and played with my cat.  After a few hours, they headed out.  That was the first goodbye that really struck me, and let me tell you, it hit me hard.  My niece Iris, Krystal's oldest, hugged me tight and told me she was reallllllllly going to miss me.  And I felt that pain of missing someone dear to you, even when you're in the middle of an embrace.  Still, I held it in.  The younger girls gave me quick hugs and said "Bye Auntie Mahli!" and were out the door.  Then Krystal hugged me.  I think she found some sort of button on my back that read: eject all tears NOW, because they just started pouring out.  I told her we would keep in touch, hugged her once again, and they left.  And then I went to my room and began bawling.

After collecting myself, I went upstairs to visit with my parents.  I still had to pack (I'm a procrastinator, remember) but figured I would do it in the morning - I wanted to spend time with mis padres.  I was watching TV with my mom when she looked at me and asked if I would be up late.  I said I would stay up with her a while and then she said "I'm really going to miss you" and began crying.  So then I began crying and we hugged and cried some more and then started laughing because we knew we'd be seeing each other in the Springtime.

The next day my dad drove me back to Minneapolis.  I was back to feeling fine and happy, though I did have some quiet, reflective moments in the car.  We had dinner, hung out, and saved our goodbyes for the morning.  I had burned him a CD, so I told him I would run it down to him before he left his hotel the next day.  When he called that morning to tell me he was on his way out, I grabbed said CD and ran it down to him.  We hugged, he said "have a safe flight and I'll see you soon", and then he drove away and I went back up to my room.  And then I started crying again.

The day of our flight I was in too much of a hurry and way too excited to even think about how I was going to miss everyone.  I was in quite a good mood, actually.  But once we were on the plane, that feeling began to creep up on me again.  No.  I'm not going to cry.  I'm not even sad.  I'm happy.  Ecstatic actually.  I will not cry.  Don't think about it. Don't even think about thinking about it.  Damn it..

Suffice it to say, I started crying again.  This wasn't bawling; more of a quiet, tears-streaming-down-your-cheeks-but-not-sobbing crying.  And it began as soon as the plane began to take off.  This was actually goodbye.  Goodbye Minnesota.  Goodbye friends, family, pets and things I couldn't fit into my suitcase.  Goodbye home of 30 years...

And then this overwhelming happiness swept over me.  I am doing this.  I am making one of the most important moves of my life.  I am finally embracing myself, my dreams, my happiness.  I'm doing this because it's in my veins to do so.  I am moving to Colombia!

I will miss home.  I know this.  But I find peace in knowing it is right there, exactly where I left it, and it will always be waiting for me with open arms.

For now, I move forward.  I embrace this exciting new journey.  I spread my wings.  I let the wind carry me to my new home.