Ever since I came back to the states after having lived in Mexico for a few years, I have been obsessed with cultures south of the border. There is so much to love—great food, beautiful scenery, and Latin hospitality. I decided several years ago that my dream job would be one where I could use my experience in finance in a Latin American country, the less Americanized the better. Last week I finally got my chance.
My Latin Passion
When I tell people I want to go live in Central America, they usually give me funny looks and say something like “Uh okay, I hope you don’t get killed.” First of all, there are hundreds of cities down there that are just as secure if not more so than the safest U.S. cities. Since most people don’t understand why I would want to do such a thing, I’ll give some background.
I was in Mexico as a missionary. Even people who didn’t want to hear what we had to say generally bent over backwards to see that we were not lost or hungry. I got rides everyday with total strangers. The food was out-of-this-world amazing. The history and culture is so deep and celebrated. The music was generally awful, but I loved it anyway.
After I came home and was back in school, I was able to do some studies in Chile, Argentina, & Brazil, and my experiences there only validated how I already felt based on my time in Mexico. My wife similarly lived a few years in Argentina, and we are both up for the adventure of taking the family and heading southward.
I occasionally get emails or calls from recruiters to see if I’m interested in other finance positions. Last week I got a call from a woman who started explaining the position she had open. She said the corporate offices were just a few hours from me but that 80% of the company’s manufacturing operations were somewhere else. I tried to listen as I scurried away from my desk into an empty conference room. I had to ask her to repeat where the position was located. “Honduras,” she answered.
I COULD. NOT. BELIEVE IT!
“Really! That’s AWESOME!” I told her. She was delighted with my enthusiasm and continued to tell me about the role. I would be a finance & accounting manager of a 6 person accounting team at their main manufacturing plant with 2,800 workers . I was SUPER excited. She asked me when I could come interview, and I said I’d check my calendar. Before we hung up, I asked her where exactly in Honduras the plant was located. “San Pedro Sula,” she answered. “Awesome,” I said. “I’ll talk to you soon.”
That was basically the end of my mental productivity for the rest of that day. As I walked out of the empty conference room and headed back to my desk, I nearly shouted, “SEE YA, SUCKERS!” I sat down at my desk and began consulting the all-wise google.
How my dream job was murdered
I started to type. S-A-N P-E-D-R-O S-U-L-A. First search result: San Pedro Sula – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. “Fantastic!” I thought. Then my eyes scanned down a little further.
Second search result: San Pedro Sula is the most violent city on earth.
“Hmmmm, probably just a fluke.”
Third search result: Inside San Pedro Sula – the most violent city in the world.
“Interesting…it’s probably by the same author just looking for attention.”
Fourth search result: Why they flee: Life in the murder capital of the world, San Pedro Sula, Honduras.
“Are you freakin serious!!?? What kind of sick joke is this!?!”
I spent a while trying to find SOMETHING to give me a reason I shouldn’t pay attention to all of these sensationalized articles. But I didn’t, and reality began to sink in. I admitted to myself that it probably wasn’t going to happen.
Of course my shot at living my dream had to be in the murder capital of the world. I mean, why wouldn’t it be?
I slept on it. Even my wife was initially excited. But the next day I let the recruiter know that if it weren’t for the safety concern, I’d have done it in a heartbeat. Poof! There it went. Opportunity gone.
What are you willing to risk?
That got me thinking. What am I willing to risk to live one of my dreams?
Would I move my family to the murder capital of the world?
Would I move far away from other loved ones?
Would I be willing to change careers?
Would I be willing to have my earning potential reduced?
While I’m not willing to put my family in imminent danger, I would be open to moving far away. We already live 2,000 miles away from our parents. I think I might be able to convince myself to look into a new career, and I even think I’d be willing to take a hit in pay. In fact, I think I’d be willing to go without pay if I had enough savings.
Do we ever have reservations? Yes, we do. We love where we live, and there are so many great things about my job. We have settled into a life with a home and good friends. We are beginning to feel comfortable, happy, and on a familiar path. Leaving it all behind sparks a bit of uneasiness as does trying to come back to it all, hoping all of it is still here.
But at the same time, we have lived in other countries before, we know many ex-pats who are doing it now, and we want to come to the end of our lives knowing we pulled ourselves out of the familiar and experienced life more fully.
This is why, my friends, in two years time…we’re gone. Hopefully I’ll have built up enough income from my CPA business and online businesses to support ourselves. But if not, we’ll have enough in savings to live for at least a year on a Nicaraguan budget. And maybe stating this publicly will help me hold myself accountable and make it happen.
Thoreau said “If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.”
Or, as they say on the internet these days: YOLO!
What are you willing to give up to pursue your dreams?