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Sunday, December 12, 2010

They Come In, They Go Out.

Yesterday, I said, 'Hello, glad to meet you, now tell me, when do you leave?" 

I met a lovely British woman named Sharon yesterday. She was easy going and had a sense of humor similar to mine. Within a few moments we were finishing each others sentences and smiling knowingly at my husband when he just didn't get or couldn't keep up with the flow of our conversation. She could have become a great friend of mine if, it weren't for the fact that she's leaving Uruguay!
 She's going to go back to the mid-west, back to the USA.

The funny thing is that she has been here in Uruguay for 2 years and I never knew that or her. We came to Uruguay only two months apart from each other. She lived only 1.5 km away from me and shopped in the same small town of Salinas as I do. So what was her story?

Sharon, her husband and their daughter were tired of running a busy restaurant in the States. Her husband is German and they owned a German food/dinner establishment in a small town, just off of an interstate. The town they came from only had a population of 3000 but it had 3 hotels in it. It was located on a long stretch of state highway, a road where weary travelers had to stop for the night before continuing on the rest of their journey. At one time, Susan and her husband had had a 32 bed hotel there themselves but it was too busy and too much work, so they sold the hotel and just kept the restaurant. 

Why am I telling you all of this? It's because they are the third couple, I've met, who after only two years of living here in Uruguay have had to return to the USA for business reasons. All 3 couples have been in the food related industry and their clients have suffered in their absences.  All three couples have made it to the 2 year mark then said enough. The thought of turning a client dependent business over to someone (seemingly trust worthy) and hoping that they can keep it running, sending you the income so you can live on it, here in Uruguay doesn't seem to be working out in reality. Even when the business IS successful, the danger is that it will need to expand and a hands on, owners being physically present, seems to be what is needed (that happened to one couple). As a side note 2 years seems to be the deciding number as I know of 2 other couples (not in the food industry) who have also left Uruguay after that amount of time to return back to the USA.

I guess, this post is just a reminder to all of you thinking about moving here (to Uruguay) that it can get pretty expensive to move here, bringing pets and containers of household goods, buying property, fixing it up, only to turn around and have to sell it all again after only a couple of years. So don't say I didn't warn you.
So, how did I meet this Sharon on her way out of Uruguay? How did I find myself searching for her house on an unknown back road, looking at lovely cattle herds that I never knew were just around the bend from me? Why, it was through her "For Sale" ad. I guess for me her leaving was helpful as I bought a good (expat quality) dresser for my bedroom from her.

 Hey, on second thought go ahead and bring your containers full of stuff here. However, as I only have a few dollars left to buy anything else with, I would rather have had Sharon and the others stay here in Uruguay. Money can't buy friendship!


Geraldo said...

Being myself an expatriate for many years now and having met several others who tried this life, I am convinced that 2 years is a king of magic number when it comes to living abroad. It seems not to be the case of this family, but it is the case for most of the people: homesickness!

You can find a home, get a car, put all your belongings in place and even start working, but it takes more than 2 years to learn language fluency, to gain deep familiarity with the ways, the rules, and the culture… and to make real friends.

So far I have not met a single expat who did not experience some kind of homesickness at some time whilst living abroad. In the beginning the expat finds himself/herself living in a state of euphoria, because everything is new, exciting and different. From 8 months to 1 year down the line the first pangs of homesickness appear, finding himself/herself longing to eat foods that he never really liked before, just because they were from his/her home country… just to give a typical example!

After “one year”, the “tourist spirit” is replaced by the reality of everyday life, the reality that actually, you are the same person with the same issues and challenges in life, but you’re just living in a new location and without the support of family and friends and familiarity. Sometimes these challenges are just too much and some people return home… and 2 years seem to be the magic figure.

It is important to understand this process before making the commitment to move overseas in the first place.


Denise said...

"Well Said!" Geraldo, I hope people really take your comment to heart and reread it over many times before committing to a major move.We have found that the "Honey-Moon" phase doesn't last forever especially with a small country like Uruguay! I cringe when people say they are looking for an adventure as this place is not the Amazon or Africa. You must come here simply looking for a quiet,slow paced place to live, only then will you be happy here.