we are foreigners

Our neighborhood in Unicentro Santa Barbara

Our neighborhood in Unicentro Santa Barbara

I have some blog backlogs to account for the last month in Los Angeles and New York with our parents. I will finish those up and upload them as soon as I can. In the meantime, we made it to Bogotá, Colombia yesterday afternoon and have been in decompression mode since arriving at our AirBnB. 

We found a direct flight from Toronto to Bogatá so we drove a few hours from Rochester, New York to Toronto Thursday night after a heart-full farewell with my in-laws. We didn’t get to sleep until about midnight and got up at 4AM to get ready, drop the rental car off at the airport and go through the airport process. 

I was a wreck. Exhaustion mixed with no food and all the feelings I’ve not fully sat with about surrendering the life I knew and loved for the unknown . . . . John was on it though—we’ve agreed that only one of us can freak out at any given time (ha!)—bringing me back to Earth and keeping us moving forward. 

We went from having a house, car, solid careers, inspiring social circles and security in our everyday lives down to two 45 liter packs and two small day packs. John’s pack was designed for this kind of travel and accounted for the need to zip up the straps for checking the bag when flying. I went off the grid with my pack, so those design features weren’t part of the execution. I tried finding a lightweight sac to stick my pack in for air travel, but time ran out. Around 5AM, I got something stuck in my head that the loops, straps and such on my pack would result in some sort of problem between the bag going on the belt and it arriving at Bogotá baggage claim. Thus losing the last of my possessions. 

This is the mind of anxiety. The trouble with anxiety-mind is that it is totally and completely unreasonable. Once that buggy thought burrows in there, spiking blood pressure and releasing a wave of adrenaline into the system, the only way to resolve it is time and space (ideally a space different from where the anxiety kicked in).  

That worry was plucked from my mind about twenty minutes into the flight when it dawned on me that we may never be able to fully untether—an impossible goal maybe—since we still have 100 liters of stuff we still feel attached to, including this computer I am writing this blog post on. 

For me, the goal of this journey is a mix of gaining worldly experience, personal growth, deepening my relationship with John and a generous dose of grace by way of deep contemplation about the meaning of life, culture, stuff, liberation, attachment, etc. I hope to soften my anxiety and depression edges over the next year, so I can feel content and peaceful more often than not. 

It is a gift to share similar goals with my beloved travel companion.

We arrived in our apartment around 5PM, nearly three hours after landing. The immigration line was two hours long though we were only at the booth for about 60 seconds and 60 seconds as well for customs. 

Shortly after dark, we wandered out for a long overdue meal (hadn’t eaten since breakfast) and landed at a quaint little place near our apartment, with a large sign above the bar that read: Enjoy the joy in the journey. Sometimes signs from the cosmos are actually signs! Our adorable waiter wanted to practice English, so we had it easy for our first outing. And the food was heavenly. 

Sleep was a gift and we’ve spent today laying low, as planned: grabbing groceries and walking around the neighborhood, practicing our terrible Spanish a little here and there. We aren’t taking many photos right now—we want to be recognized a bit by locals in each place we visit before capturing images. This photo practice, for us, is about relationship and respect. 

The United States is washing off of us. We began to feel the separation of Self and U.S. society in Toronto. Most noticeably, the fear of the unknown/foreigners/difference that plagues American culture . . . . our bubble is popping and we feel grateful for it. Now, we are the “foreigners.” Not used as an insult, like it is often used to describe "other" people in the U.S. We are just people from someplace else. 

And we’ve only been met with kindness and curiosity.