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.
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.
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.
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?
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!
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.
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.
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.
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