This time last year – on this exact day – I was sitting in a polleria in Calama, Chile, booking the most ridiculous flight of my life. I was a month into the most incredible adventure of my life and although that particular moment was not the happiest of all my time there, I’m smiling thinking back on it.
Now that I have my freedom back, nostalgia for South America is stronger than ever and I’m being overwhelmed by a desire to go back there – not just for a holiday, or even an extended trip, but to live.
It’s such a tantalizing, ridiculous dream that I barely dare consider it, but at the same time, I can’t stop thinking about it. To live in Buenos Aires, Salta or La Paz, to speak Spanish and wander the streets of those achingly charismatic cities, to drink a cafe cortado in some sunny plaza at the end of each working day… the thought is almost too much to bear.
It’s hard to say how much of this is due to rose-tinted memories – with my travel fund miserably empty, I have no prospects of getting out of the country until I start earning some money later this year and I am going absolutely stir-crazy. Thinking about where I was this time last year seems understandably rosy. But even when I think about it more rationally, the desire to move to South America does not diminish. I remember walking through Buenos Aires, wanting to stay forever, returning to La Paz after I’d been there once, desperate for another day, enjoying the daily, working life I had in Salta.
I know that bureaucracy in Argentina is dire; I know that life in Bolivia is not easy. I’m prepared to deal with this reality.There was something about the pace of life, the enjoyment taken in little things – whether it was the quasi-European lifestyle of Buenos Aires or the Andean rhythms of La Paz.
There was something to celebrate almost every day – and weekends saw parades, music, laughter and dancing – people coming together for no other reason than to have fun.
Whatever happens, I have at least another year in the UK, getting through my induction as a new teacher. But as I consider my future after that, it seems to always come back to South America.
So I would like to know: have you emigrated to another country? What were your experiences? Was it a good decision?