Why I Moved To Colombia
I looked up at the train times display. My train to London Victoria was late. Nothing exceptional coming from Southern Rail. I went back to mulling over my long list of to-dos. I wriggled my feet in my designer shoes and admired their status whilst dwelling on their significance to me. They were a treat to myself when I landed my first big job. A voice of doubt whispered in my ear, “They will be the last pair of KG’s you will ever own.”
First of all, I’m not afraid
The name Colombia never struck fear in my heart. Perhaps it is because I was born in a ‘developing’ country and know that these countries do not get the privilege of being represented well in the media. In my head, the word ‘country’ denotes buying and selling, staycations, family traditions and culinary experiences – with or without the developed or developing status.
I also do not harbor the fears that some women have. Fears such as never falling in love, never getting married or dying childless. Not that I am better than those women or that I don’t want those things (because I do) but my greatest fear is not fulfilling my purpose. And I truly believe that my purpose supersedes the roles that my gender is expected to fulfill. Even if there was a man waiting for me in Colombia, I would have weighed up my options to see how he fits in with my life plans.
I want adventure. Adventure means different things to people and to me it means building a successful business, traveling the Swahili coast, drinking tea with the Tuaregs, and even taking my nephew to Disney World. In the short time that I’ve spent on this planet, I have never ascribed to the rat race or its trappings. Instead, I want to drink from the cup of life and to drink it deeply.
I’m comfortable in my interdependence. I am strongly independent but not so that I don’t let people in. And because I have this blessed comfort, I can be anywhere in the world and not feel lonely. I’m truly grateful to have people in my life whose thoughts towards me are good. And for that, I know that I am blessed.
I want a different lifestyle
I know that not everyone in ‘developing’ countries is trying to leave for the EU/US. They love where they live and have built their own lifestyles. After living in London for 14 years, I knew that I wanted something else. I have been blessed to experience two lifestyles from living in the Caribbean and Europe and I strongly preferred weekend trips to the river over searching for cheap beach holidays.
I want to leave the European bubble
Travelling opened up my eyes to see that there are conversations happening that I would not have known because I was living in a bubble. And the European bubble is the worse because it becomes too easy to look at the world with a “them and us” filter. I don’t want to be ignorant of world issues with the BBC as my only source of information. I also really love Latin America. Some people will discredit me, but I think the major travel experiences that many people want to experience (minus African safaris and Asian temples), can be experienced here. We have mountains, snow, beaches, and jungles. Fortunately for me, I chose a country that has all of them :).
I want to tell a different story
I think about my life as an author and I want to change the plot. I want to add drama and depth, so I must give the protagonist a challenge. Let me paint the picture: “a single woman in her mid-twenties has decided to pack up her life to move to a country that she doesn’t really know. She could find love and wealth or end up destitute and running back into the comforts of the British NHS and a friend’s couch. Who really knows what will happen! Tune in every week for another episode of ‘Shari in Colombia.'”
All jokes aside, I do want to challenge my creativity and I have never heard of creativity being born out of comfort. I also want to test this idea of mine – entrepreneur or not, of living in Latin America. What better time to test it out when my startup is still small, I’m not married and currently childless. I know my idea of success, so if this works I will be celebrating my birthday on the beaches of Baracoa. If this doesn’t work, I would have a lot of stories for the Friday night drink up.
Other reasons why I chose Colombia: the biodiversity of the country, I get to learn another language and culture, the fact that I don’t need to drive a car, I can get my favourite tropical fruits all year round, the international links of Medellin and Bogota’s airports (I’m so close to Jamaica!), Colombia’s proximity to Central America, San Andres and Providencia, my daily expenditure has decreased significantly and if my startup went bankrupt I could easily get a job teaching English.
I guess for my loved ones they are afraid because they have never been and/or have never heard of people moving to Colombia. Whilst for me, I know of Colombia being a hotspot for digital nomads in the Americas. I am just 1 of the many people who are forging their own personal 21st-century career that is not dictated by dress codes and timetables. This phenomenon is still so new that it freaks people out, but that will be for a future blog post. I will just have to show them what it means to have a 21st century career.
Oh, and for how long do I plan to stay in Colombia? Longer than a holiday, but shorter than forever ;).