Don’t Settle

That’s always been my motto. It’s why I’m single now and its also why I’m changing schools. A teaching salary of 11,000 rmb just doesn’t cut it for me. With my new school I will make twice that amount. My contract with my current school, Best Learning, ends August 15. With all my end of contract bonus’s and month and a half pay they will owe me 30,000 rmb. That’s a lot of money, so I hope it will all be there.

Yesterday I went to the health center certified to do required health checks for visa and other purposes, to pick up my form with my health physical results. Then when I sent the form they gave me to the lady at my new school she said I didn’t have the right form! So today I went back to the health office to get the alleged form I didn’t have. And of course, the office ends up telling me the form I have is the right form and the only one they give out. ‘Thank you new school for making me come to this place again for the third time in 90 degree weather!’. On my way home I was two feet from a man who almost got mauled by a bus. They were both making right hand turns and the bus clipped the man on the bike. He was dragged a few inches. When I stepped up to take a look I was scared that I might see a severed head. However, after we helped lift the bike off of him, it turned out he was okay thank goodness. Thank goodness the bike wasn’t heavy. I call it a bike, but it was actually a motorized vehicle of some sort.

On another note, I’ve been in China for over a year now and yesterday was my first time riding the bus and taking a 10:00pm night run at Shifu square and today was my first time riding a bike. I’m barely starting to feel comfortable in Shenyang, and yet I’ll soon to leave it.

I also found an exciting new way to send money home since they banned the sending money home through western union in China. What I did was I opened a Bank of China account and they can send the money through the Money Gram service they use. It cost me 14 usd + 50 rmb to send 486usd to America. Not too shabby at all.


In “work-contract” Limbo

The year and 3 months is coming to an end. My contract with Best Learning will be over by next month. So, I accepted an offer in another city in China for 22,000 rmb net salary and they pay for accommodation. Unfortunately transferring my z visa from one school to the next is seeming to be very troublesome. Some schools have entire departments dedicated to this very special and annoying task. I on the other hand have chosen to work at a school that doesn’t really know what to do. There has been a lot of back and forth of me sending the original documents I got my first Z visa with. Then they said I’m missing some sticker. Then they did some more research and made some calls and said I have to re notarize my degree. Then I asked them if I could do that in China. In return, they gave me a website all in Chinese where I have to fill in a ton of information to get my degree notarized. But from the little bit I could read through my translator this website seems to be for something else. I don’t know if I can get my USA degree notarized through this site. It’s honestly a head ache. And there inexperience is worrying me. Who knows what will happen now.

Selling My Soul to China

Today in class, a cartoon was playing, “The Fairly Odd Parents” I believe it’s called. In this episode it featured a white family. Then, later in the episode a black family, who are neighbors of the main family, comes into view. A few students as soon as they see it, yell out “black!” I just looked at them expressionless like ‘really? You’re seven years old and you felt the need to announce that, like it was something we all had to be made aware of?’  In china, people (children especially) will definitely point at foreigners and say ‘waigoren’ which is Chinese for outsider. However I have an African friend with a darker skin tone who was bothered one day because someone called her ‘heisedaren’ which means ‘black person’. She couldn’t understand why they wouldn’t just call her a foreigner like they do all other foreigners but instead felt the need to point out that she is a black. It just proves my point that being black isn’t just simply being a foreigner here, it’s something different altogether. Speaking of racism I have a black friend from Miami, Florida who works with me. Her African friend was staying at a hotel in China and got this note on her door. Need I say more?unnamed

My ‘Love Life’ in China

The past few days I’ve been feeling down. This is a common feeling as a foreigner in China. It doesn’t always happen, but sometimes it sneaks up on you. I have a few friends and we haven’t hung out in a while. Also, I’m single, so there’s that. Though in my defense, I’m a very picky dater, but as a person with such different features (I’m black, white, and mexican with a light brown skin tone), a different cultural background, and oh the language barrier, it’s way more difficult to date here.

Chinese people as a whole don’t know many foreigners or come in much contact with them. So much so that you can go on the subway looking as average as can be and people would feel the need to mention your presence to their friends, giggle, and maybe even take “secret” photos of you-that 99 percent of the time you know about. So obviously, a Chinese person would have to be very open minded to date a foreigner, as friends and family would openly judge them for it. Moreover, there would be stares by other people and they might finally get a glimpse into your world and how you feel as a foreigner based off how it might outcast them since they would be differing from the norm by dating you.

In regards to the language barrier, you’d have to constantly be writing in your translator back and forth or they would have to speak really good English to understand you, so it can be hard to really get to know someone. Also, for a country obsessed with the “Caucasian western look”, the darker your complexion or more African your features are, the less likely Chinese people will be to date you even if they did find you attractive.  This is because there is a stigma against people with darker skin tones in China. Oh my God, Quentin Tarantino, you out there? That just gave me a great idea for a movie. A movie where black people and white people’s status and roles in society where completely switched. It’s because racism can be subtle. Some Caucasians having never experienced it will never really know how real it is and how it doesn’t really ever stop for dark skinned people since their skin is always that color. In a movie it would be easier for some people to understand because those small details would be depicted on the big screen in a way that hits home for them. For example every advertisement in the movie would have a black person, you might see a white person here or there in the background. Also, sayings like “little white lie” would be switched, and much more. Oh yes! I’m ready to write this screen play.

America and Student Debt

In America they encourage you to go to University. If you have a degree, you’ve done something right. Forget actually finding a job after, that’s not even the point. You skip over the feeling of being worthless to actually be worth less.

When you buy a house, when you buy a car, when you buy (I mean earn) your degree you’ve just accrued debt. But we say, “Well if they trusted us with all this debt, we must be doing something right.” And that is the American dream, the hope that one day, maybe just one day we’ll actually own some of the stuff that we bought that we never had the money for in the first place, or at least be able to pass on that asset and remaining debt to our children. Because even that is something. Whether this is your experience or not depends on where you find yourself in this game of Ms. Pac Man. She has so many lives. Maybe your at the beginning levels and you keep loosing, or maybe your in the middle, or maybe your at the end when you’ve won so many times you’re coming into the world with connections and assets. And don’t get me wrong, anyone can get knocked off their high horse. Though it’s easier to get back on a horse once you’ve ridden one. I’m thinking of a CEO loosing her company; neither here nor there. And any person not well off in the world can become an overnight youtube sensation or pop star and be put onto a high horse. Once again neither here nor there. And of course I’m thinking strictly financially, because if we threw ‘happiness’-like who is actually happy into the mix, we might find the scales drastically tipped.

Maybe we’d find that the richer people are more unhappy. Them and their little perfectly manicured fluffy white dogs. Or maybe we’d find that it has nothing to do with riches, but rather responsibility. Because isn’t that when it all went bad? One day we’re being pushed in a stroller one sockless foot perched up throwing our cheerios in the air like we just don’t care and the next day we’re calling cable companies trying to get the service turned back on after the snow storm!

Traveling alone (Part II)

So in Colombia I was watching the news. I don’t usually watch the news, but I was eating in a restaurant and the news happened to be on. And this was a different story then the usual Colombian robbery, because this culprit was actually caught! I guess the victim had gotten the license plate in the act. How smart of him!

Of course when I was robbed, I was so close to the license place yet still did not manage to think on my feet and actually write the numbers down. I’m kicking myself now.

So after the man jumps on the back of the bike and they drive off, I realize I’ve been stabbed…. again (just like 7 years prior). I run a few feet to Calle 25 sur from Kr 11 and yell for help. I don’t have a cell phone anymore so I can’t call 911, or the Colombian version of 911, which I think is 123?

Some people came out from there makeshift apartments—in the south of Bogotá as people have children they just keep building more stories onto the apartments to make room for the extra people. Thus apartments have makeshift walls and because they aren’t really walls the inside doors can´t have locks. Roofs made of metal and styrofoam pieces and walls so thin I don’t know if I’m hearing my kitchen sink or the neighbors.

So this family comes out and they don’t know why I’m screaming. I’m wearing a black leather jacket and squeezing the wound for dear life knowing that if I let too much blood come out I’ll pass out. However, because of that, you couldn’t really see the blood or the wound. I pleaded for them to call the police and time was going by, I felt like I was there forever although who knows how long I was really there, even 10 minutes can feel like an hour when you’re waiting for help after being stabbed.

Moreover, I’m usually all about appearances but in my hour of need my intestines went haywire. I all of a sudden felt like I was boiling inside and had to fart. So I said, screw it and decided to let it rip. I thought it would be a small dainty fart, but it ended up being a loud one and it trailed on for quite a while. I thought about quitting half way through but I figured I had already embarrassed myself and decided to finish them off. I’d say probably the most embarrassing part was the smell. I had no idea where this was coming from and the family that was helping me was so close to it. Probably the worst part about this situation was–no. not the farts– but now without my purse or phone, I had no way of contacting anyone. I knew zero phone number’s by heart. I told one of the ladies that was waiting with me where I was staying and that was all I could do. We tried logging into my whatsapp on other people’s phones but I eventually learned that whatsapp does not work this way, you have to be on your own phone with your specific phone number to be able to access your account. It isn’t like facebook, where you can log in anywhere with an email. So I couldn’t retrieve any phone numbers.

As time more time went by and still no authority figures had arrived I started to panic and so I screamed in the street until more people came to see what was going on. Eventually a police officer showed up on a motorcycle. I didn’t know if this was a police officer the family had called or if it was a random one that showed up. But I thought, Dear police officer, what good are you to me on a motorcycle?! At that moment there was so much frustration that I wasn’t able to express because the second the anger came over me was the same second a taxi cab pulled up and the good samaritan family helped me into it and told him to take me to a clinic. The taxi driver knew I had no money and he said it was fine.

At the clinic there was more farting and yes it still smelled really really bad. I’m sure a quick search on google might shed some light into the strange occurrence of gas during a traumatic event, but just in case it doesn’t, I won’t look. But I was in the clinic so it didn’t matter to me that much anymore. When I arrived at the clinic I held my wound so tight and the nurse told me to take my hand off of it, and I think I was so panicked and talking too much about how if I let my arm go I might faint and that I needed to put pressure, that eventually she made me breath in something that calmed me down. She had me lean over the sink while she washed and examined my stab wound. I think I was in a panic and didn’t even know it. And had you known how badly I was stabbed the first time, you’d understand why. Next I sat. I sat for a very long time.

I was able to freak myself out by looking at my arm. It was super inflamed and it hurt to move my fingers, which where turning blue, then purple. I was somehow turning into that fat blueberry that the girl from Willie Wanka and the Chocolate factory, starting with my left hand. In my mind, I was like ‘wtf!’. I kept asking the nurse if this was normal. She said yes and to keep moving my hand, which frankly was tough due to the pain. Then someone shows up at the hospital that I know. It is Francia’s—the airbnb lady I’m staying with—brother. He’s actually a drug dealer and he shows up drunk with his sister in law who is sober. Later he actually talks to me about his ability to get me a gun. Yes… only in Colombia.

The clinic says to sew me up and give me the medicine it will cost 200,000cop. Obviously I didn’t have any money with me. The only money I had was in the house that I couldn’t get into because when the robber’s stole my purse, they also stole my keys and Francia (the lady that lived with me) was conveniently out of town.

So the brother says to get a taxi and go to this other hospital. Since it’s not a private clinic, it will cost way less and maybe his sister-in-law will pay for it. So we go to this next place and wait… again. At this point I already owe the sister in law 60,000 cop for the consultation at the other clinic and the taxi ride. When we get to the next place it turns out to be more money! Thus the doctor at the other clinic that said it be way cheaper at this clinic was wrong, very wrong, and it cost me a taxi ride. It was probably about 11pm at this point, 4 hours after I’d been stabbed and I’m still holding my stab wound shut with my hands. So they took me back to the apartment where I was staying to see if one of the neighbors had a key, or if there was some way or some window I could get in through so that I could get my money and get treatment!

There wasn’t. Giovanni the neighbor at the top floor had tried everything. Francia’s brother said I should sleep in his house until the morning and obviously I knew that I would never feel safe in the drunk drug dealer’s house so I said no. No brainer, I rather sit in the hall all night. Eventually him and his sister-in-law left because they had been with me for hours and hours, none of which were remotely fun, and no one had the money for me to get treated. The thought was “we tried, its out of our hands, lets go home”.

So at the house I was able to get into the main door of course, but not the inner door to where I was living. After about an hour of Giovanni (the upstairs neighbor) trying to do what he could to open the door or make calls etc, it was basically tough luck, we weren’t getting anywhere. He went back up stairs to where he lived and I was left in the dark hallway holding my stab wound. Since the stabbing occurred at 7pm and it was now the middle of the night, I felt like I’d waited enough and so I did what any sane person would do and I started screaming at the top of my lungs in Spanish and telling God to send me an angel. I didn’t scream because I felt like screaming. I screamed because apparently this was the only way to get things done. When you tell people you need help, nothing really happens, but when you scream at the top of your lungs at 1am, stuff starts happening. I guess one sort of reverts back to their primal instincts-the things you do when your a child and you need something. The neighbors came out.

Some ladies that lived in the vecino across from mine came out of their house and neighbor’s from next door knocked on the main door. Then trying a little harder this time to make progress to get me treated somehow, Giovanni said he had a friend with a taxi and he could take me to this other clinic that allows you to pay later since I didn’t have access to my money. By the time we got to the third clinic it was 1am.

I waited 30 minutes to be seen and when they called me up when I was in the bathroom. My punishment for not being ready, was they didn’t see me until an hour and a half later. It’s now 3 am and I’m still holding my wound shut. Ridiculous, right? When they finally see me, they say that they can sew me up now, but I have to wait there until 8am to see if I qualify for this program to get the cost taken care of or reduced. I obviously don’t want to pay but to wait that long in the hospital was not an option. I’d been up all night and I still wanted to go to my CELTA course in the morning. They told me that yes, I could get help and pay after, but the catch was I had to stay in the hospital until I paid. Yippie, another obstacle in my already spectacular night morning.

Giovanni said that he’d walk to his friends house, which would take 15 minutes and he’d borrow money from the friend to pay my hospital bill (and I could pay him back later). I felt bad for Giovanni because he was just a simple neighbor and he’d been with me for hours. Also at that time it was dangerous to walk outside for any reason but I did need the help, so he went.

While he was doing that, I was led into the hospital room. It was unsanitary and gross. They actually put me on a bed which already had blood all over it in various spots. I was not feeling good about this. I looked at it disgusted and I made sure the doctor saw my expressions. I don’t know if that’s why the doctor hated me, or if it was the fact that I had been begging for so long about trying to get help even though I didn’t have money yet, but he definitely had it out for me. He didn’t say a word. He didn’t give me any shots to numb the pain or offer me anything, he didn’t prescribe anything. He just grabbed my arm and stuck a sewing needing in it raw and squished it together to tie it. When he was first about to put the needle in and I looked at him horrified and asked, “Wait! Aren’t you going to numb it!?” he just ignored me and used an aggression that he seemed to rather enjoy. Then He put this 3x3inch square gauze sticker on the deep cut to close the wound and walked out of the room coldly. So I didn’t know anything about when I should take it off or if I should take something to prevent infection. I was just sort of left in the dark… again.

When I got back to the apartment, it was like 7am. I literally slept maybe three hours in this nice neighbors house (these 2 women that had come out when I started screaming hours earlier). Surprisingly, I still managed to make it to my CELTA course at 10am although I didn’t get much work done because I was busy canceling credit cards. Francia didn’t get back from her trip until Monday and the incident had happened on a Thursday, so I had to stay with a friend that weekend and borrow clothes and money to get by until my new debit card came and until Francia was able to open the house. Moral of the story, if you’re going to Colombia, don’t keep valuables in your purse. Many locals already know not to carry a purse but if you do, not to keep valuables in it. Keep your money in your shoe and keep your cellphone in your bra. Also a thank you to Ben, Laura, and Xiomara who nicely lent me money until my debit card came an I made sure to pay them back because A Clark always pays her debts.





Traveling alone

Traveling alone isn’t all its cracked up to be. On one hand you have the flexibility to work and go where you please because not every hostel excepts couples. On the other hand it can get lonely and can also be pretty unsafe, especially for women. My Mom always told me that if I’m going to travel I need to hide my money, hide my passport, don’t look rich, if someone ever tries to rob me, just give them what they want. It’s better to loose materialistic things than to get hurt. These are all things I’d been told throughout my life, and I guess I listened, but didn’t understand. I had never had to guard my things so tightly before. I had never really been in danger. I just didn’t get it… until now… until it was made real. Now I understand.

In January of 2017, almost 3 weeks into my CELTA course I was robbed. I was in Bogotá, specifically Barrio San José Sur. I was walking down a busy street-calle 27, Kr. 10. I stopped at one store along the way and bought an avocado.

It was around 7:15pm. I then turned the corner on Kr. 11 (only 2 or 3 blocks from my house). This street wasn’t so busy and there were way less lights illuminating the streets. It’s funny because a few days before I had been walking home and I heard this car. This car had given me terrors since the day I arrived in Barrio San Jose Sur. I thought maybe it belonged to a local gang because it has these bright purple lights and as it would drive it would play a recording of a little girl screaming. It always gave me chills. I knew it was a local car belonging to someone living in this neighborhood because I could hear the little girl screaming everyday at around 2am, etc. One day when I was walking home I heard it, and I ran like a bolt of lightning into a nearby fruit store (in Colombia there are 4 fruit/vegetable markets on every block). I asked them about the car with the little girl screaming, and they seemed confused. So I described it as the car with the purple lights and they said not to be scared, that it’s just a car and the lights are just a design. Yet still I waited in the store until the coast was clear and I preceded home with caution.

The reason I remember this encounter with the car with the purple lights is because I now commend how careful I was that day. As time went by and I became more comfortable with the neighborhood the fear I had in the beginning was less prevalent. It was easy to let go of the fear when I saw so many people, woman and children on the streets at all hours of the night, even at nine and ten pm.

So back to the original story I was telling about this particular night when I was walking home… I had my huge purse and I was just walking with it like I had no cares in the world. I looked nice. I had my hair down and curly and I wasn’t hiding from anyone. I was just walking home from the bus stop. However when I turned from the busy street onto the smaller street leading to my apartment, I saw a bad omen. It was a very sketchy car. It had absolutely no lights on and was pitch black. Why would a car not have any headlights on on a dark street? It was stopping on the street in front of me. My original instinct would have been to run back to the busy street. That’s what I would have done a week or two ago. However I convinced myself that I was over reacting and proceeded crossing right in front of it. Before I got to the end of the next block I heard a motorcycle a distance behind me.

Okay a motorcycle not so odd, I thought. Should I turn around? No that would be over reacting, I thought to myself. So I didn’t. However as the sound got even closer I turned around to find someone 3 feet away and running closer. The guy on the back of the bike had jumped off to snatch my purse while the guy on the front of the bike-motorcycle-turned the corner to wait for all of this to take place and for his accomplice to jump back on the bike.

Now, I regret not just letting him take my stuff, but in my head, in the bubble I grew up in, he didn’t have a knife, he was just some ‘tonto’ trying to take my purse, and I was athletic, I could grab it back. I didn’t think the person was dangerous. I thought it was just some harmless robber. So I tried to grab it back as he was running to jump back on the the bike. When I reached out for it, he made a swift motion towards my arm. It all happened too fast and I was never quite able to grab ahold of my bag. I didn’t even try to get the license plate, which I now regret. When I saw him hop back on the bike I knew it was hopeless. It had all happened too quickly and they were going so fast. He wouldn’t be caught.

Then I was bombarded with deja vu -an experience from my past. I wasn’t in any pain at this moment, but in this experience from my past, I had been in a car and I was suddenly in danger so I jumped out of the car to escape, but I was holding my side and I didn’t know why. I guess my body was telling me to hold my side, but because of the adrenaline I didn’t know why. Why was my hand wet, I thought. When I looked at my hand it was bloody. At that moment I thought maybe the person in the car had injected me with something, but it turned out later that I had been stabbed.

Now thinking of that experience I immediately thought Oh no. That robber better not have stabbed me. Like I said, I wasn’t even in pain at that moment but rather a lightbulb of caution went off in my head from the experience before. I searched myself, and low and behold, yes, for the second time in my life, I’d been stabbed. This time, in my arm. I was scared because the first time I had gotten stabbed it was by far the most painful experience in my life and I never ever wanted to go through that again. The first time I had lost so much blood and passed out, and been in so much pain, and was terrified, and after surgury was more pain, and after that pain was even more pain. Long story short, this time it wasn’t the pain that scared me the most, it was knowing how much pain I’d been in the first time and thinking I would have to go through that again.

Now looking back on it, it was nothing like the first time. Looking back, the pain and trauma of the first accident which was so bad due to location of the stab wound (in my back) didn’t even compare. 3 weeks later and I’m still healing. In the next post I’ll tell you what the next 15 hours were like for me.

VISA’S ??!

To work in Colombia you need a TP4 Visa.

If you have a TP1 or TP6 visa it is VERY complicated to switch from one of these visas to a TP4 visa.

Because it is so hard, some jobs only sponsor your visa if you have an entry stamp (tourist visa), if you are coming from a TP4 visa, if you do not need a work visa because you are married to a Colombian, or if you do not hold any type of visa.

Just in case you wanted to know.

I don’t have a VISA yet but I want one. That way I can get a bank account, because not having a bank account is pretty much like putting all your money in your shoe, and hoping for the best. And yes, I really do this. In Colombia it is a must, or you will get robbed.

Please Let me in Your Country

Getting to Colombia was definitely one of the hardest things I did. I didn’t know what would happen with my phone service once I crossed boarders, I had a spare phone sitting in a repair shop in the US, and I had a car parked in a bad neighborhood. All these things I knew I’d eventually have to deal with and not having a lot of money really does make your life harder. Because of that, I decided to go with the cheapest flight, which included a layover.

Getting on the plane at LAX in the USA was a breeze. I quickly felt stupid because the hours I’d spent weighing my carry-on–which was supposed to only be 6.6 lbs by the websites standard–was in vain because it turns out, they weigh all your luggage except for your carry-on. Darn it, my mother was right. All those things I wanted to bring but left behind flashed before my eyes. After my experience in the US, I thought every airport would be a breeze but when I arrived in Mexico City, it was hell from then on.

I had 5-7 hours to spare so I took my time. I got some food in the airport. A little later I got a coffee. Then when I had 2 hours left I thought, ‘Now I’m going to walk to my departure gate’. WRONG. I couldn’t find it. I spoke to every airport worker I saw and every single worker sent me to a different place. It was like it was everyone’s first day. How is this possible? At some point, maybe after the 10th person I’d asked, I was sent through some other security place that lead me to a different half of the airport. I didn’t even know there was another half of the airport! Who designed this thing! Anyways, on the freshly discovered new half of the airport I had just as much trouble trying to find my departure gate. At some point, someone told me I had to take a shuttle to another airport and I almost cried.

After a 20 minute shuttle ride I was in another airport.  I had trouble in that airport too, but eventually I got to my departure gate about 25 minutes before the plane was supposed to depart. I quickly went in the line to board and when I got to the front, the lady coldly said, “No, we didn’t call you. It’s not your turn. Sid down.” She was very smug, and I think she rather enjoyed putting me in my place. When the next group was called up, I got up again. When I got to the front, the lady said “We’re letting the C-D’s up right now,” she grabbed my ticket out of my hand, gave it a look, then handed it back to me and said, “your not a C or a D. Sit down please.” She rolled her eyes at her co-workers and when I sat down they all had their laughs. ‘How rude,’ I thought. I searched my ticket to try and find out what letter I was. I read every word on the ticket but I couldn’t find it. Perhaps it was an invisible letter that only rude airport workers could read. I was no Rosa Parks, I just made the decision to sit down and wait until every last person had boarded so I would be the very last in line.

When I gave the airport attendants my ticket and proceeded to board, someone held their hand out in front of me and said, “Wait”.  I thought to myself, ‘Oh lord, what now’. They asked me why I was going to Colombia. I told them I was going to go to school to learn to teach English. They asked me who I was staying with. I said a lady I found on AirBnB…and yes that was really fun to try and translate with my sub-par Spanish skills. They asked me for her address and phone number. And of course, with the luck I was having, my phone was no longer working at this point and thus I had no proof of anything. After 3 minutes of interrogation I started to worry and I asked, “Is there a problem, am I going to be able to get on the plane? I paid a lot of money for this course and I don’t want to miss my flight!” They could probably see the panic on my face and they said, “Usually people have a ticket back home, not a one way flight.” It was like there was a jury and I was on trial.

Finally, one of the workers let me through and I walked on livid (after holding up the whole plane). I sat down and I didn’t want to talk to anyone; I’d just been through hell. Then I heard on the intercom that the plane was going to be held up for some reason. I got really nervous thinking that someone would come to my seat and escort me off, but it wasn’t me after all. Two hours later the plane took off and later on the next day, I was in Colombia.

I was happy to be here. I was happy to be in a place that looked different then where I was from even though getting their wasn’t easy.