It's hard for me to believe that we moved to Lima one year ago this week. I've been told that living in another country as an expat will change you. So, how has a year living in Lima changed me? I've been thinking a lot about this question over the last few weeks. It seems there are phases to living abroad-- first the initial honeymoon where it feels somewhat like a vacation, everything shiny, interesting and new. Then there comes that rude thing called reality that crashes in and you realize it is not easy to navigate every day with a different language and culture, in a developing country many miles away from everyone and everything you've ever known. I went through all of the phases: wondering what the heck did we just do to our lives with phone calls to my best friend sobbing in the Sodimac (aka the Home Depot here), to resigning myself to it and promising myself I was going to make the best of it, to then realizing slowly but surely that despite it's challenges, I really like Lima sometimes. But then the miraculous happened... you wake up several months in and realize you actually sort of love your life here. You have wonderful people in your world, friends, routines, places you love to go and the true honest to goodness adventure of your life is happening right now. I'm certain that these are the times that Mark and I will talk about still when we are old and grey. We are never just going on automatic here. Everything is interesting and different even when challenging. In one short year, we've already seen so many places across Peru and South America that make my soul smile. I am so grateful for the experiences here that I will never forget. I'll take the lows anytime that come along with the highs of living life here.
So back to my original question. I've tried to think about how Lima has changed me since we arrived here one year ago, dogs in tow. Here goes:
I'm more patient, I'm less patient. Things here are not efficient like we are used to as Americans. I have a shorter fuse sometimes and am not afraid to yell or assert myself to get things done. For someone who is not naturally a yeller, this is a big step. I even am now able to yell in Spanish. Which leads me to my second point...
I know more Spanish than when I got here...but not enough.
I'm less afraid to try to speak Spanish and can even successfully make phones calls... all in Spanish (completely impossible task when I first arrived).
I cook more. I eat more seafood. We eat at home way more often than we did before. I'm in love with the fruit and produce here. It's amazing.
I am madly in love with any type of market: food, artisan, you name it, it's my happy place in South America.
I found out that an entrepreneur was secretly living inside of me. And she's creative. She's out now. See www.presentlyin.com to get to know her. Who knew?!
I have way more interesting things to talk about and stories to tell than I ever did before.
I'm incredibly spoiled now. Services here are crazy cheap. It's common here to have maids, drivers, massage therapists who come to your house, etc) for a tiny fraction of what it would cost in the States. Also, people pick up and deliver EVERYTHING here. Including the vets and boading place will pickup and drop off your dogs.
I'm more outgoing. I met some of my best friends in Peru walking dogs in the park and waiting in line to buy Rolling Stones tickets at the grocery stores. In my previous life, I'm not sure I would have talked to strangers as much let alone exchanged phone numbers and followed up.
We are actually "regulars" in places we go to in Lima like restaurants, etc (how did that happen?)
We are no longer deer in the headlight at every basic transaction.
I'd be open to living somewhere else after Lima. If you asked me that a couple months into this, I would have said no f#$%'n way.
I ride jumpers now rather than hunters.
My highs in life are higher, my lows and challenges here are sometimes lower than they ever were before. They are all worth it.
I'm in better shape. I ride longer each day and more often each week. I work out at a gym regularly. I'm grateful that I am able to do this.
I care more about clean air now that I don't have it. Funny how a cause becomes personal when something you took for granted is suddenly gone. The pollution here from buses and cars is terrible. You can taste the exhaust fumes from the combi buses when you walk down a Lima street. Delicious. Ok, not. Gross! Yes.
I watch more movies. Why? Many hours spent on long airplane rides.
I appreciate my own country more now and all the conveniences, efficiencies and first worldness you take for granted when you live there.
I pay more daily attention to world news.
I'm amazed by South America and have learned so much about places I really knew nothing about before. I'm moved by the kindness and openness of Peruvians who have made Mark and I feel so welcome and included here from Day 1.
I'm still the same person but my life or perspective on the world will never be the same again. I feel very lucky for this chance to find this out, in my forties, a time when most people are not doing much changing in their lives. Hopefully, this is what will keep us young. Who knows?! Regardless, I'm happy that we took this leap and am curious to see what Year 2 brings us.