I’m off! Phase II of Fauxbatical, Pseudotirement, Funemployment, my Eat, Pray, Love life, whatever you want to call it, is beginning.
Phase II of this new life of mine will be in South America: three months in Bogotá, Colombia, followed by three months in Buenos Aires, Argentina. (Interestingly, both the same color on this map I found—a sign from the universe?)
At least, that’s the plan of the moment.
Goals for the six months:
- Be uncomfortable. I expect to achieve this within the first day because my Spanish is pretty rudimentary, and while I don’t have much of an image of Bogotá in my mind, I’m sure that what I actually see in my first few days will be different than what I didn’t realize I had imagined.
- Experience a new culture. By living with a host family, and then maybe in a roommate situation, I should be able to do a deeper dive into the rhythm of living in Bogotá than I would as a tourist passing through.
- Shake things up. As much as I’ve loved most of my life the past six months, I don’t feel that different from when I was working. Yes, I’m less stressed and less tired, but overall I am still involved in the same activities and seeing the same people. Time for the new.
- Go to a play in Spanish and understand (most of) it. I am a theater fan. I think a real test of my language skills will be whether I can go to a show and comprehend the majority of it.
Things I expect will happen (and hopefully, since I already know they are going to happen, it won’t be so bad when they do):
- I will have all of the wrong clothes. A friend kindly helped me figure out what to bring. But I expect that I’ll just exude “extranjero” (foreigner) by walking down the street in my red jacket while carrying my turquoise backpack.
- I will spend $30 on something I could have gotten for $3. It will be clear I am an extranjero (see #1), which means the price has already increased even more than the markup for a local. And since I do not enjoy haggling over prices, you can see where this is going. $30.
- I will say the wrong thing. Since I haven’t done it yet, I’ll borrow an example from a friend of mine. While studying Spanish in Costa Rica, she tried to say, “I like the dogs in the neighborhood.” Apparently the words for dog and prostitute are similar. That was a conversation stopper.
- I’ll make a poor decision about where to go/how to get there because my language limits kept me from understanding the options. Hopefully the impact of this error will be minimal.
The details of my plans:
Actually, I don’t have a lot of specific plans. For people who know me, this is incredibly surprising. But I’ve come to see it as the other side of me. I’ve never been interested in planning out all of the details of a vacation before I take it. Granted, this is more than a vacation, but the same principle applies.
I chose Bogotá and Buenos Aires because they were the top recommendations offered during the many, many conversations I had with people when I broke the news I was leaving my job. Friends from DC who now live in BA suggested that my Spanish would probably develop better if I went somewhere else first to build a strong language base because they Spanish spoken there is very different than everywhere else.
I have signed up for two weeks of intensive small-group classes, staring bright and early Monday morning. I also signed up for the school to arrange a home stay that includes breakfast and dinner. Here’s what I know about my new digs for at least the next two weeks:
Senora M is a 72 years old lovely lady. She lives with 62 years old Senora Y. They both spend their time sewing at home and going to church. They also like to share their time with students, and take care of them as their own children. Their house consists of two bedrooms with a shared bathroom and one bedroom with a private bathroom. Near it, you can find Unicentro, two well-known and visited places as a mall and Los Molinos park, and you can use transmilenio and bus.
I’ve paid the school to arrange transportation from the airport, so once I land, I have somewhere to sleep and when I wake up on Sunday, someone will make me breakfast.
During these two weeks I’ll get a lay of the land and decide if I want to sign up for additional classes at this school or search for another and whether to continue this homestay or find an apartment.
I’ve also considered trying to sign up to do some volunteer work while here so that I can learn more about Bogotá and practice my Spanish.
Sometime during the course of the six months, I plan to take side trips to the Galapagos, Machu Picchu, and Rio de Janeiro. In addition, I’ve started a list of places within Colombia and Argentina I need to visit as well.
It would be great if friends want to come join me for any of these side trips, or visit me while in either Bogotá or Buenos Aires. If so, just be in touch—as of now, my schedule is pretty open!