Cool San Cristobal de las Casas – Part One

As we sat in stunned amazement, watching the spectacle unfold all around us, we couldn’t help but realize just how lucky we were to have witnessed this. 

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Over the course of 9 months in 2017, my partner and I sold all of our possessions, including 2 vehicles, and a house full of stuff. In order to sell the house for its maximum value, we also completed 3 months of renovations that had been lingering for over 3 years. We wrapped up 2 businesses and left a town and tight knit community that we both cherished. We did all of this in order to seek out a life of freedom, away from the hustle and bustle of the 9-5 life, but most importantly, we did it so that we could travel. This is our story…….


As our collectivo (small shuttle bus running locals from town to town) wound its way from Palenque to San Cristobal, we noticed that the flora and fauna all around us began to change.  And then, just like that, we were up in the mountain tops, not a palm tree in sight!  It was if we crossed an invisible line, dividing the jungle from the mountains, I guess, in essence, that is just what we did.  We were now amongst the pine trees and the higher altitude scrub brush.  The lush tropical jungles that we had grown so accustomed to over the last year, disappeared behind and below us.

We arrived in San Cristobal de las Casas, the first time, at around 6:00pm.  Immediately out of the bus, we could feel the cool crisp air, and I have to say, it was a bit of a relief.  We were excited to not only breathe the fresh mountain air, but we looked forward to spending some days without the familiar sticky humid feeling on our skin that we had grown so accustomed to.

We had heard many a good thing spoken about San Cristobal, namely the amount of art and creativity that the city exuded, so we were eager to check it out.  We had been warned that it was cooler, so we prepared ourselves for that, and were excited to finally use our wool sweaters and other warm weather gear that we had been lugging around with us through the tropics for the last 12 months.

We had left Guatemala only 2 days earlier, leaving behind our beloved Flores, the place we called home for 3.5 months.  We were on a mission to get to Oaxaca, the capital of the Mexican state of the same name.  There we would be celebrating Dia de Los Muertos (Day of the Dead), one of Mexico’s premier festivals.  San Cristobal was on the road to Oaxaca, and we would visit it on the way, and again on our return heading back to Guatemala.

Since we knew that there was much to see here, we decided to spend about 5 days exploring the funky mountain town.  The temperature was cool at night, I would venture around 15-17 degrees celsius (59-63 F) (although there would be frost on the grass first thing in the morning, so it must have gotten colder), but was brilliantly sunny during the day with temps at a reasonable 22-25 C (72-77 F).

We enjoyed ourselves as we walked around this magnificent town.  Although, sitting at  2200m (7200ft) above sea level, we found ourselves very tired for most of the time, and also did a lot of sleeping and relaxing as well while we adjusted to the altitude.  The town sits in a sort of valley that is perched between several small peaks that flank its edges.  Normally, atop most of these surrounding peaks, sits a church or other significant building.  Many of them have stairs that go up to them, so we found ourselves huffing and puffing up these stairs, in order to gain a good view, and a better perspective of the city below us.

The streets consist of ancient cobblestone sidewalks that are worn smooth with wear over the centuries that it has been occupied.  The main downtown area, a pedestrian section only, bisects the center of the city and is rife with artisans and street pedlars from all over the world.  From the get go, we could see that San Cristobal was not JUST another Mexican City, it was in fact very multinational.  Because of this, for the first time in many months, we had access to Sushi, Noodle Bowls, Indian Food and more!  In fact, our very first foray into the city brought us straight to a little corner restaurant that served Poutine!  (If you don’t know what Poutine is, it is one of Canada’s national dishes along side Maple Syrup, Back Bacon and Ceasars.  Check it out here.) Of course (!) we just HAD to have some poutine! It warmed our hearts and our bellies, and literally, our bodies, the first night we arrived.

After a couple days we found ourselves climbing some random stairs up a random hill and stumbled upon a funky bohemian bar.  Immediately upon entry, we knew that we had found ‘our place.’  The building functions as an artist coop and we made quick friends with the people running it, plus met the current artist in residence, Jackie.  Jackie is a hand poke tattoo artist, which of course, intrigued us.  She is from LA, but would be living at the coop for 2 months while she promoted her art and secured some business.  She has been travelling and working in many parts of the world, so we had lots in common and tons of stories to share.  We hit it off with her right away.  Most of the rest of our evenings were spent in this spot hanging out, and enjoying what must have been, one of the best roof top terraces with a stunning view over the city, that there was.

On our last full day in San Cristobal, we decided that rather than just hanging out in the city, we had better see something of the surrounding area.  Together with Jackie, we decided to head to Mamut Caves, a cave system that was located just outside the city, a 15 minute cab ride for about $1 per person.  We asked the guys at the artist coop where we should go.  I had heard about Rancho Nuevo, but Meow (local born and raised) said that the Mamut Caves were just as spectacular, and not as busy.  Perfect!

We headed off at around 12:00 and wound our way through the city streets and out into the wilderness.  We arrived to an open field and a young man, clearly not happy with his day (or life) to pay our entry fee of about 50 cents.  I asked him if this was his family’s property, and he begrudgingly nodded.  After walking another 20 feet though, we were approached by another young man, this one asking for 50 cents more.  He gave us a ticket and we reasoned that the first guy was charging us for driving onto his property to get to the caves, and the second guy actually owned the property with the cave on it?  Who knows!  Either way, for the price of $1.00, we weren’t going to put up a stink.

We entered the cave and were pleased to find out that we were, in fact, the only people that were visiting it at this time.  Thank you Meow! We explored the well worn trails that had lights on them, plus went a little further with our headlamps into the far reaching corridors, until it got to the point where we would have had to crawl on our bellies to get any further.  At the beginning of the cave, and the largest ‘room’, we had noted a vent in the ceiling and we could see greenery and light coming down the shaft.

 

After exploring the rest of the far reaches, we found ourselves back at the beginning and kind of feeling like “now what”.  We had explored every nook we could, and it had only taken about half an hour.  We didn’t want this party to end so soon.

As I went over and inspected the vent, I noticed all sorts of greenery, lichens and mosses, growing on the sides of the shaft.  I commented that it would be really cool to be there when the sun shone down, which I was certain that it must do at some point during each day.  Not 5 minutes later, after we had started looking at other parts of the room again, Chris pointed and said, “Look!”

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Looking up the shaft. 

There it was, a single sun beam shining down the shaft.  We were immediately drawn to it.  The cave was quite cool, and we relished in the warm beam that came down and caressed our faces as we stood under it.  Little did we know that the show was just about to get started.

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Playing with the sun beam. 

 

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Favourite pic of the day! 

Immediately, Jackie noticed a green mound at the base of where the light hit.  It was iridescent green like pond algae, and it looked just as slimy.  But when we all touched it, it was hardened rock.   It was a feast for the senses as we took turns touching it.  Water would drip on it from above every few seconds, and somehow, probably because of the tiny bit of sun that hit it, it was retaining some chlorophyl or other green element, that the rest of the cave didn’t have access to.  We were mesmerized by this phenomenon, and we spent much time looking at it, and playing in the sun beams.  We affectionately named the green blob…….well ‘Blob.’  How appropriate.

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This is Blob.  It is solid rock, no slime at all! 

 

 

In no time at all, we started to notice that the cave was illuminating all around us.  Previously missed features that were hidden in dark corners, were now receiving light beams that were refracted from the tiny crystal structures that graced the entire cave.  Light bounced into every recessed corner and we started to see just how intricate and incredible this cave was.  As the sun moved, and the light beam adjusted with it, the light  would bounce around to different spots and we sat for about an hour and watched one of the most spectacular shows that mother nature could ever produce.

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This formation didn’t have near as much detail as this before the sun came through the vent. 

As we sat in stunned amazement, watching the spectacle unfold all around us, we couldn’t help but realize just how lucky we were to have witnessed this.  Our timing could not have been more perfect, and we were all so grateful.  As the sun beam crept up the wall, starting to leave the cave, we heard voices coming in.  Those voices were followed by other voices, and it became apparent that we were no longer the only ones in the cave.  Although we were sad to not have it all to ourselves anymore, we also couldn’t help but feel sorry for the new arrivals, as they had literally just missed the most awesome event of the day, by mere minutes.

 

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People arrived just as the sun was starting to sneak back up the wall of the cave. 

We thanked ‘Blob’ for the show, and continued outside back into the stunningly sunny and beautiful day.  A little trail wound up the hill above the cave entrance, so we headed up to hang out on some sort of old zipline platform, to decompress from what we had just experienced.  While up there, some butterflies flew by us and all around us, and as they flew away, Chris declared that he wanted a butterfly tattoo on his hand, to remember this experience.  With Jackie being just the girl to do it, our plan was set, we would return to San Cristobal again on our way back to Guatemala after visiting Oaxaca, so that he could get his tattoo.

We hailed a taxi from the side of the road as the sun was setting, and headed back down to San Cristobal, but not before we took a selfie and watched the awesomeness of the San Cristobal valley below.

To be continued………


Thanks for reading! Please know that above all else, I aim to inspire others to just get out and see the world. Traveling is such an enriching experience, and I can’t even comprehend how much it has shaped me as an individual. If you have ANY questions, or need travel advice of ANY kind, PLEASE don’t hesitate to email me at the address below! I will do my very best to help you in any way I can!

Xoxoxo Happy Travels!


Current Location: Livingston, Guatemala

Travelling Plans: We are housesitting here until the beginning of January 2019.

To head back to the beginning of our journey, and the moment we decided to sell all of our possessions to travel the world, click here.

To see many travelling photos and to learn about where we are travelling, please follow our Facebook and Instagram accounts by clicking on the appropriate icon in the right hand column.

To learn about where I have previously traveled, visit my Countries Page.

To see all of my blog post headings on one page, (including all of the ones about letting our stuff go) head over to my Blog Post Menu.

To contribute to our Patreon account, please click here.

To learn about housesitting, please click here.

To email me directly, please do so anytime at jillamatt@me.com.

If you like my writing, and want to follow along on our journey, please put your email address in the right hand column to subscribe. That way all of my posts will go straight to your email inbox:)

Overwhelmed? Stressed? Anxiety Ridden? How Many of us Feel This Way?

Buying stuff WILL NOT make us happier.  Having the latest and greatest gadgets WILL NOT make us happier.  Working our asses off and saving up for ‘retirement’ WILL NOT make us happier!  So don’t let it happen!


Over the course of 9 months in 2017, my partner and I sold all of our possessions, including 2 vehicles, and a house full of stuff. In order to sell the house for its maximum value, we also completed 3 months of renovations that had been lingering for over 3 years. We wrapped up 2 businesses and left a town and tight knit community that we both cherished. We did all of this in order to seek out a life of freedom, away from the hustle and bustle of the 9-5 life, but most importantly, we did it so that we could travel. This is our story…….


In recent weeks, my email inbox has started to receive a few kind messages from different people letting me know that our story is inspiring them in some way.  Whether they are living vicariously through our travels, or they are struggling with getting rid of an overload of ‘things’ in their lives, they are reaching out.

The other day I received the following message from Arnold.  With permission from Arnold, I am able to post his letter here (copied and pasted as written) with the hopes that others will learn from, or be inspired by his story.  He writes:


Hello, I enjoyed reading your story very much.  I am currently at a crossroads myself. I am sixty years old and living in the house I inherited from my parents. This is my fifth house but the only one with only a fifty thousand dollar mortgage left. My dad passed five years ago and I moved from Vegas to Connecticut to be a caretaker for my handicapped mother. She passed a year ago. Because caring for my mom was a full time job I have not worked in five years. I do play in a very popular band which plays about 120 gigs a year but don’t earn much money. In fact I am in debt up to my neck. Getting shut off notices from everyone. I have even been driving without car insurance for two weeks. This alone keeps me awake at night. The house like yours needs a great deal of work but I don’t have the resources to make these repairs. It is currently up for sale as is. Some interest but not a lot. If I do sell I might walk away with $100,000.00. Not much but I need to find a way to unplug from getting a bill from someone every time I turn around. And like you I am governed by my stuff. I have three cars. WTF. I am coming around slowly to getting rid of stuff. Hard for me but I know in my heart and more importantly in my head that it is the right thing to do. One thing that I liked about your story is you live in Costa rica. I have heard many great things about this region and would like to learn more. I have no problem living outside the US because everything, EVERYTHING is so expensive. I know I am not framing my thoughts very clearly but just wanted to say hello and hope that your story inspires me. I want to live life and be happy. I don’t want to be burdened with to much responsibility. Been there done that. Raised four kids and had a business that made millions. All gone. lol I just want simple. I want to unplug and detach from the norm or what’s expected of me. In a way I blame my parents generation. They instilled in us that success was measured by how big your house was, how pretty your wife is, and how smart your kids are. Bullshit. All this mentality does is chain you to seeing these things come to fruition. Work the same job for decades to keep it going. Well I’m going to try to find Minimalism now and watch it. Thank you for lisening. Arnold.


My question is this:  How many of us feel this way?  How many of us are overwhelmed and desperately just want to unplug from it all?

There are a few key points to discuss in Arnolds message, and I will attempt to break them down below.

  1. “I’m in debt up to my neck.”
    • This is a sentiment that rings familiar with so many people across the Western World.  Societies push to have the ‘latest and greatest’ gadgets has created an overbearing consumer society.  People simply do not have the money to purchase items, but they use their credit cards to do so instead with the hope to pay it off someday.  Arnold is certainly not alone in this!  In fact, here is a link to the average debt that American Households have, and being a Canadian, I can guarantee that these stats are just as applicable there as well.

      Here’s the Typical American’s Debt Load

  2. “I do play in a popular band……..”
    • I have to say…….KUDDOS to Arnold for continuing to do what he loves, despite the overwhelming pressure (likely) to get a job to pay off his debt.  If Arnold didn’t do what he loved, he would likely be much further along down the Rabbit Hole of depression.  Stress and Anxiety have reached EPIC proportions in the US and beyond.  It is CRUCIAL to unplug from your worries of life, by being creative in some way.
  3. “if I do sell, I might walk away with $100 000. Not much………”
    • $100 000 in Canada and the US, definitely is NOT MUCH money.  But, after living in Central America for over a year now, I can certainly attest that it is PLENTY for down here.  Chris and I housesit as much as we can, or find locals houses to rent in other places where we aren’t housesitting.  In Flores, Guatemala, we rented a 2 bedroom, 2 bathroom house with a beautiful deck overlooking a lake for $225/month.  When we shopped at the market, we would spend about $15-$20 for a week of produce.  Eating out was also inexpensive.  Even in the nicest restaurants in Flores, our meal cost would top out at $30, for both of us, including a couple drinks each, but we also frequently visited the street food stalls that usually charge no more than $4 for a very fulfilling meal.
    • I haven’t kept perfect accurate records of our expenses, but I estimate that the last year of living has cost us about $15 000.  Bear in mind that this does include some travelling and staying in Air BnB’s, plus a flight from Costa Rica to Guatemala.  This is everything combined.  In Arnolds case, if he stayed in one place, and lived like the locals, he could likely get by on $7000-$10 000 per year.  Suddenly, with no bills to pay, and all of his debts paid off, Arnold’s $100 000 will go a seriously long way!
  4. “I am governed by my stuff……”
    • This is an all too familiar sentiment for so many people.  I myself was completely governed by my stuff.  And worse, I didn’t even realize it.  Watching the Minimalism documentary, opened my eyes up to the fact that my stuff was controlling my life.  I had spent years building up mountains of stuff all around me, yes I too wanted ‘the latest and greatest’ gadgets.  My life ran off of credit, house payments, loan payments, car payments……the list goes on and on.
    • After living for over a year with only what I can carry around with me, I can tell you with 100% authority that WE DO NOT NEED ALL THAT STUFF!  Sure you might need a few things here and there to make your life comfortable.  But in Arnolds case, he has 3 cars!  What does one person need 3 cars for?!  When we sold our cars back in Canada, we vowed never to own a money pit like that again!  It is one of the largest expenses that we have in the North!  Insurance, gas, car payments, maintenance…….it all adds up to being so much money!  Then when you go to sell it, it is worth basically nothing.
    • In the last year we have ridden on buses, tuk tuks, taxis and any other means of public transport.  When we can, we walk!  We haven’t walked as much in the last year as we have for most of our lives, I’m sure.  When walking isn’t an option, riding public transport is always affordable.  The people down here rely on these services because many of them certainly can’t afford a vehicle.  They are well used, and cheap!  There is no need for vehicles in any place that we have lived so far.  Sure, having a car would have made our lives a little easier in some spots, but we didn’t NEED one.  That is the difference.  Up north we buy things (whether we can afford them or not) because we WANT them, not because we NEED them.  It’s important to create this distinction for yourself and figure out what it is that you only NEED.  Get rid of the rest! Click here for my blog post about How to sell all of your things to travel full time. Even if travelling isn’t your end game, it will give you insights into how to tackle selling at least some of your possessions.
  5. “Had a business that made Millions. All gone. I just want simple.”
    • It is with sadness that I hear this.  Arnold obviously had a productive life back in his younger years.  Made lots of money, bought lots of stuff.  But where has that gotten him?  Here he is at the end of it all, saddled with debt, an overwhelming amount of stuff, and trying to figure out how to get himself out of it all. How many people have worked so hard their whole lives, just to get to this same place?
    • Well, I’m here to tell you that NO MATTER HOW OLD YOU ARE, it is NOT TOO LATE!  At 60 years old, Arnold hopefully has much time ahead of him.  But you know what?  None of us know just how much time that we have.  It is so important to take the steps to make you happy NOW!  Life is short, and we really need to make it count!  I can not STRESS this point enough!
    • After realizing that I had too much stuff, and also realizing that I constantly was trying to figure out ways that I could do more travelling, I FINALLY came to the conclusion that my stuff was getting in the way of it all.  If I wasn’t burdened with all the stuff, all the bills, all the RESPONSIBILITY, I could unplug from it all, and head out into the world to travel freely.  This realization was the single most important lightening bolt moment that I have ever had.  But the thing is, I acted on it!  I didn’t just sit there and feel sorry for myself.  I got busy!  I started selling things!  In a small amount of time, things snowballed and we kept at it.  And in 9 short months, we were heading off on a totally different adventure in life.
  6. “In a way I blame my parents generation.”
    • Yes, I can understand this sentiment.  Society has structured our lives in such a way that in order to succeed at life, we need to go to college, get a job, find a husband or wife, have kids, work our butts off, then retire.  I agree with Arnold, it is all BULLSHIT.  But you know what?  We can change the dialogue any time that we choose to.  WE can decide that we don’t want to live that way, and that alone is where our power is.
    • Having lived in Central America for the last 13 months, has taught me that there is much more to life than all of this.  Granted, nobody here can figure out why we don’t want kids…..but that’s a totally different story.  But no, here they know how to enjoy life.  If they need to work, they go out and find work.  If a restaurant owner is tired from partying the night before, they simply don’t open the next day.  If a group of men are sitting around on a porch on a Wednesday afternoon drinking, nobody questions it.  Nobody gets mad at the restaurant owner, they just go somewhere else.  Nobody wonders why the men aren’t working, it’s none of their business.
    • There is no pressure to be as busy as you can be.  There is no pressure to work yourself into exhaustion.  There is no pressure to ‘get a real job’.  People in this culture ENJOY their lives.  They live for the day, they live for the moment.  They don’t worry about some far off distant place called ‘retirement’.  If they feel like going fishing for a day to feed their family, instead of working to buy groceries, then they will do that instead.  The community spirit is strong, and neighbours support neighbours.  They work together to help each other if they need it, and everybody has SOMETHING to share with others, despite seeming like they have nothing at all.  It is a beautiful thing!

I know that Arnolds story is not unique.  I know that MILLIONS of people are feeling just like he is, in many parts of the world.  Trying to fit into societies standards has been a great undoing of the western worlds culture.  Until we realize that, individually, we need to live life to the fullest, be our happiest, and do what we love, the world will continue to dump its expectations on us, and we will continue to be over worked, over tired, and over run with anxiety and depression.

Buying stuff WILL NOT make us happier.  Having the latest and greatest gadgets WILL NOT make us happier.  Working our asses off and saving up for ‘retirement’ WILL NOT make us happier!  So don’t let it happen!

It is time that we all, individually, started living life to be happy.  Find something that fills your soul and try not to worry about the money.  If you put your best out into the world, you will be rewarded in some way.  Things will fall into place all around you, and you will be surprised by what life has to offer.  Be a role model for your friends!  Show them how life can really be lived!  Show them how they too can be happy and stress free!

Thank you Arnold, for writing me to let me know where you are at in your process.  And for all of you others out there, that are feeling the same way as Arnold, please don’t hesitate to share YOUR story with me.  I really do care about helping you to become a better version of yourself!  You can do it!  I know you can, and I am cheering you on 100%!


Thanks for reading! Please know that above all else, I aim to inspire others to just get out and see the world. Traveling is such an enriching experience, and I can’t even comprehend how much it has shaped me as an individual. If you have ANY questions, or need travel advice of ANY kind, PLEASE don’t hesitate to email me at the address below! I will do my very best to help you in any way I can!

Xoxoxo Happy Travels!


Current Location: Livingston, Guatemala

Travelling Plans: We are housesitting here until the beginning of January 2019.

To head back to the beginning of our journey, and the moment we decided to sell all of our possessions to travel the world, click here.

To see many travelling photos and to learn about where we are travelling, please follow our Facebook and Instagram accounts by clicking on the appropriate icon in the right hand column.

To learn about where I have previously traveled, visit my Countries Page.

To see all of my blog post headings on one page, (including all of the ones about letting our stuff go) head over to my Blog Post Menu.

To contribute to our Patreon account, please click here.

To learn about housesitting, please click here.

To email me directly, please do so anytime at jillamatt@me.com.

If you like my writing, and want to follow along on our journey, please put your email address in the right hand column to subscribe. That way all of my posts will go straight to your email inbox:)

The Feeling of Home

It makes me realize that home is what you make it.


Over the course of 9 months in 2017, my partner and I sold all of our possessions, including 2 vehicles, and a house full of stuff. In order to sell the house for its maximum value, we also completed 3 months of renovations that had been lingering for over 3 years. We wrapped up 2 businesses and left a town and tight knit community that we both cherished. We did all of this in order to seek out a life of freedom, away from the hustle and bustle of the 9-5 life, but most importantly, we did it so that we could travel. This is our story…….


After leaving Oaxaca, heading back to San Cristobal for 3 days, then returning to Flores, we feel like we have come home.  Chris even said at some point when we were in San Cristobal “We can do that when we get home.”  I laughed and he didn’t even realize what he had said.

But it’s true.  After spending the better part of 4 months here now, and making so many wonderful friends, we do feel like Flores is home, more so than any other place that we have been in the last year.

It makes me realize that home is what you make it.  Most of us focus so hard on creating that one space to call home.  We put all of our money and our efforts into creating that space, making it a representation of ourselves.  But what if we can create home wherever we go?

Although we did rent a ‘home’ here for 3 months, we are now staying in the Bar/Restaurant where we painted the murals.  They have 3 rooms here, and Chris has traded some tattoo work for the owner, in return for our accommodations (plus some cash on top!).  And even though we haven’t decorated it and bought lots of ‘stuff’ to fill the room, it is home, even if only temporarily.

Tomorrow we head off to a small town called El Remate.  Those that follow us will remember that we stayed there back in July before we headed up to the Tikal Ruins.  (Read that post here.) We are going back to meet with a man who owns a large retreat space on Lake Peten Itza.  We are scheming to organize an art retreat there. (Stay tuned for details!!)

After that we are headed to Rio Dulce for a couple nights to visit some friends of ours that are staying there.  Then, we will be travelling by riverboat to the water access only and Garifuna town of Livingston.  We will be housesitting in Livingston for 6 weeks.

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While we are sad to leave our ‘home’ of Flores once again, we are excited at the prospect of being settled again for a few weeks.  We always find that we are more creative, and more productive in our online business’ when we are static in one place for a few weeks.  And so, we look forward to seeing and discovering our new ‘home’ in the coming weeks.

As today is American Thanksgiving, I find it appropriate to express, once again, how thankful we are for this life that we have created.  Never a dull day goes by, and we are constantly inspired and excited by this life.


Thanks for reading! Please know that above all else, I aim to inspire others to just get out and see the world. Traveling is such an enriching experience, and I can’t even comprehend how much it has shaped me as an individual. If you have ANY questions, or need travel advice of ANY kind, PLEASE don’t hesitate to email me at the address below! I will do my very best to help you in any way I can!

Xoxoxo Happy Travels!


Current Location: Flores, Guatemala

Travelling Plans: Tomorrow we head to El Remate, then we are off to Rio Dulce and Livingston, Guatemala.

To head back to the beginning of our journey, and the moment we decided to sell all of our possessions to travel the world, click here.

To see many travelling photos and to learn about where we are travelling, please follow our Facebook and Instagram accounts by clicking on the appropriate icon in the right hand column.

To learn about where I have previously traveled, visit my Countries Page.

To see all of my blog post headings on one page, (including all of the ones about letting our stuff go) head over to my Blog Post Menu.

To contribute to our Patreon account, please click here.

To learn about housesitting, please click here.

To email me directly, please do so anytime at jillamatt@me.com.

If you like my writing, and want to follow along on our journey, please put your email address in the right hand column to subscribe. That way all of my posts will go straight to your email inbox:)

 

 

 

Homesickness is a Bitch!

This post started out as a way to sort out my feelings of being homesick, but it turned out to be a bit of a tribute to an awesome friend gone way too soon!

This post started out as a way to sort out my feelings of being homesick, but it turned out to be a bit of a tribute to an awesome friend gone way too soon!  Float on my friend, float on. 


I’ve never been one to get homesick. I’ve always felt like my home, in this case my hometown, is there when I need it, and I can always return anytime I choose.

However, this last couple days has dropped an intense feeling of homesickness on me that I never could have imagined. You see, a good friend that I grew up with passed away yesterday. He was only 40 years old. He died of pancreatic cancer. He only found out he had it a couple months ago. Not long enough for me to fully wrap my head around what was going on apparently. I figured there would be more time.

I would see him the next time I came home, I reasoned. He was a fighter, he had this, no problem.  But, as I am learning, when it comes to Cancer, there are no sure things or guaranteed outcomes.

The last time I saw him was two winters ago at the top of The Goats Eye chair at Sunshine Village, a ski hill near where I grew up. I was there with my boyfriend, and he was there with friends. We separated ways after a quick hug at the top, promising to meet up for a drink later in the day. Unfortunately, as more of our family members arrived later on, we never did get a chance to connect again. If someone would have told me that day that I would never see him again, I would never have believed them.

He was a huge personality in my small town. Although he likely never realized it, he made a very big impression on people. He had a smile that could light up a room and a laugh that made you laugh harder just hearing it. Being with Jay made a person feel incredibly at ease, like somehow you were just safer in his presence.

His passing is hard on the community. He was a wonderful human being that was always more concerned with others than he ever was about himself. Not having his grounding presence around, will take a lot of adjusting to those that spent the most time with him.

Knowing that his family and many of my childhood friends had gathered to be with him for his last moments has been incredibly hard.  I want to be there. I want to hug every last one of them. I wanted to say goodbye. I want to cry and laugh with the people that knew him, the ones that understand just what an amazing person that he was. I want to be a shoulder to cry on, and I want others’ shoulders to cry upon myself.

I suppose that this is the cross we bear with this sort of chosen lifestyle. It’s obvious that we can’t be there for everything. For all things we gain from this experience, we also miss out on so much. Most times it’s okay, we have made this choice and we live with it, but other times it’s incredibly heavy.

Times like this make me feel like I am missing out on everything. Times like this make me feel so small and insignificant. Are my messages getting through?  Do people understand how much I want to be there?  I hope they understand just how hard this is, even from so far away. I hope they know how much I loved him, and also how much I love them.

Jay was a good one. Actually, Jay was one of the BEST ones.  Jay made others feel like they belonged. He had a way of comforting everyone around him, without even trying. It isn’t fair that he was taken so young. It isn’t fair that his close friends and family have to go on without him. It isn’t fair that I didn’t get to say goodbye and that I’ll never get one of his amazing hugs when I go back home to visit.

Sometimes life just isn’t fair.

But I do have to say that with his passing, I have been reminded once again just how short and fragile this life can be.

Jay’s life was turned upside down in an instant. All of his goals and dreams, ripped out from under him in one foul swoop. How many of us have things that we are living for someday?  How many of us keep putting off the things we want to do, replacing them with things that we think we should do?

Jay’s passing has strengthened my resolve that we MUST live the life we want NOW. We simply can not put things off for ‘one day’.

I know that Jay lived a great life, and I hope he left us with no regrets. He rarely missed an opportunity to head out into the snow with his snowboard in the winter. The mountains were his solitude, that much was clear. For the rest of the year he crisscrossed across North America chasing his favourite bands and making friends across the continent. His music friends are hurting as well. One glance at his Facebook wall tells us the story of the man he was, numerous people praising his gentle attitude, kind nature and true friendship. And of course, so many comments about his smile!

Oh that smile!

I miss you so much already Jay!

Thank you for your friendship. Thank you for demonstrating to us all a truly selfless nature. Thank you for showing us all how to be kind, gentle and unassuming.

Your legacy will live on in all of us as we move forward without you.

Safe travels my friend, I hope my soul has the extreme privilege to connect with yours on the other side.

To all of you that have rallied around him these last couple months, and who stood by his side for his last few breaths, I send you as much love as I can muster. It’s all I have at this point, but I promise to dish out hugs when I get home next.

And now I know, homesickness is a bitch. But I also know that these feelings too shall pass.

I will continue on my path to do all that I can do, and to see all that I can see in this world. It is who I am and it is who I am meant to be. I want to live my best possible life, I want to spread kindness and happiness around the world. I will take the lessons that Jay taught me, and try to show others what true kindness and real friendship is.

And I will always remember watching him float away from me across the snow on his snowboard, for the last time, as he will likely now do for eternity.

Getting Back on Track with My Blog – November 6th, 2018


Over the course of 9 months in 2017, my partner and I sold all of our possessions, including 2 vehicles, and a house full of stuff. In order to sell the house for its maximum value, we also completed 3 months of renovations that had been lingering for over 3 years. We wrapped up 2 businesses and left a town and tight knit community that we both cherished. We did all of this in order to seek out a life of freedom, away from the hustle and bustle of the 9-5 life, but most importantly, we did it so that we could travel. This is our story…….


In what might become a historical day in US politics (or in what might become just another long ssssssiiiiiggggghhhhh in US politics!!!!), I have decided to finally sit down and write a long overdue blog post.

I realize that I haven’t really written anything super meaningful in a while.  The last couple posts were more about milestones that we have accomplished, but I have lost touch with the day to day writing that I used to enjoy.  The writing that tells my readers about what we are up to, and about how our lives are moving forward on this big ol’ planet.

I have a ton of blog post ideas in my head that I have wanted to write, but somehow, I can’t seem to get any of them out.  I have been starting to ask myself “Is this what writers block is like?”

But no, most of those posts, I now realize were more formal posts that were meant to educate travellers, they were meant to ‘get ratings’, they were meant to increase traffic to my blog.  But you know what?  I really don’t care about all of that.  What I really care about is letting people know what we are up to.  I care about informing the world about what it is like to live in these countries, about how we carry on our day to day lives, and about how we are managing this crazy nomadic life.  That to me is more valuable than trying to “monetize” my blog.  We are making money in different ways, and this doesn’t need to be just another way to do that.  This is writing from my heart and my soul, it is about sharing our experiences with my readers.  This is how this blog started, and I now realize that this is how I want it to continue.

And so, with no further ado………let me get you caught up on the last 4 months of our lives in a short-ish blog post that will surely be followed up by more frequent posting once again!  Thanks for your patience, and thanks for following along!


Back in July, we arrived in Guatemala and quickly fell in love with the city of Flores (read that post here).  Flores is an island city that is the capital of the Northern Department (like states or provinces) called Peten. It is located on Lake Peten Itza (the Itzas are a small sect of Mayans that you can read about here.), the second largest lake in Guatemala, and probably the cleanest. We found a great house to rent within a few days for approximately $220/month, and we decided to park our butts there for a couple months at least and live cheaply.  After all, we were still supposed to have been housesitting in Nicaragua until September, so our plans were unceremoniously upended, and we were still trying to put the pieces of our so called lives, back together again.

Flores Screenshot

We absolutely LOVED our house.  It was smack dab in the middle of a Guatemalan neighbourhood.  We had horses, pigs, chickens and all manner of different animals running around in the streets.  Plus we had frequent visits from howler monkeys that made themselves known by the loud moaning howls that they are famous for.  We also had two hammocks on our deck with a lovely view across the lake.  It was an ideal place.  The only draw back?  It didn’t have internet.

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Our rented house in Flores. 

Now, on the outset, this seemed like a huge inconvenience, but in reality, it was likely a blessing.  As we all know, the internet is a huge distraction in our lives, and with not having it, we found ourselves exploring our creative pursuits more, reading, going for walks and just enjoying some quiet time.  We had both been going at it pretty full time with our online stuff, and in reality, if we hadn’t have had that break from it all, by now we would likely be a little (or a lot) burnt out and overwhelmed.

We did still go into town to our favourite coffee shop to use the internet during the day, but it was only in 2-3 hour stints, not entire days and nights of usage that we are used to.  And, in the end, part of why I haven’t been writing much, is due to this fact.  I guess my priorities just went in other directions and I found myself working on visual art more than written art.  Plus, I have always been trying to maintain my momentum with my Etsy shop and other online stores, in order to shore up a sustainable income for ourselves.

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The view from San Telmo, our favourite Coffee Shop/Restaurant. 

At the end of August my parents flew down from Canada to pay us a visit and to see what we have been up to.  We had a lovely visit with them, but unfortunately when we went to Tikal, the big highlight of their trip, Dad came down with food poisoning almost upon arrival.  So he only saw the inside of his hotel room for 2 full days.  It was too bad, but what can you do?  These things certainly happen here in these parts.

After they left, at the beginning of September, we started an epic mural painting project in the very coffee shop that we hung out in on most days.  It’s hard to explain the project, but you can see the extent of it in the pics below.  It was a challenge for sure, but we loved every minute of it.  We transformed the upper terrace of the restaurant, and the owners are thrilled with the results.  What more could we ask for?

 

 

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Before and After of the section I worked on. 
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Also the part I worked on. 
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Before and After of Chris’ section. 
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Also part of Chris’ section. 

Before our 90 day Guatemalan visa expired, and before we had finished the murals, we had to check out of Guatemala for a few days to renew our stay for another stint so that we could finish our murals.  We decided to head up to Palenque in Mexico.  It was a spur of the moment decision, but in doing so we happened to run into a couple that we had met online in our Location Indie group (www.locationindie.com).  We had made contact with them many times by video conferencing, but had never met in person.  They have been living in Merida, Mexico for the last 7 months now, and they decided to take a trip to Palenque at the exact same time that we did, with no planning involved whatsoever.  So we happily made some great new friends and hung out with them for a couple days visiting the Palenque Mayan ruins, and swimming in some incredible waterfalls.


On a side note, Cassie and Nate Goodluck-Johnson have a really cool newsletter, vlog and blog that you can sign up for at www.nativenomadlife.com.  They do a lot of volunteering in the Merida area, and get really in deep and personal with the local culture.  They have made many friends with the locals, and have started an extensive interview series to learn all about the Mayan culture.  They are professional videographers, and have much experience with this work before their arrival in Mexico. They also have an eco friendly plastic free online store at www.plasticfree.store where they sell all manner of eco friendly items including metal straws, reusable produce bags, water bottles and so much more!  They do amazing work with beach cleanups and river cleanups and they are really great people! So check them out!  


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Palenque Mayan Ruins
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A portion of Roberto Barrios Waterfalls 
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More of Roberto Barrio Waterfalls
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Even natural slides at the Roberto Barrio Waterfalls! 

We returned to Flores to finish our murals, but this time it was a bit different.  While we had been away, we had lent our house to the actual owner of San Telmo (the coffee shop/restaurant that we were painting the murals) and her partner and daughter.  They had all been considering moving out of the building that housed the coffee shop, and as we had decided to leave Flores on Oct. 15th, we thought it would be a nice time for them to try the house out, in case they wanted to move in after us.

Well, truth be told they absolutely loved it, and we decided, while away, that maybe it would just be better if we gave them our house upon our return, and we moved into the building with the restaurant, so that we could focus more on finishing our murals for our last couple of weeks in Flores.

So, upon our return, we found ourselves living in the actual city of Flores (not a boat ride away, like we had been), which was a whole new experience.  Because of this we made new friends, had a taste of night life in the area, and just felt like we had really rounded out our experience of living there.  It was so great that at the end of it all we really hated to leave, but we knew that we had some big plans coming up!

On October 17th we boarded a bus, once again, bound for Palenque.  This time we only spent one night, as our sights were set on getting to the city of Oaxaca for the Day of the Dead celebrations at the beginning of November.  The next day we headed from Palenque to San Cristobal de las Casas after hearing numerous recommendations to visit there.  We spent 6 days exploring the city and went to visit Mamut Caves which were incredible!  We highly recommend going there if you are in the area!  We also found another hippy/bohemian/artist bar to hang out in, and made some new friends there as well.

As San Cristobal is at about 7200 feet above sea level, we were quite surprised with how cold it got, especially at night!  We needed sweaters and pants!  This was a first for us in about a year, and honestly it was the first time that we found ourselves out of the lush rainforest, and up in pine trees and bare mountains!  Most of our time has been spent below 500 feet, so as we hiked around the town, we huffed and puffed up the hills and felt incredibly out of shape!

We left San Cristobal on October 26th and endured a 12 hour bus ride through crazy mountain terrain to the City of Oaxaca.  We arrived late at night, but found our way by taxi to our booked Air BnB that we had reserved well in advance of the pending celebration.

Dia de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, in English, is Mexico’s premier celebration.  It has turned into a few days of celebrating, and although I’m not versed on the exact meaning of each day, they each do have a certain meaning.  For example, one day is meant to remember the children that have passed and another day is for the adults.  It was a fiesta to beat all fiestas and each day we walked 4km from our Air BnB into the city, to take part in whatever celebration that we could find.  Each day brought with it different parades, performances, costumes and people in the streets!  Each night we witnessed the crowd grow and grow until finally, on the final day, we decided that we had had enough of the crowds and finally retreated back to our abode to wait out the end of it all. But this was not before we visited a couple graveyards, drank lots of Mezcal, and took part in as much as we could.  In fact, we took part in so much that the small cold that Chris had contracted in San Cristobal, got passed on to me, and surrendered me lifeless and mostly in bed for 2 full days after.  Just another reminder that we are not as young as we used to be!  4 nights in a row of partying is too much for this gal now-a-days!

However, I would not take a moment of it back.  I would have to say that the highlight of it all was visiting the graveyards.  Here in Mexico, they don’t bury their dead, they place them in above ground sarcophagus’ that decorate the cemeteries like nothing that exists in North America.  Each one is it’s own unique structure and some are like tiny apartment buildings, while others are just a slab on the ground.  However, 90% of them were decorated with some sort of flower arrangement and offerings to the dead.  These days are meant for a time to visit the deceased, to offer them their favourite things, to tell them stories about what has happened over the last year, to sing them songs, and to celebrate their lives.

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Obviously just a statue, but you get the idea! 
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Incredibly ornate alters were set up around the city. 
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Decorative sidewalk art dotted the landscape on every block. 
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Humour and fun were all part of the celebrations. 

Full families gathered around the graves, drinks in hand, music playing, picnics strewn about.  It was a spectacular thing to witness, and such a powerful way to remember our loved ones.  It left a lasting mark on my heart, and I will always view death in a different way after witnessing such an incredible sight.

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While in Oaxaca, we have also, again, run into some friends that we met on the Location Indie platform.  We initially met Greg and Alysa in Costa Rica while we were living on the beach.  Later, we ended up in Nicaragua at the same time, and spent a couple nights together.  And again, with no planning involved we ended up here in Oaxaca at the same time.  They have lived here before for 6 months, in fact they started their Nomadic journey here just before us in September 2017.  So it has been really nice to hang out with them and have them show us all around the city.  On Thursday we are heading to a Mezcalaria (read about Oaxaca’s local hooch here) with them for a day of tasting and flittering about in the country side. This, only once we have completed 3 days of Spanish classes that we badly needed to improve our knowledge and sentence structure.  Tomorrow is our last day of class, and each day our brains are exploding with new information, so it will take some time for these lessons to sink in as we move forward.  But, at least now we have the arsenal to keep going in our quest to learn the language.

Thank you for staying on board with us all of this time.  Now that I have realized my mission, once again, with this blog, I promise to write more often, and keep you up to date on our goings on on a more regular basis.

Sending much love to you all and tons of gratitude for this life that we have created for ourselves.  We hope that life is treating you all well, and that you are finding your own inspirations all around you on a daily basis.


Thanks for reading! Please know that above all else, I aim to inspire others to just get out and see the world. Traveling is such an enriching experience, and I can’t even comprehend how much it has shaped me as an individual. If you have ANY questions, or need travel advice of ANY kind, PLEASE don’t hesitate to email me at the address below! I will do my very best to help you in any way I can!

Xoxoxo Happy Travels!


Current Location: We are currently in Oaxaca City, Oaxaca, Mexico

Travelling Plans: On November 12th we begin a journey back to Guatemala where we will be housesitting on the Carribbean coast for 6 weeks until early January 2019.

To head back to the beginning of our journey, and the moment we decided to sell all of our possessions to travel the world, click here.

To see many travelling photos and to learn about where we are travelling, please follow our Facebook and Instagram accounts by clicking on the appropriate icon in the right hand column.

To learn about where I have previously traveled, visit my Countries Page.

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To email me directly, please do so anytime at jillamatt@me.com.

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One Year of Location Independence (aka Being a Digital Nomad)

“Yeah, but if we had never left there, then we wouldn’t know what else is out there to miss.” 


Over the course of 9 months in 2017, my partner and I sold all of our possessions, including 2 vehicles, and a house full of stuff. In order to sell the house for its maximum value, we also completed 3 months of renovations that had been lingering for over 3 years. We wrapped up 2 businesses and left a town and tight knit community that we both cherished. We did all of this in order to seek out a life of freedom, away from the hustle and bustle of the 9-5 life, but most importantly, we did it so that we could travel. This is our story…….


On September 20th, 2018, we celebrated our one year anniversary of being Location Independent.  It’s hard to describe in words what that means to us, or how it makes us feel.  It is definitely hard to believe that it’s been a year already, but at the same time, we have experienced and done so much that it could easily fit into some peoples lifetime of experiences. 

On that day in 2017, we left a town that we both loved.  We weren’t leaving it because we were tired of it, or sick of it per se.  No, instead we were leaving it because we wanted to take a chance at living an exciting and exhilarating life.  We wanted to see what the heck was out there.  We wanted to see life from a different perspective and learn how others live around the world.

Most of all, we wanted freedom. 

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When we left our town in Canada, we had to take a ferry.  This is our getaway vehicle waiting in the line up on a typical stellar west coast evening.  September 20, 2017.  To read that story click here.  From this post I mostly enjoy the following section:”This is it!  I have once again found joy!  THIS is what I have been searching for!  I vow to myself to never let it go again.”

We wanted to be the ones dictating our time.  We wanted to be the ones in the drivers seat.  We were tired of living life while conforming to some sort of unwritten standards that society had presented us with.  We were tired of seemingly working so hard, but never getting anywhere.  While there is so much more that I can say on this topic, I will leave it for now, as this isn’t a post about ditching the conventional life…….well I guess it is, all of my posts are, really.  But no, I want to dive into what we have learned in a year, a couple key takeaways from living life in the tropics, and how we have shifted and grown during this year.   

Let’s talk about the weather.   

Experiencing perpetual summer for a whole year has been interesting.  Watching friends and family chat about the weather and the changing seasons on Facebook has been entertaining.  I’ve really noticed how much energy is put into either loving the weather or hating it.  How people post about the snow and the rain, reporting on what mother nature is dishing out in their neighbourhood.  Now don’t get me wrong, I have certainly posted things about the weather from down here, but I have to say, it certainly doesn’t occupy my brain or my time like it did while living in the North.  I can see how seasons dictate our lives up there.  We are either planning for winter, or planning for summer.  Getting out the summer gear, or putting it away for the winter.  We garden in the summer, hibernate in the winter.  We go camping and enjoy the outdoors in the summer, stay warm and indoors in the winter.  For good reason obviously, the temperature dictates our lives in the northern climes. 

Down here, everyday is the same.  Most days we get a bit of rain (and let me tell you it does rain HARD when it does), but it never lasts long.  Usually no more than an hour or 2 at the most, then it clears off again and it’s business as usual.  Nobody frets about it, nobody looks at weather forecasts, nobody seems to care one way or the other what happens, they just take it as it comes.  If it’s raining, they may take an umbrella, but they certainly don’t let rain get in the way of them accomplishing their tasks for the day.  It’s literally a non issue.  Unless of course a hurricane is coming, but if that is the case, everybody knows that there is nothing that they can do about it.  If it happens, it happens and they just need to hunker down and ride it out.  There is no worrying about it, or preparing for it, it just is.  They do not give it ONE OUNCE of energy. 

Creating community and calling a place home.

After now living in our 3rd place for over 3 months at a time, we have begun to notice some trends in our ability to create community.  It seems that it takes a little while to really start to feel like we belong in a place, like we have friends and a bit of a network around us.  However, it has happened, each and every time. 

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Our rented house in San Miguel, Guatemala.  San Miguel is accessed by a 3 minute boat ride from Flores.  
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Very nice and modern.  We have loved living in this house.  2 bedrooms and 2 baths for approx $220/month.  

Eventually people start to recognize us in the neighbourhood, and notice that they have now seen us for longer than they would see other travellers for.  They start to ask us our names and shake our hands, and say hello as we pass.  Chris’ large stature is a hit with the local men, and they all want to high five and fist bump him whenever they get the chance.  I think secretly they all want to look like him as well:). After a time, we start to feel like we have a support network, and that if we need anything, any of our community members will happily help us out.

After a couple months in one place, we start to notice that some things also start to annoy us.  Like the drunken man next door that tries to speak slurring-ly over the fence at us in some sort of broken drunken spanglish.  Or the lancha (boat) driver that still tries to charge us the tourist rate, when we have told him numerous times that we are living here and we are supposed to get the locals rate (because that’s what every other driver charges us). 

Something else we have noticed, is that no matter how hard we try, it seems, our lives seem to get surrounded in some sort of crazy drama.  It’s never our drama, it’s always that of others, and of course, we try to keep an arms length away from it all, but somehow we simultaneously  get in knee deep before we realize it has happened.  The drama never has anything to do with us, but we somehow become emotionally involved in other peoples lives.  It’s an interesting thing to notice, but I’m not sure there is much we can do about it.  We are both compassionate and caring people and, well, I think it’s just part of our make up.  Surmise it to say that we never get involved enough that our personal freedoms are threatened, that’s for sure.  But it’s interesting to note that it exists every where we go.  I guess it’s just human nature after all. 

Missing places yet always feeling the need to move on.

The other night, as we cruised back across the lake from Flores, to our Home in San Miguel, I took a moment to take in the sights around us.  It was a perfectly still night, the lights were reflecting off the water in the stunning manner that they do.  Our shuttle across the lake was filled with locals and their motorbikes, coming home from their busy days. 

I turned to Chris and said “We are going to miss this.”  We love riding the boat back and forth to town, and at the end of a busy day, it’s the tranquility and peacefulness of it all that sheds the stresses and busyness of being in the city and amongst the traffic and noise.  Once out on the water it feels like it all falls away. 

Chris agreed, yup, we are going to miss this.  But in the split second it took him to say yes, I also realized that we had said this before.  We said it when we left Matapalo, and our 4 months of living on a spectacular Costa Rican beach.  I stated “Ya, but we said that when we left Matapalo as well.”  He replied “Ya and I still miss that beach.”

Yeah, I do too, there is no doubt about that!  But instead of voicing this, I said “Yeah, but if we had never left there, then we wouldn’t know what else is out there to miss.” 

“Fair enough” he said. 

We wouldn’t have had our experience in Guatemala, floating in a boat across this perfectly still lake.  We wouldn’t have had our exciting, yet sometimes crazy, experience in Nicaragua.  We wouldn’t have experienced living in the base of the Costa Rican mountains, in a traditional Costa Rican house, the jungle around us rife with parrots and Scarlett macaws, Toucans and Butterflies.  We quite simply would not have a lifetime of stories to tell in one year, if we hadn’t have left that beach. 

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Spectacular sunset over Lake Peten Itza.  This is our highway home at the end of the day.  

This is the life that we have chosen.  This is the life that we want to live.  We love the feeling of community, we love getting to know a place, and to make it home for the time being, but we also like to leave, to set out into a new frontier, to find a new and interesting place.  We don’t know if it will be better, we don’t know if it will be worse, but it will be different, and that is all that matters. 

We now know with 100% certainty, that if we can create community in three places so far, we can create community wherever we go.  It is out there, it is all around us, we just need to reach out for it. 

Soaring confidence and creativity.

This year, after pulling ourselves away from so many distractions that we both faced up North, we have found that our creativity has soared.  We literally can not get our ideas for art out of our head, and onto paper, canvas or walls quick enough.  Through this, we have begun to find an inner confidence in ourselves that I know both of us were lacking while living in the north, and among so many other talented artists in our community. 

This confidence has spread out into the rest of our lives.  We are realizing that if we can paint a mural, something both of us would NEVER have attempted while in Canada, then we can do anything.  In fact, I have had a book idea about creativity that has been brewing for some years now, and I am finally getting down to writing it.  It is coming out of me bit by bit, but it is coming none the less.  So stay tuned for that on the horizon!

Because of this new found confidence, on October 13th, we are hosting our very first art show!  While in Flores, our rented house has had no wifi (which is also my excuse for not keeping up with the blog), so our nights have mostly been spent deep in creativity.  Whether it is drawing or painting or working on the iPad, we have both created an pretty astounding body of work while here. 

So, because we are Nomads, and we can’t possibly drag around every piece of art that we create, we have decided that it’s best to sell our originals as we go.  The show will be hosted at San Telmo, a funky bohemian bar that has an incredible Terrace upstairs that looks out over the lake.  In this spot, we have also been painting a couple murals for the last 3 weeks, so it will double as an unveiling of those.  We are approaching this with nervousness and apprehension as it is the first official art show that either of us has ever had.  But we know that it is just like everything else that we have accomplished on this trip so far, we just have to summon up the courage and go for it!  Hopefully we sell a bunch as they will certainly be priced to sell, but don’t worry!  We have found a place in Flores that will scan them for us and we will be able to upload them to our online platforms and share them with you on Facebook and beyond!

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A portion of the mural that I am working on at San Telmo.  Chris has his own section, which means a lot less arguing between us than there was on the last collaborative effort!  🙂 . By the way, this is the first set of eyes that I have painted EVER!  I’m pretty happy with how they turned out:)
San Telmo Art Show October 13
This is our art show poster.  When trying to come up with a name for the show, we realized that the show is an extension of the life that we have chosen, so decided to name it the same as our blog and travelling brand.  In the future we hope to have a scheduled night in a hostel or other tourist gathering place where we sell our art, plus have a bit of a presentation about what it is that we are doing in an effort to inspire others to live the life they only dream of as well . The hummingbird in this poster is part of Chris’ mural that he is working on.  

As per usual, we are so grateful for this life we have chosen and for the people that have supported us along the way.  Thank you for reading and we look forward to sharing more news about our next adventure very soon! 

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My Mom and Dad made the trip down to Guatemala to visit us for one week at the end of August.  We had a really great visit, but unfortunately when this photo was taken, at the top of the largest temple in Tikal, Dad was sick with food poisoning in bed!  I am so grateful for their love and support of this life that we have chosen to live!  

Thanks for reading! Please know that above all else, I aim to inspire others to just get out and see the world. Traveling is such an enriching experience, and I can’t even comprehend how much it has shaped me as an individual. If you have ANY questions, or need travel advice of ANY kind, PLEASE don’t hesitate to email me at the address below! I will do my very best to help you in any way I can!

Xoxoxo Happy Travels!


Current Location: We are currently in Palenque, Mexico on a quick one week trip to renew our 90 day visa for Guatemala.

Travelling Plans: On September 30th, we will return to Flores until Approximately October 15th.  Then we will start heading west again and up to Oaxaca, Mexico for about one month.  On November 26th, we will be housesitting on the Caribbean Coast of Guatemala for 6 weeks.

To head back to the beginning of our journey, and the moment we decided to sell all of our possessions to travel the world, click here.

To see many travelling photos and to learn about where we are travelling, please follow our Facebook and Instagram accounts by clicking on the appropriate icon in the right hand column.

To learn about where I have previously traveled, visit my Countries Page.

To see all of my blog post headings on one page, (including all of the ones about letting our stuff go) head over to my Blog Post Menu.

To receive added travel content by contributing a minimum of $2/month to our Patreon account, please click here.

To email me directly, please do so anytime at jillamatt@me.com.

If you like my writing, and want to follow along on our journey, please put your email address in the right hand column to subscribe. That way all of my posts will go straight to to your email inbox.  🙂

50 Experiences in 300 Days

Although there are some items on this list that I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy, at the same time, I wouldn’t take any of them back.


Over the course of 9 months in 2017, my partner and I sold all of our possessions, including 2 vehicles, and a house full of stuff. In order to sell the house for its maximum value, we also completed 3 months of renovations that had been lingering for over 3 years. We wrapped up 2 businesses and left a town and tight knit community that we both cherished. We did all of this in order to seek out a life of freedom, away from the hustle and bustle of the 9-5 life, but most importantly, we did it so that we could travel. This is our story…….


In less than a week, we will have been on the road, and away from Canada, for 10 months.  While everyday is definitely not perfect, there have been many more seemingly perfect days while we have been abroad, then we would have experienced back home. 

Letting go of all of our possessions has allowed us the freedom to live life on our terms.  To experience the world without a schedule, without anyone dictating our time or how we spend our days.  It has been an ebb and flow of trying to figure out what works for us.  What works in some places, definitely doesn’t necessarily work in others, but we adjust as we go.  We figure it out each and every time. 

It occurred to me the other day that we have had some pretty wild experiences in the short 10 months since we have been gone.  And it excites me to no end to know that we certainly wouldn’t have had half of these experiences had we have stayed in Canada. 

To me, this is what life is all about.  Life is a culmination of our experiences.  They are what shape us, they are what make us who we are.  Without our experiences to broaden our perspectives, we would be empty shells, robots in a sense.  I believe that having new experiences is what life is all about.  Only then do we grow and change as humans.  Only then do we become new people everyday. 

Traveling, to me, is the ultimate experience.  It creates a platform for new and different things to happen each and every day.  Around every corner, in fact, is a new experience that is waiting to happen.  Around every corner is an adventure waiting to unfold.  THIS is what travelling is all about!  This is what makes it exciting, challenging, and soul enhancing.  I crave these new experiences, and I will never stop seeking them out and searching for those ones, that I know, are just sitting and waiting, lurking in the corner, seemingly begging for me to find them. 

And so, in no particular order, here is a list of 50 experiences that we can think of that have happened in the last ten months to either one of us, or both of us, and I am sure we are missing many…..

  1. Had 2 hammocks break while we were sitting in them.
  2. Encountered 2 wild snakes, both more than 6 feet long.
  3. Saw 2 wild crocodiles in 2 different rivers.
  4. Ridden in boats across 2 different lakes, one of which we cross everyday from our rented house near Flores.
  5. Experienced 2 earthquakes.
  6. Had our house struck by lightening.
  7. Had food poisoning once.
  8. Been sick with parasites twice.
  9. Had an infection on my foot so bad that I had to seek out antibiotics.
  10. Watched a sea turtle dig it’s nest and lay eggs.
  11. Sat face to face with a sloth as it hung from a low branch.Hanging Sloth
  12. Walked with a sloth as it crawled along the ground after falling out of a tree.
  13. Seen numerous volcanoes, one that was actually smoking.
  14. Visited ancient temples and ruins.

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    The ancient Mayan ruins of Tikal.
  15. Had huge toads come into our rented house every night for 3 weeks straight.
  16. Painted a mural.
  17. Witnessed political unrest and war break out in Nicaragua.
  18. Crossed the Panama/Costa Rica border once.
  19. Crossed the Nicaragua/Costa Rica border twice.
  20. Been on 5 airplanes.

    IMG_0261
    Painted over the course of a month while staying in Samara, Costa Rica.
  21. Rented 2 houses in local villages with Spanish speaking neighbours.
  22. Bought handmade tortillas, made that morning, from our neighbours that made them, in two different places.
  23. Housesat 3 houses.
  24. Took care of 4 dogs.
  25. Swam under the full moon, in the ocean, at midnight on New Years Eve.
  26. Went 24 hours with no water in our house.
  27. Experienced multiple power outages.
  28. Walked down the street with a propane tank in a wheel barrow to refill it for our stove.
  29. Ate tons of street food that was to die for.
  30. Made a bazillion new friends.
  31. Saw numerous Toucans, Parrots and Scarlett Macaws.
  32. Visited an epic waterfall.8BBB5219-322F-4492-91CC-AC41735D4BAC
  33. Saw numerous monkeys.
  34. Helped build an earth bag home.
  35. Got stung by a sting ray.
  36. Zip Lined.
  37. Volunteered at a Music Festival.
  38. Had a visit from a tree frog inside our house.IMG_0795
  39. Witnessed several incredible sunsets.
  40. Slept in our tent on top of our bed to keep the bugs and snakes away from us at night.
  41. Saw 2 tarantulas in the wild.
  42. Saw various scorpions.
  43. Rode in the back of numerous pick up trucks.
  44. Ate traditional Mayan food at a neighbourhood barbecue.
  45. Witnessed incredible handicrafts in Panajachel, Guatemala.  Literally mountains of woven textiles, carvings, beadwork and much much more!IMG_0870
  46. Attended a one week Digital Nomad retreat.
  47. Shopped at numerous local markets, buying our produce direct from farmers and other food producers.
  48. Opened numerous fresh coconuts to drink the water and eat the meat!
  49. Learned to make local dishes wherever we go.
  50. Ridden in numerous tuk tuks, buses and collectivos to get from points A to B.

Like I said……I KNOW there are many more, but you get the idea.  Life is an adventure, and each day brings new and exciting experiences.

Although there are some items on this list that I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy, at the same time, I wouldn’t take any of them back.  ALL of these experiences are shaping us to be the people that we are now, and they are making us who we will be in the future.

As the old saying goes “What doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger.” 

So true, so very very true.

What new and exciting experiences have you had in the last nine months?  I would love to hear all about them in the comments below.


Thanks for reading! Please know that above all else, I aim to inspire others to just get out and see the world. Traveling is such an enriching experience, and I can’t even comprehend how much it has shaped me as an individual. If you have ANY questions, or need travel advice of ANY kind, PLEASE don’t hesitate to email me at the address below! I will do my very best to help you in any way I can!

Xoxoxo Happy Travels!


Current Location: We are currently in Flores, Guatemala.  We have rented a house and expect to stay here until mid September at least.

Travelling Plans: We are considering the possibility of heading up to Mexico for a couple months after we are finished with our house here.  Then we will be returning to Guatemala to housesit for 6 weeks starting November 26th.

To head back to the beginning of our journey, and the moment we decided to sell all of our possessions to travel the world, click here.

To see many more travelling photos and videos,  and to learn about where we are travelling, please follow our Facebook and Instagram accounts by clicking on the appropriate icon in the right hand column.

To learn about where I have previously traveled, visit my Countries Page.

To see all of my blog post headings on one page, (including all of the ones about letting our stuff go) head over to my Blog Post Menu.

To contribute to our Patreon account, please click here.

To email me directly, please do so anytime at jillamatt@me.com.

If you like my writing, and want to follow along on our journey, please put your email address in the right hand column to subscribe. That way all of my posts will go straight to your email inbox:)