Turn and face the strange.

Mt. Tom, Massachusetts

Are you ready for yet another post in which I announce the complete overhaul of my geographic and cultural situation? Today is your day.

I’ve held out on any sort of announcement, because change feels less permanent if fewer people know about it. But hello, here I am, not in Costa Rica anymore, and not writing about it doesn’t make it any less true.

Now let’s dial back that tone of resignation and be clear: I chose to leave. The why was a compilation of factors. Even though I loved where I was working, it’s hard to find professional growth, development, and movement in a rural 400-person village. It’s hard to be away from your family as they go through harrowing medical problems, and to be away from your closest friends as they celebrate life’s milestones. It’s hard to realize that if you stay in the position you’re in, you’ll forfeit some of the dreams and goals that are dearest to you.

Even so, it’s possibly more frustrating to digest that that by virtue of your background and upbringing, you have access to more opportunities than your peers. Movement, after all, is a fantastic privilege.

So as I closed in on two years in San Luis and felt my toes itch and my mind wander, I wanted to quash what I viewed as this insatiable North American need for growth. In my mind, a need for growth and change was equal to discontent discontent. In San Luis, the attitude towards having any job – whether cleaning or cooking, management or milking cows – is gratitude. Gracias a Dios hay trabajo (“thank God there is work”) is the saying when the workload is heavy, or when the workload is light. It puts food on the table, clothes on the kids’ backs, gas in the motorcycle. I wanted very much for my existential crisis to stop flaring up, and be content for the rest of my life right where I was because I had food and shelter and relationships, and this was enough, it seemed, for everyone except me. I felt deeply ungrateful.

When I tried to express this guilt to my boyfriend, he looked at me incredulously and replied,

“What would be ungrateful is to not take an opportunity when it is offered to you.”

His parents have worked without complaint to put their two sons through a local bilingual school, because speaking English opens a plethora of opportunities in a community so touched by tourism. So to them, to accept an opportunity is not ungrateful; to turn down an opportunity is.

So with my mindset realigned, I accepted a position with a U.S.-based study abroad company that will hopefully continue to grow and shape me. In August, after over two years of calling San Luis my home, I packed up my bags and moved to…Massachusetts.

I knew the transition was going to be hard. With three months now under my belt, though, I guess I didn’t think I’d still have throbbing homesickness, which just serves as a testament to the love, grace, and humility I was surrounded with in San Luis.

I am beyond grateful for my years in San Luis, as they have shaped and molded me into the stronger, more thoughtful, more confident person that I am today. I am indebted to the people who treated me with unbridled kindness, and looked upon me as one of their own. I am thankful for a community that distilled life’s complex and conflicting recipes for happiness into simple ingredients: friends, family, and food. And while my current chapter of life calls me to this colonial tundra of a state called Massachusetts, don’t think for as second I’ve closed the book on San Luis.

I’ll be back. 🙂


2 thoughts on “Turn and face the strange.”

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