The title is a line from a song in the movie “Crazy Heart”.
I love that line, “Funny how falling feels like flying….for a little while!” How true is this? Nothing like a country song to tap into how I often feel. Sometimes we know we are on our way down, but we pretend it is a roller-coaster and throw our arms up like we are flying. I am in a roller-coaster cart with lose seat-belts. I am reminded how my life was as a struggling college student with little money!
My decision to move to Colombia was largely based on the exchange rate with the U.S. dollar. Roughly 2000 (COP) Colombian pesos = $1 (USD) U.S.Dollar. I live next to the Catholic University of Colombia and places catering to students allows me to buy lunches at a lot of places for 2000 – 5000 COP – that is $1 to $2.50 for some really good meals. I have a 1,400 square feet, 3 bedroom, 2 bath apartment for less than I paid to rent 1 bedroom and share a bathroom in Las Vegas. I do not need to own a car, eliminating that expense. So, with careful planning, I can live on my social security check alone comfortably.
The key to that last statement was “careful planning”. Since being in Bogotá, I have lost almost 4o pounds. That is all well and good, but none of my clothes fit me anymore and I need new clothes. I do not understand with the weight loss why my feet would be growing because my shoes are feeling too small, but at least my socks still fit properly! So there were no plans to buy a new wardrobe. I have used a corkscrew remover to poke hole in belts to hold my pants up. Anyone knowing me knows clothes are important to me.
Moving first from size 38 waist pants to 34, the belt just was not cutting it anymore. I bought a pair of inexpensive jeans size 34. I never thought I would be that size again. Then a couple of months pass and the 34 waist is too large. Here is where I started flying…. I bought a pair of Diesel jeans to mark the occasion of needing a size 32 waist. Rent from the 2 unused bedrooms financed this idea. I never expected to be in a size 34… so investing in size 32 waist seemed a safe move. Along the way I did by some Exito store brand shirts (Exito is Colombia’s version of WalMart). For most… the fact I was buying discount store brand shirts was evidence I was falling, not flying. But I was so happy I kept my arms up enjoying the ride.
One roommate moved out, now the other roommates were moving out at the end the next month and was faced with living on the “careful planned budget” and still needing clothes that fit. The rent from the rooms was not much money because I do not pay a lot to start with but the extra helped. I kept flying with my arms up, eating out most meals. The meals are inexpensive I thought and can’t add up to much. Then I noticed I have 1o days until payday and only 10,000 COP ($5.00) in the “carefully planned budget”. It is amazing how far I stretched that 10,000 COP. I was able to buy a pack of ham, a loaf of bread and splurged on a pack of cheese also. I would have sandwiches if nothing else, I would not starve those 10 days. 5,000 of the 10,000 COP was in coins. The other day I had 1,200 in coins left and the ham was running out so I decided to buy eggs. I found eggs here for 300 COP each and I was proud to get my 4 eggs. It is a humbling experience counting eggs and counting the change to pay for them.
The exchange rate was not the only reason for wanting to move to Colombia, I wanted to learn to live and fit in living in a new culture. The common misconception is that all Gringos have money. I am proof that is not true. Most Colombians live on carefully planned budgets and I will now be right along with them, counting my eggs, sometimes paying with coins; but I will learn to feel like I am flying….even if it is just for a little while!
I am not worried about starving, but worried about being hungry. There is a difference and someone wearing relatively new Diesel jeans cannot say they are starving. I fired my last egg a couple of hours ago and my pay for the month will be available in the morning. I survived. The feeling of flying has passed and now I see I am falling, but if I can eat 10 days on 10,000 (COP) I know the next month will be more carefully planned and I will just poke holes in my belts again. I have another problem that is also a mixed blessing, the Diesel jeans are too big now!!
No photo at this time… But May 24,2010 – 175 pounds, 79 kgs