And then we came to the end?Posted: May 22, 2013
We had a rough, rollercoaster of a week. On Thursday, Andrew’s largest client told them to stop work; they were shutting down the project and could not pay another cent. On Friday night, Andrew’s boss called and said the Board thought the Colombia office needed to be closed.
We knew things were uncertain here, but Andrew had been told by the same boss many times not to worry, that they were invested in the Colombia office for the long haul, blah blah blah. We expected to be here two years at a minimum. I imagined we would leave Colombia voluntarily, once we were all speaking perfect Spanish of course, not because a Friday night phone call told us it was over. After 9 months. Andrew’s interview for this job took longer than 9 months! We haven’t even received our health insurance cards yet!
Saturday I was shell-shocked, and really sad. Andrew told Lina, his first employee, who had moved from Barranquilla with her family for this job, that it might be over. After the morning’s kid activities we went to Crepes y Waffles and ate our feelings. Massive stuffed crepes, feta and pesto salad, wine, smoothies and cappuccino and amaretto chocolate ice cream for desert. Then we went to Lina’s place and the kids played. That afternoon there was a huge storm, the most intense I’ve seen since we’ve been here. The rain leaked in the windows and palm trees blew to the ground. The power went out and we spent the evening in the dark. That night Andrew wore a headlamp and cracked up reading his new book. I started wondering if maybe the reality of our situation hadn’t really sunk in yet.
The next few days I wandered around in a haze, yelling at the kids and chastising myself for not holding it together better. I felt bad for Andrew. He has worked so hard to get this company set up in Colombia. He found new clients, hired and trained staff (and fired someone), set up an office, and all with almost no support from the US office. I am amazed he’s been able to accomplish anything. It took me 9 months and 3 tries to get the equivalent of a social security card, which you’re supposed to get within 15 days of arriving in the country. This place does not make things easy. His boss obviously has no idea how much has gone into getting this endeavor off the ground; to pull the plug now before giving it a real chance- especially considering the costs of closing – seems crazy. And I was disappointed in myself for not accomplishing more in the time we’ve had here. I haven’t been on the metrocable yet. I haven’t been to the crazy produce market, or the Pueblito Paisa or the free Sunday yoga in the botanical gardens or the Park of Wishes, or the one bakery in town that apparently makes real New York bagels. I need to find a tutor for Juan, our cleaning lady’s 9 year old son who doesn’t know how to read. And I need to find a place to work, where I can do more than just teach English. This was of course on the to do list, saved for year 2 when we were completely settled and my Spanish was better. Oops. After my year of leaning out, as #$% Cheryl Sandburg might call it, I speak Spanish like a two-year old and I’m probably not even qualified to get my old job back.
Andrew’s boss may have felt a tinge of guilt or some responsibility for what he’s about to do to our lives (i.e. leaving us jobless and homeless) so he told Andrew there would be an opportunity for him in the Denver office. Not knowing what our future holds, I started looking into our most likely plan B. So Wednesday, after the new internet was installed (we just got high-speed internet! See, everything takes forever!) I started looking at our options in Denver. Housing, potential jobs for me. Snow. Suburbs. It snowed in May. I know, Denver and Boulder are great. I really like Boulder (and we love Aunt Ellen- hi Ellen!) and they have prairie dogs there, which is pretty cool. But I think we’d have to be in Denver because of the commute. It’s not a bad option. But people, we are in PARADISE here! Or as close to paradise as we’re going to get. We can’t leave! We’re not done yet!
On Thursday Andrew went to Bogota for meetings and I went to visit Our Lady of the Mystic Rose. I discovered this place when I almost ran into some cars parked at an exit ramp and saw a parade of people heading into a wooded area on the side of the road. Our neighbor Marta, who knows all the holy places in Colombia, told us that this Virgin Mary grants miracles. It was also the place hit men would go to ask for forgiveness for their sins. The grotto is on the side of a six lane road, right next to the on/off ramp.
It is completely serene, which is surprising given the location. I sat for a while and took it in, and thought about what to ask for. I didn’t really feel comfortable praying, but it did put me in a meditative, goddess-worshiping kind of mood. I had already resolved to do as much as I could in our time remaining in Medellin, knowing that it could be very limited. I suppose it’s never a good idea to plan as though you have all the time in the world. And as a world-class procrastinator, I always do better with deadlines. Of course I want us to be able to stay longer. I want Andrew to have a chance to make his company work. I want the kids to have the chance to really become fluent. But I know we can get at least a few more months here and that might be enough. Other opportunities might come up in that time as well. I felt focused and renewed and happy. Andrew called from Bogota to tell me about his meetings, which had gone well. He had a client who wanted to hire them for some more work that would keep them busy through the summer.
On Friday, Andrew had another meeting with his boss who agreed it probably didn’t make sense to shut the office right away if there was work lined up. They’ll take a wait and see approach. A few hours later Andrew was contacted by another company with a potential job opportunity, at a beer company! Who knows what the future holds. We might be somewhere else in the Fall or we might be here making beer. Either way, I will have done everything I wanted to do here and maybe I will have mastered the Spanish direct and indirect object pronouns. Now, hurry up and visit!