… is hard to put into words. Perhaps beginning with deconstructing my blog’s name is a good place to start.
Casita Colibrí is the name I’ve given my little rooftop studio apartment. Why? Because my terrace is surrounded by Tulipan trees (AKA: African Tulip; Sorcerer’s Wand; Flame of the Forest). Their brilliant orange-red flowers are a favorite of the hummingbird — colibrí, en español!
And so, in July 2009, when I began nesting here, I had no choice — colibríes to the left of me, colibríes to the right; I was (happily) stuck in the middle with them!
How did I wind up in Oaxaca? The privately funded library, where I’d been the director for almost 13 years, lost its funding and closed in spring 2009. Full time jobs for librarian/archivists in the San Francisco Bay Area were almost non-existent. Faced with the choice of working multiple part-time and substitute jobs to barely keep my head above water, versus renting my house and moving to Oaxaca to live a downsized and simplified life, in a culturally rich, full of life city; there was no choice!
Well, the choice wasn’t THAT easy! It took hundreds of emails, phone conversations, and all around emotional support from a friend who kept reminding me, I had options. My friend, G, had retired at age 50, traveled the back-roads of the world, and eventually settled in Oaxaca in 2000. I’d visited several times and had fallen in love with this small, people friendly city, and thought eventually I might retire here. An early retirement seemed to be forced upon me and, within 2 months, I’d decided to be brave, seize the opportunity, and make lemonade out of lemons!
Once the decision had been made, relief, peace, and a ton of hard work followed. With the assistance of a network of wonderful and supportive family and friends, I sold, donated, and gave away 2/3rds of my belongings and placed my home of thirty years on the rental market. The question of where to live in Oaxaca was settled in February 2009, when G discovered the neighboring studio apartment would be available to rent. Having a close friend pave the way in the transition to a new city, in a foreign country, has been an immeasurable help.
And no, I didn’t speak Spanish, not even close! My Spanish language skill was limited to two years in high school — a couple of lifetimes ago. I’ve always wanted to learn to speak another language and the move here has provided me with the perfect opportunity. It’s not easy, but it’s another page in this work in progress….
Update: I’ve been living and loving my life as an expat in Oaxaca for almost five years now. Do I have any advice for others considering an expat lifestyle? Check out an interview with yours truly on the Expat Blog, American Expat Living in Mexico – Interview with Shannon.