This one is for you.
Sometime last week, BoB hit 10,000 in the total number of site views.
While BoB still has a long way to go to hit the big leagues, I am humbled to have reached this point. Humbled because of you, because you take the time to read this blog. Time is a gift and you, my dear reader, have been very generous. I thank you.
For some reason, hitting the 10,000 mark made me pause to think about what this blog is really about. Under the title, it says “International relocation and other leaps of faith.” It’s the leaps of faith part that should be the focus. Continue reading
Author’s Update, 2/12/14: It’s been over a year since I wrote the below post. While most of the recommendations stand true, I’ve switched from using magicJack as my primary phone for international calls to Skype. magicJack still works as described, but overall Skype connections have been more reliable and clear. Check back soon for Apps for Expats II, with more input and suggestions!
Ask anyone who’s moved abroad or traveled for extended periods and they’ll agree: staying in touch with folks back home is one of the keys to adjusting to a new life. For those with friends and family in another country, being able to communicate easily can make the distance seem a little less.
Fortunately, casual communication across international borders has never been easier or cheaper. Virtually gone are the days of expensive international calls and internet chats with spotty connections. And while apps like Skype and FaceTime are hugely helpful for calls and chats, there are plenty of other tools for more specific needs. Here are just a few apps – all of which can be downloaded for free – that I love and use regularly: Continue reading
Posted in Daily Life, Technology
Tagged adventure, app, barranquilla, Colombia, expat, international, Latin America, magicjack, npr, technology, travel, viber, whatsapp
Waiting for the boat that will take us to Playa Cristal
This past October, Gio, Marcello, and I took our first official family vacation. (Trust me when I tell you that moving to another country with your family does not constitute a family vacation.) We made the easy drive – about 1.5 hours northwest – to Santa Marta and its neighboring national park, Parque Tayrona. Santa Marta, founded in 1525, is the oldest permanent settlement in Colombia and supposedly the second oldest in South America. It is tucked between the Caribbean and the Sierra Nevada, the highest coastal mountain range in the world. Continue reading
Posted in Travel & Tourism
Tagged adventure, barranquilla, Colombia, ecosystem, expat, international, Latin America, national park, parque tayrona, santa marta, travel
It’s a new year, and in many ways, an official start to our “real” life in Barranquilla. Despite the fact that we moved here from Miami on July 23rd, 2012, just two days after our wedding, it wasn’t until our recent return from Christmas holidays in the U.S. that we finally felt settled.
The last six months, while good, were consumed with an almost endless to-do list related to our move: find an apartment, furnish the apartment, get Gio’s cédula (the national I.D. card), get our son Marcello into the national birth registry (so that Marcello could be a Colombian citizen), get Marcello’s passport, renew my expiring tourist visa, apply for my indefinite visa as Marcello’s mother (since Marcello is now a citizen), apply for my cédula de extranjería (the national I.D. card for foreigners) – you get the idea. We set December 13th, the day of our flight back to the U.S. for the holidays, as our deadline for jumping through all these hoops. While I had to put several things – like writing for this blog – on the back burner, we met our goal. Flying back on January 6th, I finally felt like I was coming home.
As you might imagine, a benchmark like this leads to some reflection. It seems like a good time to address the two questions that my husband and I are asked most often about our move: 1) Why? and 2) Do you like it? Continue reading
Okay, no, I am actually not that vain! Or that deluded. I have neither the level of fitness nor the physique, even at its worked-out best, to warrant a Nike commercial. (And I’m not sure that I could in good conscience advertise for them, although geez, I do like their running clothes….)
At the finish line of the Reykjavik Marathon in Iceland, 2009 (I think).
But that is how running often makes me feel: self-delusional in a good way – the kind of way that makes you get more done, act confidently, and generally avoid being a neurotic stress case. After years of running (and almost 1,400 miles logged on that Nike+ tracker thing), I can tell you with absolute certainty that the “runner’s high” is real.
So it’s no surprise, then, that one of the first things I asked Gio after his April scouting trip to Barranquilla was, “Can I run there?” Continue reading
Posted in Daily Life, Running, Sports & Leisure
Tagged adventure, arroyo, barranquilla, Colombia, exercise, expat, international, Latin America, running, south america, travel
I have reached a stage in our transition to Colombia that most expats probably experience but would rather skip – homesickness. Homesickness is a funny thing. We all experience it at some point. Sometimes it’s as a child, during our first sleepover at a friend’s house, or maybe as a “tween”, during that first week of summer camp. Maybe it’s when we leave college to set up our “real life” for the first time, or perhaps even later, after a divorce or a break-up, when the same house we were living in before suddenly ceases to feel like home due to the absence of the relationship that defined it. Of course, a move to another country can do it too.
Transition Point: Different colored stripes of water form at the horizon where freshwater from the Rio Magdalena, on which Barranquilla is situated, empties into the saltwater of the Caribbean Sea.
We never become completely immune to homesickness, and no matter our age, its basic anatomy remains the same. Homesickness is about identity. Continue reading
Barranquilla is a very modern city. Nonetheless, it’s still common to see horse-drawn carts on city streets. The guys with the carts (I have yet to see a woman with this job) are usually buying or selling something, which they announce via megaphone — that way, you can hear it from your apartment and come down to meet them (think ice cream truck in the U.S.).
The odd thing is that they always announce what they’re buying/selling in this nearly unintelligible monotone with no pauses between words. The following 7-second video will show you what I mean. Continue reading
I’ve been in Colombia six weeks now… long enough to miss a few things from the U.S., and long enough to fall in love with a few in Barranquilla. Here’s the short list of both:
I really, dearly love…
- Limonada Natural. These tart, frozen lemonade drinks are on almost every menu. There are high-end and low-end versions, with the former being this all-natural, elegant granita concoction and the latter basically a mouth-puckering Slurpee. But they are ALL delicious! Mmmmmm! Continue reading
Ever since Gio and I began contemplating a move to Barranquilla, we were told to live in “El Norte”, the northern part of the city. Our neighborhood, Torcoroma — named after a Romanesque style church in the area that I have yet to see — is definitely considered to be smack in the middle of El Norte. When we take a cab toward El Centro, the center of town (I know, I know, you never would have guessed that “El Centro” means “center”!), everyone says we are headed South.
The orange pinpoint is Torcoroma, our neighborhood. “El Centro” is the area sort of between “Boston” and “Bolivar” on this map.
So imagine my confusion when one afternoon, on just such a drive, I realized that the sun was in the wrong place. Continue reading
Just over a week ago, we finally moved into our new place! If you’ve followed our quest to sign a lease, you’ll know just how big a sense of accomplishment we felt when we actually had the keys in hand. Of course, our 1-year old son Marcello also took the keys in his hands, which resulted in THIS. (Side note: if you are thinking of moving to Colombia, do not use a rental agency. Rent directly from the owner.)
Our new apartment is lovely. Continue reading