Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Hop in your time machine!! Punta del Diablo, Uruguay

Just as I posted my previous monster of a post about my upcoming trip on Korea, I saw that I had a draft from my trip 2 years ago in Uruguay.  I figured I might as well add it.  It doesn't seem finished (I remember the internet was slow and annoying), but here it is just the same.

On New Year's day, we woke up at around 9 to take advantage of free breakfast and pack up our things before checking out of our Montevideo hostel. Since our bus wasn't leaving until 4 in the afternoon, we decided to wander the city a bit more and at some point grab lunch. Little did we know that would be practically impossible!
We decided to walk out towards the beach area in town and sit in a nearby park and read. Once we tired of that, our tummies were grumbling so we figured we'd find a local eatery. It being Jan 1, everything was shut down. There was the odd convenience store that was open, as was the ice cream shop we had been to the previous day, but nothing to get an actual meal - not even McDonald's! After about an hour of walking, we finally found one restaurant open near our hostel. Not surprisingly, it was packed. Once we finally had some food in us, it was time to go to the bus station to take a 4.5 hour trip to our little beach village.
It was a mostly uneventful trip, but I found it to be quite warm. The sun was hot that day! We arrived in town around 8pm and trekked to our hostel on the other side of the quaint fishing town. When we checked in, we were told that guests staying in the suites, which we were, had the open to get their breakfast in bed every morning. And best of all, for FREE! We wandered into town and had a late dinner (or I should say late for us dinner since 10pm is a standard dinner time in South America) and ice cream. As a side note, I have to say, the ice cream down here is pretty good. Not as hard as it is back home, but not as soft as gelato. And it's nice and creamy. Matthew approves too.
We were both pretty exhausted so we went back to our hostel and fell fast asleep as we listened to the waves crashing only a short distance from our room. The next day, I wanted to be lazy and relax the whole day, since that was the intention of going to Punta del Diablo. We read in the hammocks that were on our room balcony (that overlooked the ocean - it was quite lovely!). Later in the afternoon, we finally managed to load up on the sunscreen and head down to the beach. It was quite nice, but the water was a bit too cold for me, so I mostly stayed on my towel. There were good waves and therefore many surfers too.

Back...with a vengeance!

So, it's been over 2 years since my last post on this blog.  I've traveled lots in that time (China, Hong Kong, Switzerland, Alberta and BC) and many things have changed, but one of the biggest change is still yet to come!  I am moving to Korea!  The city of Incheon, to be precise.  I will be going there for a year to teach English, the age range of my students is still TBD.

But before I go on about my future, I suppose I should fill in about my past.  Since my last post from Uruguay back in 2011, I have had the great fortune of having a new love in my life.  Fabian and I have been together since July of that year and I have to say I can't remember when I  have clicked so well with a partner.  To have found some one who loves and respects me just as much as I do him is something that I cherish and will work to keep...which will be no small feat while we are 10000km apart!  I write this on my blog for all to see because a) when you're in love you want to shout it from the mountain top b) you'll be hearing a lot about him (and likely the relationship) over the next year of blog posts (so best I fill you in before you start asking who the heck is this Fabian guy she keeps referring to?) and c) I'll  probably have the long distance relationship moments where I'll look back on it and be reminded of why I am committed to making it work.

As I said, there has been lots of changes that have taken place over the last two years, but most of them have happened in the last few months.  The catalyst for my moving to Korea was that my job as an assistant to a Senator was coming to an end.  My boss was retiring at the mandatory age of 75.  After 8 years of working for him, and a total of 10 on Parliament Hill, I felt the need to try something different.  Clearly, I've always been interested in travelling (and my case of wanderlust has only worsened with age) but living in a foreign country is not something I've ever had the opportunity to do.  You have a completely different experience when fully immersed in a different culture for an extended period of time.  The longest I've been away from Canada for one stretch of time was 1 month in Australia.  Hardly extended and hardly shocking. (Don't get me wrong, I loved Oz, but it's very similar to Canada, only with more beaches, tropical climates and taps that serve pre-mixed rum and coke *ew*)

I knew well in advance my job was coming to an end, so I had ample time to decide what my next move would be.  Work for another Senator? Find another job in government? Move to the private sector?  All very responsible, grown-up options.  One day a year ago, Fabian and I were talking about what we wanted for the future.  We both love to travel and don't have any kids, so why not take advantage of it now?  I threw the idea of teaching abroad out there, fully expecting it to be rejected.  But to my surprise, it wasn't.  We talked about it and it sounded like a decent option to look into.  Over the next few days, the idea sat with me, and the longer it did, the more I realized that this is what I really want to do.  It just felt right.

Over the following days and weeks, I researched places, requirements, schools, and a whole gamut of information to see how I could turn my dream into a reality.  After hitting a few of the same roadblocks, it became clear that if I wanted to continue down the path of moving overseas, it would have to be something I would do alone.  You see, Fabian is from Switzerland, and therefore, does not have English as his first language, nor has he done any of his schooling in an English-speaking country, both requirements for most of the countries we were interested in teaching in.  We looked into him teaching French abroad, but we ran into even more problems with that option.  We finally came to the conclusion that he would not go.  He would stay in Ottawa.  I thought about if that's what I wanted to do too.  But every time I thought "I should stay here", there would be something in my gut that said
that that was the wrong decision.

When I told Fabian about my decision, he fully supported me.  He understood that this was my dream and he did not want to stop my from achieving that.  This is why he's a great boyfriend.  He has been nothing but supportive and encouraging to me.  I'm not sure I would be able to do the same if the shoe was on the other foot.  That's what makes him an amazing boyfriend. It was never a question of "are we going to break up?" it was always simply "how are we going to make this work?".

From that point on, I've worked on doing what I needed to do to be prepared for this: I took a TEFL course to get a basis on how to teach; I've taken Korean lessons to understand the language a little bit and perhaps (hopefully) lessen the amount of culture shock; I've gotten all of my affairs in order - tenants to rent out my condo, storage locker for my things, etc.  I even had a "Korean night out" with friends and enjoyed Korean food and karaoke.  If that won't get me ready, nothing will!

I'll go more into the job hunting process in another post.  I have just over a week left in my job before I am unemployed, then a month of sleeping in and visiting family and friends before jetting off to far and distant lands.  I plan to post more in that time too to get every one fully caught up.  But I think this giant post will suffice for now!  Until then!