The Chilean writer, Isabel Allende, during a recent talk on www.Ted.com discussed aging and retirement. She mentioned the word, ‘Jubilación,’ a word in Spanish which she stated means to celebrate the end of work and to begin a different life.
When I moved to Peru in 2005, I innocently thought that retirement or jubilación did represent the end of work and a new life of leisure. That thought was very much in my mind as we planned our move from California.
Certainly, moving to a new country represented a new opportunity. I thought that now we could do things differently. Still, I didn’t have a very clear idea of what this new life would be like. All I knew was that it would be different.
I vaguely fantasized that we were going to have an apartment in Lima and a beach house, leading a dual life of pleasure. Most of the time, in my mind, we would be watching the sun disappear over the horizon with a drink in our hands, totally relaxed. Of course, none of this was really based on any examination of the cold hard facts related to life anywhere. It wasn’t in any way practical.
Watching the sunsets didn’t happen, but we did land in “Barranco”:http://www.peruthisweek.com/travel-barranco-by-day-barranco-by-night-lima-peru-104242, a district of Lima, close to the Pacific Ocean. Fortunately, it is a very pleasant place to live. Also it was exciting to move into our home, and explore our new environment.
Work was not part of my plan, but play certainly was. To me, it was to be a liberating time; a time to build a new social life. I joined lots of groups: The American Canadian Association of Peru (ACAP), Rotary, and Toastmasters. I met lots of really nice and interesting people. I went to lots of parties. In addition, my wife found a wonderful gym, and we started to work out five times a week. There, we met even more nice and interesting people.
For the first five or six months it was wonderful, a golden time. Then, I began to get bored. Between the meetings and parties, I found a great big empty space. I needed to fill that space. I hated to admit it, but I needed to work. I learned that I wasn’t constructed to live a life totally based on leisure. Call it the Puritan Ethic if you wish. I am sure that many would think me perverse for turning my back on the golden life.
However, I soon found work. I got an editing job with an English language magazine and then started teaching English. Luckily for me, in 2007, I was invited to teach Business English courses at the Universidad del Pacifico, a fine university in Lima. I’ve been there ever since.
Since then, work keeps increasing, and I have found myself working even more than I did in California. Ironically, the pendulum has swung completely toward work, and I no longer have much time for any social activities. Before, I had too much leisure and now I have too much work.
What have I learned? For me, retirement doesn’t mean all play and no work. At the same time, all work and no play is also a bad idea. Somewhere a balance must be struck.
*Larry Pitman* has been in Peru for nine years. He has written about his experiences as an expatriate in Peru for “Peru This Week”:http://www.peruthisweek.com/blogs/larrys-latest for six years and has recently compiled his articles into a book, “Dogs of Barranco”:http://www.amazon.ca/Dogs-Barranco-Stories-American-Expatriate-ebook/dp/B00IM0IT2G.
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