My first thought when writing this is “how can I write this and not offend anyone”….so I hope I don’t.
I know I’m not the only person in this situation, but I feel like the only one who doesn’t know how to, or have the money to solve it.
Like many people I was fed up with the same old dull life that I had in the UK, I craved a change, an exciting adventure, and I made that happen. I moved to Colombia and yes for the first year all was fantastic, just as I had planned, I had savings to live off, a loving new family, a fantastic fiancée, and I was having fun.
Soon after I started to miss the trivial things about home that I expected to miss, family, safety, food and a good job. But the excitement kept me going (as well as food parcels sent from the UK by my fantastic family).
Then a huge shock, I’m pregnant. And the things I’m missing seem to double, especially the safety issue. Imagine not being allowed to go sit in a local park and read without being escorted because being pregnant and not having the ability to fight back makes me more of a target. That is just one example of many.
So I tried as hard as I could to pick up my Spanish (which wasn’t easy), get a job – also not easy, the thing is here, unless you can teach English, jobs are hard to find! But I found one, actually it now pays quite well but I have to travel 4.5 hours a day on a cramped, hot, over loaded bus that probably has windows which won’t open if it’s hot so you think you’re going to pass out from heat exhaustion, or windows that won’t close when its pouring with rain soaking you to the bone – and all for a 2 hour shift – think about that next time your air conditioned train is cancelled or you get delayed an hour or so.
So now I’m living here, not just having a break from UK life, but settled. Working. Contributing. Trying to survive and accept everything that is abnormal as normal just to get through each day.
Don’t get me wrong there are things I love about Bogota many things in fact, but the longer I’m here the more they seem to get outweighed by the things that I don’t like. It’s because I’m here because I HAVE to be not because I WANT to be which makes everything worse.
So I know I’m going to be having a baby, what’s my first thought?……
“How can I get back to the UK with my husband-to-be so that I can be a normal mother, not one that’s different to everyone else here, one that can barely keep up with the language, one that is scared of almost everything here”?
And when I looked into it, the answer is that I can’t.
Well I can if I’m willing to go alone (with a newly born baby) and separate from Juan until I can be in the UK for 6 months working and earning over 18,000 a year, to then request for him to join me. So no, the answer is I can’t, A) there’s no way I can separate from Juan for another year, we’ve already done that and it was so hard, and B) who am I to separate a father and son?
So we stay here in Bogota for another year, my 2nd year here, of which I think I spent about 10 months crying and feeling depressed – Because I am a new mother who has never felt so uncomfortable in my life, living with people who I don’t understand, in a culture I can’t get a grip on, in a neighborhood that isn’t very safe especially after 6pm and so far from the friends I have made here, that its almost an impossible journey to see anyone. So I’m pretty much housebound, lonely, missing home and trying to be strong for Niko. And apparently not doing a very good job at holding it together. Sorry again to anyone that had to deal with me during those times!
It’s now year three, Niko is going to be 3 this October – I know it’s a long way off but it’ll go so fast, as have the past 2 years, and he’ll need to start enrolling in a pre-school, then an actual school. I don’t want that he has to go to a public school here mingling with the kids from broken homes who use school as an excuse to ‘just get out the house’ and who are more interested in fighting, taking drink to school, drugs, sex, and other stuff I don’t want to think about right now.
But there’s also no way I could afford a private school here, not only do you pay ridiculous amounts for the schools, but also for the uniforms, books, food, transport – everything – and by the way it doesn’t even mean the education is going to be any better.
Now I know that not all is nice and rosy back in the UK, that kids can be just as bad and that some areas can be just as dangerous, but this leads me to my next point, at least in the UK something is done about it. There are rules, laws, things that people actually stick to because our law enforcement is so good and the black and white of it keeps people in check – here the police are barely respected, most are assumed dodgy, crime happens daily and NOTHING is done about it, my guess is that most crimes go unreported just because people here think that A) there’s no point in reporting it as nothing will get done, but that B) well “that’s just life”. People live here with a ‘what happens, happens and there’s nothing I can do about it’ attitude, and that drives me mad.
I hope I don’t jinx anything by saying that I think I’m the only person I know here who’s not Colombian and who hasn’t been the victim of some kind of crime (stabbing- robbery – pick pocketing etc).
If it wasn’t for Niko, would I want to stay here – if I think about it, probably “yes”. But with him now in the picture I wonder what can my life really be like here.
To afford what he needs to be safe it involves working almost all hours under the sun and having him in care most the time – that’s not an option when even my Colombian husband says he’s not happy leaving his child here in a situation like that where you don’t know what can happen.
Or I can spend the time with Niko and be a house mum, but never have the money for his schooling, university, holidays etc.
So now a year on, we are looking at the only 2 options we seem to have.
The first is a loop hole through Europe – we can go there together without visas, and provided I’m working there for 6 months (Juan cannot study or work during this time – he may just go mad!) then the UK have no right to refuse us entry – but that also involves 6 months of rent money needed to get by in Spain, maybe more like 9 months given the time it may take to find work. Not to mention IT’S A LOOP HOLE, I don’t want to do things that way I want to do it properly, and what if they change the loophole rule before we can organize to go, that’s that option out the way, leaving…….
The second route. It is the one we first considered 2 years ago. I go to the UK with Niko, hopefully find a job that pays 18,600 or more. Juan stays here working to in order to save up. After 6 months I can apply for him to join me, this process takes up to 12 weeks so it means we could be apart for a year or more.
But now I’m hearing that because of the situation the UK finds itself in, over-run by illegals, fake marriages, bad employers employing foreign illegals because they are cheaper, and benefit frauds – not to mention all the people that are flooding in from Romania etc who speak no English but are allowed to come and ask for housing and money then live rough and commit many robberies–
If we wish to do this second route we may now because of this situation, not only need to evidence my job earnings of over 18,600, but also savings of over 16,000, proof that we can live independently in owned or rented property in our names (meaning I can’t be living with family who have offered to help us out) and even then after a year having been separated they could still say no just because Juan isn’t from the EU and they don’t want more foreigners in the country. So off I go back to Colombia. Defeated.
I know this all just seems like a lot of moaning, but to me it really is a huge obstacle that I can’t seem to get over.
How would you like to be stuck in a country / situation that your not enjoying just because you have no other way out of. Responsible for a child ans wanting to the best you can for him/her but unable too. I mean Niko also has a huge family back in the UK including 4 GREAT grandparents whom he may never meet until he’s a young man. That’s so sad!
Maybe I have missed a logical way to get home, I’m not an expert at immigration and frankly the website information seems like a maze to me which I find myself getting lost in, so if there’s anyone out there who does know their way around this topic and can offer advice to get me and my family home please let me know. Here is the links I’ve been using:
but feel free to send me others or info you find!