Yes, Bali has an erupting volcano! But so what??

To those of you who weren’t planning to go to Bali, I must say, NOW IS THE TIME!!

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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…….


An article came to me today while doing work on my laptop, and it got me thinking about how little it takes to scare most people out of travelling.

The article was put out by the New York Times (click here to read the whole article) and is titled “Bali’s Rumbling Volcano Leaves Tourist Industry Gasping for Air.”

The article was written on December 7th, only 10 days after the rumblings of Mt Agung, caused the mandatory evacuation of 100 000 people who lived within close vicinity of it.  The ash spewing from the volcano, caused flight cancellations and delays, stranding thousands of passengers.

The article goes on to say that because of the uncertainty of this erupting beast, it’s said that it could erupt again soon, many future flights and travel plans have been cancelled, and tourism seemingly came to an abrupt halt.  One man is quoted as saying that occupancy was at 20%, instead of the 60% that was typical at that time of year.

Despite the fact that none of the tourist facilities are near the volcano, people have been frightened off, once again, from this absolutely incredible island nation.  Is it the possible inconvenience of flight disruptions?  Is it fear of being in direct line of a piece of lava spewing from the volcano?  Is complete and utter unabashed fear?  Fear of not even knowing what one is fearful of?  Or maybe it is a fear that is ignited by others’ fear?  Maybe people get scared because someone else gets scared, and then suddenly it’s all contagious!?

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I have to say that I certainly can not relate to this sort of fear.

Bali is a very large island, by island standards, and there are many places to see that will bring you nowhere near the erupting volcano.  The people are some of the most caring, thoughtful, friendly and wonderful people that you will ever meet.  Experiencing the Balinese culture is like nothing else.  Their Hindu values make them extremely warm and inviting, and you can’t help but feel completely at peace when among them.

I first travelled to Bali in 1995 when I was 18 years old.  I was a student with Class Afloat, a floating class room, if you will, that took place aboard a 188 foot tall ship, S/V Concordia.  There were 52 of us students on board, plus about 16 professional crew.  We spent about 10 days on the island of Bali, back in the days of less tourism and less commercialism.  We stayed in Ubud for a few nights, many of the streets weren’t paved, there weren’t many people around at all.  There were a few smatterings of craft stalls and art markets, but nothing like it was when I returned in 2008.  I was aghast at what had become of quaint little Ubud during the 13 years that I had been away.  It was in that moment, that I realized how seemingly quickly things can change.

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This is S/V Concordia. 188 feet long, and the main mast stood at 150 feet high.  Yes, that is me at the very top and center, perched on the royal yard, as we navigated into port in Boston, Massachusetts in 1995.  Sadly, this vessel sunk many miles off the coast of Brazil in 2010.  All students and crew survived.

Although Bali has always been a tourist destination, mostly servicing Australians back in the early days, its popularity now, has put it firmly on many peoples’ bucket lists.  And for good reason!  However, this has unfortunately created a false economy for this island nation, as the slightest little things that go wrong, send it reeling into the pits of despair as tourists decide to go elsewhere, somewhere safer.

Well, I can tell you right now, that there is nowhere ‘safer’.  The world is changing at an incredible rate.  There are rumblings going on all over the place.  As I type this, I am sitting in Costa Rica, and my partner and I experienced our first official 6.8 Earthquake about a month ago.  Of course, it didn’t stop flights from flying, and it didn’t cause massive devastation, but it could have.  If the epicentre was in San Jose, it very easily could have created a scenario that might have stranded passengers and caused many fatalities.  But it didn’t.

Around the world there are hurricanes and floods, mud slides and typhoons.  They happen ALL THE TIME.  In fact, there are also volcanoes erupting here in Costa Rica.  At any moment one of them could really start spewing, and then what?  Do we all flee out of here, afraid of the entire country being carried away in a stream of lava?  Of course not!

It is time that people started thinking clearly about these things.  By cancelling a trip of a life time, or maybe one that you do every year, because of the teeny tiny rumblings of a volcano, is utterly ridiculous.  You are in more danger of being hit by a car outside your house, then you are of being harmed by an erupting volcano.  Let’s not forget that people have lived amongst volcanos for centuries!  Besides, how cool would it be to actually see an erupting volcano!?

One of my all time favourite travel moments, actually was right here in Costa Rica back in 2004.  I was near the town of Fortuna, made famous for it’s proximity to Arenal Volcano.  The volcano was erupting at the time we were visiting, not a lot, just a bit of smoke through the day, but the real show was at night.  I will never forget the experience of sitting in a RIVER of hot water, coming straight from the innards of that very volcano, while watching red rocks rumble and tumble from the top of it, splitting into thousands of red embers as they crashed down the slopes.

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Photo Credit:  Aaron White.  This is a recent shot of Volcan Fuego, which is currently erupting in Antigua, Guatemala.
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Photo Credit: Aaron White. This is a recent shot of Volcan Fuego, which is currently erupting in Antigua, Guatemala.  You can imagine what a cool experience it was for them to witness this!

Of course, we were well enough away to not be in harms way, but seriously, can you imagine bearing witness to such a sight?  I really felt like I had to pinch myself.  I absolutely felt like I was in a dream world, like this only happened in books and in movies.  But no, here I was, ACTUALLY there, ACTUALLY experiencing this awesome sight!  Wouldn’t you like to experience that?  Are you willing to set aside your fears of the unknown to really get out there and see things that you only dreamed of? That you too only thought happened in movies.

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This is me looking up to the summit of Volcan Arenal in Costa Rica, 2004.

Please for the sake of all that is holy (I am not a religious person), re-consider your decisions when you make them based solely on ridiculous insights.  Think, for once, about the lives of the people that depend on you.  About those who survive solely because you have enough money to go wherever you want in the world.  Don’t punish those that rely on you, just because you have an inkling of a fear! And really, don’t punish YOURSELF by taking away what could be one of the most incredible experiences of your life!

To those of you who weren’t planning to go to Bali, I must say, NOW IS THE TIME!  Less tourists means a better experience after all!  Go check Bali out, check it off your bucket list, and do it as SOON AS POSSIBLE!!!

The Balinese people will be thankful for it, your soul will be thankful for it, and in turn, you will help to heal the world!

This will be a decision that you will NOT regret! And while I can’t promise you everything, I can certainly promise you that much!

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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 housesitting until December 30th at Playa Matapalo, between Quepos and Dominical, in Costa Rica. If you are travelling in the area, please get in touch! We would love to connect with you.

To learn about how YOU can be housesitting as well, click here.

To see more photos, and to follow our progress on Facebook, please follow our Facebook page Just Some Wandering.

Please follow my Instagram Page Just Some Wandering by clicking on the bottom right hand corner of this feed.

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

To see all of my blog post headings on one page, head over to my Blog Post Menu.

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

December 17th, 2017 – Community


***Jill’s ‘letting go’ Diary***

This is part of a series of posts (ordered by Dated Titles) where I have recorded my thoughts and emotions as we got rid of all of our possessions, a house, 2 cars, 2 businesses, and tons of STUFF, in order to free ourselves so that we could live a life of travel. From the day that I came up with this idea, to sell everything and travel the world, I have recorded my thoughts, and still am, on certain days where I feel like writing. These are real time, and not edited (except for grammatical corrections). My hope is that my writing inspires you to live your dream. You may not want to do it like we have, but whatever that passion is, grab and hold it and don’t let it go! Xo


Well it’s been just over 2 months since we arrived here in Costa Rica. The difference in my mindset and outlook on life has vastly changed. I almost don’t recognize that person that I was when I arrived here.

For one, and I have talked about this before, I was busy.

I was not only busy when looking at me from the outside, but the inside of my mind was so busy as well. It still is, really, but there is a difference between now and then. I can see it.  I can feel it.

Perhaps the difference is that my mind is now more focused. Focused on the present moments, more than the future.  However, lately, I have to say, it’s been pre-occupied again.

For the last week or so, I have been thinking about our future, quite a bit. With this sort of life it’s really hard to not wonder what one will be doing next. Our housesitting job ends 2 weeks from today, so it seems natural to start to carve out a plan of sorts.

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It’s crazy how 2 months can seem like an eternity, but yet it goes by so fast. It seems as though one only just starts to feel like they are part of something, part of a community, part of something bigger than ourselves, then suddenly it’s time to go.

It’s really hit me recently how important forming our communities is, to a happy and balanced life. As we have been meeting many new people, I’ve realized how strong we are able to build our networks, how carefully we can pick those friends that support us. I’ve realized how easy it is to surround yourself with good people, and how healing it can be when you let the ones go that aren’t working for you anymore.

In the last few months my community has changed drastically. My partner and I left a very tight knit, and so incredibly supportive community in Canada. We left not because we were FINISHED with our community, or TIRED of our community, but because we wanted to BROADEN our community. We wanted to meet people from around the world. We wanted to experience the vastness of humanities differences, we wanted to actually seek out those who are different, those who can teach us things we don’t already know.

And we have done that.  We have met many people, we have broadened our global community, we have sought out those that are different from us.  But the funny thing is, at the end of the day, we are also realizing that in the ways that we are all so different, we are all also so much the same. Already in our neighbourhood we have met quite a few people that have reminded us of one person or the other from home. It’s impossible to not notice it, and it has me wondering if each small community, does indeed represent the same personalities. The same types of people, presenting themselves at every scale, all the way up to the greater humanity, the entire population of Earth.

The numbers of people that each personality type represents, increase in unison with each other. In a sense, I suppose, it may be another representation of a fractal, a mathematical sequence that repeats into infinity. With this thinking, is it not easy to imagine that it is all a balanced perfection? That maybe there are ‘supposed’ to be the jerks. That maybe each of us is placed here in a delicate balance, in a pattern of perfection.

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Is it safe to assume that we are meant to be who we are, with no strings attached? No excuses for our behaviour. We just are.  That’s it. Maybe we don’t all need to apologize to others for how we act, or for how we are. Maybe we just need to accept those parts of ourselves, and also those of others, and trust that we are here in this exact spot for a reason, and that who we are, is precisely what is needed in each moment to serve our greater community.

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As far as our future goes, we have a few irons in the fire. It seems impossible to me at this point to not plan a little bit. To not have a general idea of where we will go next. However, I hope to get to a place someday where we literally just leave where we are, catch a bus to somewhere, and see what unfolds.

It will be in that moment, I think, when one can truly feel absolute freedom. It’s only in that situation, where life can unfold perfectly in front of you. Only then, will the carpet unroll literally as you walk along it.

I look forward to that moment, but I digress, I’m not quite there yet. For now we will plan a little bit, because for now we still feel the NEED to figure out a plan.

But on the other hand, I’m thinking that the universe already has a plan. In fact, a week ago, or so, a plan may have just dropped in our laps. We are still sorting out details, so I won’t spill the beans yet. But it could be the actual answer to “what’s next?”.

Once we get this next plan figured out, then maybe my mind will relax again, and I will again be able to better focus on the present. It’s not a perfect solution, I wish my mind could relax all the time, and just simply go with the flow. But it can’t yet. I am human, this is a process and it is all part of letting go.

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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!

To get all the way back to my first blog post about our decision to sell everything and unplug from Society, please click here.

To see more photos, and to follow our progress on Facebook, please follow our Facebook page Just Some Wandering.

Please follow my Instagram Page Just Some Wandering by clicking on the bottom right hand corner of this feed.

To learn about where I have previously traveled, click here.

To see my blog post menu, click here.

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

Sweetie, There is a Sloth in our Tree!


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…….


The monkeys were running around on the roof of the house and jumping from palm frond to palm frond as they made their way through our yard, just as they do everyday.  Sometimes there are only a handful of them coming and going, and other times there are a dozen or more jumping around in the trees, knocking coconuts onto our roof, and just causing a general ruckus.  As usual, I generally can’t help but to step out from our covered porch area, and look up to the trees to watch them move around.  They are so curious about us, and really make honest to goodness eye contact, and I generally can’t help but to say “hi!” to each and every one of them.  Although, I have recently learned that making eye contact is a practice that is not generally recommended when interacting with monkeys.  Apparently doing so can make them aggressive and angry.  However,  I have so far found these to be peaceful exchanges, and have had nothing flung at me like coconuts or worse (!) monkey shit!

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The White Faced or Capuchin Monkeys come through our yard pretty much every day just before sunset.

On this particular day, as I was watching them jump around in the branches, I noticed something else crawling around.  At first I thought it was a possum, because it had such a long nose, and was crawling horizontally across the branch. I yelled to Chris that there was a possum in the tree, but as quickly as I got that out, I realized that, no, it was only an iguana.  A really big iguana mind you, but an iguana none-the-less.  We have tons of them around the house, so those too have become common place for us.

But all of a sudden, however, I noticed that the iguana was in an almond tree.  We have been actively learning about the different trees in this area, there are almonds and teak, different kinds of palms and many types of bushes and shrubs and everything in between.  But the unique thing about the almond trees, is that the Sloths like to sleep in them.  I’m not sure if it is the tight knit branches, giving them lots of places to ball up and create a sleeping pad for themselves, or maybe it’s because they are so high up, and away from predators.  Either way, I all of a sudden noticed that we had 5 different almond trees growing around the house.

As I backed away from the house, and looked way, way up there, I spotted one.  Sure enough!  A Big gray ball of fur was peacefully sleeping up in our branches.  WOW!  I ran and got Chris and we watched it for a few minutes.  Of course, Sloths sleep all day, so we weren’t going to be seeing much action at that point anyways.  In fact, we learned on our night walk in Monteverde that sloths are nocturnal, meaning that they are only active in the night, and they usually don’t come down from trees unless they need to poo, or migrate across an open area with no trees.  And so, we decided that maybe later on we would be lucky enough to catch it pooing in our yard!

I did head out later on with the flashlight, and I was pretty sure it wasn’t in it’s perch anymore, and after shining my light across the sand floor outside our door, decided that it was definitely gone.  Since then, I have looked up once or twice to try and spot another one, but haven’t had that particular privilege again.

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A couple weeks ago we expressed some interest to one of our expat neighbours that we would like to see the turtles nesting, or hatching, on the beach if it was possible.  There is a small turtle hatchery just down the beach from us, and each time we walk by, we get more and more curious about what is going on.  The hatchery consists of a bamboo shack on the beach, and a levelled area with plastic netting surrounding it. Inside the net fence, are grids that are laid out, each with a number or a date, or some kind of indication of when the eggs were put there. We had asked a few people in the area about the cycles of the turtles, but nobody seemed to know the answers for sure.  We are both curious about the goings on of nature, and would be honoured to see a turtle laying her eggs, or some small little babies hatching out of the sand.  Of course, turtles only lay eggs at night, so to see that part, we had to go in the dark.

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This shack is maned day and night with volunteers that make sure no turtles hatch without them knowing.  And also partly, I’m sure to protect them.
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These cone fences are placed over the holes where the eggs are put so that if any babies do hatch, they will be contained in the cage.

Because, there are literally no people at our beach, and it isn’t very discovered yet, there is no tourism program to go see turtles,  so there are never throngs of people milling around with lights and shining them in the turtles eyes, like the time I experienced in 2004 at another Costa Rica location.  We felt that a nice quiet walk with a local, would be a much better experience.

Our neighbour hooked us up with Andres, whom we had already met, and who told us that for $15, he would take us for a walk down the beach, to hopefully catch a mom in the act of laying her eggs.  Andres is around 20 years old, and works for the local turtle hatchery where he is partially tasked with walking the beaches in the early a.m. and digging up the turtle nests before a local comes and takes the eggs home to eat.  As we were nearing the end of nesting season, we knew that a sighting was not guaranteed on our outing, however we had seen the holes that were dug up in the early morning when we walk Omber, so we were still hopeful.

In retrospect, though, Andres took us out on a night that was likely not the best.  The tide was really far out, and after we got about 2 kms down the beach, we started to discuss this issue.  At that point, with nary a turtle in sight,  we came up with the brilliant idea that it was probably better to do this at high tide.  At least, I thought,  if I was a turtle, I would appreciate a lift all the way to the beach, instead of having to walk half a mile through dragging wet sand, while ready to burst out all of my eggs!

We turned around to come back, only to find ourselves in an absolute torrential downpour of rain, for the entire 2 kms back to the house.  All I can say is thank god for waterproof cameras!

There were actually 5 of us getting soaked, that night on the beach, as Andres had brought one semi-English translator, and another buddy along for the show.  It didn’t take long for us to realize that the locals were absolutely HATING the walk, and were actually cold, while we were just on cloud nine with it all.  Wow!  That amount of rain, continually washing over you for an extended time, is nothing short of soul cleansing.  We were both completely drenched, and despite our assurances that we were both fine, the local boys continued to worry about us, offering us some small tokens of shelter from the rain, such as an already drenched rain poncho.  We laughed and told them that we were just fine.  I still chuckle about the fact that they were so worried about us, yet we both felt like we had never been better.

At the end of the walk, Andres offered to take us to the hatchery the next day to see if we could see any turtles hatching there.  Apparently they can hatch at any time, so he just had to let us know when it was happening.  We couldn’t afford to wait another 5 or 6 days for the high tide to again be at night, as nesting season was already nearing to a close as it was, so instead of seeing a mother laying her eggs, we decided that the next best thing would be to see the babies hatching.

The next day came and went, and the next day………. and the next day, and still never a word from Andres.  Mind you, he doesn’t speak a word of English, and our Spanish is still not anywhere near fluent, so these heavy discussions are difficult and do require some effort.  Each time we would see him down on the beach, we would exchange pleasantries, but never really talked about the Tortugas again.  In fact, after a few days I had just resigned myself to the fact that we many never see the turtles around here.

The signs in the hatchery were pretty cute!  I especially like the “Don’t Eat” one:)

However, yesterday, about two weeks since our wet walk, Chris came running into the room early in the morning, and said that “Andres is here and there are turtles hatching at the hatchery!  We have to go now!”

We quickly grabbed the camera and whatever we needed and took off down the beach with Andres.  We arrived at the hatchery not really sure what was going on, but there was a guy headed down to the beach with a cutdown bucket.  Andres yelled at him to stop and we ran and looked in it.  Of course, there were about 4 or 5 baby turtles, only about 3 inches long.  He was setting them free in the water.  Instead of going down with him (duh), I went back up the beach to the hatchery to see if any more were coming.

There were three staff members involved with digging up the spots where the eggs get buried.  One was digging the sand and siphoning through the egg shells for still full eggs, or hatched turtles.  The other was taking field notes on what was extracted, and Andres was throwing the discarded egg shells into a bucket. When we got there, I half expected to see a swarm of baby turtles exploding out of nests, but sadly this wasn’t the case.

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These are the tags that indicate the dates and # of eggs placed in the hole. This one has 59!
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These will be the final ones dug up for the season, or so I understood. Turtles stop laying in December.

They dug up nest after nest of empty eggshells, only finding one fully developed turtle amongs 5 nests, and dozens of eggs.  It was officially heartbreaking.

Unfortunately, we didn’t ask questions, and we weren’t told why the survival rate is so low.  They seemed happy that at least one survived.

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The lone survivor……..

Andres, Chris and I walked down to the water, and Andres passed me the yellow glove to wear, indicating that I should be the one to let our little survivor go.  When we got close to where the water was coming, I gently lifted him out of the bucket and set him down on the wet sand.  He instinctively started heading towards the water, pulling himself across the wet sand with his tiny little fins.  It seemed that the tide was receding, so I picked him up once more and ran with him another 8 feet or so, closer to the water.  Finally a shallow wave came into the flats, and he swam free.  We watched him get tossed around in the surge a little bit, but each time could spot his tiny little head, come back up to the surface for air.  After watching him swim his little body away from the beach for about 5 minutes, Andres yelled “adios!” And laughed.

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This is an Olive Ridley Turtle.

I waved at him/her and yelled “Buena suerte Totuga, Buen viaje.”  (Good luck turtle, good journey.)

I couldn’t help but to contemplate about what a big ocean that must seem like for such a little fella.  Heading out there, I’m sure his/her rate of survival at that size is still slim to none.  But we can only send him/her on their journey with the best intentions, and a hope that they will thrive and prosper.

It was an amazing experience and I asked Andres if he still wanted some money, as we hadn’t settled the entire $15 payment yet, agreeing on a portion of it that night of the wet walk, and the rest when we saw them hatching.  He insisted that he didn’t but made some mention about the tattoo he is getting from Chris next week.  I didn’t understand the entire sentence but I understood enough.

‘Si, una descuento por el tatuaje.” (Yes, a discount for the tattoo.)

His eyes perked up at the mention of this, and I could see that he was very happy with this solution.

We thanked him for his kindness and for sharing the turtles with us, and made our way back to our house.  We walked in silence, as we both contemplated what a neat experience it was that we had just had, realizing again just how grateful we are for what is unfolding around us day in and day out.

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Our adventures with animals lately, don’t stop here though.  In fact, it’s a day in and day out occasion around here!  The other night, somehow, someway, we had a bat fly into our house.  It took us about an hour of chasing it around, poking at it with the broom, trying to swing a sarong over it as it flew, and a lot of jumping around and screaming, but it finally flew out the door.  If it had of been filmed, it would have made a great comedy script!

Pura Vida!!



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 housesitting until December 30th at Playa Matapalo, between Quepos and Dominical, in Costa Rica.  If you are travelling in the area, please get in touch! We would love to connect with you.

To learn about how YOU can be housesitting as well, click here.

To see more photos, and to follow our progress on Facebook, please follow our Facebook page Just Some Wandering.

Please follow my Instagram Page Just Some Wandering by clicking on the bottom right hand corner of this feed.

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

To see all of my blog post headings on one page, head over to my Blog Post Menu.

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

Some Observations of Costa Ricans…..

It also got me thinking that we have literally not seen one bad exchange between people here.


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…….


There is this guy and his little puppy that are often sitting on the same log on the beach when we walk by with Omber in the morning, or afternoon. The puppy is the cutest little thing, but we can’t get near to it as it barks it’s head off and seemingly wants to tear us limb from limb. Usually we are walking down at the bottom of the beach, while they are sitting at the top of the beach. The man looks to be about the friendliest person you could ever lay eyes on, he has a huge Afro and a great smile. We always collectively laugh at the state of the puppy going crazy, and even from 50 yards away, you can see this mans massive smile light up, and he sends a friendly wave our way.

Today, I was at the top of the beach walking, and I could see from down the beach a ways that he and a friend were sitting in the usual spot. This time I decided to try and get closer to say hello. The sun is shining today, and it’s been a bit of a dismal week around here with cloudy and rainy days seeming to never end. We exchanged a few words about how nice it is to see the sun, we asked each other how we were doing, the puppy barked it’s little head off, and then I decided that I better get going.

I had a task to do, you see, I was walking the dog.

After we walked to our usual spot, and returned down the beach, we were further down by the surf, but he and his friend were up at the top still, just chilling. I kept walking and started to think about the fact that we had been passing this guy and his puppy for a month, and still didn’t know his name. I immediately started to feel bad for not asking his name, and finally getting to know him a bit. I realized that I too could have just sat on that log and chatted for a while. ‘Why didn’t I do that?’ I asked myself.

Oh right! I remembered.

I was on a mission, you see, I was walking the dog!

And in that moment, I caught myself, I suddenly, miraculously, realized that I too have all day to chat if I so desire. I too could just sit on a log and hang out for hours, if I really felt like it. Omber would be happy to just chill in one spot. There really was no rush. Besides, what could be better then practicing some Spanish and making new friends?

Hmmmmmmmmm…..

A few hundred yards further down the beach, Omber decided to run to the top of the beach to chase through the palm trees where I couldn’t see him. Of course, I walked up there to find him, and a man was doing some raking amongst the palms. As soon as he saw me, he immediately waved a friendly hello. “Hola”, I yelled.

This got me realizing how pleasant our exchanges are with the locals. Rarely do we walk by someone, whether on the beach, or on the road, where they don’t take the time to say “Buenas Dias, Hola, Pura Vida, (Good Day, Hello, Pure Life) or some combination of all three.” In fact, as we walked the road the other day to the bus stop, a man crossed the street and shook Chris’ hand, wanting to know who we were and whether or not we owned some piece of property in town. We chatted with him for a bit, then were on our way.

It also got me thinking that we have literally not seen one bad exchange between people here. There have been no children throwing tantrums, no people yelling at each other in hatred or malice, no aggression of any kind has been displayed, in fact.

Hmmmmmmmmmmm…….

Chris had a tattoo job the other night just down the street from us. I popped over after a bit to see how it was going. It was the father that was getting tattooed, and his wife, 9 months pregnant with a second child, was busy in the kitchen. Their little girl was playing in the corner as quiet as could be, with her dolls and a handful of toys. They were not spread all over the room, they were in one spot, and she happily toodled away talking to them and playing by herself, with hardly a peep to anyone.

I asked her mom how old she is, and they told me ‘5 years old today’! You can imagine my immediate surprise as this certainly didn’t seem like your average 5 year old on their birthday, at least where I come from. There were no streamers and balloons hanging up, no huge party with a thousand other kids running amuck, no big deal was being made…….at all! I told her “Feliz Cumpleanos!” (Happy Birthday), and she turned and gave me a shy “Gracias”, then busily got back to playing. In the two hours we were there, she never once bothered her mother or father for anything, just happily, and QUIETLY played in the corner with her dolls.

When I had initially arrived to the house, I immediately walked over to see how the tattoo was going. The father said hello and asked me how my day was going, in English. Without really realizing what was going on, I just told him “Oh it was okay, I was lazy today.” Later I realized that I never even asked him how his day was………did he notice, did he think badly of me. What was my problem?

Hmmmmmmmmmmm……….

The other day, Chris and I caught the bus to Uvita. We hadn’t been there before, and needed some groceries, so we thought we would just go there and hopefully get some supplies after doing some exploring. While waiting for the bus, we sat on a bench in front of the Pulperia (Convenience Store), and had many exchanges with locals coming and going. Old or young, they all had time to say hello and ask us how we were doing.

As we rode the bus to Uvita, we sat in the front 2 seats to the right of the driver. As I watched people get off the bus, most people thanked the driver, one guy shook the drivers hand and exchanged a few words with him. The driver wasn’t in a rush to get going again, it was more important to talk to this man for a minute, then to worry about his schedule.

I watched as the driver eased his big bus through tiny communities, and yelled and waved out the window at familiar faces. Were these people he knew, or just people he saw on his route everyday? “Pura Vida!”  was yelled more than once, and the people on their porches or in their yards returned the exchange with huge smiles on their faces.

In one instance a man was standing on the side of the highway and waved the bus to stop. The driver pulled over and the man simply stood on the ground at the door and spent about 5 minutes asking the driver a bunch of questions about the schedule and where he went. Obviously gathering information for a future trip.

Hmmmmmmmmmmmm………..

Our friends that moved here from Canada two years ago, told us of a time when they had first bought their property up in the mountains. For the first while, they obviously couldn’t speak much Spanish, but their neighbours would come over anyways, and just sit with them on their porch, sometime for two hours, with barely a word spoken. They just wanted to interact, to share the human experience. Words weren’t needed to be decent human beings, to show their new neighbours appreciation of their arrival onto their lands.

Hmmmmmmmmmmmm……….

All of this has me realizing that these are the sorts of things that you may not notice if you are travelling to a place for a week or two. It’s only after being in a spot for a length of time, when how a society works, is repeated enough for you to you start to notice it, and you begin to realize what really makes it tick.  We have been here now for over 6 weeks, and although it didn’t take us this long to see that people are friendly, it has taken this long to really notice that it definitely is a way of life.

In Costa Rica, it truly is the land of Pura Vida. People have TIME for each other. It isn’t normal to just say hi quickly, and then be on your way. What’s normal is stopping, and actually talking. Looking people in the eye, and asking them how they are doing, asking them how their day was or is. Taking the time to connect with each other and respect and appreciate each other.

___________________________

 

As of today, I am making a commitment to myself to really start to notice when I rush myself, when I push myself to “get going” because I think I have something important to do. When I start to think that ‘getting the dog walked’ is more important than stopping to meet somebody and learn about them, I will stop myself. I will stop this habit of being on a mission, of being in a hurry. As of today, I will stop to connect with people better. I will take the time to learn their names, I will spend the time learning about them, and finding out who they are and what they do. I will make TIME for them, because, this is truly the way it is here. This is what people do here. This is literally how their society functions, and I really can’t think of anything more beautiful than that!

Pura Vida to you all! I hope this inspires you to take a moment to reflect on what you spend your time doing.  And is it meaningful, after all?

NOTE:  Of course, this is our experience of Costa Ricans outside of heavily trafficked tourist zones.  In places where we have noticed that many tourists go, the Pura Vida mentality certainly does not extend as far as it does in these smaller more remote areas.  But it is in these places, where you truly get a sense for how people actually live.  

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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 housesitting until December 30th at Playa Matapalo, between Quepos and Dominical.  If you are travelling in the area, please get in touch!  We would love to connect with you.

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