Due to US visa restrictions, it was a bit of a forced exit from America for me. There seemed to be no hard or fast rules for how long I needed to exit before returning, but I thought a couple of months should be enough to keep the border authorities happy that I wasn’t working in the US.
So, I thought why not take advantage of this exodus to try and learn some Spanish for our planned cross in Central & South America before the end of the year. As such, having been to Antigua in Guatemala a few times previously, I knew that was a good place to learn – lots of language schools, foreigners, friendly, cheap and thankfully more little coffee shops than you can shake a bean at.
I did a few weeks of study, before a house sitting came up in Costa Rica. This seemed like a great opportunity to save some money (as cheap as Guatemala was, I was still eating out all the time, paying for language lessons, etc), so snapped at the chance. I was living in a remote place in Guanacaste region of Costa Rica (about a 5 hour bus ride from San Jose). There wasn’t a great deal to do there, and the nearest village was about 20 minutes down the mountain, so I was pretty house bound. But, there was internet, and I had enough movies to keep me going - as well as trying to improve my photoshop, final cut pro, and 3D computer modelling skills. There was a little bit of drama with one of the dogs dying on me, but overall, it was a pretty chilled experience.
Getting back into the US wasn’t so chilled.
I got stopped in Houston by the immigration officers, sent into the ‘naughty room’ and interrogated. I am being extremely dramatic here - the officer who asked me what I was doing, was extremely friendly, and didn’t really quiz me much. It was pretty obvious I was self funding, and not working, so they waved me through pretty quickly.
And that was my summer. My Spanish improved a little, but not to any extent I was hoping. Marks out of 10 for the whole experience. A very solid, middle of the road 5.5.
I haven’t lived or spent any considerable amount of time in Ohio since I moved to China when I was 23 in 2007 but life saw to it that I got to spend 4 months at home luxuriating in time spent with family. The plan was always for me to preform the much loathed task of nannying for a Russian family this summer, however there were no jobs to be found. I’m not sure why, if it was the drop of the Russian rouble (it’s value has fallen to less than half of what it was this time last year), restored patriotism (we’re going to holiday in Crimera, it’s OURS), or just bad luck, nonetheless I could not get job and thus moved in with my very accommodating brother, his wife and two little boys and took a serving job. The two experiences could not contrast more.
Being away from home becomes a very natural thing when you’ve been away for so long and don’t realize what you’re missing, leaving again after spending time with family and watching my nephews grow and learn and cuddle each day was much harder. I couldn’t have asked for a better summer, we picked tomatoes in the backyard, went to state and county fairs, explored Columbus, celebrated holidays in very American ways and generally just settled back in together. Ohio is fantastic in the summer, it’s hot as but it’s pretty and cheerful and people are always happy to be outside. Lots of fairs, festivals, apple picking and general good wholesome family fun was had reminding me how nice it is to have a home to go home to. Having Jonathan be away for 3 months is not something I enjoy but I was glad to have the time with my family and was very sad to hit the road again but the road was beckoning and we had to answer.