30 October 2011

How did I get here?

Greetings from Cartagena, Colombia!

There's been a lot going on in the past few years that has brought me here...but in a nutshell: this past spring I took a course to be a volunteer Spanish/English interpreter for the San Francisco public schools; when I went to actually do it, I didn't feel confident enough in my Spanish (it had, after all, been 30 years since I'd formally studied it...and even then I felt my best Spanish was done with a beer in my hand, something which the SF public schools were funnily enough not endorsing!). I had always thought to myself that one of these days I'd go back to a Spanish-speaking country to live for a while and get the Spanish back, but didn't really do much about it.

To make a long story short, over the next few months I realized it was time to make a change from "same as it ever was." It all happened kind of fast even though on the other hand it was a long time coming: for several years I'd been thinking about moving on from Team In Training/Leukemia & Lymphoma Society but just still didn't quite know what I wanted to be when I grew up; I'd also been thinking for a while about selling the house I'd had for the past 10 years. A few things happened to make this summer the time to do it, and, given my recent experience with my disappearing Spanish, I set my sights on spending some time in Latin America. My last day full-time at work was July 15 and I closed on the house August 23.

I sold, gave away or donated just about everything I had, keeping only some antiques of my grandmothers', photos, and other "irreplaceables."  It's amazing how freeing that all was & feels. Just about all of my worldly goods are currently in a in a 5x6 ft (2.8 m2) storage unit outside of SF. Who would have thunk it?!

In order to have a marketable skill should I decide to stay in Latin America for a while, I decided to take an intensive monthlong Cambridge University sponsored course on teaching English as a 2nd language (CELTA), which I did in Sept/Oct in San Francisco.

Cartagena clock tower and old city walls.
I chose to start off with Colombia as I know some people in the country: many of the folks I knew from my year in Madrid seemed to be going back & forth to Bogota a lot and one of my good friends moved there a few years ago; also I had shared my house with a Colombian couple 4 years ago and we became good friends. I visited Colombia nearly 3 years ago visiting all these people and saw Bogota, Santa Marta & Cartagena, the latter two on the Caribbean coast. I *loved* Cartagena especially and decided to give it a shot....I booked a frequent flyer ticket departing S.F. late October, returning to the U.S. for the holidays. (Latin America destination(s) for 2012 are yet to be planned but will be!)


dhk said...

"If at some point you don’t ask yourself, ‘What have I gotten myself into?’ then you’re not doing it right." .. Love it.

Palmira Walker said...

I'm proud of you Barb. You have guts. And with that come glory! I wish I had the same spit and fire as you do! One day . . .

Barbara McCarthy said...

Best of luck Barb!Hope you enjoy Colombia. Once you have the Spanish up to scratch you can come to Guatemala with me!Stay safe -Barbara

rollo said...

Hola Barbara, Sorprendido con tu decisión. Me alegra tu nuevo destino pues a Colombia voy todos los años desde el 2002, espero poder visitarte en 2012. Buena suerte y sigue en la búsqueda, tus amigos te ayudaremos a encontrarlo.