Adios Guatemala, Hello Canada!

In 2017 we packed up our life, and quit the 9-5 to head out into the world.  We came with no expectations, we only wanted to experience life.  Since we have left, we have packed more fun and adventure into our lives than we ever could have imagined.  Being on the road now for over a year, has brought with it the freedom to explore what it is that we want to do to create an income for ourselves, the time to pay attention to the things that are truly important to us, and the adventure to truly make life fun and interesting once again.  We left seeking an exciting life, and we have not been disappointed!  Join us as we explore as much of this big old world that we can!


The time came to say farewell to our beloved Guatemala last week.  We originally arrived there in July 2018, on a whim (read that post here), and instantly fell in love with the country.  Since then, we had been in and out of the country, sometimes staying for our allotted visa time of 3 months, sometimes spending a couple weeks at a time.  But each and every time we have been there, we have found more and more reasons to love it.

On August 8th of this year, we touched down again in Guatemala and were instantly overcome with how much we missed and loved the country.

In an essence, we felt like we had returned home.

We had left some stuff there before we headed off to the Caribbean. Originally, we were going to meet my parents in the Virgin Islands for two weeks of fun to celebrate my Mom’s 70th birthday. We flew there on a one way ticket, intent on finding a new opportunity once we got there.

We had grand plans of finding work on a sail boat, or of getting a housesitting job somewhere in the Caribbean. It was the ultimate leap of faith. With no plans what so ever, we opened ourselves up to a wealth of possibilities. Little did we know what was waiting for us on the other side.

Three days into arriving to the Virgin Islands, a housesitting notification came up through our housesitting platform, to sit on an island just to the south east of us. (Read about that here.). It was a no brainer, so we applied, and it turned out to be a much bigger commitment than we had envisioned, but one that we eagerly accepted with vigour.  We ended up working at a Botanical Garden, and the experience is definitely one for the books, though I have yet to formulate the words that will fittingly describe it.

Knowing that we wanted to head back to Canada once our gig at the garden was over, meant that we first had to return to Guatemala to collect our belongings that we had left almost 7 months earlier.  On one hand, the lesson learned was to never leave our things behind, because collecting them means a lot of time and money spent getting to them, but on the other hand, we are so happy to have had the excuse to go back there again, and we really didn’t realize just how much we genuinely loved the country, until we made that return trip.

For us, it really is the complete package.  The scenery is to die for and there is an unbelievable amount of diversity in the landscape. From huge active billowing volcanoes, meandering rivers, spectacular lakes, mountains, valleys, waterfalls, mayan ruins, beachside towns to Caribbean ports……..the list goes on and on.  For such a small country, it is pretty astounding!

The food is also wonderful.  The Guatemalans have flavours all their own, not too spicy, but super flavourful!  We have never been disappointed by anything that we have tried.  The markets teem with produce that is both HUGE and delicious, and just being here, you can feel the connection that the people still have to the land.  They are excellent gardeners and farmers, planting crops on every square inch of arable space, from the flat to the vertical, if they can plant it, they will!   We have seen yards that are right next to the streets, with stalks of corn planted right to the sidewalk.  There are rarely manicured lawns, the spaces are much too valuable, and used for much better reasons than to just look good.  But in the end, they look amazing!  The greenery throughout the country is awe-inspiring, and no town or city is left without trees and parks and places for people to get away from it all.

The mayan culture is something to behold!  We are constantly in awe of the Mayan women in particular, who walk the streets in their traditional garb.  There is no specific fashion sense really, and nobody could really care less what another person is wearing.  There is just an overall sense that everyone is doing the best that they can, and that is just good enough.  There are still many active Mayan dialects, and we have been witness to them being spoken, realizing that what we are hearing was certainly NOT Spanish.

But at the end of it all, it is the people of Guatemala that make this country as special as it is.  For a country that is (what the ‘first world’ would call) poor, the people are just so happy and down to earth and you feel just amazing being amongst them.  Even the ones way back in the jungles, with hardly pennies, rather quetzales, to rub together, they are found laughing and joking, always smiling, non judging and mostly just curious.  They welcome you with huge smiles and eyes that sparkle.  They announce ‘buenas dias’ when they see you, and you can rarely pass even one on a sidewalk without at least a good day, or a ‘hola’ as you pass.  They sit on their stoops in the evening, saying hello to all who pass, local or foreigner, it does not matter to them.  We are all people, and we all deserve to be treated with dignity and respect.  This is the Guatemalan way, and for this, we are so grateful.

But now, here we sit, almost one week back in Canada.  Coming back to my home town of Canmore, Alberta, Canada, to help my parents downsize so that they can sell their house, plus renew our driver’s licenses, has meant a significant upset in our nice and neat routine.  All of a sudden we are COLD!  What the hell?  Isn’t it supposed to be SUMMER up here!?  We have hardly bared our skin all week, and for that we definitely miss the tropics!

We are surrounded by ridiculous and excessive wealth everywhere we look.  A whole society of people that have everything they could ever want in the world.  People who can afford most luxuries, not many wanting for much.  With such excess, one would think that everyone would be happy, that life would be perfect, that they would be over the moon to say hello to everyone that they pass.  With such excess, I would expect more happiness and laughter from people on the streets.  I would expect smiling and happy people everywhere I turn.

But, unfortunately, this is not the case.  Since being back I have said hello to numerous people that I have walked by, and they don’t even so much look at me, let alone say hello back.  People walk the streets with serious looks on their faces, seemingly rushing from one place to the next, barely a moment to sit back and enjoy the moment. This is a very different reality to the one that we have experienced for the last couple years.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s good to be back, but I have to say that the location of where I get to come back to, largely contributes to my happiness in doing so.  You see, I grew up in another sort of paradise.  Not really a tropical paradise, but a paradise none the less.

Massive Rocky Mountains jut up into the startling blue sky.  The air is cool and crisp, but oh so clean and fresh.  A beautiful turquoise river meanders down past my parents house, and we get the privilege of sitting next to it whenever we choose. I am always grateful that I had the chance to grow up in such a beautiful place.

We get to stay in a house that doesn’t need many things to be repaired, plumbing that is usually guaranteed to work, lights that work really well, and electricity that rarely get’s shut off, and only if there is a major reason for doing so.  We get to have long hot showers again, and sleep in a super comfy bed.  We are eating some awesome food, drinking tap water, and working out in a gym.  Life up here is different, for sure, but there are many pluses that we also appreciate as well.

We will be here for the next couple months, continuing to adjust to this very different world that we now find ourselves in.  It’s strange, yet familiar, and as usual, we will make the best of it and do what we can while we are here.  We will do some hiking and fun stuff in the area, of course,  helping my parents to downsize, and doing a few odd jobs that we promised some friends.  The time will go quickly, as it does, and soon we will be heading south again, back to the warmth of Central America.


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: Canmore, Alberta Canada 

Travelling Plans: Our plan is to stay here for 2 months, then head south again.  Details of where and when are yet to be confirmed.

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:)

%d bloggers like this: