I left a comfortable, fun and challenging teaching position in Calgary, Alberta last year and moved to Cusco, Peru. I had lived as a volunteer in Urubamba many years ago, which was more akin to a volunteer holiday position just out of high school.
This time, I was 30, and wanting to transition into art as a more full time career, and instead of doing I suppose what most would do, and start sending work to galleries, and in competitions and getting shows together, etc. I did not. And in a time where almost everyone I know is getting married and having babies and settling into lives in their cities, I ran away to the Andes to "rediscover myself" and also of course to work. I worked with an NGO doing a photography project with children, designed curriculum, and did a little marketing and research, and then after that stint was done, I started working at the Art School of Cusco as an animation and graphic design teacher and also taking courses in painting - which is where I think my true passion lies. I just love the colours and textures, and the mixing of paint and seeing my ideas and visions come to life on canvas. I love that I'm not in front of a screen, and that the work is hands on and messy and that I can be as detailed or sporadic as I want.
So I had a million ambitions coming down here and lost myself in the process, and then re-discoved many things apart from my true passion.
Some of the things I've learned and re-learned are that:
- Setting up a new life somewhere is not always roses and especially when you are coming from a place with many comforts like hot showers whenever you want them, or well set up systems - you appreciate home so much more.
- Living a new culture and eating new foods is amazing, but that you really begin to miss other things from back home - Nani's samosas and a good Albertan steak
- The lives of friends and family, just like mine, move along and so, even though here is amazing for me and where I need to be at the moment, it feels sad to miss out on their milestones and celebrating their successes with them - Tomorrow my brother will turn 30!!! And I am so proud of him! Wishing I could be there to celebrate!
- You learn what you are good at and also what you really need to work on - There are a lot of things I am good at, but I also know that I need to get a lot better a dealing with rejection and in persevering with goals and dreams.
- You feel like you're living two lives, and at times feel stuck in limbo - the life here, and the life back home that you continually relate back to.
- It is all about making connections, keeping them up, running with opportunities, and showing up - Mural painting, teaching Uni courses, meeting great art mentors.
- A good support system and great friends make a world, no... many worlds of difference. A BIG shout out to my Peruvian friends and family, and also to my home friends and family.
- Family is the most important thing ever - they know you and your quirks, and more so they get your humour because it comes from the same place - I miss you all.
- Cooking with fresh produce and tropical fruits is the best - I am going to miss the fresh passion fruits and papayas and chirimoyas when I come home
- Coming home is exciting and happy because you see and connect with everyone again, however its also sad for those you leave here and the new friends and family you've made, but its also a bit of a learning curve and at times even daunting as everyone has moved on and so have you - things have changed.
- Finally, starting over at home again can be a challenge - but you know after this, that you can handle about anything