Back when I was spending a few months in Cochabamba, Bolivia….
There was some house party going on at the time in the main building of the NGO where I worked.
The NGO brought in a ton of foreign volunteers who would give money to the NGO to sign them up to work for some local NGO or volunteer cause.
Almost all of the money would go towards rent with a local homestay family and food each month.
Either way, I was at another one of these house parties as you can see below here in this photo.
But the house party was a little different this time in that we were celebrating 4th of July.
During the celebration, there was plenty of liquor and food to go around…
An American guy named Ryan who I got along with was playing some ping pong game at the table with me and some other folks.
He had some game from college that he wanted to share with us.
Which, in hindsight, the game was kinda funny but would sure piss off some of the PC folks from back home.
The game basically involved a simulation of the Vietnam War.
Where one side was Vietnam and the other side was America.
Anyway, the Vietnam side could never lose.
Basically, it was like any other ping pong game where you have to throw a white ball into a cup of the other side.
If it goes into the cup, they take it off the table and drink the beer inside.
I don’t remember all the details….
But the Vietnam side could basically somehow put a cup on the table again even if you threw a ball into it.
If I remember right, I think they could only put in a new cup on the table if they kill one of our cups.
But I’m not sure on that – either way, they could easily enough get a new cup on the table.
Basically, the other side was supposed to be the Viet Cong.
And the fact that they could easily enough somehow put their cups back on the table was meant to represent how, no matter how hard we tried, we couldn’t win against the other side.
Anyway, it was a fun game.
In large part because the other side sucked major dick at throwing the ball across the table.
So they never killed too many of our cups.
It was just us constantly taking out their cups but they couldn't get ours very well.
But because of the fact that they could somehow keep putting cups back on the table, the game went on forever.
It was fun though.
But then some Asian chick in the party noticed the rules of the game and got semi-pissed.
“This is racist!!”
Granted, I can get the lack of sensitivity the game had about the Vietnam War but still…
It was a fun game!
“You Don’t Get it”
Anyway, I went about to see some other folks in the party.
There was some white dude named John from Wisconsin who was talking a good deal with some Bolivian-Mexican chick that he ultimately fell in love for.
And then there were some older folks I stumbled across.
Some older woman in particular who was having a conversation with other foreigners at the party.
I mixed into the group and got talking with the mini group they had going on…
And the conversation somehow turned into a talk about the Peace Corps.
And opportunities in general for us foreigners to live in Latin America.
Now, for those who don’t know, the Peace Corps is basically a government program that sends Americans to work in specific jobs in other poor countries around the world.
And also representing American to random communities to better build a nicer perspective of what America is like to people in other countries.
Anyway, this older American lady was talking in the group about how she is considering to apply for the Peace Corps program after her time in Bolivia.
To essentially use it as an opportunity to keep going with the experiences with living abroad.
She didn’t care if it was specifically to Latin America.
Just anywhere to keep enjoying life abroad.
But she had doubts.
She apparently had commitments back home to be mindful of.
For example, she had a granddaughter that she wanted to spend more time with.
Also, she had a house if I remember right.
Which she still had to keep making payments for.
Suffice to say, she had responsibilities
More mature responsibilities that would make a continued life abroad more difficult.
At the time, I must’ve been in my early 20s more or less.
But I forgot the exact age.
Anyway, in those days, I obviously didn’t have a house or grandchildren obviously.
But I said to her something about how she can try to make it work.
Which, in hindsight, is funny to think about.
Essentially, a young kid in his early 20s trying to reason with someone older about how they can manage responsibilities while abroad.
Responsibilities that he has never experienced the gravity of.
Grandchildren and a mortgage.
You can reasonably call that “armchair observations.”
And I’ll gladly accept the criticism.
The same one she indirectly tossed at me when saying how “you don’t understand. It’s different when you are older.”
And she went on about how she was lucky to find the appropriate amount of time and money needed for this small trip to Bolivia…
But how continued travels abroad – even with the support of the Peace Corps – is far from certain.
And she was right.
I didn’t have a proper appreciation for how tough that can be to manage when living abroad away from your more mature responsibilities.
And as I get older…
Observing the life paths of friends I know about back home…
Who never left to live abroad.
It has made me realize even more that certain life decisions….
Let’s call them “maturity filters”
Can make it more difficult for someone to ever make that step to moving abroad.
I was reminded of that again some odd months ago in a conversation with another foreigner who lives in Latin America.
“Either Young or Old”
Some odd months ago, I remember talking with another foreigner through a Telegram chat for foreigners who either live or visit Latin America.
Anyway, the conversation took a similar tune to the one above with that previous lady.
Where some guy was explaining, from his perspective, that you either move abroad in your very young years or very old years.
Very young meaning before you have kids or a mortgage.
Major responsibilities that keep you in your home country.
Or old years when you are retired with all those responsibilities handled already…
Kids moved out of the house…
And you got social security to fund your life abroad.
Now, to be fair, that isn’t entirely true.
There are some couples who bring their kids to live a life abroad.
Perhaps the wife or husband is of a particular nationality where they want to raise their kids in the other country for a certain amount of years…
Maybe the parents simply have a lot of money and can afford to do so and want their kids to experience another culture in general…
Not necessarily one related to anybody in the family.
Or whatever the reason it might be!
With folks not young or old (in their 40s) who simply never had kids and moved abroad at that point in their life.
You do have plenty of folks in those years between 30 and 62 who live abroad.
But I agree with the sentiment of what this guy was saying.
Similar to the sentiment of what that older lady was saying in the house party in Bolivia…
There’s a point there that is generally true.
Which is that if you have major life responsibilities…
At whatever age it might be.
Then that can be a “filter” that keeps some folks from making the move abroad.
Simply because it could be way too complicated bringing them abroad to another country.
And they come first.
Plus, it would be a lot more expensive also.
It’s easier all around for the expat (at whatever age, not just young) with no major responsibilities…
Or the older expat who has handled past responsibilities but Is now relatively free with retirement income.
And all of that comes full circle.
Reflecting on Myself
In short, it also makes me think of my own life.
Had I not moved abroad at such a young age….
Where would I be now?
I remember the very first time I ever had sex in my young teens with a chick named Christina in my class.
If I had gotten her pregnant, I definitely would have never been able to move abroad.
Or had I gotten pregnant other chicks that I dated later in life…
Again, this opportunity would likely not have been possible realistically speaking.
And my entire life would’ve been very different.
I got talking a few years ago with a friend of mine named Cody from back home.
He had a different life.
Works a factory job.
Has a kid but got divorced.
Has to pay for the kid obviously.
Simply put, that responsibility of the kid makes it where living abroad isn’t realistic.
Unless he can make a kick ass income online, he can’t afford the child support and live abroad.
He has to keep working the job he has.
And even if he did make a sick income online or abroad in general…
Living abroad would also mean basically no time to spend with the kid.
Which that time he very much values.
Suffice to say, he has taken on a responsibility…
A “maturity filter” that has passed in his life that makes it near impossible for him to move abroad right now.
Maybe when the kid is independent in an x amount of years…
Then Cody could perhaps move abroad.
But you get the idea.
Those “maturity filters” can keep a lot of folks from making that jump.
And if you don’t move abroad before you commit to any of them….
Then you might find yourself not being able to move abroad ever or at least until you have satisfied the obligations that come with those responsibilities.
It’s an interesting thought anyway.
The impact that taking on certain responsibilities has on our ability to enjoy a life abroad.
Especially when I apply it to myself…
Considering how young I was when I started traveling and considering how different my life could’ve been.
Anyway, if you have any comments or questions…
Drop them below.
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