My plans have changed about a bazillion times since I found out I was coming to Colombia.
The 1st plan was to stay for 9 months. I was told before arriving, that since I was filling in halfway through the semester, I could see how it goes and then decide if I wanted to extend my contract for another 6 months. Since 3 months in the country is a pretty short time, I was definitely thinking I would extend it. The problem was, once I got here, I was told that I only had until October 6th to decide if I wanted to extend. This was a problem, since by the 6th, I would only have been in Armenia for 3 days, and I wouldn’t have even begun teaching yet. So that didn’t really give me a chance to feel it out. Plus, during the 2 days I spent at the volunteer house in Bogota, I heard a LOT of negative things being said about the program. Like only negative things. So with that being all I had to go on, I decided not to ask for the extension when the 6th rolled around. Another aspect of this decision was that, as some of you may know, I had been intending to re-home my dog, Macy, due to the fact that it’s incredibly hard to be a pitbull owner and not a home owner. Landlords hate pits, many cities have ridiculous breed laws, and if you’re planning on traveling out of the country, it’s pretty much out of the question to take any animal with you (besides my moose, Admiral Morris – he travels well). So I was thinking that it would be best to find her a new home. Before I left I did get in contact with a lady in Burke who was thinking of adopting Macy. I told her I would bring her by one night so she could meet her, and she told me that if it worked out they could go ahead and take her that night. So knowing that it might be the last time I would see my dog that had been part of my family for the past 6 years, I bawled my eyes out for the whole half hour drive. Luckily, Macy’s size scared the family’s other, tinier dog, so it didn’t end up working out. Even more luckily, my friend Kelsey agreed to take her in and try to re-home her in Rapid City. However, after deciding not to extend my contract past December, Kelsey agreed to keep her for me til then.
The sucky thing was, after being here for a while, I really started to love it, and I didn’t want to go back. I decided that I’m young, I really have nothing urgent to come back to (the next step in my life, whatever that may be, can wait another 6 months), and who knows if I’ll be in a position to do this again? So I decided to see if I could find someone who would be willing to watch Macy for another 6 months. It turns out there were actually a handful of people that were willing. It also turns out Kelsey couldn’t say goodbye to that face either, so she agreed to watch her herself.
Even after she did this:
Unfortunately, in the time that all this back and forth decision-making was going on in my fickle brain, there were no longer openings at my SENA center in Armenia for the coming semester (I honestly don’t know where they got the 10/6 deadline, because I think I probably could’ve extended at any time after that before they started filling the spots – would have been nice to know). Then, one of the other volunteer teachers here put me in touch with Volunteers Colombia, who runs the same program as Heart for Change (the one I’m under). It’s literally the exact same thing, just with a different organization facilitating. I asked if they had any spots open in Armenia, but they did not. However, they did have a spot open in Pereira, which is about an hour away from Armenia. I accepted the position for a semester contract.
So here’s the finalized plan. (Almost finalized anyway – contract is in and the deposit will be paid tomorrow). Next week I will fly to Santiago, Chile, where I will meet up with my mom and we will drink copious amounts of wine and ride on horseback through the Andes. A week later, I will fly back to Bogota, where I will meet up with my friend Bianca, and we will hike through the jungle to the ruins of the Lost City. On January 8th, I will fly back to South Dakota, where I will get in some family time while briefly remembering how much I hate winter (I’m starting to reminisce about scarves and boots and hot cocoa, but I think a few days back home should get that out of my system). After that, I’m going to fly to Georgia for a few days to spend some time with the hermana, which thanks to Frontier and Spirit, is actually cheaper than flying direct to Bogota. Then it’s back to Colombia at the beginning of February to settle down in my new home in Pereira! The semester ends in late June, and that’s as far as I’ve planned my life for now.