When we first announced that we were moving abroad, friends, family members and even people who didn't particularly fit into either category told us they 'would definitely be coming to visit us.' In the beginning, this excited us. The idea of welcoming people you care about into your new foreign home is exhilarating. We'd picture where we'd take them and what we'd do together and longed to show them our life abroad in person instead of through distant skype calls, emails and blogging. Then we waited - we waited for the trip planning that never came.
Many of the declarations to visit were empty promises but even those that were serious about it would often come to say, "I looked at flights. Do you know how expensive it is to fly there?" and from that we'd know; it wasn't happening. Of course, not everyone makes travel a priority in their life like we do and not everyone can afford a trip overseas but we had so hoped to welcome someone... anyone really.
Gabon was a very difficult sell to a lot of people. The flights were a few thousand dollars, there were high risk vaccines involved and the visa process was long, expensive and arduous. On top of this, it's just not a destination that is set up to welcome tourists. I was really disappointed - while the process would be difficult, our life there was so very different from anything most people experience and I thought it would be fascinating for others to see and us to watch it unfold. But, we understood. Twenty four months later and we didn't welcome a single person.
When we announced that we were moving to Norway, the 'we're definitely going to visit' started flooding in again but we knew better this time. When the 'did you know that it costs like a thousand dollars to fly there?' started popping up, we'd smile and nod. (Although this one still amazes me - what do people think it's going to cost to fly across the world?) Obviously, Norway was going to be an easier destination to commit to visit but it's still a commitment and an expense.
Then, something started happening.
To our utter disbelief, people started booking flights. I'm not sure if it's the pictures I posted of my terrace overlooking the fjord, or perhaps it was our scenic Sunday drives or maybe Joe and I raving about how gorgeous this country is at every chance we could but people started booking flights!
First, back in September while we were still living in our temporary apartment, Joe's friend Kellen popped over for a few days while he was touring around Europe. We hardly knew Stavanger at that point but we welcomed him into our home, made him climb a mountain and bring us duty free beer yet he seemed to enjoyed it.
Next, my good friend Jeanie (whom you've met here, here and here on this blog) booked her Easter break in Norway and I'm so, so excited about the week and a half that we'll get to spend together. The last we saw each other was in Singapore where she was teaching but she has since relocated back to Canada. I've been composing a list of potential things to do and sights to see and I can't wait to catch up in person!
Just last week, my parents booked their flights for a 2 week Norwegian getaway this summer and it means so much to us! It'll be their first time outside of North America (they've visited the US and Mexico several times) and they'll get to see Stavanger at it's best - full of cruise ships and tourists and long days.
And finally, another one of my closest friends is seriously considering a trip over this fall. (No pressure but I'm sure once she sees the amazing time every one else had, she'll be on her way!)
By the end our our first year in Norway, we'll have welcomed guests 3 separate times - that is 300% more than we welcomed in our 2 years in Gabon. There's something incredibly validating about showing those you care about your life and your home and we so appreciate the efforts and investments people are making - we promise, it'll be worth it!