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An Epic Plot Twist

Gonzalo (my husband) is finally on board and ready to support this wildly irresponsible sabbatical idea, but there are conditions:

“I am from Latin America and I don’t want to go back there,” he said.

Gonzalo was born and raised in Colombia and lived there until his early thirties.  With a student visa in hand, he eventually traveled to the United States to study English.  He hoped to find a corporate sponsorship and to stay here and work.

We met in the summer of 1998 in Omaha, Nebraska and married in December of 2000.  Eighteen years and 2 kids later, here we are seeking a fresh adventure together.

My idea about traveling Latin America ticked off some very practical boxes:  1) The kids and I can learn Spanish, 2) It is low cost, as long as we live a more local, authentic experience, and 3) We can spend time in Colombia with his family.

But he doesn’t want to go there.  Perhaps there is an element of pride in this.  He wants to progress and going back home would feel like he had failed somehow.  Perhaps it is boredom.  “Been there, done that.  Give me something new.”

Whatever his deeper motives, conscious or subconscious, his words were both heartfelt and serious.  I chose to listen carefully and respect his viewpoint.

“I don’t want to take a 6-month vacation, then come back with my tail between my legs.  I don’t want to beg for a job because professionally, I have been doing nothing.”

Then he told me about a post he had read in an online Colombian newspaper.  It mentioned there were scholarships available to study in Spain.  He had already checked into it.  In Spain, he can do a Master’s degree in 12 months in his native language and it is much cheaper than in the United States.  He had already researched some programs in logistics and supply chain management, a strong area of interest for him.

“I want to go to Europe and I want to accomplish something, to continue my education.”

He will support my need for some time off with the kids to travel and learn Spanish, but this is what he needs in return.

Wow.  It was a very real, honest moment in our relationship.  I heard him loud and clear and I felt the energy and conviction in his words.  How could I not love and support him in this?

My mental processes shifted into high gear as I recalibrated everything I have been working on for months.  He was taking us in a new direction but honestly, a better one.  I loved the idea of a home base to plant our family for a time, but in a well-developed, well-connected region where we could travel.

Also, he has struggled in the US job market.  “You speak Spanish?  Great!  We need entry-level sales and service positions filled!”  Meanwhile, the 22-year olds with a business degree and minimal work experience get moved up the food chain.

He already has two college degrees and he managed a small transportation company in Bogotá before he came here.  But that was long ago and he has wisely realized that he needs to update his skills.  Investing further in his education is actually a really solid idea and could open up better professional opportunities for him.

Another benefit?  The so-called Mediterranean diet and the overall climate and lifestyle.  We have a daughter with 2 autoimmune diseases.  Midlife has taken its toll on me, creating some challenging food intolerances.  Despite our best efforts to be healthy in Kansas, most food travels in from far away.  The climate and a car-oriented transportation system do not support year-round outdoor physical activity.

Would you quit your job and travel thousands of miles to be close to a fresh food supply, to rest and play for a year, learn a foreign language, and enjoy time with your kids before they launch?  I would.  I have been saving for that goal since 2017.  However, I was aiming South to accomplish this. Gonzalo has turned the compass and it is now pointing East.

But wait, we have a really big problem now.  I have a savings goal based on 7 months in Latin America.  Gonzalo just blew up the budget by extending this to one year, moving us to Europe, and throwing in tuition expense.

My heart says “yes,” of course.  But I am also reaching for the calculator, revamping the spreadsheet, and asking him for fresh numbers for my financial projections.

It is time for a reality check.  I will not be lounging around drinking sangria and listening to flamenco music all day.  I may need to find part-time work online to bring in some extra income.  Am I willing to make that sacrifice in order to accomplish this?  Yes, of course!

As of today, the energy has shifted in our home and we are on both on the same page.  Thank goodness!  I need his help and with both of us rowing the boat in the same direction, the future looks brighter already.

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