22 January 2011

a +/- b +/- c = 2011

Looking for my future?
A friend asked me when and where my next adventure would be. Actually, J, I have no idea yet but I do have plans …

First, I need to set the scene. My BIG plan is to travel and live abroad for at least the next 10 years or so, until I feel ready to come home and settle down to old age! Of course, that may never happen and I may eventually decide to live elsewhere but, at the moment, the few ties I do have are here.

Some of you know the story of how I’m ‘doing time’ at the moment. For those that don’t, I’ll quickly explain. New Zealand has a rule that to qualify for your government old-age pension at age 65, you need to live here for five years after you turn 50. I decided it was easiest to do that time before I set off into the wild blue yonder, rather than having it hanging over my head. I’ll be 55 in May so in just a few more months I’ll be FREE!

Then what? Well, plan (a) has been under development since early last year. I’ve never been to South America and Machu Picchu in Peru is on my bucket list. Also, Globalteer, the charity organisation I volunteered with in Cambodia, has a place there, in Cusco, and another in Colombia. So, my initial travel plan was to go to Medellin in Colombia and do a stint volunteering with Globalteer, then do the same in Peru, then find a job teaching English somewhere in Chile for six months or more.

More of this would be perfect
Then there’s plan (b). My months volunteering in Cambodia this year and last touched me deeply. I was genuinely happy there, I gained true satisfaction from helping others and it made my own life seem somehow insignificant. But I also realised that four weeks is not long enough to make a real difference in the lives of the people you’re trying to help. So, a few months ago I registered my interest with New Zealand’s Volunteer Service Abroad. They place volunteers for a two-year period in projects in countries in Africa, Asia and the Pacific. Your airfares are paid, as is your health insurance and a small living allowance, and accommodation is provided. The Pacific seems a little close to home so I’d prefer to go to Asia or Africa. The bonus is that working with VSO qualifies as being in NZ for government-pension purposes so I could leave before I turn 55! However, no placements have yet come up and I’ve recently found out that VSO are limiting their focus more to the Pacific … still, this remains a possibility.

Plan (c) only came up in December. The director at the school where I currently teach returned from a marketing trip and announced that she had been approached by a man in Ho Chi Minh City Vietnam to set up a school there. The school buildings and teachers’ accommodation have already been located but the business still needs money – and paying students, of course – to get it going. I signalled my interest to my director so teaching in Vietnam is also a possibility.

It’s mid January now so I have four more months till my birthday to get myself organised. I downsized dramatically when I left my ex and bought my apartment but I do need to pare down my belongings even more so I don’t have to pay too much storage while I’m away. And, thinking that plan (a) is the most likely future possibility, I’ve booked myself in for conversational Spanish lessons starting in February.

So, I really don’t know where and when my next big adventure will be. It may be a and/or b and/or c, or life may throw some other interesting possibility into the mix. Whatever happens, 2011 has the potential to be amazing!