Sunday, January 10, 2016

Finding a Sense of Home and Community

"Home is where your rump rests" - Pumbaa from "The Lion King"

When constantly traveling, it can be hard to feel a constant sense of "home". Whether I've stayed somewhere for six weeks or two years, it can still be a struggle to utter that phrase "I feel at home here." Luckily, I haven't really had too many issues with that here in Colombia. My time here has been marked by three very distinct moves:

1. End of August 2014 to mid-November 2014: For the first three months in country, while we were completing our initial training, I lived in Barranquilla in a simple, one floor apartment above a small tienda. My host parents were amazing people and I still visit them from time to time when I have time or need a place to crash in the city.

2. Mid-November 2014 - End of January 2015: After receiving my initial site placement, I moved in with another family, this time in southern Barranquilla. This two-story house was filled with my host parents, host grandmother, host brother, his girlfriend, their newborn, and my host sister and her son. It was a lot of people for a small space, but I quickly learned to enjoy the constant hustle and bustle of having people in and out of the house.

3. Februrary 2015 - Present:  I was moved a third time at the beginning of Februrary 2015 to Repelón, where I am currently living and serving the remainder of my Peace Corps service. Here I have been blessed with really not only one home, but two. The first home is my current place of residence. My host mom runs a restaurant from the back of the house and serves the best food in town (I may be a bit biased, but it's true). My host dad works on the local finca and is always bringing home fresh mangoes and papayas for us to enjoy.

The house itself is one of the nicer ones in town. Inside the actual house itself are 5 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, a kitchen, and a living room/dining room combo. Out back, behind the house, is where the real benefit lies. Another kitchen is accompanied by three more rooms (one of them being mine) and a beautiful cabana that doubles as a restaurant during the lunch hour. Due to the small size of Repelón, the extra rooms and space double as a type of hotel for those that are visiting family and friends and need a place to stay. Once again, my life here is definitely not devoid of activity and human contact.

My humble abode here in Repelón
The living room/dining room that's really just more for show that use
The outside kitchen where all of the food goodness happens
The cabana/restaurant in the back yard
My second "home" here in town came about as a bit of a surprise and rather unexpectedly. On my second day in town, I was at school when my coordinator came to find me. She told me that the local police were looking for me and wanted to talk. Naturally, I was a bit freaked out since no one really wants to have the cops actively looking for them, especially in a foreign country! Turns out, the police chief, who is definitely currently one of my best friends in town, wanted to introduce himself and inquire about English classes for himself and the other cops in town.

Gradually, over time, I have used the police station as my get away in town. One of the real benefits about the station is the air condition and free WiFi. When living in a town that constantly feels like it's on the sun, any escape from the heat is welcomed and sought out. Over time, what started out simply as English classes has turned into a "home away from home" while I've been here. Who thought when I moved to town that my best friend would be the police chief and I would actively choose to go to the police station!

The road leading to the police station
Where the motorcycles are kept when not in use
The soccer field where local kids play daily to keep active
The actual station itself 
Throughout all of my travels, I have stayed in various homes, apartments, and living situations. However, through all of those experiences, there is just one thing that I can always count on - the people. I am constantly being blessed with amazing people who come across my path, no matter where I am living or what I am doing. It is through this sense of community that I am able to overcome any feelings of homesickness or loneliness that I may have. It is through these unexpected experiences that the true joy of traveling and living abroad is born.

Blogging Abroad's Boot Camp Blog Challenge: Starting January 2015

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