It’s almost hard to believe, but it was exactly one year ago that I left Florida. I remember how I felt – excited, happy, ambivalent (I was leaving Joel behind, not knowing how long we would be apart), not quite believing I was actually doing it, not knowing exactly what was going to happen, not sure if I could manage in a new country with a foreign language – wow!
But, it worked out. It worked out better than I dared hope. Economics was a driving force in our move, the wish to retire earlier and have a better life on our limited resources. We are living on a lot less here, but even if money was not a factor I would live here. It’s a good and happy life.
Of course there have been challenges. For me, language and communication have been difficult but it’s gotten better. I can actually have a telephone conversation in Spanish now and understand most, if not all that is said (it’s difficult without body language and facial expressions). I can find my way around town in most areas (but I’m directionally challenged and take months to learn any new town). Otherwise though, the transition has been quite easy.
For me, the change in lifestyle has been the slowest adjustment. For the longest time it felt like I was on a break and any day I would be back at work, my phone attached to my ear and the papers piled on my desk. Even now, I frequently spend much of the night dreaming that I’m working.
I still can’t relax very well. I can only sit in the hammock and watch the birds fly by for a short while. I have to be studying something, or doing something that feels productive or I quickly get restless. The best I can manage is to work in the garden with a book in my headphones, and I do that a lot (this has always been my stress therapy).
Maybe this is just me though, and maybe that’s OK. Maybe I have been so busy all my life that I’ll always be like this. It is quite different to be busy doing things I choose to do though, rather than things I must do. And, I have such a big list of things I choose to do! I don’t want to waste any of this precious free time that I have been given. We all know that things can change in a flash and none of us get out of here alive.
When I look back on the last year, it’s been a wonderful year. I am so thankful to have this time, this opportunity, these experiences, this chance to see the world through another culture, through other eyes. I think it has changed me for the better and will continue to do so.
It will be interesting to see what the second year brings!