Relocating from England to Paraguay is probably neither the most common nor obvious way of moving abroad so it would help if I explained a little of how it came about.
Back in the later part of the last century there I was filling the days working in an English bank. All very well while there was thinking and maths involved but as the new century dawned things requiring a bit of thought became centralised and the place slowly turned into a shop.
All very well for some people, but not for me. I spent a while looking for something else in the UK but could see nothing that looked any better than where I already was.
So getting away from jobs and the UK began looking better and better. At first my thoughts were to take a year out and go travelling the world. My problem with that though was that I felt I would be forever travelling through without ever getting more than the most superficial insights into anywhere and would never really get the chance to meet the local population anywhere on their terms.
I am sure had I done that I would have returned to England with a fantastic list of tales and memories but would probably not have learnt anything.
So in that vain I took every more frequent and adventurous city breaks through 2000 and 2001 leading up to a few weeks in Thailand and Laos in late 2001. By then I knew I would be moving abroad. The Far East would have been my first choice but I felt there I would have been forever the foreginer. I may have managed the language but never the alphabet.
So 2002 came and soon to did the inspiration. Reading travel magazines I came across a little advert talking of setting up a private project teaching English to children in the Paraguayan countryside.
This I knew at once was the thing for me.
Heading abroad to do something rather than just to pass through. Becoming part of the community and giving something back. Somewhere that used a language, Spanish, which was not completely unlike English and somewhere that was so off the tourist trail it had no guide book.
Another positive was that it was doing something I had not done before but did not need me to get qualified as a teacher first. Enthusiasm and energy were what was needed.
Having made my decision I had a few telephone conversations with the woman who was organizing things, gave up my job and caught a flight out to Paraguay.
I had met no one related to the project or any of the other volunteers before I flew out so didn’t really know what to expect or whether there really would be anyone at the airport to greet me and confirm it was not just one big hoax