The Bridge Crosses Both Ways

Warning: whining ahead…

I’ve been silent on this blog for a few days because I try to avoid complaining as much as possible. Yet, I am preoccupied with an issue which I struggle to reframe. So, here goes:

I am not liking it at all that I may have to leave. I moved here thinking that it would be good for my health: getting away from the USA’s junk-food-and-car culture and living in a place where walking is the main form of transportation, and where gorgeous fresh vegetables cost, literally, dimes. I thought that acclimatizing to altitude was like adapting to exercise: a challenge to the lungs and circulation, but one that would leave me fitter and healthier.

Surely enough, I am living better. I’m walking an average of 2-3 miles a day, and it seemed that my heart and lungs were adapting as I mastered climbing the steep hill up to el Centro without stopping. I’ve quit sweets and alcohol, I eat far less red meat, and I’ve dropped 12 pounds. Yet, my blood pressure, blood tests, and echocardiogram tell a story very different from the way I thought this would turn out. It’s the opposite of what one would expect after all the lifestyle changes and the lowered stress level. My doctor says she’s seen other expats in this situation and she has been able to get most of them re-acclimated with medication. I’m supposed to give this first drug, Lisinopril, two weeks to work, but after five days I don’t like the tired and headachy way it makes me feel. I also don’t like the idea of having to take drugs every day just to live here.

Yet, I still love this city: its art, architecture, and culture. I love the people with their friendly, joyful ways. I love the Spanish language more and more, the more I learn. I have made friends with some remarkable people whom I would be saddened to leave. I am also in dread of the direction in which my home country is headed, regardless of the outcome of this big election.

I had a vision of myself bursting with color, a spring in my step, gradually slimming down as I explored my new home and rebuilt my strength and endurance. It’s not turning out that way. It’s like the second stage of a youthful love affair, where the infatuation wears off and the problems start to rear their ugly heads. The Cuenca honeymoon is over.

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