Could’ve, Should’ve, Would’ve


I’m on hold with the American Airline representative at 3am with an afternoon departure. I’m freaking out! I inquire to postpone or change my departure to Bolivia. I have two full suitcases and one carry on. One suitcase for winter one for summer and the rest of my wardrobe all over the place. Work was jam pact with events pre-departure. Last minute visits with friends, all took precedence over sorting out my wardrobe. Could I survive on only one pair of jeans or could I afford to bring two? I really didn’t know if I would be cooking in a kitchen or possibly working with the administrative part of a restaurant. Really it wasn’t the packing that was daunting, it was much more.

I’ve always been interested in living abroad. Perhaps, my mother who was an English As A Second Language (ESL) teacher influenced me. She met my Bolivian father at the Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas in the late 60s. They dated and married within a year. She moved to La Paz and had my brother and I. I had romantic notions of being in a foreign land gaining new experiences as she once had in her early 30s. If I had been keen to following my mother’s example, I would have finished university as soon as possible. Perhaps gotten my English as a Second Language (ESL) certification, and book it abroad. Seems obvious now, but unfortunately I spent my 20s aimlessly going through the motions. Some would say it was natural after loosing my mother at the age of 21. Or it could have been the usual 20 something behavior, thinking there is a lot time to get to travel. Or could be have been the typical American upbringing; graduating from high school, continue to college, and work frivolously until you realize at the age of 50, that you barely have traveled except on a two week European vacation post college graduation. A bit stereotypical but seems like the majority of Americans fall into this category. Either of the scenarios it’s another, would’ve could’ve should’ve situation.

Thinking, I could have, should have, would have done things differently serves no purpose other than remind you of perhaps some mistakes in your life that delayed your progress? Perhaps remind of you of the things you could have not known but now know that would make your life better? Or perhaps it keeps you doubting your self potential? Either way it’s a pointless self-act of therapy. I say therapy because you end up talking with your close family and friends about could’a, should’a, would’a, but they can’t change the past.

With three months until my departure, I kept replaying the history of my life’s choices. Flip flopping ideas like a fish out of water about the impact of packing up and leaving my routine. If I were to live abroad what would be the gains and loses? Would I regret it or think it would be the best decision? Worrying and looking to family in making a decision sometimes can be the worst thing you can do. Although their advice is heartfelt, it ends up deflating any courage or bravery you may have to make a bold decision for your life. “So you’re going to Bolivia and you’re going to work, but are you going to get a salary?” says a concerned relative. “Wouldn’t you get paid less than in the states?”

A $150 flight change charge reinforced my commitment to my plans. My bags were packed after repacking 10times, taking out unnecessary items each time. Items that seemed necessary but resulted superfluous. I had the minimum to travel for a year. Gone where the worries and doubts that was weighing me down. Light as a feather I was free to explore.

List of PROS vs. CONS
Apply & practice Latin cuisine in their respective countries; Peru, Bolivia, Brazil
Experience the country’s ingredients/products first hand versus imported can or hybrid produce.
Learn customs and traditions of food ways from locals
Learn from Top Chefs in their field; Peru, Bolivia, Brazil, & More
Learn first hand the cuisine rather a translated version in the United States
New contacts that create opportunities that cannot be acquired in the states
Master fluency in Spanish
Breaking normal routine in the states with new experiences
Travel most of South America
Get to know family in Bolivia
Get to know my heritage in Bolivia through food
Practice and learn skills, techniques unique to each country’s cuisine
Open social circle with International connections
Meet like-minded travelers
Gain invaluable experience cooking, living, and working abroad
Always can return to the states

Miss friends and family
Not earn a US salary
Not contribute to my IRA for a year or more
Not increase my savings


Maribel invites people into a kitchen filled with unique Latin foods, chiles (ajies), and passion for the stories and tastes of Peru, Bolivia, and Mexico. She is excited to share her rich knowledge of modern and ancient food traditions with readers and eaters alike.

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