I’m moving to South America! Are you coming?
If anyone ever says this to you, don’t call their bluff. They might actually be serious.
Well, I was serious. I had had enough. My husband and I were living in limbo in Canada, after a recession hit Alberta just six months after we arrived there to start a new life with our two young children.
Thousands of jobs were lost in our city alone within the span of six months… including my husband’s. Almost a year later, with the oil and gas recession showing no sign of letting up, things came to a head.
We had to make a choice: either stay in Calgary – one of Canada’s most expensive cities – and sit it out, struggling to make ends meet; give up and go back to the UK; or bring forward that crazy dream I had since visiting Chile in 1997: go and live in South America.
There are many reasons why people move. Take this quote by ‘Life of Pi’ author Yann Martel for example:
“Why do people move? What makes them uproot and leave everything they’ve known for a great unknown beyond the horizon? Why climb this Mount Everest of formalities that makes you feel a beggar? Why enter this jungle of foreignness where everything is new, strange and difficult?
“The answer is the same the world over. People move in the hope of a better life.”
In truth, there was more than one reason why we left Canada. More than likely, the exact same reasons that push others to start a new life somewhere else were pushing us too: personal, circumstantial, financial, and environmental.
The Canadian winters were a big challenge and we had had enough and based on this reason alone, the UK wasn’t much better.
South America it had to be then.
My husband did not take much persuading. There was risk, but there was adventure. Do nothing, nothing changes. Change everything…something is definitely going to happen.
So we read up a bit; I spoke to a friend with some experience living on this vast continent. After considering all the criteria – residency rules, the children’s education, health, work, living costs, proximity to an airport, city or town, and climate – we made our decision.
And of course our mantra of “warm, near the sea, warm, near the sea…” helped us with the decision.
We’re going to live in Perú!
“Peru? Why Peru?” Everybody asked this. “You want to see where Paddington bear comes from?” one friend asked.
I couldn’t really give most people an answer to this question. So I came up with a short answer for them: “I’m having my mid-life crisis.” This seemed to work. Others assumed we were relocating because of my husband’s job – but I corrected them gracefully every time.
But in truth, this was an emergency airlift. We were escaping a situation (on a bad day, I would describe it as an ordeal) that was partly influenced by the vagaries of a global industry we had no control over and, in my opinion, was responsible for far too much already.
We were also being pushed (or was it pulled?) by intense forces from within that could not be ignored anymore. And once the decision was made, everything happened with such speed and momentum that when I look back and ask myself, in those rare quiet moments, “What am I doing in Perú?!”, I take comfort that this, for us, was meant to be.
Our Peruvian adventure
When we got to Perú, even Peruvians wanted to know why we were in Perú. I didn’t know how to say mid-life crisis in my limited Spanish, so I borrowed a word from the local mall. Aventura! And so it began, one of the biggest risks I had ever taken in my life.
Alison is our new guest blogger. She’s a freelance editor and writer and craniosacral therapist. She lives in Trujillo, Perú with her husband and two sons.