By Laura Guido / Whidbey News Group
OAK HARBOR — Erica Saar and Andy Baldridge met in Spanish class while attending Oak Harbor High School in the late 1990s. They never guessed that, years later, they’d be reaching back to those nearly forgotten lessons as they tried to get by in Argentina.
Many people dream of dropping everything and moving away for a year. The Baldridges, along with their six children, actually did.
Next week, their journey will be broadcast on HGTV’s “House Hunters International.”
“We did it all for the experience, mostly for our kids,” Erica Saar-Baldridge said.
The pair has traveled to 50 countries, usually for vacation, but they always felt they were missing some of the experience. In December 2017, the family arrived in Bariloche, Argentina, in the Patagonia region.
With the children being 11 and under, Saar-Baldridge and her husband agreed that it was best to introduce them to new, worldly experiences while they were still young.
“It’s been my No. 1 goal to raise my kids to be global citizens,” she said.
Three-year-old twins Calista and Colette may not fully remember the trip, so Saar-Baldridge hopes the episode will serve as a time capsule — something to look back on.
Saar-Baldridge said she knew a friend who’d filmed with “House Hunters” and had a great experience. She decided to reach out to the show and pitch the couple’s plan.
Their episode is set to air 10:30 p.m. Tuesday.
Saar-Baldridge and Baldridge were both raised in Oak Harbor and met at the high school. They dated, but it was “nothing serious,” Saar-Baldridge said. They parted ways after graduation, as many couples do. She went to Eastern Washington University and he went to University of Washington.
After college, Baldridge sent a friend request to his high school sweetheart.
“It just went from there,” Saar-Baldridge said.
They lived together in Bellingham before taking off for Argentina. She worked as the human resources director for Kulshan Brewing Co. in Seattle, a job she could do remotely. He was a data scientist at Boeing.
The language barrier was the biggest hurdle for the family. All six children entered primary school and had lessons held exclusively in Spanish, despite not knowing any before arriving.
During the last six months, the older daughter was speaking only in Spanish with her friends.
“Our kids did better than we would’ve expected,” Saar-Baldridge said. “It somehow was never really a problem.”
The family spent six days filming, between 12 and 15 hours at a time, which was hard on the kids.
“It was stressful and a little chaotic and overwhelming,” Saar-Baldridge said, “but also really, really fun and exciting.”
After the year was up, the family moved back to Washington. It was difficult to leave, Saar-Baldridge said.
Now, they eagerly await the airing of their “House Hunters International” episode.
They’re a little nervous. Saar-Baldridge said they haven’t seen the final product yet.
The Whidbey News Group is a sibling organization of The Daily Herald.