Retiring to Colombia   1 comment

After reading the weather reports for Barranquilla, Colombia, I am not sure why I am moving there. I really dislike the heat. A few days over the past couple of weeks it was hotter than a Pittsburgh blast furnace. The saving grace is that the weather is no better in the northeast U.S. It must be the kindness of people, their value for family, the beaches, the dancing, the food, the culture, a healthier life balance, a belief that life must be enjoyed, and yes those gorgeous Colombianas.

I once tweeted that “Moving requires vision, a to-do-list & a great sense of balance. Moving out of the country also requires courage & supportive family/friends.” Nothing could be truer of my impending move to Barranquilla on July 30, my birthday. Belle who is giving me a place to stay and keeping my stuff; Bill and Cora who are receiving my mail and providing loads of unconditional love; Renee gives unconditional and unbelievable moral support; Moss, Banks, Karen, Lynette and other great friends are wonderful cheerleaders and counselors; Lilo is making looking for an apartment from the States easier; Nidia is checking on import taxes; Melissa has promised to continue my Spanish grammar lessons; my Facebook page (the one in Spanish) has messages from my Colombian friends that are planning a birthday celebration; Elizabeth, my sistah in Cali, Jorge, Mayra and her family in Costa Rica are sources of great encouragement; my family sisters, Exa and Jean, perhaps not sure what to make of me, give me their love just the same. All, and more, are making this move, at age 60, easier.

Now as the days grow shorter, and my move closer, I realize that even though I have been living in Barranquilla for the past three months, moving my stuff there is not just something to do. There are emotions at play also. I returned to the U.S. June 8 to organize my things for this move. Though I landed in Atlanta, I immediately left (at 2:00 a.m.) headed for Charlotte. A friend of 37 years let me sleep on her couch and took me to breakfast. I left at 7 a.m. or so and drove to Charleston, West Virginia in time to surprise my sister on her job and have lunch with her. Leaving Charleston by 2 p.m. gave me enough time to get to Pittsburgh in time to change clothes and see Shade with my friends. What a show!! I hung out in the ‘burgh for a week seeing many of the friends with whom I grew into adulthood. Philly, another of my old stomping grounds for a whirlwind two days, to see a mentor, friends and my spiritual counselor was my next stop. Washington D.C. to see my new doctor for my physical; visited the Colombian Consulate; hung out at the Smithsonian Folk Life Festival (Colombia was a featured country this year) and had plenty of laughs with friends was the last stop on what I began to call my farewell tour.

Two-thousand miles! My farewell tour! And the growing acknowledgement that I am leaving behind the life I have known for the past thirty-five or so years. I spent a career trying to make institutions more responsive to people’s needs, particularly those people who rely on education and training to improve their lives, the lives of their families and their communities. I wanted to change the world; then I tried to change the inequities of our society; then I tried to change the communities in which people lived and struggled by changing the institutions in which they trusted their dreams and aspirations.

I am a different person than I was before I started visiting Latin America four years ago. Being in Latin America has affected me in ways that I have not fully comprehended. I feel like I will return to the U.S., as a visitor. My home will be Barranquilla, Colombia. I feel like my heart will be there also. I am way less tolerant of the racism I feel here in the United States. I am ready to live life more simply; less focused on what I can accumulate; less accepting of the racism I feel here in the United States; less tolerant of the negativity; and frustrated by our inability to improve the infrastructures supporting our society. I am at a place where I believe the politics of privilege is driving a chasm between our society’s soul and our connection to the universe.

I am ready to consume myself with family and projects that secure my future. I am ready to be more giving to myself, to be less stressed, in better balance and in better health. I have always been a little different. Perhaps that is because I have always seen the world as a place that should be more giving. So it was not surprising to hear some of my friends say “… you never cease to amaze me.” Well I have to say that there are parts of me that are amazed that I am moving. It is an exciting amazement. There are both melancholy and joyful farewells. There is a new chapter ready to take place in my life. I am learning to fully believe that after a career of making the dreams of others come true, now is time for me to make my own a reality.

Posted July 18, 2011 by Wayne in Uncategorized

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One response to “Retiring to Colombia

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  1. Hello Wayne,

    I am planning on moving to Barranquilla as well…I have a few questions about Barranquilla.

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