It hasn’t been an easy decision, but I’ve come to the conclusion that I need to leave Colombia. Over the past week, I have had the worst migraines I’ve had in years. These migraines have been the type that make me cry with pain, and I’ve been so dizzy I couldn’t see more than once. While leaving after only a week or so of this seems hasty, if I’m honest with myself I haven’t felt good since I arrived in Pasto a month ago. My headaches, nausea, and dizziness have been well above their usually tolerable level.
For the first few weeks, I blamed nerves. It’s perfectly normal to be nauseous when starting a new job in a new country, right? However, as time went on and I got more comfortable in Pasto, things didn’t improve. They got worse. I blamed the dizziness and lightheaded feeling I had so often on being out of shape. I figured altitude was a factor in my headaches, but assumed that I would quickly adjust.
When the migraines came on, I had to admit something more was wrong beyond simple nerves and needing to exercise more. The pain and level of dizziness I’ve been experiencing are far worse than anything I’ve felt since I graduated from university. The consistency of the migraines has also been troubling. In recent years, I may have one bad headache, but the next day I’ll be back to work. At worst, I may have a three-day string of bad migraines. Feeling this bad for a full week was something I thought I was past.
I can’t be fully sure that the altitude here is the problem, but it seems to be a common factor for many people with migraines. Regardless, I know the process of treating migraines is a lengthy one that requires a lot of trial and error. It wouldn’t be fair to the students or my co-teachers to force them to deal with potential absences and strange side effects along with me.
Despite knowing deep down that this is the best decision, it has still been a very painful one. I have met so many wonderful people here that I will likely never really get to know. The other English teachers in town are lovely. My co-workers at the school were among the kindest, most welcoming people that I have ever met in my life. The kids I taught were bright and funny, and I would have loved to help them grow and improve their English.
I am also deeply saddened that I didn’t get to know Colombia in my month here. Most of my time in Bogotá was spent in a hotel, and other than that I have not left Pasto. This is such a beautiful country, and I am sure that one day I will return. To people concerned about its reputation, I highly recommend a trip. You do have to keep your wits about you a bit more than you would in an American city, but the beauty of the country and the warmth of its people are well worth it.
So, this is the end of my time in Colombia. However, this is not the end of my travels. It is not the end of my time as an English teacher. It’s just a short intermission, and then I will be back to living the kind of life I want.
All my love ❤