We have accomplished so much in our 7 months here in Uruguay and the only way we were able to accomplish any of this is due to the kindness of others. People who helped us for no other reason than because they wanted us to succeed. The older I get the more I recognize the importance of solid relationships, a network of people for whom you cheer lead, and who cheer lead for you. We have only had success from interdependence.
Our house is ready to move in. We have been slowly moving things in, and getting the place livable for our return in November. If it wasn't for our lovely and helpful foreigner friends Magnus from Sweden and Patrick from Ireland, we wouldn't have had the success with the house that we did. Magnus let us learn from his experiences with container homes and steered us away from them, and Patrick suggested an isopanel house for speed of construction and ready-made insulation. Without them, we would never have such a nice livable house already ready and at a relatively low cost.
We have all sorts of home goods and things from the US due to the kindness of our visitors who brought big bags of stuff for us across the world. Two people stand out. The kindness and hard work of Colin (who packed 4 giant bags of stuff we shipped to the house for us) and Uncle Bill Seifert who bought us tons of tools here in Uruguay and sent an entire bag of tools he bought for us in the United States is really unrivaled. I am so grateful for their love and support. They get what we're doing, and they went above and beyond in helping our journey to get there. I think of Bill often, every time I need some tool for something and find that he already bought it for us. He has saved us so much trouble, as it is often difficult to find tools here, and if you do find them they are poor quality AND expensive. What a great gift he gave to us - that of his decades of experience in tinkering - in getting us needed things that will help us to help ourselves in this new place.
Our daughters are doing beautifully here. Thanks to the lovely and patient teachers and Uruguayan friends who take their time in helping all of us learn Uruguayan Spanish. I am thinking of Ambar's parents Gabi and Santi, our brew friends Matias and Andrea, and Matias' mom Selva who has been so patient with my terrible Spanish, and has offered me resources whenever we get stuck. And we all also feel the love from back in North America, especially thanks to the lovely monthly packages of treats from our Northern home from Gram and Poppy, the gifts from cousin Jamie, and all the messages on Whatsapp especially from Jamie, Lindsey, and Gram, who talk to Isa at least weekly and show their love remotely. The girls know about their far away family, and are connected to them, and that helps them to adjust to life here.
Our professional lives have developed quite a bit as well. I am in the end stages of contract signing with University of Idaho, which would be the first students to come to Rizoma Field School (thanks to a connection set up by my lovely former grad colleague Lauren Scott)! We have made all sorts of local contacts in organic agriculture, and have discovered that this is a hub for that sort of activity in the entire country. Patrick got a temporary job at Providence Catholic High School in Chicago as well as two other jobs: one teaching English to Chinese kids remotely, and one with Johns Hopkins University teaching Spanish to American kids, both very part time. I am also still teaching sociology online (only one class at the moment), and of course slowly but surely writing my dissertation. I have been published writing articles about Rizoma Field School on a couple of important networks of environmental scientists and activists, and I just recently had my first book chapter published!
We have set up quite a bit of infrastructure on our land, and have all our paperwork in for permanent residency and have finally gotten our national ID cards. All along the way our Irish neighbor Patrick has been integral in guiding us on the sometimes bewildering bureaucracy and advising us on home and farm decision-making. We would really be totally lost without him as a resource.
Finally, and most strangely, we are the beneficiaries of the human-centered policies of this lovely country of Uruguay. We have gotten taken care of for free by national doctors, including multiple midnight emergency visits for the girls with bad coughs. We enjoy lovely garbage pickup thrice weekly, well-cared for infrastructure, electricity being brought to our land via a national initiative, free school for Isa 4 hours daily at 3 years old, and a reasonable residency process that (although somewhat arduous in paperwork) is one of the easiest and most humane immigration processes in the world.
Looking back over our first foray into permanent life here, I can't help but attribute any and all success to others. With this realization comes immense gratitude and love.