Throughout my life, I have moved over 15 times (4 countries, 8 cities, 7 different schools, and 15 houses). This is the sum of my life so far. Our first relocation was from Buenos Aires, Argentina to Houston, USA. This was due to my father's work; he was given the opportunity and when he asked my mother she obviously voted YES on the adventure.
My sister (5) and I (2) had little idea of what "moving" (or traveling for that matter) really meant. As infants, you don't have much of a choice. It was early 1989, neither one of my parents spoke the language and off we went. What nobody knew is that our lives would change forever.
We spent 4 years in the states. I learned first English rather than Spanish; my parents were the only Spanish-speaking people I would understand. Nowadays; I still have issues wondering which is my native language, one could say Spanglish for sure.
During this time we did a lot of internal travel, most of them camping since we had no money to afford otherwise. We loved it. My parents would teach us how to set up a tent, prepare snacks and other cool stuff. You would always see a mate set (Argentinian typical hot drink) and marshmallows for us to heat on the fire.
We also made really close friends with our neighbors; with whom we are still in constant communication. If you would pass by our street you would always see at least 4 to 6 kids playing all over the place. Riding bikes, hide-n.seek, slip-n-slide, and climbing trees were just some of the few games we would play.
Time had passed, it was early 1992 and I was told that my mother was pregnant. This wouldn't affect me much until after my brother was born. Meanwhile, we are also told that we are moving back to Argentina.
Argentina: Here we go again
Buenos Aires: Round 1.2
This "moving" concept was still new for me. I remember thinking: Moving? Why? But once again, you are a kid and your choice is one: to go where your parents go. My mom was 8 months pregnant when we returned to Buenos Aires. I have no recollection of this period at all. All I know is told by others. I only remember the first apartment we stayed in for a few months. It was a small apartment near the train rails, it was August, therefore, it was cold and rainy in Buenos Aires. Our dog was biting her tail and every day someone would get nostalgic and cry.
The school was the worst. I didn't speak the language nor understood anyone else who wasn't my parents. The kids would tease me, I remember being asked where was I born and I did not know. I assumed in Houston, but I was wrong. Kids did not understand the concept of traveling or integrating someone from another country, culture with other manners and values. Going to the playground was challenging, I did not know the games and everything was just different.
My mother, however, thought ahead of time (a skill you gain when becoming a mother I believe); she had recorded hours and hours of TV and had brought us most of our toys. So going home after school was the peak of my days. My sister and I would even play "the airplane" game. This consisted of accommodating some chairs, pretending to be travelers and flight attendants flying somewhere; who knows where to?. We even played a movie of our choice, providing snacks and beverages to our passengers (mostly dolls and stuffed toys, our baby brother. Oh! and our dog of course). As you can imagine, most of the other kids didn't quite understand our games either.
In the middle of this whole chaos, my brother was born, we moved from the apartment to our actual house and things started to line up. We were adapting. Each one of us was making this new space our own.
After 2 years of living between boxes, my mom unpacked the last box; little did she know that my dad was coming with other plans for her. That night my dad came to a box-free house, my mom very proudly showed her how she had unpacked the very last one of the boxes. My dad's reaction: "Go get them back, we are being relocated to Rosario".
Rosario always close (Rosario siempre cerca)
"Cerca, Rosario siempre estuvo cerca" (Fito Paez - Lyrics from Tema de Piluso). Rosario had my heart right from the start. This new location was totally an upgrade from Buenos Aires. We lived 3 blocks from the beach, in a very nice neighborhood, and walking distance from school. We had a backyard, our own sandbox, and an orange tree; which I would climb every day.
The school was nice, I had some friends, and I was more familiar with Argentinian games and language. During the 2 years we lived here our dog had puppies, I saw a man steal our stereo from our car (a memory that for some reason stayed in my head forever), I got to learn new words, meet new long-lasting friends and the best of all was that we lived really close to the beach.
This is the beach for our famous Parana River. The water is brown and the floor is muddy, the beach is nice with golden sand; there were these bus-boats that would cross the river and take you to what everyone called "The Island". All I remember is having fun at the beach, staying in the water so long until my skin looked all wrinkled.
Going to the river was a very common activity to do with friends and family. We also went to the club, parks and always had an Asado (famous Argentinian barbecue) which is always the best plan for any Argentinian.
Although our stay was short, it was significant enough to bring more memories and friends in my heart forever.
However, moving news was around the corner. My dad was working 3 days a week in a place called Campana which was far enough for him not to be able to come and go every day. I remember my little brother would imitate him in his own imaginary game saying in very cute baby words "I'm going to work mommy". My mom would ask where to, and he would obviously answer "to Campana". May I say; neither of us knew where this was nor what it even looked like (except my parents, of course).
Boxes: A regular item in our house.
Boxes started to pile up over the house, toys had to be rearranged and re-selected. This was heartbreaking. I remember having to give away my first toy ever; I think it didn't even have eyes anymore and was sewn in several places. But my mom was right, it was time to start to let go of stuff and make room for new adventures, friendships, and stories. Silver lining: By this point, we had our dog (who came with us from the USA), a street cat we adopted and my hamster.
Selling the house was hard. People used to come, see, look around, ask funny questions and leave. We had to be super quiet and well-behaved. Coincidentally a friend of mine had an aunt who was looking for housing with her husband and family. They came to see the house, I remember my friend came with. The house was really nice, comfortable and big enough for a family of 5 people. Its main entrance was in the Living Room, it had 1 bathroom, 2 bedrooms, kitchen, garage (which my mom transformed into a play-room for us), and a big yard with a parrilla to make asados of course. They loved it and bought the house.
Moving-day was coming; the house was sold, and everything seemed to be on track. All we needed was to sell the car since my dad had a company's car with this new promotion. It was the end of February, everything packed, moving trucks loaded and the house was just crazy chaos. Out of all the days and weeks my parents had published that our car was for sale, this was the day the buyer appeared. Yes; my parents sold their car the actual same day we moved; being completely honest: just a few hours before we moved.
Of course, our moving schedule changed a little bit, we traveled in the evening instead of in the morning. But that was it. My mom went in her car with some things and all the family pets, while my sister, brother and I traveled with my dad.
Escobar: New House, New School, New Friends 3.0
We arrived at night. My first task: Call my room. First nights at a new house are always weird. I was very excited about this new place. Getting to know new things, people, school, places, and the best of all: new boxes for us to play with - again! (after we unpacked, of course).
This time things felt different. I was excited about this new adventure. I was older and had a better understanding of some things.
School started a few days after we moved. We went to a small bilingual school that was run by a small, warm and welcoming family. Each grade had less than 20 kids at this time and speaking English wasn't that of a big deal. I went to this school from 4th until 9th grade. I made really good friends, had great teachers and during all these years the school also was very helpful for some family things that happened throughout the years.
Some of the bumps we came across were when my dad had to go to surgery because he had a pancreatic cyst of the size of a melon; everything went well and my dad is better than ever. I was given a cat from the streets that put my brothers and myself out of school one month early due to a severe fungus we got from it; the cat lived for many years and passed away to natural causes. And some few other situations. But like life itself; we learn to embrace, grow and move on.
Winds of change come again.
It was 2001, a year full of events worldwide and internally at my house. It was a cold winter in August and we had decided to make a family trip to Bahia Blanca to visit some old friends of my dad's. They were all having fun and playing around the pool with a skateboard. My mother had a vision that something was going to end badly if that scene continued; Spoiler alert: it did!
My dad has a very vivid inner-child and decided to sneak the skateboard and go to the backyard when no one saw him. All of a sudden we heard him yelling for my mom desperately. We didn't understand what had happened, all we saw was him on the floor and the skateboard near the crime scene. He was practicing to turn and turned on its own axis and broke his leg. The shinbone and fibula were broken and they had to put on a full-leg cast.
The following 6 months were full of doctor's appointments, my father being bored in bed and a lot of board games. He went through two operations and six months of disability which were followed by a very long rehabilitation for him to walk and recuperate his mobility.
Meanwhile, an opportunity of relocating to Brazil appeared; but this time we (the children) were consulted. I believe we stayed since my sister was about to graduate from school and go to university the following year; and because of that, I asked if I could change school. I was so used to change, that by now I needed one. I needed to feel out of my comfort zone again. So that's what happened.
New school, new friends, same city.
I was already officially a teenager. My first day of High School and I was late, assigned to the wrong class, and I fell in front of the whole Senior Class; which for a teenage girl can be very embarrassing and it was. Nonetheless, I embraced myself and stayed committed to my decision.
During my 3 years of high school, I met my best friend, had my first boyfriend and my first trips on my own with friends. My first trips during high school were to the beach for a week or two with friends during our summer break.
I was really happy with my decision, even though I was obviously an outcast. I remember people still looking at me funny when I would tell them my story or share my needs of traveling. Sometimes I would just fantasize about life after school meeting people who would understand my traveling urge.
After School: Real-Life begins.
I finished school, and it was scary even for me. However; due to my background I thought it was AMAZING. I had been waiting for that moment for so long. I was going to college, doing different internships and had my eye on my first trip abroad on my own. This is where my nomad life began at my own expense. It was 2004 and people would travel, but not as frequently as today. I remember being looked at as if I was crazy for wanting to travel and for having moved so many times.
Since I finished school, I have moved to the United States (again), Mexico, and Costa Rica. And backpacked through Colombia, Chile, Bolivia, and Argentina. A few months ago I moved with my fiance to Latvia; and let me confess: Life has a weird way of showing us our path. I never thought I would travel, less live in Latvia. And like all my previous experiences; I continue to grow.
What does being a True Nomad means?
Well, for me it means to have the flexibility and be humble enough to learn all the good from that new place without losing contact with your inner self. This is something we learn to do as we go. Nobody knows how to be a nomad until you become one. If you would have asked me 5 years ago, I would have probably still had too much of myself; but today I see myself as a true citizen of the world.
I have learned to add more healthy, sustainable and conscious habits into my life. I always try to learn the main social codes of each place I visit for the first time. And "Please" and "Thank you" are truly magic words. A few days ago I read something that got my attention and it was referring to when people judge without knowing the other person's story. We never know the other person's whole background. Therefore, we must never judge at first sight. We might not agree on perspectives and have a difference of opinion, but that is why we must observe core values and respect boundaries.
Throughout my travels and moving(s); I have discovered that I enjoy being out of my comfort zone. Waking up to new challenges and learning new things. Getting to know a new sense of community, culture, arts, social codes and more. This takes a lot from ourselves, but it gives back way much more.
Things change all the time. And living abroad and far from those who know us can be hard. I won't deny I get home-sick. But I also must confess that I have made very close friends on the road as well. You start to build a special family while traveling, kind of like Peter Pan's Lost Boys from Neverland. Everyone comes from a different background, but we all share our nomad lifestyle and we support each other because we know what it means to be far from "home".
I will continue to tell my story, but now you know me better and have a little more understanding of where I come from. I hope you continue to join me through this journey of sharing a little piece of me on the internet.
Live, Love & Laugh
A True Nomad's Story - Sol Acevedo