Author Archives: findingnowblog.com

About findingnowblog.com

I am trying. I’m a try-er. I think you are too. So this blog is dedicated to us. All of us ‘Fall Down Seven Times Get Up Eight’ -ers. Join me in conversations about healing and laughter and heartache and honesty; family and parenting and loving and forgiving. I am also the co-author of Findingforeign.wordpress.com which documents my family's travels with young children through South America. An amazing life experience we get to keep, and share, forever. Enjoy! Read on! :)

Dinner

Made it as far as Mom and Dad’s now and it is, as always, our perfect respite and love-boosting stop. Today though, tops it all.

There was not a week, not a single week, in South America that went by without Vaughn saying, “Remember when Poppie said he’d take me fishing when we get back? That’ll be fun. I’ve never been fishing. Remember when Poppie said he’d take me?”

Guess who just caught dinner. 😉

 

Categories: From Jamie | Tags: , , , , | 7 Comments

Smiley Faces, Tow Yards, Short Tuxedos and Phone Cords

We’ve made it back! Raced off the last plane into the cheering arms of our family at DIA and had a wonderfully special homecoming with loved ones. XOXO!

We’ve now been Stateside for a whole 48 hours and adjusting a bit more with each interaction that we have. Having sold or given away nearly all of our worldly possessions before we left, Bo and I let the boys go with mom and dad back to Montrose for some serious Yaya/Poppie play time while we’ve stayed behind to look for cars. More on the personal adjustments and how hard it was to let the boys go later. Those really are important points that I want to write about in-depth, and with a straight face.

Which means not now.

No, this post is about car shopping and I couldn’t write it with a straight face if I tried.

Keeping in mind that for the past 8 months we have not had a house payment, car payment, insurance, cell phones, more than a small bag of clothes, or any other modern attachment, dropping into the metro area used car world right out of the gate like this proved…eventful.

Determined to carry as much of our recent simplicity into this next American chapter as we can, we are looking to buy much less expensive cars than we have previously sought out. So, we spent the evening before checking out used car lots in Denver that had the inventory we were seeking and narrowed it down to a smiley-face dealer for the first choice and another lot with a man who apparently favors short tuxedos and disco music, judging by his website.  Then this morning, leery but hopeful and with the gracious loan of my Aunt Julie’s car, we took off down the road to Colfax to begin the search.

Smiley face dealer got a bad start as we were hit up for “bus” money right as we got out of our car by a passing “bus user”. Then the salesman helping us spoke in such a thick southern drawl that it was honestly hard to understand him from time to time -and we’re pretty used to straining to understand people. Somewhere between “we dawn’t do our caaars rough ’round ‘ere.  Dawn’t raide ’em hard an’ put ’em up wet, ya know wha’ I’m sayin?” and “Ahh’m frum Boulder, but spent taime en Luuusiana so com by this accent ‘onest” We decided that Smiley Face was not for us.

Feeling a little off-balance we turned into the next big car lot we saw to look around and catch our breath. Amazingly, we stumbled upon a vehicle we weren’t even looking for but that fit our criteria well and so ended up having a nice new salesman named Juan help us test drive it and scope it out. Juan being new and in training had to ask a couple of questions of his General Manager, a kind elderly man from France or Spain (depending on which story he’s telling you) with a strong South African accent and amazingly white dentures. After getting some info on the car, peppered in between a lot of world travel anecdotes from the GM, we decided that we couldn’t pick the first car we liked–we needed to keep looking.

We needed to visit short-tuxedo-man.

Short-tuxedo-man is on the other end of Denver and has 120 cars on a lot that should fit about 50. Seeing the inventory stacked four-deep as we drove up didn’t exactly boost our confidence, but reminding ourselves that we are intentionally doing things differently, and “maybe there’s a real diamond in the rough hidden in there?”, parked Julie’s car and hopped out.

No such luck on the diamond front, but we did endeavor to test drive a few cubic zirconias that made the long drive to short-tuxedo-man’s lot worth it. Unfortunately, most of the ones we wanted a closer look at were not in the front row, meaning that each time we asked for a test drive the salesman would have to call out his small army of ex-carnival-worker staff to move all the cars in front and around it. Picture those square puzzles where one square is missing and you move all the others trying to make the picture correct , that’s what it resembled. While we did find a hopeful candidate for Bo’s car, this “system” being what it was meant that we were at short-tuxedo-man’s lot for much longer than we meant to be.  So, after many rousing puzzle rounds combined with low blood sugar and sensory overload, we told our salesman we needed to think about it and would be back later. Deep breaths and sure steps led us back to where Julie’s car was, not.

Yes. Yes we did get my Aunt’s car towed today.

Towing situation was shady at best, but also impossible to change so we turned ourselves back around and with my cheeks at full blush, asked if we could take one of the cars we were looking at for an extended test drive to pick up our vehicle that had just been towed. They very graciously obliged.

On the way to the tow yard the car we were nearly ready to buy for Bo suddenly had the check engine light turn on, a rain/gravely sound emit from under the hood, and a strong stench of oil fill the car. So, really, the towing was a blessing in disguise that way.

A brutally negotiated $230 later and disappointed that we have to turn down the car we were about to make an offer on, we dropped the test-driver car back at short-tuxedo-man and decide to try and salvage the day by heading back to the lot that had the vehicle we liked, ready to drive it home as soon as possible.

Juan was out with other customers when we arrived so the friendly GM from this morning helped us get started. And that’s when the day got Really fun. This sweet older gentleman has led a fascinating life that I now know all about. Every question we asked about the car, every attempt to negotiate the price, was responded to with a lengthy tale that was based out of some connection he made between our car talk and his time traveling Spain with his brother when his father died, or his “frugal, not cheap, frugal” Scottish wife, or his two hip replacements, no – 3 hip replacements because one was done wrong and he had one leg shorter than the other, or how different it was working cars during the Carter administration, or how lucky he is that his Scottish bride doesn’t like jewelry so he buys her a rose each anniversary, or the difference between an English pub breakfast and what he ate growing up in South Africa.

?????????

The real kicker being when he was calling a tire company to ask a price for replacement tires on the car we’re looking at, had to put them on hold (by placing the phone on the table, no idea how to use a hold button), then returning and picking up the phone upside down. Cord coming out of the phone by his ear, speaking more and more loudly into the earpiece now at his mouth, explaining that “they don’t make phones as clear as they used to” and “sometimes these folks forget they’re on the phone, maybe they left” and “hello?” “Hello?!”

I made a break for the bathroom before exploding into laughter while Bo, who is more than ready to just get some straight information at this point, held it together and helped the man see he was talking upside down through a series of hand signals and demonstrations.

After all of that we drove home…

in my Aunt Julie’s car. Resting up tonight and preparing to brave the used car world again tomorrow.

When Bo and I turned in for bed tonight he wrapped me up in a hug still chuckling from dinner and said, “This was a really fun day.” I smiled and agreed and knew I had to come write this all down.

Bo and I did have a great, memorable, and fun day today. There is no way today would have looked like that to us before our Sabbatical. Had Pre-South America Jamie written you this post it would have had a much harder, more down-trodden, and I hate to say it, even cynical tone to it. Hopefully that is not in line with what you just read.

We didn’t lose our tempers, we didn’t turn on each other, we held hands and laughed until we cried and worked it out. Just took on the next thing – which is a strategy we had to use in South America early and often. Recounting the tale over dinner with my aunt and uncle and cousins tonight left us all breathless with mirth.

What we’ve just done isn’t for everyone and we would never suggest that it was. But it was so very much for us. And when people ask me if  it was worth it I will smile and say “Yes”, and think back on today as Exhibit A.

I am certain that there are challenges ahead for us that we won’t meet quite so cheerfully. But for tonight, as I wind this down and head to bed my resounding thought is,

it’s working.

Categories: From Jamie | 9 Comments

Day 248

I remember writing our Day 1 Post. I remember the awe and excitement and wonder, and nerves, at all we had just done and all the unknown that was ahead of us to do.  I remember saying that it was great. I remember that it was.

Beginnings get a lot of press. Like the first day of Spring, which we are experiencing in the Southern Hemisphere right now, beginnings are clean and open and green. They smell good. They are unmarred and easily celebrated. As they should be.

Endings though, rarely get the joy of that flip-sided coin. And that is a shame. Endings are beautiful. It is in the beginning that something becomes possible, it is in the ending that something becomes precious.

This was true of leaving Crested Butte last January. I had lunch with friends, took impromptu walks on trails I thought I knew, and initiated longer sidewalk conversations all on a moment’s notice, and devoid of the “busy” excuse I used to wear like a uniform. Anxious to get the time and love in before we left.

This was true of leaving Cotacachi, when suddenly all the oddness and quirks and messes that hours before drove us mad, took a drastic turn towards the endearing.

This was true of leaving Taganga, Buenos Aires, and even our one day in Colonia as well. Each place that we found new and exciting in the beginning really revealing their worth as we prepared our goodbyes.

Of the blogs I’ve read of other families that have done something like this, they unanimously report at the end of it that they wanted more time. It felt too short. They wish it could be longer. They were just getting the hang of things.  All of them say that – whether their stint was 3 months, 6 months, or over a year. Importantly, all of them say that in their last, or next to last, post.  We feel the same way. We want more, now that at the end of things we see without distraction the gift of what we have together.

These are the most fantastic people I hang out with. They are funny and brave. Cute and dashing. Kind and honest. They are my heroes. I knew these things about them before of course, but I know them differently now. I know them in the way I know my own skin or recognize my own voice. And I suspect that while we may feel like we are “just now getting the hang of it”, it would be truer to say that we are just now realizing how much we actually got the hang of  together and are justifiably in awe, with a splash of disbelief.

This has been amazing.

Amazing, Amazing,  Amazing.

Beauty and love and awareness and appreciation don’t always show up at first, but they unfailingly swell at the end. Daring you not to cry at the noticing.

And so through the tears and the reflection I can’t help but grin. I am so happy about this ending. I am so grateful for all the spotlight on the precious. I am so fortunate to have a lifetime experience that is wonderful enough to mourn its passing.

What happens for us after the end? After Day 248?

We wake up tomorrow in Colorado with yet another clean slate and a multitude of spring green options ahead.

We wake up on the next Day 1.  And all the joy and possibility beginnings always have.

So. Grateful.

Categories: From Jamie | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 20 Comments

Doors

We’ve been on the move; five countries, eight months, 27 different hotels/apartments/homes, one lovely lady and two of the best boys on the face of the earth. At every place we stayed, we tried to get the boys picture in front of our door. Along the way we added in a few churches and fancy buildings. Here’s some of the doors we’ve gone through together…what a joy!

Categories: From Bo | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

Vamos a Crested Butte!

It’s official. We’re moving back to Crested Butte!

.

More than any place in the world, Crested Butte is our home. It’s nice knowing a place and knowing the people. We have a lot of memories in Crested Butte and are ready to make some more. Of course CB is a cool little spot with a healthy lifestyle in an amazing setting, but it is the people who are drawing us back.

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We have good friends in Crested Butte, that we’ve missed and are grateful for in a new way. Also, we really like being a part of the community. We’ve spent nearly a year being the outsiders and it will be nice just being one of the natives.

Much of our family is just down road. Yaya and Poppie will surely be up and we can go thaw out in Montrose. Maybe best of all, John David, Jamie’s brother, is at Western State now so we’ll be seeing him and his friends on our couch soon. Curfew is 9 pm…but wait he’s 21! How did that happen?

It will be a good thing to put Vaughn into 1st grade in a great little school where he already has friends and they have all heard about his adventures in South America. Luke has been talking about “Rockin the Whales!”, Whales being the name of his pre-K class, with his buddy also named Luke for months now. Watch out Miss Rebecca!

As Jamie starts to work in teaching and theater again and I move into business consulting, there are a lot of good people connected to Crested Butte so it turns out to be a good move on the career front too.

But let’s face it. The real reason we are moving back to Crested Butte is because Lucy LOVES snow. We’ve missed that dog so much that she gets whatever she wants from now on! So we’re headed back to Crested Butte.

Categories: From Bo | 19 Comments

Jamie’s Happy Place

Truth be told, I am blessed to have a lot of them and from every section of this trip.

But holy cow.

Those of you who know me well will no doubt understand why I titled this post that way when I tell you what I found.

El Ateneo.

El Ateneo is a beautifully renovated and restored early 1900’s theatre that is currently run as a bookstore and cafe.

Theatre AND Bookstore AND Wine – in one gorgeous space!

You can browse selections in the balcony seats, marvel at the artwork covering the ceiling and then have a cortado or copa de vino on the stage while you peruse your latest literary find.

It is beautiful.

I took the boys on an excursion there, and proving my genetic contribution in ways other than their looks, they LOVED it as well. 😉

Check it out:

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Categories: From Jamie | Tags: , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

What’s New Buenos Aires!

Oh now, you’ve been humming it too, admit it. 😉
For us, everything is new. From the obeyed crosswalks to the phenomenal food to the Big City — it is all new, and almost unrecognizable to the more poor and rural South America we’ve known til now.

And it’s kept us BUSY.  Buenos Aires is full of aventuras and we are loving them all, so many and so fast that I’m way behind filling you all in on them. Something I am going to begin remedying right now!

The Feria de Matadero was a couple weeks ago for us, but still comes up in conversations and memory regularly. It’s fascinating. It happens every Sunday in the plaza of the old meat packing district and is full of Argentinian Goucho culture and food and dance. There were craft booths, sausage and cheese stands, folk dancers, and a MASSIVE grill smoking up some of Argentina’s finest beef.  The highlight for us though were the horsemanship contests with some of the most beautiful horses I’ve ever seen proudly racing their goucho dressed competitors down a small strip of sand while they try and stab a tiny spear through and even tinier metal clip at top speeds.

Photos!

Categories: From Jamie | 3 Comments

It Is Time

Well, not really. It is ALMOST time. After 27 more days and one more country, THEN it will be time.

Time to come home.

It is hard to believe but it was just last October when Bo and I took a trip to Cuenca, Ecuador that the wheels in our imaginations began to really spin around the dream of pulling a family sabbatical off. And now, this October 6, we will be flying from Montevideo, Uruguay to Denver, Colorado having actually pulled this family sabbatical off!

My, what you can do with a year.

After Uruguay, the hope is to set up house again in Crested Butte, Colorado but we are looking into Denver as well. Bo’s passion for business consulting and my desire to see the inside of a classroom again will play a large role in where we land.  We are both excitedly looking forward to what this next step in exploration will reveal.

There will be posts-a-plenty coming about insights and highs and lows and all that has happened in between, but what we really want to share now is the news that we’ll be spending the holidays with loved ones and hugging all of our friends and family and LUCY soon!

I do have two thoughts for now though, real quick.

This whole sabbatical thing?

It’s fantastic.

And coming home?

It doesn’t feel like an end. It feels like the time for another beginning.

It feels like this,

Categories: From Jamie | Tags: , , , , , | 14 Comments

City Life in Buenos Aires

We like it here in Buenos Aires.

The city feels one part Europe, one part US and one part something all its own. It seems to be both coming and going; fading into the past and diving into the future. It is super sophisticated and kind of messy. We ride the spray-painted and rickety subway to the children’s museum, grab some awesome Middle Eastern take-out on the way home and when finished we take our trash out and throw it on the corner with recyclables separated so the “waste pickers” can find them faster.

Buenos Aires is a massive city and we ended up in the Palermo Soho neighborhood. There are old sycamore trees lining the streets, cafes on nearly every corner, trendy clothing boutiques and dogs, lots of dogs. Not the wandering, stray ones we’ve seen everywhere else in South America, but the kind with sweaters and color-coordinated leashes. So loved are these pups that people let them poo on the street and then leave it there for everyone to admire. Luckily our boys have been in training and are very skilled at jumping the stink bombs.

The house we’ve rented has an office, a nice courtyard and plenty of space for everyone. The kitchen is fully loaded including a dishwasher. I mention this because we haven’t seen a dishwasher since we left the states. We also haven’t had a bathtub. This place has a huge bathtub, much to Vaughn’s delight. In fact, as we were touring places to rent, his only criteria was if it had a tub. So Vaughn approves of this place too.

It feels nice to be in a home that seems like it could be ours. It’s cool to be surrounded with so much culture and so many options. Great food and drink are good for the body and the soul. It’s not perfect of course, but for us and for now, it seems just about right.

Categories: From Bo | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Bolivia Photos and Thoughts

The Following Post Comes with this Disclaimer:

Of Course there are nice people in Bolivia, Of Course there are pretty places in Bolivia, Of Course La Paz is not the epicenter of all darkness and loathing and misery…just not in our experience.

We intended to spend only a few days in La Paz getting used to the altitude and seeing some sights before heading out to do a tour of the Salt Flats which offer up mind-bending optical illusions, pink flamingos, colored lagoons, and even a train graveyard. Then, take one of the very much alive trains on an overnight journey from the edge of the salt flats and down into Argentina. Sounds fun, right?

Obviously, none of that happened, and even after we made it through the work of securing new passports and getting replacement Bolivian visas, it became clearer and clearer to us that there was no longer a choice of do we continue on as planned or not. We had to get out. We had to get out as directly and quickly as possible because the La Paz of our experience was nothing and nowhere that a tourist should take time to visit. Tourists with young children…I can’t even…we just didn’t know. And we were honestly a bit afraid to fully vent our impressions of the place while we were stuck there as the possibility of someone mining the internet for bad Bolivian press and refusing our visas out or making us miserable in other ways didn’t seem all that far-fetched. Truly.

So now while I’m sipping great coffee on a beautiful wooden table next to a tree-lined street in Buenos Aires, I’m getting it out.

The light is strange there. Otherworldly. It is also brutal. Which makes sense I suppose at that altitude and proximity to the equator. And the buildings looked grown out of the mountainside rather than built by human hands. Think Star Wars I guess. Beautiful in a way, though that wears off as the eye of the beholder takes more in.

There are missing children signs everywhere. Plastered on every street corner, light post, the doors to the airport, government buildings, barber shops – everywhere. It was one of the reasons the Embassy tried so hard to get our passports back, two of them had children’s birth dates on them, making child smuggling that much easier. I considered throwing down for one of the 2 or 3 nice American chain hotels that are there, but even they had review after review after review online of people having items stolen from their rooms, or grabbed out of their pockets in the lobby. It felt that nowhere was safe. I don’t know how to explain what that did to us, to feel that no matter what we try or where we go or how much money we have, nowhere is safe.

There is also a near constant reek of sewage. La Paz has some of the worst water conditions in South America, and a home by the river would be punishing there as it is not water but foaming, trash-ladden, torrents of sewage. You’ll see in the pictures below some of the playgrounds we found to take the boys to, and they were great and fun and such a gift to have nearby, but what you can’t see in the photos is how it smelled in one of them to play next to that river.

We did stumble upon a nicer park one night, that was simultaneously holding a break-dancing competition and some ladies practicing flamenco. It was nice, and bizarre for being so. That is the only non-frightened, sick, angry, worried, and Mama-Bear-mode memory I have of our time in La Paz. And then Luke fell off of one of the climbing structures, and that ended that.

Finally, the illness that struck Bo, and subsequently the boys and myself, was no small part of our La Paz challenge, and is not over as my body waited to let it manifest until we were safely in Argentina. But at the onset, in a freezing hotel room in the cold stark city of La Paz, I had never seen my husband that ill. Ever. He was beyond anything I can describe. I had also never heard my children cough that hard for that long or their eyes get that red and their bodies that worn. And I have never been in the midst of all of that while being scared to death that a trip to the hospital in this place could easily end up killing them. We did find an English speaking doctor that saw Bo in her private clinic, and she was kind, but her best advice was to get rest and see a doctor in Buenos Aires if/when we got there.

So all efforts to leave were re-doubled. And then re-doubled again.

And while we still have a Bolivia hangover in the form of stolen documents and goods and sickness that just keeps on and on… we did make it out. And we are all together.

And we had ourselves a good laugh at the decoration spread across the wall at our first hotel in Buenos Aires. Wish you could have been there when we walked in and saw this:

Okay, now that my rant is fairly spent, here are the Bolivia photos you all have been asking for. I am sorry it took so long to get them up. Unfortunately, among the things stolen in La Paz were all the connecting cords for downloading photos from our cameras to our computer, and where we are in the world (even here in Buenos Aires!) any loss of electronics is just not an easy gap to fill. Bo found a way however and so here you go!

Thank you again for all your support and encouragement from all corners of the globe. We are loving Buenos Aires and look forward to sharing it with you in the posts to come!

Categories: From Jamie | Tags: , , , , , , | 3 Comments

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