Hola! It’s been a while, I know. After far too long away, so long, in fact, I forgot my log-in password for the website and had to do a billion updates, I’m back at it. The second half of 2017 and 2018 saw some big changes making for quite a busy time, and unfortunately, something had to fall to the back of the line and The Postcard Travelers drew the short stick. Believe it or not, I even started writing this post back in January of 2018 in an attempt to resurrect the blog during a shortlived slow week of work post-holidays. It’s been a time of transitions for us: starting a business, two international moves between three different continents, goodbyes and hellos.
The biggest change has been our location. When I initially started writing this post, I was writing to you all from underneath a pile of blankets in Washington, D.C., where my weather app was telling me it currently felt like 3 degrees outside. In other words, the Arctic for this Southern California native. Even Scooter was showing his San Diego roots and refusing to go outside sometimes. We had bittersweetly bid adieu to London in September 2017 after three of the best years of my life. My Facebook post on the day we flew out of Heathrow sums it up:
“Well, that’s a wrap. Can’t believe our 3-year assignment in London is over and it’s time for us to say our goodbyes. We are leaving London with three years’ worth of wonderful memories: most of all, the dear friends who we have made here and who made our time in London the joy that it was, drinking cider in cozy pubs that are hundreds of years older than the United States has been a country, the ease of public transit and the always exciting thrill of riding front seat on the top deck of the bus, afternoon tea with scones with mounds of clotted cream, being at Europe’s front door and exploring 28 other European countries just a quick budget flight away, summer days that lasted till 10pm (and winter ones that ended at just 4pm!), our little London flat with the big back garden the Scooter held court over, beans on toast for breakfast, queueing, Oxford Street all lit up for the holidays, game nights and Thai curry takeaway with friends, road trips through the English countryside, developing a European fondness of dipping our chips in mayo, the wonderful women I volunteered with at SmartWorks, and many rainy days.
I’d do it all over again in a heartbeat.”
We then settled into the nation’s capital for nine months while we prepared for our next adventure in Lima, Peru, which meant learning Spanish! And that’s when life got really busy.
During our last year in London, I had taken some training courses to become a freelance editor and proofreader for court reporters, which now makes me cringe reading some of my previous posts and seeing errors! Add editing those to the list of things that suddenly need urgently doing when I should be working instead. After completing the course and as the clock dwindled down on our London life, my business steadily grew until I had a full roster of clients before the move to D.C. In fact, I was working on the plane ride from London to D.C.! Studying Spanish and going through other training to prepare us for Dan’s new job — as well as getting as much Target shopping and Trader Joe’s favorites in! — quickly occupied our time, but we took advantage of being Stateside and got together for an overdue family reunion with Dan’s family at Disneyworld to celebrate the in-laws’ 50th wedding anniversary, a Caribbean cruise to chase some sun over Christmas, a nostalgic monthlong trip to London for Danielle to visit with friends and catsit, a shrimp-and-grits-filled weekend in New Orleans for a country festival, some long weekends down to North Carolina to spend time with Dan’s family, and a few solo jaunts to San Diego for Danielle to see her family.
Before we knew it, August was here and it was time for us to move once again. Which brings us to now. We arrived in Lima, Peru, just after midnight with one restless dog, a comprehension of spoken Spanish that we quickly found to be nowhere near sufficient, one bad haircut akin to a modern-day mullet in an ironic last-minute decision to spare myself from a possible bad lost-in-translation haircut my first month here, and 13 bulging suitcases of Trader Joe’s can’t-live-without items, our best kitchen knife, and my favorite mango clementine-scented candles from Hobby Lobby, you know, the simple bare necessities of life. I will tell you all that two international moves between not just three different countries but three different continents in a span of a year at times requires mustering up reserves of resiliency you didn’t know you even had, and frequent trips to Cheesecake Factory happy hours to eat your feelings, but we survived the journey and made it to the destination. Thank God there was been no shortage of pisco sours waiting for us.
I’ve always struggled with that age-old optimistic saying of “change is good.” I feel like that’s what people say to make themselves feel better about things that are out of their hands. The pragmatic/realist in me goes, “But what if it’s not a change for the better?” It’s been just over a year to date since we said goodbye to London and I swear not a day goes by that I don’t reminisce about some aspect of our time there. I can’t even listen to Ed Sheeran’s Castle on a Hill song without getting a little misty-eyed and nostalgic when it says, “And I miss the way you make me feel…” And watching the music video on YouTube just does me in.
This reluctance to leave London that blanketed my emotions for months and our brief, busy time in DC made for a transient and, in hindsight, unfulfilling 10 months there. We left many cool neighborhoods unexplored, museums not wandered through, Georgetown Cupcakes not eaten, friendships and connections not made. I wasn’t ready to move on from London, and to be honest, I didn’t want to, but your attitude is what dictates your experiences when faced with circumstances that you cannot change. I would hate to leave Lima the same as we did D.C. with such missed opportunities. My hope for our time here is to leave here in three years’ time with the same kind of friendships, experiences, and memories that made our life in London so rich.
We’ve been in Lima, Peru, for two months now and while Lima is vastly different than London and it has its challenges, but there are also some amazing things about our new life here as well. My, God, the food! The cuisine is truly out of this world! We’ve never eaten so well and so fresh. Lima is home to some top-ranked restaurants in the world and we intend to eat our way through them all. We’ve already quickly pushed the limits of our waistbands just on the incredible meals we’ve enjoyed at less-acclaimed restaurants or bravely taking a friend’s word for it that some amazing inexpensive ceviche could be found from a two-man stall at a local mercado surrounded by racks of meat and local produce for sale.
We also scored with our housing assignment and now get to call a modern, spacious apartment with an unending view of the Pacific Ocean and afternoon parasailors drifting past along the Miraflores coastline home for the next three years. I feel like we are living in a vacation timeshare! It’s been especially nice to have this tranquil, beautiful space to retreat to after trying moments of battling the horrendous Lima traffic or feeling isolated when struggling to communicate with my limited Spanish. This timeshare by the sea is definitely the biggest place we will probably live — there are four bathrooms and even maid’s quarters. Dan and I easily lose each other in the house and have to constantly shout, “I can’t hear you!” To help us manage this big place, we hired an empleada to come in twice a week to clean and even prepare dinner for us. She is a lifesaver and we are so grateful that housekeepers are an affordable luxury out here since there’s no way we would have the time needed to keep up with Lima’s inherent dirt and mold due to the humidity along the coast here. She only speaks a few words in English, so plenty of Spanish practice for me!
Now that our lives are settling into regularity again and routines are being set, we can start thinking beyond where do I find a toilet brush in this country — true story — and think about creating our little slice of joy here and discovering our new normal:
- Smiling and nodding in confusion and then a minute later having the a-ha moment of “Oh, that’s what they were saying! Duh!”
- Emptying dehumidifiers twice daily. I’m still amazed that we gather over 10 gallons of water a day from the air!
- Having to work out twice as often
- Waiting for our shipment of household goods to get rerouted from mistakenly being sent to Oman. No one is chuckling at my 13 suitcases anymore!
- Hoarding lemons the few weeks a year they are available
- Realizing how ginormous South America is when trying to piece together realistic travel itineraries for future trips
So that’s been our life lately. We headed out of town this past weekend to Ica, Peru, for our first trip outside of Lima and it was such a fantastic time. I pinky-promise that a post with photos is coming, as well as Iceland from two years ago and the dozen other trips I need to get caught up on from our Europe adventures.