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Some Observations of Costa Ricans…..

Published December 1, 2017 by jillamatt

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.

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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.

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.

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November 29, 2017 – Thoughts on Being Busy

Published November 29, 2017 by jillamatt

***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


Today marks our 1 month anniversary of arriving to Playa Matapalo to do our housesitting gig (click here to learn about Housesitting).  It’s hard to believe that it has gone by so quickly.

I won’t lie, the first full day we had here, I actually had a physical tightening in my chest and a panic attack with the thought of “we are in the middle of nowhere, with no car…….what the heck are we going to do all day for two whole months?”  Never mind that we had finally JUST arrived in this place that we had dreamed of for many months.  Never mind that it is on one of the loveliest beaches I have ever seen.  Never mind that it is PARADISE!!

I had just sat down to read a book, something that I hadn’t done in literally months, if not years.  Sure I had books on the go at home, but it would be one quick chapter here and there, quick glimpses in between things to do, where I would quickly try and digest some information, or some parts of a story.  Half the time, by the time I got back to it, I had forgotten what I had read, and had to try and quickly skim the last chapter to figure out what I was missing.

The voice in my mind on that first day was that BUSY-body alter ego that I have that always wants to be busy, always NEEDS to be busy.  The one that invents things to keep her busy.  The one that feels that if she isn’t ‘busy’ then what good is she?  That part of me, lets just call her that, the Busy Body, felt GUILTY for sitting down to enjoy herself.

However, I immediately caught the Busy Body at her tricks and proceeded to lecture her, “Just calm down, you are here to relax, you are here to re-focus, and you are here to heal from the crazy ‘busy’ life that you led.”  I took a few deep breaths, and attempted to put to rest that part of me.  I decided in that moment that I wasn’t going to be that busy girl anymore, I wasn’t going to give the Busy Body what she wanted.  I would spend my time re-focussing my life in a different direction.  Of course, I would spend some time being productive, sure, but there was no need to seek validation from being busy anymore.  There was no need to show others that I was keeping busy, and there was no need to prove to anyone that I was being busy.  That was it.

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The first couple weeks was a time of deep reflection, a time to really enjoy ourselves a bit, and a time to try and figure out what we wanted to do next.  While we came on this trip with a general sense of what we wanted to do, it certainly takes some real soul searching and fine tuning to figure it out for sure.  Chris is pretty set on his Tattooing, which he is really making a name for himself in this community we are staying in, and has many bookings coming up.  He’s doing really great at it, and is on cloud nine with the response from the locals.  It seems that they have only ever had one really good tattoo guy here in Matapalo before, he was from Cuba, and was only here for a short time.  Their only other option is to go to Quepos, a near by city, and we have been told that the work isn’t great.  So suddenly, they are all scrambling to find some money, so that they can get their dream tattoos in the next month.  Speaking of busy, I think Chris will definitely be busy this month!  But a good busy, of course!

I, on the other hand, have many different options of things I could do moving forward.  I have an English teaching certification, I have my online art stores, I have my writing, to name a few.  While I would love to make a living at my writing, I have to say that I am quite aware that that could take time to build.  And so, I have recently focused my time and attention on my artwork, and getting my online stores back up and running more smoothly and efficiently.  Only time will tell how successful they will be, but once the initial work is done to get them going, it should be a good passive income if promoted properly.

Getting this stuff going again has certainly kept me busy, although, it too is a good busy, it’s a productive busy.  We have also started to really create a network of friends in this town.  Ex-pats have been arriving for the winter, and we are really getting connected with the locals.  The last couple weeks have certainly been busier than the first two we had here, but it is a good busy.  It is a fulfilling busy.  We are already dreading the day we have to leave, we really like it here, we could stay a while I think.

Our remote situation is a blessing, and we are happy to be away from the crowds that seem to linger in nearby towns North and South of us.  On various occasions that we have had to take the bus to go anywhere for supplies, we are definitely happier when we return to our quiet little nook.  We aren’t suffering for anything, and I think as more and more time goes by, we realize just how little we really do NEED to go anywhere.  A fruit and vegetable guy comes by every Friday with a truck full of goodies to buy, and we finally have a line on the local old guy on his bike that sells frozen prawns and fish.  Finding what we need, it seems, is all about networking around here.  It’s a blissful existence.

Looking back, I’m sure we will view these days at Matapalo as a wonderful time of transition.  One of reflection, and inspiration.  One of relaxation, and refocus.

At the end of the day, I’d say it’s pretty much exactly what the doctor ordered!

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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.

Notes on my Hometown – Canmore, Alberta, Canada

Published November 21, 2017 by jillamatt

I have to say that I would be remiss, if as an aspiring Travel Writer, I didn’t write about my number one favourite place, and a tourist destination in it’s own right.  My life has been shaped by growing up in Canmore, and I feel incredibly grateful to have done so.  I’ve been thinking about writing about it for a while, but to put my thoughts about it into something that didn’t sound angry and jaded at it’s rapid development, was proving difficult.  I love my hometown, but at times, don’t like what it has become.  However, with my most recent visit back home, I found a renewed sense of appreciation for the parts that I realized I have not lost.  


I grew up in Canmore. One would think that growing up in a place would make me an expert on it. Like I should know all the ins and outs of the town; the good places to eat, the perfect store to shop in, or the best bar. But I don’t. Not even close.

So much has changed in the small Rocky Mountain town that I once knew. Being away now for 20 years, I feel so at home, yet like such a stranger, when I visit. Massive developments are ongoing, stores open and close, restaurants come and go, a few box stores have moved in, and there are traffic jams at rush hour! (When the heck did we get a rush hour??) I can still attest to knowing where many great trails are, or where the swimming holes are, most of those haven’t changed too much. Of course, there are the familiar stores that were there when I was a child, and a few restaurants that have stood the test of time. The Legion is still going strong, and the Canmore Golf Club is a constant mainstay, but really, the town as I knew it, generally doesn’t exist anymore.

One thing that does still exist, and will never change, however, is the stunning beauty that surrounds it. Those mountains, those impossibly perfect massive rocks that seem to just rise up from the ground, will stand on guard in that town long after we have all gone. The stories they could tell would be many, some would be of hardship, but most of them are of prosperity.

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Fall colours meet winter snow as the seasons change in October.  This is looking up at Ha Ling Peak, the prominent peak on the right hand side.

Canmore, Gaelic for “Big Head” (of which you will now see one as you enter the Main Street!), was named in 1884 and by 1887, had started it’s first coal mine. For almost 100 years, it maintained coal mining as it’s number one industry, and at that time was only a seemingly minute spec on a map, if it even made it on the map at all! When I moved there, in 1979 (having been born in Banff) at the age of three, the mines were just closing. The town was undergoing a massive shift. The roughly 2000 people that lived there wondered what would happen to their sleepy little mountain mining town, without the mines that built it? Surely Canmore wouldn’t have the same fate as Anthracite, another coal mining community near Banff, left abandoned when the mines closed in 1904?

In the early 1980’s, however,  after a couple tenuous years, and an uncertain economic future for Canmore, Calgary was named host to the 1988 Olympics, and Canmore would host the Nordic Events. This brought extremely good news to the community, and work was started right away to capitalize on this potential fortune.

Being located only a 50 minute drive West from Calgary, and right off the Trans Canada Highway, means that Canmore is easily accessible. This also meant, back in the day, that it’s accessibility provided an ideal situation, for fast and explosive growth. Shortly after the world wide promotion, brought on by the Olympics, Canmore’s population began to escalate, new developments started to spring up, and things really started to get going.

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I remember when there was no development across the highway, or up the mountains below Ha Ling Peak and the Three Sisters. (I remember when Ha Ling Peak, wasn’t named that!) I remember when we got our first traffic light! I remember when I walked down Main Street, and knew everybody I passed. And of course, I remember when the first new developments were put in. At the time it was exciting! It’s always exciting to see a place grow and prosper, but never in anyone’s wildest imagination did we think it would become what it is today.

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Policeman’s Creek runs through town.

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Policeman’s Creek, just behind the Drake Hotel

As a kid, when I used to travel abroad with my family, people would ask us where we were from. We would always say near Banff, or close to Calgary. No one had ever heard of Canmore, and if they did know Canmore, we were shocked! But, over time, more and more people HAD heard of it, and along side this, Canmore’s population, and reputation, continued to grow.

Fast forward 30 years (yikes!), and Canmore is now just another household name. Of course, thankfully, it still isn’t as famous as nearby Banff, or Lake Louise, but it rightly stands on it’s own two feet as a destination of it’s own. It is home to many 5 star restaurants, has an incredible nightlife, boasts boutique shops galore, and has outstanding tourist infrastructure. Not to mention it contains a plethora of world class training facilities for Climbers, Cross Country Skiers, Mountain Bikers, and many other recreational enthusiasts.

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As most kids in small towns do, we had a rivalry with neighbouring Banff. We always felt that we were better than Banff. Banff was too busy, and overrun with tourists, we would say. We went there, for sure! Banff had an awesome nightlife and ‘clubs’, it had the only movie theatre in the Bow Valley (still does) and it had a bowling alley! We would go there just to walk around the Banff Springs Hotel, or go up to the hot springs. We used it for what we needed, but Canmore was always better, we had decided. It was quieter, it was more peaceful, Banff kids were snobs, we were nicer…….so we thought.

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The Three Sister keep a watchful eye over the town.  This is the view from the engine bridge that was used back in the mining days.  Now it is part of a beautiful trail network that criss crosses the Bow River.

In those days, Canmore WAS just a glimpse off of the Trans Canada Highway. Most people heading to Banff would simply blink, and completely miss us. And I have to say, that until you actually drive off of the highway, and tuck yourself right into Canmore’s downtown core, you really don’t see just how beautiful it is.

However, what really did make Canmore so charming back in those days, WAS the fact that it was the quieter, and equally as picturesque, little sister to Banff. And in a way, despite the massive amount of development (Canmore now has at least double Banff’s population), and it’s international acclaim, I believe that this is still the case.

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Happy to be home and in my element!

When my parents bought their house in Canmore, it was one of only a few houses that were built, on their gravel street. Across the way was a field with trees and horses, and capping either end of the road was ponds, forests and the Bow River. We literally were living in the middle of the wilderness. Over the course of my childhood, we would move once more, to a house on the same street, 5 houses down. In the meantime, the street became paved, and houses filled in the remainder of the block.

The summers of my childhood consisted of long, lazy days, running amuck in the forests, swimming in the nearby rivers and ponds, and just doing pretty much whatever I felt like, within reason…..of course!  My friends and I would head out on our bikes in the morning, inevitably ending up at someone’s house for lunch, and would play until it seemed like time for dinner. Heading back to our neighbourhoods, we would start to hear the Moms call us in to our houses, one by one. Eating as fast as we could, we had the luxury of extended daylight, to go back out after dinner if we pleased. We had the paths and forests mapped out. We knew trails and secret spots that we were sure that no adults knew about. We felt like we were Kings and Queens of the world back in those days.

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Unfortunately, being away for as long as I have been, and seeing new developments happen each time I come home for a visit, I have become jaded with the hustle and bustle of the town. In past visits home to see my parents, I’ve felt that it’s but a skeleton of the town I once knew, and that just as soon as I would arrive, I couldn’t wait to get out of it again. But on a recent visit back home, I suddenly started to look at things in a different way. My partner was with me, and not only did I want to reminisce, I wanted to show him the cool, and what were once “secret” spots in Canmore, not just the well trodden parts he had seen on previous visits.

    (Click on individual images for descriptions.)

This time my visit was different. I re-kindled my curiosity, and set out to re-visit those favourite haunts from days gone by, and in those moments, as I reminisced about the stories that accompanied those special spots, I realized that so much of Canmore has changed, but also so much of it is still the same. At the end of a full day of exploring, and at the age of 40, I finally thanked my parents for having raised me in such a wonderful place!

(Click on individual images for descriptions.)

Now exceeding 16 000 permanent residents (and many more non-permanent), there is no doubt that things are different in Canmore. There are major development concerns, wildlife corridors are being choked off, and municipal park land is being turned into housing, to name a few. But, I am so thankful for my childhood, and I couldn’t be more proud to be from such a great place. I will always cherish my time growing up there, and no matter what they continue to do to develop it and change it, they certainly can’t take that away from me.

To those of you that haven’t been yet, you really have no idea what you are missing. Do yourself a favour, don’t just drive by. Take one of those exits off of the Trans Canada Highway, eat at an award winning restaurant, visit the incredibly charming downtown area, walk the trails, gaze at the mountains, and thank Mother Nature for her truly astounding bounty. Because as I much as I want my small town to stay the same, I can’t think of any good reason that it shouldn’t also be shared with the rest of the world.

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Forever emblazoned on my forearm, no matter where I am in the world, the Three Sisters will always be with me!


Thanks for reading!  Recently, in the first nine months of 2017, my partner and I sold all of our posessions to seek out a permanent life of travel.  We are currently house sitting in Costa Rica, and will be here until December 30th, 2017.  If you enjoyed my writing, please sign up with your email address on the right hand column, and follow along on our journey!

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 photos in the right hand column of this page.

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.

 

Emily’s Voyage Interview

Published November 15, 2017 by jillamatt

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…….


Emily approached me to do an interview after I wrote a travel piece for her blog about Varna.  She had looked into my blog, and learned about what we are doing, and wanted to know more!  As we communicated back and forth, I came to learn that she is seeking a degree in Creative Writing.  I have to say that the irony was not lost on me, as I had many teachers in my early life, recommend that I follow the same path.

However, with all things in life, we don’t necessarily take advice, and have to do things in our own way.  I’m not sure if I was encouraged, nudged, or pushed to learn business in my secondary education, or if I just decided that that’s what I should do, because that is what I thought was expected of me, but that’s what I did, either way.  I have to say though, I am forever grateful for the business skills that I did learn, as they have guided me throughout my life, in all things that I have done.

And now, after 20 years have gone by, here I sit, attempting to build a career on Creative Writing, and navigating this big strange world on my own.  There are times where I feel like it sure would be nice having an instructor, or someone to guide me along, and tell me what to do.  But I do know that there are mentors, and there are other’s doing these things, and if I need help, I just need to reach out for it.

Thank you Emily for reaching out to the traveller community, and asking for people to share their experiences with you.  I know that you have been inspired, and I have to say that you have given me confidence and determination to know that writing certainly is something that I truly enjoy, and it is certainly worth plugging away at and pursuing it as a career.

Life is such an interesting journey, and you never really know where one path will lead.  It is important that when we see an opportunity, or if something feels right, we follow that feeling, pursue it and see where it goes.  Something about Emily’s call for writing appealed to me, and this is where it has led.

I hope you enjoy reading the interview (click here), as much as I enjoyed answering the questions!

With gratitude,

Jill xoxo

When nothing is sure


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 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.

Experiencing a 6.8 Earthquake!

Published November 13, 2017 by jillamatt

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…….


 

Well, after living on the West Coast of Canada for 15 years, and being told that “The Big One” is coming any day, and having only experienced one small, very small, earthquake (4 something, of which I only really felt dizzy for a second), I can now say that I have fully experienced a relatively large earthquake.

We had had a really full day yesterday. I was super tired.  We had been up since 5:00am.

We were picked up early in the morning by an acquaintance that we had met through facebook. He is a Canadian, and his partner is Bulgarian (seriously?! We loved Bulgaria!), and they moved down here 2 years ago. We have a bunch of mutual friends from Canada, so we were introduced via facebook, and told that we really should connect when we get down here.

Joseph is a also tattoo artist here in Costa Rica, so it seemed like a good connection to make, since Chris wanted to do some tattooing here as well. Needless to say, the fact that he only lives 30 minutes from where we are housesitting, made it all that much more serendipitous.

We had a spectacular day with them, first heading to a different, near by, beach. They then took us back up the mountain and into the jungle to see their property, and spend the day with them there. All I can say is WOW! What a place! What awesome people! We definitely connected with them on a deep level, and made instant, wonderful, new friends.

But I have to remiss, as this blog post is not about that, and we have made arrangements to go back there in the New Year, to stay on their property and help out with some projects that he has planned.  So, there will be plenty more to write about that later on.

THIS post is about an Earthquake!

Needless to say, after getting up at 5:00am, I was tired! It wasn’t even 8:30, but down here, it really is the normal time to go to bed. We have been struggling with this. Most people get up between 4:00 and 5:00 here. The house owners that we are house sitting for, have people that come by to do work on the property, and they start at 7:00. The dog that we are taking care of, Omber, usually starts walking around the house at about 6:00, if we haven’t gotten up before then to take him for his walk.

In Canada, being artists, and finding that the time that we were most creative was late at night (not too mention it was the only time we HAD to be creative), we would do our art at night, and usually wouldn’t go to bed until around midnight (or later), and would get up at 7:30 or 8:00, starting work at 9:00.

For the first couple weeks here, we tried this routine, but it didn’t work. The dog wanted to be walked, other neighbours were up chatting away super early outside, the monkeys would start banging on the roof at first light. No too mention that it get’s really hot on the beach by about 8:00, so if we would walk the dog around then, he would be miserable, and so were we.

Slowly, but surely, we are falling into a routine of early nights, usually no later then 10:00, and getting up at 6 or 6:30.

So! I went to bed at close to 8:30. I had my book with me, thinking that I’ll just read a chapter and then nod off. No sooner did I lay down when the craziest feeling overtook me. I felt like I was floating on the ocean, bobbing around like you would in a boat. I heard Chris in the kitchen go “What the F#c@?”

I got out of bed, book in hand, and made my way to the doorway. I’m pretty sure I was muttering something like “holy shit, holy shit, holy shit…….”. Chris was looking around equally as in awe as I was, and said “Holy shit, is this an earthquake?”

I stood wide eyed in the door frame, holding onto it like it was my life preserver or something……book still in the other hand. By then, the gentle ocean bouncing had turned into more of a feeling of walking in jello, or maybe like that of being on a bouncy castle. I just stood there absolutely incredulous, not knowing how long it would last, or how bad it was going to get.

I have to say it was other-worldly, like nothing you could ever prepare for, or understand what it would feel like, until you have been in it. I kept thinking that the walls were going to start cracking, or that the roof would flap or SOMETHING! In fact, this completely concrete house, just rolled along as we did, barely noticing that anything was happening under it. We had stacked dishes high in our dish drainer, dishes from supper, not one of them budged. The hanging light was swaying, but really, that was the only indication that anything was amiss, as far as the house was concerned.

I think this made it all the more incredulous. Like, how in the heck is a concrete house not doing SOMETHING, when we feel like we are bouncing around in a bouncy castle?? Like, somehow it tricked our minds into thinking that we were imagining it. The laws of physics were being played with…….concrete and brick doesn’t bend? What the heck was going on??

Still standing in the doorframe of the bedroom, still staring wide eyed, I started saying “What do we do? I don’t know what to do?” “Do we go outside?” “We should go outside.”

A thousand and one thoughts were flooding through my brain, it’s impossible at this point to even really remember what I was thinking. We were acting on total instinct.  This whole scene only lasted a minute to a minute and a half I would say.

By now Omber either was reacting to our apparent panic, or he felt it to and was wondering what the heck was going on, as he was now pacing around the room as we realized that we should really get outside.

Chris grabbed the house keys, set his electronics away from the window (we are always in anti-theft mode), and we all went outside. No sooner did we get outside, it had seemingly stopped. I was standing in the front yard (not the beach side), still with my book in my hand, open to the page I was reading, and in my t-shirt and underwear. I made some mention of needing to put my book back inside and complaining about being in my underwear. Chris assured me that being in my underwear was fine, as I spent most days out in my bathing suit anyways! As everything had calmed down by then, I did deem it necessary, for some god fore-saken reason, to go back in the house to put my book safely inside! Don’t even ask me how that makes sense!

Our hearts were beating a mile a minute and we just kept saying “Wow, that’s what an earthquake feels like.” “Wow!” “Wow, that was so crazy!” “Do you think there will be aftershocks?”

This went on for a couple minutes, while I think we just thought we would wait there until other neighbours came outside. None did. Apparently this is just business as usual to them? Or maybe they were all soundly sleeping by then? At some point, while outside, I thought I felt like the ground was swaying again, but at that point I couldn’t be sure. We had no reference of anything else moving, like the light swaying in the house, but I did read that there was an aftershock of 5.1 about 4 minutes after the initial shock, so maybe that was it, hard to say.

We started talking Tsunami, and decided that we should go and take a look at the Ocean to see if it was being pulled back, like you hear about. I literally have no idea what we would have done of it was……climb a palm tree perhaps?? I’m pretty sure if it had of been pulled back, we would still have had time to start running somewhere……..not even sure where we would run to as this whole area is very low for about 2 km inland. Maybe we could climb on the roof of the house?

It’s interesting because I have to say that when we arrived here, and knowing full well that Costa Rica is the land of Earthquakes and Volcanoes, and having been told by our friends in Samara that they had already experienced an earthquake, I did note the location of the house, about 30 meters from the beach, and the fact that if a Tsunami came, we wouldn’t stand much of a chance against it.   But along with most of those fear mongering thoughts that come into our brains, I dismissed it, knowing full well that the chances are slim, and not wanting ANYTHING to ruin paradise for me!

After standing on the beach, in the dark, with only Chris’ cell phone to illuminate anything, but still being able to see the waves, and that they were acting normal, we decided that we could go back to the house. Nobody else was outside, it was all very strange.

Immediately, I grabbed my phone and started googling Costa Rica Earthquake. Sure enough, it was a 6.8, and the epicentre was only about 100km away from us, or so. Of course, I also scoured the internet for Tsunami warnings, of which there were none. We were WIDE awake at this point! No sleep for us!

Chris went back to his drawing, I posted a bunch of stuff on Facebook and social media to let everyone know that we were fine, we both had a stiff drink, and after I had decided that it was safe to go back to bed, not too mention after my adrenals toned it down a bit, and my heart stopped pounding, I finally did so, and slept soundly until this morning.

And now, I can say with some authority, that I know what a 6.8 earthquake feels like! I have been reading articles this morning about this event, and it seems as though many people had many different experiences. No casualties were reported, save for 2 people that had a heart attack (??), at least that’s what one article says. If you would like to read more, I have links to an article here, and here.  Apparently some people, did have things fall off the walls, and dishes break.  A mall in San Jose has cracks in the walls and floor, 5 stories up.  Obviously being farther away from the epi-centre, makes it less intense.

In the end, and after all is said and done, and as a lover of experiences, I have to say that I am glad to have experienced this one! I have never been afraid of anything like this, I figure nature will do what nature will do, we really have no control anyways, but it’s nice to actually know what really goes on, and honestly, it wasn’t that bad.  I’m better off for having experienced it, because at least now we know what to expect.  Obviously, things can get a lot worse, but we will hope that we never have to endure an 8+. For now, a 6.8 is just fine in my books!

Pura Vida!

Xo


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 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.

 

November 10, 2017 – No Regrets!

Published November 10, 2017 by jillamatt

***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 


We have been here, at our housesitting job for 11 days, and I can honestly say, that I think things are finally sinking in. In the last couple of days, I have looked around and realized, that this place, this adventure, this journey, has finally come to fruition. We are actually here!

We spent 9 months working towards the goal of selling all of our stuff, renovating our house, and unplugging from life. We found out that we had been chosen to do this housesitting job in April, and spent 6 months working our butts off, just to make sure that we got here in time.

And now we are here. And now, I finally have time to reflect on what we have been through.

To say that it’s been a wild ride is an understatement. I don’t think we really gave ourselves time to actually think about what we were doing, as we were doing it. We just did it. We had a goal, and we worked towards it. No questions asked. In fact, this can also be said for how we lived our hectic life. Did we really ever think about what we were doing? I don’t think so, we just did that as well.

I should say though, that I did start to get a restless feeling of “what ARE we doing”, at some point in 2016. I would ask Chris “have you ever considered that there is more to life than this?” He would shrug his shoulders and give me some sort of “What else is there?” kind of answer, but also more of a question. I suppose that my nagging feeling nagged me long enough that what finally came of it on the other side, is this!

Do we regret anything? Not a chance!

As we settle into our routine around here, we are also realizing that we are in a healing process. Some days we feel energetic and ready to take on the world. We do long beach walks, exercise, do yoga and are gung-ho to accomplish things that we had said we would do as soon as we got here. Other days we sleep for a lot of the day, and just relax. Knowing that this is all a process, and that we are on a journey.

When we arrived to Playa Matapalo, we were ecstatic! Neither of us were sure of the location of this house that we were housesitting, other then it’s general area. I suspected it backed onto the beach, but wasn’t 100% sure. In fact, we are about 30 meters from the beach, in a house that far exceeds both of our expectations. It is the perfect sized house for us, and we in fact have a guest room AND spare bathroom. There is a full kitchen, a cozy living room, and wonderful front porch area and even a washing machine! Seriously, down here, we feel like we are living in luxury! Shit, never mind down here! If we lived in this house in Canada, we would feel like we are living in luxury! Minus of course the cold tile floors and lack of double glazed windows……

However, life down here isn’t perfect all of the time. For example we have our water shut off, what seems to be frequently, lately. And there are the odd power outages. Although we have bars on our windows, we still have to make sure that no valuables are close to them at night, as there are the usual neighbourhood thugs (drug addicts we are told) that will stick their hand through and grab whatever they can if it’s of value. The first few nights were a little edgy as I woke up to every weird sound that I heard, worrying that somebody was at the window. But as I have started to realize that we, ourselves, are not actually in any danger, I have started to relax. These people aren’t violent, and out to hurt us, they just try to get anything they can that can be sold or traded for more drugs. And so, we are very diligent with our things, and don’t leave any valuables in sight, or near any windows.

But these ‘problems’, in comparison to the hectic, hamster wheel, crazy, busy -oh so busy- life that we left, really aren’t problems at all. I have actually realized that I would trade that life for any number of other ‘problems’ that we may, or may not encounter down here.

Our (I am referencing ‘our’ as a collective our, as in all North Americans) experience of living in these ‘developing nations’ (I hate these terms!) can be looked at in one of two ways. We can spend our time agonizing on why they don’t do things OUR way, as in how we do it in Canada. Or, we can realize that maybe the things that we worry and stress about back home, really don’t need to be worried about at all.

For example, this whole water being shut off thing. If water was shut off to a neighbourhood in Canada for even 1 hour, without the citizens knowing about it at least a week in advance, there would be absolute massive outcry. Here, like we experienced the other day, the water was shut off for a full 24 hours, with not a word of advance notice!

And guess what? We survived!

The electrical here is what Electricians would call in Canada, an utter nightmare. They have these crazy shower heating units that heat the water on demand, AT the actual shower head. (Not where we are living now, but in every other hostel or Air BnB we have been in so far that actually HAD hot water!) There is a massive knot of wiring that accompanies this device, and it comes right out of the wall, and into the heating unit, with no casing or anything to prevent anyone touching it.

Oh the craziness of it all!!!

But guess what? We survived that as well! And let me tell you, this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to electrical (un)safety, or at least what we know it to be!

There are so many things that go on in ‘developed’ nations that are just downright ridiculous. We focus our time and energy on these things, rules, instructions, ways of being, as if we actually COULD NOT survive if things weren’t done that way. Rules are made, insurance companies get richer, we run around trying like mad to stay on top of what we are “supposed” to do to fit in with society, and all that is happening, is that we are getting older, and time is slipping by.

Of course, we are still just feeling things out down there, and I am by no means an expert on the Costa Rican way of life. But I can tell for sure, that life is simpler down here. It is peaceful down here.

Anyway, enough ranting about that…….there is a reason, after all, that we have left that all behind. For now, we are focusing on ourselves. We are taking the time to explore our dreams and desires. We are taking the time to figure out what it actually IS that we want to do with our lives.  And we are being gentle with ourselves.  No more unneeded pressure, no more feelings of HAVING to do things.

The world is an open book, and I intend to read every chapter of it that I can! I will not be told what I SHOULD be doing, I will act on instinct. If it feels right, if it feels GOOD, I will follow that lead.

One of my favourite mottos that I have used for many years is “Life is short, let’s get busy!”  Although, I must say that I have definitely left behind a type of “busy” that I never want to encounter again!  My busy-ness from here on in, will be an important kind of busy.  A busy that I WANT!  A busy that I CREATE with care and kindness to myself.  No more being busy, just for the sake of it.  That is gone now, that is the old me.

And so, I don’t know what else to say, or how else to put it other than – Pura Vida from Costa Rica!

I hope this message finds you HAPPY with your life, EXCITED about your life, and most importantly, INSPIRED by your life.

Xo

It's how we embrace the uncertainty - Quote

Thanks for reading!

With these “letting go diary” posts, my aim is to inspire you to find your passion, to nurture it, and to not settle if it isn’t front and foremost in your life.  My passion is travelling, and as such, I am to inspire others to travel.  If you are interested in travelling, please click on the links below and follow along on our travelling journey.  If you are more interested in the act of selling all of our possessions, and want to hear my thoughts on that process, you can go all the way back to the beginning by clicking this link.  Alternatively, if you go to my blog post menu, you will be able to click specifically on my “letting go diary” posts.  

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

Please follow my Instagram Page @justsomewandering  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.

 

 

Troubles in Paradise!

Published November 8, 2017 by jillamatt

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 most of my readers by now will know, we are currently stationed on Playa Matapalo, Costa Rica.  We are housesitting here for 2 months, taking care of a wonderful, friendly dog named Omber, and a beautiful house right on the beach.  To say that it is a blissful existence, would be an understatement.

However, even paradise has it’s challenges!

A couple nights ago, after visiting a neighbour who had invited us over for a drink or two, we arrived back in our yard to a sound that much resembled Niagra Falls, spilling out in our “Bodega” (shed.). It was pouring rain when we left, so we aren’t sure if this was happening when we left, as the rain itself can sound like Niagra Falls falling from the heavens.  Tropical rain is no joke!  Even on a good day!

We quickly ran to get the key and opened the door to an absolute flood happening and water spilling out of a 2 inch crack in the pipe.  There was a valve located nearby, so I quickly grabbed it and swung it to the side, thankfully stopping the flow.  The funny thing is, that valve wasn’t supposed to be open in the first place, as it was to feed our 30 gallon back up water system, that would only get put into use if service from the town was not working for some reason.

We emailed the owners of the property, who live in the US, and they confirmed that I should call the plumber to have him come and look at the problem as soon as we could.  However, Cynthia assured me that they have not had to use the back up system in 7 years, putting my mind at ease that this was not an emergency.

I managed to phone Tony the plumber (no habla Englise, does not speak English), and express to him that we had a plumbing problem.  He arrived later in the day, asked a few questions, (one of which I am sure was “Why was that valve turned on?”, of which I clearly stated “no se porque, I don’t know”), said a few things – of which I understood the odd word- and then was on his way.  I got the impression that he didn’t think it was an emergency either…….

The very next day, and quite early in the morning, we realized that our water in the house wasn’t working.  Chris quickly ran over to the neighbours house to see what he thought, as we had considered that maybe the tanks ran dry for the house, because we had turned that valve off.  No, that was not the case, he had no water as well.  He assured us that this happens sometimes, and to not worry, it would come back on eventually.

Pura Vida!

The water came and went that day, sometimes it was on, sometimes it was off, but by 5:00, it was on for the night and all was well.

The next morning, the water was turned off again around 10:00.  We assumed that this day would be like the one before, and the water service would resume at some point in the day.  However at around 3:00, as we started to deplete our drinking water, I became a bit concerned.  At least the closest Pulperia (convenience store) is only a 5 minute walk away, so I knew we could get drinking water there if needed.  The other thing, to top it all off, is that the power was out from about 12-5:00, dark enough for us to have to light some candles by then.  Thankfully, though, that came back around dinner time, which was nice.

At about 7:00pm, Chris set off to the Pulperia to buy some drinking water, getting the very LAST jug of water that they had for sale!  Obviously the locals knew the drill, and had stocked up before us.  Along the way, he noted that the side of the road had been dug up, and there was clearly work being done on the lines.  Not a good sign.

Now, as you can imagine, having water coming into a house provides more then just drinking water. It provides water to wash dishes and to wash ourselves, but MOST importantly, it provides precious water to flush the toilets!  To say that matters were starting to get desperate in that regard, would be an understatement since Chris has also just developed some kind of stomach bug, which has made his time on the toilet, more regular than normal, if you get my drift!

As the situation started to become clear last night, and we realized that we had no back up system, if the water was indeed turned off for a longer period of time, I started to consider soloutions to our predicament.  The toilets clearly needed to be flushed, and at some point we would need to bathe ourselves.  The dishes were piling up on the counter, and having dirty dishes in tropical countries, is an invitation for a whole heard of problems, as bugs and rodents of a bazillion descriptions would likely eventually find them.

As I jumped into my problem solving mode, of which, I have to say, is usually quite good at figuring these things out, I realized that we had a whole ocean of water at our disposal!  Obviously, not the best for drinking, but we could certainly bring up bucket fulls, do the dishes, and dump them down the toilets, forcing them to flush.  And then, there is the bathing in the ocean thing.  Chris didn’t seem to think it was possible, but I assured him it was, as I have spent 4 months kayaking in the Bahamas, and we did indeed bathe in the ocean every day!

As I type this, our water is STILL not working!  But we have made plans to go into Quepos, the nearest town, getting a ride from one of our neighbours, to get Chris some medicine, to at least sort his stomach out.

We are both in good spirits and can’t help but laugh at the situation.  I have to say though, that despite what could very well be an absolute crisis back in Canada, these troubles in Paradise, really aren’t troubles at all!

_________________

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 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.

 

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