I struggled with our relationship. We knew each other for fifteen years, lived together for six. His family had a staunchness that caused me to be frustrated. I like letting loose. I like to be impulsive. I like to dance. No one in this family danced. I felt an emptiness, an ache within that needed soothing. I looked at the classifieds. An ad read, “Teach in South America”. Ooh. I sense the ache within my being feel stronger. I answered the ad and received an interview.
As I walked to my interview, through the Boston Gardens, toward the Commons and Brownstones, I felt as if I entered the timeless classics, imagining how it was to walk through the crisp trimmed hedges and carefully step over cobble stone walks up the iron wrought steps to tap the brass knocker on the door. A woman in her 60’s greeted me at the door, so pleasant was her disposition and hospitality, I knew I might have a difficult time saying, “No” to her for almost anything.
She brought me down a long dark corridor to a round sitting area with a tv and vcr. I met her friends and colleagues. I was asked some questions about my flexibility, and “open-mindedness”. They showed me a video of the exciting things they do with the children every day and emphasized immersion of the English. “All students leave the school completely bilingual.”
Wow. I thought to myself. Imangine if the tables were turned. Could I learn Spanish in the same way. I was so impressed with the idea that a school existed in another land and their students graduate bilingual. I insisted on knowing more. My boyfriend of several years, with all my frustration was suddenly easier to manage.
“Hello Auntie!” I started. “I’m going to Colombia. It’s only for a year. I’ll be right back.”
“Isn’t that where the drugs come from?”
I countered her comment, “There is more than drugs in country.” I found myself ready to defend a country I didn’t know. The urge was strong. The desire to adventure my way across the globe and leave the staunch to see if I would be happy.
On the plane the anticipation baited me with extreme awareness and excitement to be alive and experiencing a different culture. Something within, the ache, felt at home in the sensual heat of Cali, Colombia.
He invited me to the town of his childhood and birth. I thought what a great way to travel this beautiful country, especially with a native speaker. I was still learning much of the language and already had an embarrassing moment or two. We were dating quite consistently regardless of our language differences. I came to Colombia to learn Spanish by living it because all other methods failed to make it a part of me. Guillermo was one among many eager to learn English. He set himself apart from the others with his piercing dark eyes, heavy but refine arched brow, strong Latin nose and disarming smile.