“When you strive for greatness, chaos is guaranteed to show up.” The One Thing by Gary Keller
Despite the chaos we endured to move down here, this has become the happiest, best summer of my life. One of my friends gave me a preview of what to expect right before we left the States. She said, “I just came back from Colombia and would return there in a heartbeat!”
Today’s blog details some of the chaos I attempted to control ahead of time for living close to the equator for 2 and a half months.
For a couple who usually doesn’t buy a lot of stuff, it was weird to be buying so much in May. It felt like we got on Amazon every other day to order items to bring with us this summer. We bought so much off Amazon–and kept clicking the one dollar e-credit–that I was able to buy three e-books.
Stuff I’m glad we brought with us/Did:
1) First, I bought a bag of dirt. Yup. Dragon Lady told me to buy Diatomaceous Earth and ingest it daily. This ground-up stuff (tastes like chalk) supposedly kills parasites/bad things we might ingest while down here. So far, we haven’t contracted any Montezuma’s Revenge, so it must be working.
(It also comes with a handy duster so you can spray it around under beds, dressers, etc. to cut down on any insects in your dwelling.)
2) She also told me to get grapefruit seed extract. I got the liquid stuff for the kids and the pills for us. I mix the kids stuff into lemonade, along with
dirt Diatomaceous earth. I also grabbed some Oregano Oil incase we got sick—but go easy on that stuff people, cause it can rip your gut up if you go too heavy on it.
3) I bought 70 days worth of Culturelle tablets for the kids. That stuff was expensive, so it went into the carry on bags. I often wonder if the studies about these tablets keeping kids healthy were paid for by the company, but hey, I will do anything to keep my kids from tossing their cookies.
4) 2 bottles of L’Oréal Magic Root Cover-Up. Because hey, I’m cough-cough-years-old. ‘Nuff said.
5) Brought an extra pair of shoes for each kid. I joined a Medellín Facebook group before we moved here. One of the things I learned was people wish they’d brought fewer dress clothes, but more shoes (as the ones available here are poor quality). So we each have only one dress outfit. But the boys have two pairs of sneakers as they tend to wear through theirs quickly and I didn’t want to be stuck having to buy a new pair down here.
(If you’re looking to move overseas, find a Facebook group, or have someone ask around for which group you should join. These hive-minds are a gold mine of useful information!)
6) Despite bringing three full checked suitcases to Colombia, we still embraced minimalism even more. Before we left, we donated truckloads of stuff to our local thrift shop. By getting rid of nearly everything that no longer brought us joy—or was functional—we started building a wardrobe we love. This meant I finally ordered the Ruth Bader Ginsburg T-shirt I’ve been wanting—but I still couldn’t locate a “Don’t Keep up with the Joneses” shirt (so if you have a link for one, please send it my way!)
What I Wish I’d brought more of:
1) More Elderberry gummies for airplane travel. We used them up going to Machu Picchu, so when DH jetted home for a week to check on things mid-summer, he grabbed a new supply (along with a small can of WD40. Now the doors in our Airbnb no longer squeak like some Scoobie Doo haunted mansion).
2) I wish I’d brought our usual allergen-free clothes detergent. My youngest’s skin is not happy, and I have yet to find perfume-free detergent down here.
3) An H2 Blocker for the med kit. I left a simple, over-the-counter med off, and should have it on hand with a family member who is anaphylactic to milk/butter/cheese. I realized my kit omission when our youngest son got stung by an insect.
Folks, the hornets/bees so close to the Amazon are no joke—some of them are as big as my pinky finger! My son’s sting ballooned in a matter of minutes. I was just thankful we had an extensive medkit as it avoided us having to call “123” for an ambulance.
4) I wish I’d brought an American potato peeler. I’d forgotten how dangerous potato peelers are overseas. I’ve already almost cut myself a few times with the one I bought here.
5) More small American bills. American currency is used by all the locals to pay for inflight items on intercontinental flights within Latin America. But don’t be pulling out a $20 bill as no one has change for it.
6) A collapsible grocery cart. You know, the ones you see senior citizens using to pull their groceries into their condos. We transport our groceries in our backpacks, and sometimes those backpacks get a wee bit heavy. (Who-bought-so-much-stinking-Le-Croix!)
7) A Sams Club size tub of no-sugar-added Peanut Butter. It’s difficult to find down here and expensive. When you rely heavily on a plant-based diet, peanut butter is a must.
8) Decent quality kid swim goggles. The only ones we can find down here are of terrible quality.
9) Cans of Pumpkin. I tried to boil butternut squash for our Turmeric Pumpkin morning shakes, but it tasted…butternutty. Ditto MCT Oil—I can’t find it down here.
Stuff I brought that I shouldn’t have:
1) A box of jello. In case the kids were sick down here, and I couldn’t find it. So far, no illness.
2) International converters. I didn’t look this up ahead. Colombia and the U.S. have the same voltage. (But heads up: you need converters for Peru.)
3) A big container of vegan protein with probiotics for morning shakes. There are containers of protein aplenty down here.
4) A bag of ground flax seed. Because hey, I’m married to a vegan, and we didn’t know if we could easily find it down here. I found flax and chia seeds down here.
5) I raided our camper for mosquito wipes because the health department’s travel nurse told me to get them. Apparently, I do whatever doctors and nurses ask me to do. I think there’s some pathology there…(jk).
6) Extra sunglasses for my kids. Because I blink and they lose their sunglasses. Only they despise sunglasses, so why do I bother buying them?
7) 2 boxes of Pepto Bismol tablets. Because I always travel with them because I always get sick in third world countries…except, so far, here. Haven’t needed them yet.
8) 4 water bottles with filters and 3 bottles of water purification tablets. You can drink the water straight from the faucet here! It’s delicious and the second cleanest water in Latin America (or so we’ve been told).
7 weeks in and we’re still not sick (I don’t count the croup my youngest picked up traveling to Machu Picchu nor the altitude sickness my husband got at the end of that trip).
What I Wish I had NOT done right before we left:
1) I bought—and sent off—all the obligatory cards for family events we’re missing this summer (birthdays, anniversaries, etc.). In retrospect, that was too much to do with everything else going on. People can survive one summer without greeting cards.
What I am so glad I did do though before we left:
1) I ignored (as much as possible) other people’s urgencies before we moved down here. Having to pack up our house, give away/donate over half our belongings, and prep for a summer abroad in 5 short weeks meant I ignored anything/anyone that wasn’t an emergency. Some people were seriously annoyed with me, but they survived.
Instead, I focused on the meaningful —on preparing for something that is bringing happiness and purpose to my nuclear family this summer.
2) I asked for help. Various family members, friends, and neighbors kindly stored our camper and vehicles over the summer (thanks!).
3) Lastly, the advice I am so thankful I heeded: “Don’t listen to anyone who isn’t trying to do what you’re doing.” – David Goggins. Be very careful about who you’re letting speak into your life because your mom’s advice still rings true: you become like the five people you hang around most.
Who do you surround yourself with? Are you reading blogs by adventurers or letting people who won’t leave their country talk you out of living your one, precious life to the fullest?
For our family, I prefer an abundance, growth mindset—one that has faith in humanity being kind and generous. Because they are. And so far, we’ve enjoyed our time here. The Colombians are friendly, hard-working people who have gone out of their way to welcome us to their country. Our hearts are so happy, content, and grateful. May your heart also be as full this upcoming week. Be well, friends.
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