July 20, 2013

An ending and a beginning

Even an ending is a beginning. As I wrote in the previous blog post, I'm amazed by how little of the future we can imagine, even if we try to know as much as possible beforehand. Greg did a ton of research before we decided to move to Fort Collins. When he got the job at Poudre High School, we knew that we were finally moving back, even if all the pieces weren't perfectly put together. The pieces almost never truly align anyway.

Before we moved to Munich, we didn't fully understand what living a European lifestyle really meant. We didn't know what it would be like to be living in a country without knowing much of the language. We didn't know how open other expats and teachers would be to accepting us into their lives, or to what extent the Germans could be both reserved and enthusiastic.

Before we moved to Quito, we didn't really get what it meant to be in a developing country. We didn't realize how incredibly lucky we were to have well-paying jobs (by Ecuadorian standards) and be able to take vacations and see the country. It was a privilege that not many in that country have. We didn't understand real poverty until we went there, but we also didn't understand how people with so little can be so helpful and kind. At the same time, we didn't expect Ecuadorians to be so shy about making friends with foreigners.

Of course, it hasn't been all uncertainty. But there is a big difference between what you know ahead of time and what actually greets you upon arrival and how it fits into the grand scheme of things in a country. Moving back to the US will be easy in some ways, but very difficult in others.

I don't remember a lot of thoughts and details I had before we left for Germany, but one thought stands out vividly. It was the idea that I had that we would not truly understand what was going on around us for a long time. That thought turned out to be so true. It came out in daily frustrations and funny mistakes alike.

Even with my level of Spanish, I know now I can never truly assimilate into another culture. It takes so much more than just language, or even just having strong relationships with locals. You really cannot re-learn a whole mindset. But the good news is that any experience is always your own, even when you share it with others.

This may not be our last blog post, but it will be one of them. This blog hasn't always been easy to keep up. Many times though, we both felt so excited to share our experiences with you all. I cannot tell you what a comfort it has been to have you guys out there reading, responding, and supporting us in our journey overseas. Thank you very much!

July 17, 2013

Our New Apartment

I'm writing this from our new apartment in Fort Collins. An apartment that I did not even know about or could have imagined when we were packing our suitcases in Quito and saying goodbye to good friends there.

Here is what I can tell you: Fort Collins is green. Both in the eco-friendly sense and in the foliage sense of the word. Most of Colorado around this time of year is brown, beige, and yellow (trust me, we just saw this scene last week when we flew in). But Fort Collins feels like a little oasis. There are streams and rivers in the city. Huge trees line many city blocks. Even in our new apartment, we've got a huge green lawn that we look out over. Scoots keeps watch over the numerous dogs that frolic in the backyard.

The apartment we choose is by far the smallest place we have lived in together. It's a one bedroom on the ground floor with a patio that lets us walk out on to the lawn. It is cozy and peaceful. I'm unashamed of my love for the dishwasher after two years of hand washing dishes almost every single day. We are right next to an organic grocery store with reasonable prices, a vet, a pet food store, and a little neighborhood coffee shop.

This apartment will be our transition place to a house as we get to know Fort Collins and potential neighborhoods we'd want to live in. We already have bikes and Greg is going to build a bike trailer that we can take to run errands and more. We still hope to live without a car, although we are seriously considering an ELF. So many people bike here! There are nice wide side streets and bike lanes as well as beautiful trails along rivers.

I hope you all will hear more about our new location, but maybe this time in person rather than through the blog!