a little cameo

Life in Colombia and everything that goes with it

Archive for the tag “Australia”

Making Long Term Plans

As 2016 drew to a close, Edwin and I were frantically organising the documents and their respective translations to English to start our journey to Australia.

Although I’m not sure you could really call it the start of our journey to Australia. I think it actually started somewhere on the Panamericana highway between Ipiales and Pasto on the first of January in 2016 where I, hit with the full force of nostalgia of New Years Day in my home town, suggested that it might be time to make plans to move our family to Australia. Edwin agreed and we decided to save up the hefty application fee during 2016 and apply by the end of October.

Although our timelines blew out a bit, we were able to submit the application before Christmas in a frenzy of stitching together pdfs of the original documents and their translations so they wouldn’t take up so much space in the allotted 60 documents per person in the application, naming all the files in an orderly fashion, creating spreadsheets to keep track of the documents uploaded and to be uploaded for each of us and a whole lot of printing and scanning so that everything could be attached to the electronic application – since we are now well and truly in the 21st century and you are no longer required to stuff a tree in an envelope and send it to the immigration office.

Even though we had most of our documents ready, it still required four full days to attach them correctly to Edwin’s partner application with dependent child included and it was a juggling act with our Christmas holiday plans and my studies also on the go.

Now that we’ve submitted the application, and Edwin and D have had their biometric data collected, we sit tight and wait for any messages of additional information required, the details to schedule the medical exam and hopefully, hopefully, within 9 to 12 months, that we receive a joyous email advising of a visa being granted so we can move to Australia.

Nine to twelve months seems like a long time, and it is. A baby can be conceived and born in the time it takes to receive notification of me being able to live in my home country with my family who happen to be of another nationality. For many people  in a similar situation looking at the same visa type, this timeframe is probably torturously long. For others of other nationalities trying to apply for partner visas in countries with different restrictive requirements (I’m looking at you, UK) it might seem but a tiny hurdle in comparison to restrictive eligibility criteria.

For us, it’s an opportunity to enjoy our (hopefully) final year in Colombia (for now, at least). We can really make the most of our time and lifestyle here. D can drink Postobon manzana as much as he wants (I’m too afraid to tell him that soft drink flavour doesn’t exist in Australia), we can eat delicious pan de bonos, enjoy the freedom that walking to work allows, be grateful to have a cleaning lady come to our apartment once per week, look at the cerros every day and feel the inspiration of living in the mountains, spend time with friends and Colombian family and visit places on our Colombia bucket list.

Now that we’ve made our large, non-refundable investment in moving to Australia and I talk to more people about it, many are asking me why are we moving if we enjoy a greater disposable income here than we will likely have in Australia, if we do truly enjoy our lives here and I’m not debilitated by homesickness. In other words, we’re on a good wicket, why change that?

True, they are all valid points. But so is the fact that I will have spent over 5 years living here – which I consider a decent chunk of time, Edwin genuinely wants to move to Australia and be closer to my family and also to have a fairer earning capacity in his chosen career, it is a good time for D to move and learn English and have better education opportunities than he might have here and really I am keen for a little bit of that Australian lifestyle, freedom and space that I love.

We will always have the opportunity to come back to Colombia at some point in the future if we decide to (if my Colombian visa officer is reading this, please do give me a new TP-10 partner visa tomorrow) and perhaps we may even live somewhere else in the world. Who knows?

All I know is that we are half way through our two-year plan to move to Australia and Australia is where we are keen to be for the foreseeable future. The journey ahead won’t be without heartaches, tough times and likely tears, but there will also be adventure, opportunities and new family memories for us to make together.

 

 

 

The chocolate-less Easter

Australians are the biggest consumers of chocolate at Easter. I read that somewhere (in an article on taste.com.au that is no longer there). Even if it´s not 100% true, Australians have to be in a top 5 consumers of chocolate at Easter. We´re nuts about the Easter Bunny and egg hunts and all sizes of eggs from the little ones to the super-dooper huge ones. Then there are bunnies, bilbys and mugs with eggs inside them. There are little chocolate chickens and there are chocolate carrots (for the Easter Bunny who still wants his carrot).

So here I am in Colombia on the other side of the world to the Easter chocolate frenzy. There is not a chocolate egg in sight. Not even a little marshmallow chicken. And there is definitely no Easter Bunny. When I learned that the Tooth Fairy here is called El Raton Perez, I asked about El Conejo de Pascua and was met with furrowed brows of confusion. Nope, here is it all about Jesus on the cross.

I kind of expected a low dosage of chocolate and Easter eggs as when I was in Latin America in 2004 there weren´t any of my traditional bunnies and eggs. However this article says Brazil has the second highest consumption in the world. When I was in Brazil for Easter 2004 I consoled my Easter egg fix with the Brazilian style of Easter egg. I can attest to the fact they are clear plastic egg shapes with normal chocolates and truffles inside hung from the ceiling rather than stacked on shelves.

I spent Easter 2011 in the United States and I was surprised by the lack of Easter eggs in the stores. Very surprised.

Chocolate, peanut, sultana and coconut filled and decorate eggs

These are the chocolate, peanut, sultana and coconut filled eggs D and I made and decorated

I´m keen to introduce my Aussie Easter traditions to my Colombian family and since having my Australian family ship an Easter Care Package faces the problems of unreliable (if existent) postal service and extreme (ie melting point) heat, I need to get DIY on the Easter Egg front.

I´ve thought about making my own chocolates. Not too hard right? Well it helps when you have the plastic moulds to make them in and my favourite baking supply store doesn´t stock an egg shaped mould.

The other day I read a tutorial for dyed eggshells filled with chocolate, fruit and nuts on Ali Does It Herself. A bit of traditional egg dying and decorating with the inside goodness of a solid chocolate egg. It was laborious but not too hard. Although Ali didn’t mention that piping the chocolate filling from a plastic ziplock requires hands of steel, or at the very least, oven mitts.  But, all the effort and burnt palms are worth it. Easter is saved. There is chocolate!

It´s a bit of a tangent to this post on Colombia´s lack of Easter eggs, but I came across an interesting article about where the ingredients come from to make them and it got me thinking. Imagine that your chocolate-a-day habit pays the daily wage of a cocoa worker and that the even more expensive Easter eggs and bunnies are at least two day´s wages. For the cocoa workers who barely earn enough to feed their families and have a roof for shelter, a chocolate bar is a complete luxury. Who has ever been haunted by the poverty of Charlie Bucket´s family in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and their sacrifices to buy Charlie a chocolate bar in hopes of a golden ticket? That poverty is the reality of cocoa workers in many places in the world (Oompa-Loompas have better work conditions and can eat all the cacao beans they like). From where I live, I can see that this type of poverty is the case for many Colombians too.

If you celebrate Easter, whether for religious or chocolate reasons, I wish you a very Happy Easter! Maybe like in other holidays celebrated throughout the year, we can also think about those who are less fortunate and perhaps donate the value of an Easter egg to a worthy cause.

Travel question of the day

In the travel section of today’s LA Times the Geo Quiz question of the day is:

Geo Quiz

Despite the accompanying photo lacking the two famous icons for this city, I hope you all know the answer.

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