Hello, my name is Arthur, I’m 41 years old and since 2001 I’ve been living and working on the San Andres archipelago, Providencia and Santa Catalina (Colombia).
Before this despite having a permanent job I had always loved to travel, and had often left jobs in search of new adventures. One that comes to mind is a job I had in the front office of a prestigious hotel in Rome, the Hotel Forum, with its high-quality clientele the extras at the end of the month weren’t bad…..
One day I met a 60-year-old man, and after a long chat, he realised that it was too late to drive back to Genova and so decided to stay the night. Whilst checking him in I noticed that he belonged to the Costa family and was a shipowner. I asked him jokingly if he was looking for new staff, seeing as I could speak several languages and had some experience in customer services. To cut it short, a year later I handed in my notice and went onboard for a 6-month contract, earning less than half.
I’m telling you this because I remember my colleague Roberto saying, ‘What? At 33 you’re going to start all over again…?’. I left and found myself in Miami on a 17 storey ship with 10 others, a month of training and we were off!!
After 8 months I returned to Rome (in the meantime I had met Jannethe, who is now my wife), she found work in Via Condotti and I went back to my old job at the Hotel Forum. My wife had worked for 12 years on board the ship and was fed up, so we decided to settle in Rome. After 8 months back there, returning home one evening on a wet and grey day, I was sat stuck in a long queue of commuter traffic on the ring road, with the windscreen wipers just adding to the sadness, I thought:- hang on, this can’t be, I must do something….. I got home (2 hours later) and said to my wife, ‘Why don’t we go to your country?’ (She’s Colombian) We could find ourselves a little posada to run, in a place where we can live in peace without getting too stressed…
I handed in my notice yet again, and we left for Colombia. After a few days in Bogota we left for Cartegena, a beautiful city, but it wasn’t the right day, it was the 20th December, a hot and humid day and the historical centre was fabulous, but you couldn’t walk for the traffic and people, it was the holidays.
I said to my wife we had left Rome to avoid the chaos… if we were to stay there we may as well be in Italy.
After 2 weeks we arrived in San Andres and as soon as we left the airport I saw 4 palm trees and 10 or so taxis (60s/70s American style) and no chaos, and I said to my wife ‘ Now we can think’. The rest we did together, we have a litle hotel (www.sanandres.it), 2 children and we are happy for now.
So far I’ve told the chronological part of our story, but really we arrived here knowing full well we were coming to a foreign country, well at least for me, and I always said ‘ Ok, lets try, see how things go’ without biting off more than we could chew, no rush decisions, listening to the advice of other italians who were already living there.
Even after 8 years of living here we are still saying ‘Lets see how things go….’
I never packed my bags saying ‘Enough! I’m leaving Italy to live in the Carribean!’ No, I said ‘Lets go and see what happens, maybe we’ll stay awhile’.
Now I earn much less than I did in Rome, but I have a much higher quality of life I have time to play with my children (Jean Pierre and Michaela) on the beach even if it is 3pm on a Monday afternoon.
When it rains we are happy, at least we’re not on that ring road…. obviously we could talk about the negative side, but I can assure you that they are outnumbered…..
Every now and again I say to myself ‘Remember where you have come from…’
Now I think it would be very difficult for me to live in a city.
This is my little story, thank you for following it so far, who knows maybe one day we’ll meet in San Andres….