In a way it seems much longer, but really, I am so grateful to feel that we have had a productive 6 months. In a place where change is constant and being “settled” is still outside your comfort zone, I can confidently say we are happy. We have found our routines, our favorite cafes, and our confidence to try new things despite not always understanding cultural or lingual differences.
I wanted to look back at our journey and appreciate the struggles, the fear of the unknown, the waiting, the feelings of discovery and home-sickness, new friends, new food, mail day like Christmas morning, and everything in between.
This was the first day of our journey, I remember not being nervous because we had done our research, but I was anxious to see if our new reality was anything like our expectations. I always said that we were not running away from a bad life, we had a wonderful life in Portland, we were going toward a new adventure. We just had to give up being close to everyone we love and that was the biggest sacrifice of all.
Flying into Cartagena from Bogotá and seeing our “home” for the first time, knowing one day this place would be so special to us. We have changed a lot since those first days, and all I can say is we took it one day at a time. We dealt with one challenge and then the next. We have tried to take advantage of opportunities but also acknowledge is it okay to say no sometimes. In the middle of all the craziness, some beautiful changes took place. Our time is spent together, doing things we love, learning to “explore” the new and laugh at things gone wrong. Trying has become the most important element. We have slowed our pace and learned to live without some of our previous “needs” (i.e. a DVR, a bathtub, Target and Mexican food – just to name a few).
Here we are now, a little more sun-tanned and a lot more comfortable being foreign. There are some days I wonder if we are better off or just different off. Part of being successful as an expat is knowing and understanding the trade-offs. Some elements of life will be much better and some will be worse. We had to prioritize areas of our life to make sure that the pros outweighed the cons and I still believe they do. I hope and pray that many of the experiences we leave with will positively affect us for the rest of our lives. We got off the hamster wheel and set sail on a road less traveled. We will always have good days and bad, but 6 months in and we are doing alright.