The views and opinions expressed on these blog posts are solely those of the original author, myself, Amanda Cox. These views and opinions do not represent those of any company, government, or organization I may be affiliated with.
When people move to a new place it’s often hard to see how they’re actually doing. Their Instagram feed is filled with pictures of delicious food, beautiful beaches, and fun parties. It looks life they’re having a blast and so busy doing fun new things everyday! But does that mean they feel happy all the time? Probably not… Nobody is going to post an Instagram photo of them sitting home alone every night. A lot of people feel lonely, but it’s hard to talk about. When you’re older than 10, it’s a lot harder to just go up to a random person on the street and say “Will you be my friend?”. So, what do you do instead?
I have found that this loneliness often occurs when you’re in a brand new place. The first few weeks are a whirlwind. You’re too busy to be lonely. You have lots to do – starting a new job, finding a house, buying things you need, figuring out transportation, and adjusting to life in a new place. But after the initial phase passes, you no longer have things to keep you busy every second of the day. You get home at night and you’re not sure where to go, who to call – that’s the hard part. The good news is that it does get easier. Once you have 2-3 friends, they introduce you to their friends, and all of a sudden you have a regular group to go to events with around the city. The tricky part is just being open, and figuring out how to find those first couple of friends.
As you may have seen in my last blog, Bolivia is experiencing major droughts. I thought this would be as good of a time as any to share a recipe I was just given for a delicious drink that requires no water.
In Canada, Bailey’s (a brand of Irish Cream) is extremely popular, especially mixed with coffee or hot chocolate. In summer, you can also have it on the rocks (poured over ice), or mixed with milk if you don’t want it as strong.
Left: A bottle of store-brand Bailey’s (Irish Cream). Right: A glass of our home-made Irish Cream (on the rocks).
Note: I don’t normally do recipe blogs on here but after 3 different people were amazed that you can make Bailey’s at home, and asked me for the recipe, I thought this would be a good reference for others as well. Plus, it may be a lot cheaper and easier than real Bailey’s for all my friends living in various countries around the globe.🙂
South America is not usually big on the news, so I find that my friends in North America and Europe don’t often know what’s going on in Bolivia. People hear about “drugs in Colombia and Mexico”, crazy parties during Carnival in Rio, and maybe cute, little Sea Turtles in The Galapagos, but that’s about it. But how could you know more unless it’s covered by the media where you live? Well if you know me, or you follow my blog, then I wanted you to know a little bit more about the current situation in Bolivia!
For the past few years, climate change has been having big impacts on Bolivia. Since Bolivia is currently a land-locked country (though they used to have access to the sea in what is now Peru and Chile), there is not readily available access to water all-year round. The north of the country is tropical rain-forest (the Amazon rain-forest extends into Bolivia and Peru), but the south is a lot drier, and even includes the biggest Salt Flats in the world (which is basically a big desert).
Image source: Getty Images – La Paz is supplied by 3 main reservoirs, including Ajuan Khota, which is only at 1% of it’s capacity.
Bolivia has just declared a state of emergency due to the intense drought situations which have caused water shortages across the country. It is the worst drought that Bolivia has faced in over 25 years. The supply is so limited that many people only have enough to drink, and cannot bathe or wash clothing. Various organizations and companies are recommending that you take precautions in order to not waste water, or to use as little as possible over the coming weeks. All reports talk about how the rains will be coming in December, so hopefully that alleviates the problem.
Today I was looking at the calendar and thinking about my placement in Sucre. I was thinking “wow, it’s been over 3 months”, so I looked it up and realized that it’s been exactly 100 days since we first stepped foot in this new city! Time really flies when you’re in a new place, because you’re always trying new things, learning lots, and meeting new people. So, I thought I would write a post about what I’ve learned about myself (and about moving to a new place) during those first 100 days. Here are the top 10 things that I realized during the last 3 months of my time is this cute, new, little city of Sucre, Bolivia!
Making Friends Can be Difficult
When you accept a post in a new country, you have the organization to hopefully help you get to that city, find a place to live, and figure out your job responsibilities, but that’s about it. Once you’re settled in, you’re kind of on your own – and that can be quite lonely. In many place, there are already networks set up (of expats or locals) that you can join to simplify the process of making friends. Unfortunately, Sucre is not really once of those places, and you have to make friends one at a time. Also, many people in Sucre are just passing through, tourists who are in town for a week or a month at a time to practice their Spanish. These people are very friendly, and always down to check out something new in/around the city – but it’s hard to form lasting bonds since you know they’re going to be leaving soon. It’s something I’m still working on, since many of my previous friends have continued on their adventures through South America…
I love going on weekend trips! I know a lot of people find them stressful because you have to pack, leave right after work, sit on buses for hours, and then you feel more tired when you get back from vacation. But my favourite part about short trips away is that I give myself permission to relax! It’s definitely possible to have a lazy weekend at home – but I always feel guilty. I SHOULD be doing laundry, buying groceries, cleaning the bathroom, and doing my Spanish homework but instead I just watched 8 hours of Netflix? However, when I’m in a new place I give myself permission to do NOTHING – which is perfect! I can sleep in, take long lunches, wander around the city, check out museums – anything I want, and I don’t feel guilty at all.
Left: Steve and I on the bus from Sucre to Potosi. Right: The little boy in front of me who really wanted to play peek-a-boo!
A week ago was my 3-year anniversary with my boyfriend, Steve, so we thought it might be a good excuse to get away. We looked into a bunch of closer options, but in the end it was easier to go to a slightly bigger city for the weekend. Therefore, we decided to go to Potosi, a city about 3 hours away by bus. We’ve been there before 2 years ago, but there was a lot we hadn’t seen. We decided to book a hotel for 2 nights and just wing it for the remainder of the trip, and that ended up working out pretty well!🙂
As a woman, I have always had the dreams of others placed on my lap. “Here’s a new kitchen set to play with little girl”, “Don’t you want to dress up the barbie to make her pretty?”, and “You need a prince charming to come save you from being a damsel in distress!”. You would think that this would be gone by the time you’re an adult and making your own choices. But the words they use simply change. Instead of prince charming it’s now a husband you need, and instead of an easy-bake oven the talk is now about mortgages – yikes!
I have always been a bit rebellious, independent and nomadic. I’m not one to “settle down” and do everything that’s expected of me. Since I was 15 I’ve been flying around the world on my own, and since high-school I’ve known that I don’t want a traditional 9-to-5 job. As someone who now works in International Development and travels to a new country at least once a year (but usually more like 3 or 4), this “American dream” lifestyle doesn’t fit at all with my life plan. No part of me wants a mortgage, and a picket-fence, and 2.5 children that go to good schools so that we can “keep up with the Joneses”. So what’s a girl to do?
I just arrived in Sucre a few months ago, but I knew that if I was going to be here for a year I would have to figure out a routine. Not just where to live and work, but where to buy groceries, the best restaurants to eat, the cafes with great internet, and a gym to stay in shape and clear my head. Thankfully, after only about 2 weeks of asking around, I managed to find a gym with yoga classes – score!