A few days ago, I was sitting outside of our new home, on a comfortable couch, looking across the street at a beautiful green mountain with cows grazing and tall trees swaying with the wind. I stared blankly for who knows how long. The sky started off clear and blue. Then changed to breezy and cloudy. Then to drizzly. Then foggy. Then back to sunny. I didn’t move from my spot on the couch. I didn’t smile. I didn’t cry. I just stared, and swallowed hard every time I felt like throwing up.
After a full cycle of weather changes, I took a deep breath, and walked to the end of the driveway. Everything around me was exactly how I envisioned it. I got to where I wanted, and I got just what I asked for. So why was I miserable? It took a couple of days to figure it out.
First of all, the language barrier here is so far beyond frustrating. I can’t talk to anyone, read anything, or understand anything. I try to translate or ask Jonathan, and as patient as he is, I hate asking. I am now taking Spanish lessons, but I’m starting with the very basics, so instead of being able to have a real conversation, I can tell people that “my duck likes to drink water”, and that “the girls like to eat vegetables”.
I feel very lonely. I have Jonathan, but he is the only person I can have an adult conversation with. I feel like I depend on him too much and that if I didn’t have him here, I would be lost. When he hears me struggling to have a conversation with someone, he sweetly steps in to translate for me. He has to explain everything to me, and I feel like an idiot.
One morning a few days ago, I couldn’t get the hot water to work no matter what I did, so I asked Jonathan to come try to figure it out. He just turned it on and it magically worked! OF COURSE! So I said a few curse words, and walked out of the bathroom. He grabbed me and pulled me towards him, and I burst into tears- something I have done daily and often since I’ve been here. He said, “We are a team. We are here to help each other, and you will understand more every day.”
And I told him through all my tears that it’s more than just the hot water or the language barriers or the inability to read or understand anything. I wanted to live in the mountains because I wanted to live simply. I wanted to get by on the bare essentials. I don’t want to be the Snobby American Girl who has to stay in nice hotels, eat fancy food, have an automatic coffee machine, dish washer, washing machine, dryer, etc. I want to appreciate the value of simplicity. I want to know that when I cook dinner, I had to work for it. I had to hike down a mountain to get fresh vegetables. I want to know what it’s like to work for what we need and enjoy a simple life.
But I didn’t realize how hard that was going to be. I didn’t realize that meant living in a small house with no heating, no oven, critters, and holes in the walls. I didn’t realize how much I would hate showering in cold water in a cold (cold to me!) climate. I didn’t realize how hard it would be to find warm clothes. I didn’t realize how much work cooking and cleaning would be. I didn’t realize it meant that we couldn’t just decorate a Christmas tree because they have to be driven by a big truck 4 hours up a scary mountain. I didn’t realize that our food options would be so limited (again because we are so far from a city). And I didn’t realize that living up here would be so hard on my body. Yea maybe I’m a wimp, whatever. But when I have to choose between throwing up to walk to get beans and rice or sit here and be hungry, I choose the latter. (Of course, the kids have plenty of food, but my gluten allergy is a challenge for me.)
After my long cry, Jonathan said we could leave and go to another part of the country any time I wanted, but I told him that I desperately wanted to get passed what ever expectations I had of living this way, and that I wanted to find a way to take the rough parts to enjoy the good I had envisioned. Nothing is the same, but if I wanted things to be the same, or I wanted things to be easy, I would have stayed back in the states. I left because I knew there was more to life. More to me. I’m discovering more than I set out to find, and it’s THE most personally-challenging things I have ever done. I thought Cozumel was a challenge- not EVEN!
I have decided to stay here until I can embrace this way of living. I’m not going to give up and find an easier place to live. Ok, maybe a different house with windows that close and keep the critters out! But I want to enjoy it like Jonathan and the kids are. I want to be stripped of things that aren’t important, and live for ONLY what is. Then we can move on. (The kids are doing AMAZING here, by the way. I’ll update on their personal adventures and developments soon.)
I’ve been writing this post on the same couch that I was on the other day. The weather is going through its crazy daily cycles. But today, I’m more at peace. The kids are playing games out here with other travelers and backpackers. I feel a little better now that I know how to wash our clothes, and I found a thrift store with warm clothes for us. Dinner is thawing. We are coming up with our own recipes and traditions for Thanksgiving. And instead of me freaking out at the site of creatures in the house, I’ve gotten the kids to collect them and study them for part of our schooling today.
Life is lived differently everywhere. I knew this before I left home. But it’s learning to actually live it differently that makes this journey so beautiful and rewarding.