So, as volunteers with the ‘program’, we are getting close to the time to leave the country. We all signed up with either Greenheart travel or Heart for Change to work here in Colombia for 10, 9 or 6 months. We have our visas until the end of November and then we need to leave the country and come back to work with another organization or re-apply to our current organization or we move back to our home country. The time of decision about our future is upon us!
This is a very difficult decision for most of us. We are all so happy here. This country has accepted us with open arms and hearts. It has welcomed us and allowed us to work and live here safely and with encouragement.
There is a certain persona that travels to another country where they know no-one and begin a new life where everything is unfamiliar and I have found people like me – I have become close to people faster than I do normally. I feel like I fit in and I love this country – I am scared about returning to the US. I don’t want to live in the US. But…. I have a husband in the US. My daughter and part-time kids are in the US. My nieces are in the US.
My heart is here – my cat is here – my family is there.
I was in Cali for the weekend with some other fellows I’ve met during my time here and they are all feeling similarly. They don’t know what to do and where to go. There are always a lot of people who re-apply to the program and there are some who move to other countries to teach English and there are a LOT who go back to their country of origin. But there are so very many who want to stay in Colombia and are loath to return to their country of origin, so that leads to my question…. What is it about Colombia?
I LOVE this country. I really really do! But, why? The food is bland unless you get ‘salsa de aji’ to put on it. The people are rather rude in that they shove past you on the street and to get in line for anything. It is rainy a lot of the time. The sun sets at the same time all year long and that is really early! The roads are bad and the electricity goes out at times. There is a lot of petty crime. There is no hot water anywhere in my house but the shower. The mail system is a joke and the the light switches are placed in weird locations or hidden in the most inconvenient places.
But…. I don’t want to leave. When I set foot out of my apartment in the morning to head to the bus to go to work, I look up at the mountains and feel alive! I love my job, I love the people, I love the city! I feel alive for the first time in a long time. I feel that life is somehow more alive and real here in a way that it isn’t in the US. I don’t want to leave.
I think that a lot of us feel let down by our home countries and this new country is in a spurt of growth that is accepting and open to change and people. A lot of us are from countries that have made life at home difficult, like the US, England, Australia whose governments are turning scarily inward and repressive, and Venezuela whose governments is not open to any kind of opposition. In Colombia we have found a welcome respite from the difficult truths that lie at home and that is comforting to us.
Colombia, you have welcomed us at a time when we really needed it and I will always be grateful to you for that. You have allowed me to travel around your country enjoying all you have to offer and my heart is full. I am truly alive and eternally grateful to you. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. I hope I gave even a little of what you have given me back to you through my time here.