Life in Chefchaouen

I had seen the odd picture on Instagram of its famous blue walls, but of course, those pictures do not do this place justice!

We are currently living in Chefchaouen, Morocco and LOVE it!  Click ‘continue reading’ below to read about just why we love this place so much!

10 Things We Love About Chefchaouen Page Cover

To say that we have been delighted and amazed by pretty much everything in the Chefchaouen area, would still somehow be understating it.

We arrived here  (read about our first impressions) weary and jet lagged after travelling across the Atlantic Ocean from Canada.  We had no idea what to expect, we hadn’t researched this place online, and we didn’t even know how to pronounce the name (it’s CHEF-CHOW-AN for those interested) before we arrived.  Of course, I had seen the odd picture on Instagram of its famous blue walls, which has created the monicker “The Blue Pearl”, but, of course, those pictures do not do this place justice!  Continue Reading……..


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Our Nomadic Kitchen

I can’t say enough about how much we have enjoyed having Our Nomadic Kitchen! 


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!


Back when we were getting rid of all of our stuff, selling our house, and closing down our previous lives, we were given an amazing piece of advice by a friend of mine.  She had seen an article, somewhere on facebook, and she shared the article with me.  It was a post suggesting that if you want to be a full time traveller, you should consider taking a kitchen kit along with you.

It was not something that we had considered at that point, but it made so much sense!  How often do you get to an Air BnB or Hostel and the utensils are inadequate.  You can’t find something to take hot items out of the oven, the knives are ridiculously dull, the carrot peeler is piece of garbage.  It’s so true!  It literally happens ALL OF THE TIME!

Are you a foodie?

Well, if you are a foodie like us, and you love to cook your own food, I encourage you to consider creating a small kitchen kit that you can take around with you.  We use EVERY item in our kit on a regular basis, and we have even gone so far as to saying that, besides our electronics, it is our most valued possession!

Although, in the article, there were suggestions of what she would bring in her kitchen kit, we have tailored her list to our needs, PLUS we have also found unique items to add to it along the way.

I can’t say enough about how much we have enjoyed having Our Nomadic Kitchen!  It has saved our bacon so many times, and it’s just nice to know that we have what we need, and can really prepare a meal anywhere and have the right tools for the job.

I know this isn’t everyones cup of tea.  Many travellers like to travel with only the maximum amount to fill carryon bags, but it’s safe to say that we all travel differently, and we all have our own priorities.  My partner and I travel really slow!  We prefer to stay in most places that we go for long terms, 1 month minimum, if possible, and because we aren’t moving around too much, more luggage works for us.  We find that Our Nomadic Kitchen is a necessary and important trade off for our comfort on the road.

Check out what is in Our Nomadic Kitchen!

Our Daily Adventure Kit:

This sub-kit travels around with us in our day pack once we reach our destination.  This part of our kit gives us the tools we need to reduce waste in the world when we are eating out.

Kitchen Kit #2

Included in this is:

3 Pieces of Bee’s Wrap – These pieces of fabric are coated in beeswax, which means you can fold them around food, and they will stick to themselves, keeping your food contained.  We use these for non-liquid leftovers, to wrap breads and other snacks for picnics etc.

Cheese Bag – The brown bag you see is actually designed for cheese making, which it also has been used for, however, we use it more for getting items from the market, washing vegetables, and using it as a giant tea bag for making large batches of teas.

Metal Straws – Of course we are now all familiar with the destruction that straws cause in our world.  Many places we travel already don’t serve straws with drinks, which is great, but we are also happy to tell them ‘no straw’ when we order a drink, so we can instead us our metal straws.  Every little bit helps!  These are easily cleanable by simply pouring water down them immediately after use.

Recycled Plastic Cutlery – This cutlery is stored with the straws in the fabric pouch that you see.  Of course, these too are used in place of single use plastic forks, knives and spoons whenever we can.  A cute story about the pouch; We had been hauling around our cutlery and straws in our backpack with just an elastic holding them in place.  As you can imagine, we were concerned about the bacteria in our backpacks with pulling these out and using them all the time, so we decided to look for a little bag that could hold our items for us.  A day later we were in a restaurant in Guatemala when I saw a sign that they were selling locally grown and roasted coffee.  We decided to buy a pound, only afterwards realizing that the beautiful hand woven bag that it came in, would be PERFECT for our utensils!

Kitcen Kit #5

In the following photos you will see a variety of items. Let me explain them to you below:

Collapsible Funnel – The blue thing in the top left corner above is a funnel that collapses almost flat.  This is a very light weight item, that takes up barely any room!  We use it to transfer liquids into bottles, and sometimes to filter out liquids from solids.  Plus it is silicone, so it is heat resistant! There are many uses for funnels in the kitchen!

Silicone Pot Holders – How many times has your cooking been in the oven and you are scrambling around trying to find something to take your oven tray out with?  The red items at the top are silicone pot holders.  You simply put your thumb in one side, and your other fingers in the other (like you would a puppet), and their heat resistance means that you can grab any hot item from the oven, or use them to take hot lids off pots etc.

Leatherman Multi-Tool – This tool has many different things on it.  We use it as a small knife to take with us to picnics, and it has many different little tools on it that have come in handy for numerous little projects both in the kitchen and around the house.  If you were to have one item from this whole kit, the Leatherman would likely be the most bang for your buck, and should be every travellers companion.  This also travels with us in our day pack when we arrive to our destinations.

Mini Mortar and Pestle – We found this beautiful little mortar and pestle at an artisan market in Palenque, Mexico.  When Chris saw it, he knew that we needed to have it!  In Central America the spices are sold whole in the markets.  You can shop in the grocery stores for bottles of spices, but the ones in the markets are local and fresh!  This little mortar and pestle allows us to crush the delicious fresh spices that we come across, which add so much delicious flavour to our food.

Silicone Tongs – These are great for so many reasons as well!  Because they are silicone, they are again heat resistant, and can be used to remove hot items from the oven, mix up salads, transfer food from pan to plate and so much more!

Knife Sharpener – The red item at the bottom is a portable knife sharpener.  It not only keeps our knife sharp, but we sometimes sharpen the knives where we are staying as well!

Muddler – Of course, there are so many fresh herbs and spices growing all over the world.  It is wonderful to pick fresh mint and then muddle it into a lovely drink……like a Mojito! We actually bought this at the Bacardi Distillery while we were in Puerto Rico!

Small Shred Grater – This grater is fantastic and is used for so many things.  It actually stands up into a pyramid, and you can use it to grate cheese, spices, vegetables and so much more!  The reason it is dyed orange right now is because Chris has been grating fresh tumeric on it!  It also works fabulously for fresh ginger!

Costa Rican Coffee Sock – These socks are how Costa Ricans traditionally make their coffee.  They simply place the ground coffee in the sock, hold it over a mug, and pour boiling water through it.  We have 3 of these and we use them for both coffee and teas.  They are a fantastic item and can be used over and over and over again!  Plus, we NEVER have to look for a coffee maker, or be frustrated when we don’t have one that works!  All we need is boiling water, and we are golden!

Cork Screw/Bottle Opener – This item is actually excessive as we have a wine bottle opener on our Leatherman.  Plus Chris can open bottle tops with his ring!  So, one day this will likely be purged or passed on to a fellow traveller.

Kitchen Kit #3
Not pictured:  1 good quality vegetable peeler!

Folding Serving Spoon – The spoon at the top actually folds in half, making it marginally smaller.  It’s uses are obvious and it is surprising how few places have soup ladles or large serving spoons.

Silicon Pastry Brush –  Again the silicone means that we can use this in high heat situations.  This is a glamorous item in our kit, but we use it a lot to mostly brush sauces onto things in the oven.

Can Opener – I will admit that this item is not used a lot, since we primarily try and cook foods from scratch, and don’t buy much in the way of canned food. However, we still do once in a while, and this makes opening them a dream.  Again, can openers, like vegetable peelers are often in poor working order in most kitchens on the road.

Spatulas – It is probably redundant to have 2 spatulas, but one is great for large bowls and pots, and one is great for taking with us on a picnic to get sauces and dips out of their containers.  For the size and weight of having 2, we really aren’t that worried about it.

Global Chef Knife – I can’t express enough how nice it is to have a knife that really cuts, and that we can rely on!  Every traveller knows of the crap knives that are in many kitchens around the world.  It’s like the managers keep them dull on purpose so nobody cuts themselves!  Many people have asked how we are able to travel with it, but all of these items go in our checked bags, and we haven’t had any trouble yet!  (Knocking on wood here!!!)

First Aid Scissors – Thankfully we haven’t had to use these for first aid just yet! (More knocking….) But they can cut through pennies, so they have come in handy for many different things both in the kitchen and around the house, like cutting rope, wires and who knows what else!

Stove Lighter – We found this handy lighter holder in Costa Rica, and have only seen one other one since!  Check out the pic below to see how awesome this device is!  You put one regular large lighter into it (remove the child safety if there is one), then you push from the bottom and it provides an easy way to light stoves (kind of like our Bar B Que lighters in North America, but reusable forever!) This has been invaluable in so many kitchens where we have been travelling.  Most stoves are gas, and they are normally flanked by a tiny box of wooden matches.  These are a pain in the butt to use compared to this beauty!  We LOVE our lighter!

Not pictured:

Vegetable Peeler: We have a really great vegetable peeler that we can always rely on to do the job.  Again, this is an item in most kitchens that barely works and is frustrating to use at best!  Knowing that we have a good one makes our cooking experience so much better!

Kitchen Kit #4
Just so easy!  When you close it, you push up on the part where the spring is, and viola, you have flame!

Kitchen Kit #9

Food Storage Bag Clips– These clips come in handy for so many things.  We used to have more of the plastic ones on the left, but when we started losing them, we resorted to buying just standard binder clips from the office supply store.  These keep your bags fresh and your food good, especially in damp and humid climates!

Not Pictured

Zip Loc Bags – When we left Canada, we left with about 6 large zip loc bags. We always wash our bags and dry them out to re-use them, but over time, even they disintegrate.  When we had family visiting us in January, we had them bring a few more for us.  Although we don’t like using plastic, they are necessary for storing liquid food if there are no containers, plus they protect any bottles of liquid that we happen to be travelling with.  They are great for storing food for picnics, and come in handy for storing things like coffee, rice, lentils and other dry goods.

Kitchen kit #8

Whenever possible, we try and build a small clothes line for hanging our coffee socks and ziploc bags so that they can dry properly.  These small clothes pin clips are available in most stores where you travel, or you can bring a small selection of them with you, plus a small piece of string, to make one where ever you go!

All of these items fit with ample room into one of our packing cubes.  The cube pictured measures 14″x10″x3″ and weighs 3-4 pounds.

 

There is still lots of room in it to add items as we see them, but as minimalists, we try really hard to make sure that each item we buy is necessary in our lives, before purchasing it.

What kitchen tools are we missing from our kit?

Although we are pretty happy with our kit, there are a couple items that we would love to add to it, just to make our lives that much easier. We have been on the hunt for a small cutting board that will fit right into the kit.  We are looking for something small and light weight, for those times where we need to cut something while we are away from the kitchen.  Cutting boards, however, are usually found in most kitchens and hostels as a bare minimum, so this would be a luxury item for sure.

We also are regretful that we didn’t keep our flat potato and veggie masher that we had in Canada.  It functions as both a masher and a whisk, and when we head back to Canada this summer, it is definitely on our list to buy!

Are you ready to put together YOUR nomadic kitchen?

As stated above, I can’t say enough how important this kit is to us, and how much we use these items.  We LOVE to cook and are constantly trying new foods and coming up with new ideas of what to cook.  Making your life easier in the kitchen means that you will eat out less, and eat fresher, healthier and more invigorating food.  So what are you waiting for?  Get started on putting your Nomadic Kitchen together today!

PS. I would LOVE to hear stories about your Nomadic Kitchen! Comment below if you, or someone you know does this as well! Or tell me all about the one that you make after reading this post!

Nomadic Kitchen


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: Nevis Island, St. Kitts & Nevis

Travelling Plans: On August 5th we will start our long journey back to Canada to visit family and friends for a couple months.

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:)

Happy New Year – 2018 Review

Within each of these simplified paragraphs, lies a wealth of other stories.  Stories of different experiences, friends we have made, people we have seen, and places we have witnessed. 


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!


HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Well, we have all collectively made it into another year, and the last year of the 2010’s.  This last year has been a hell of a ride for us as we have lived in 3 different countries!  When I sat down to do some writing today, I realized that it had been almost a month since my last blog post, and that I kind of left everyone hanging.  I still haven’t written my “San Cristobal Part 2” yet, and I kind of had plans to do that today.  But then I realized that with the New Year, comes a good time to reflect on all that we did in 2018.  And so, my San Cristobal Part 2 post will have to wait, as I decided that instead, I wanted to do a recap of what this last year has been like for us.  I must say, after writing it all out, it’s amazing to see all the things that we have done and the places we have been.  Within each of these simplified paragraphs, lies a wealth of other stories.  Stories of different experiences, friends we have made, people we have seen, and places we have witnessed.  Along with each of these paragraphs, we lived a wild and exciting life, and we are both incredibly grateful for all that we have seen and done in the last year.  As you read, you will notice highlighted words.  These are links to relevant blog posts that will catch you up on that particular area if you are interested.  Unfortunately, I lost my mojo to write around October, so the last bit is missing some posts, but I hope to get caught up on those in the next couple weeks, though I’m also not going to put too much pressure on myself to complete them, as we have some big experiences coming up right around the corner.  We will see.  Anyways, for now, enjoy the recap!

January started us off managing a cabina rental in Matapalo, Costa Rica.  Matapalo is located right on the beach in the southwest corner of the country.  It is smack between popular tourist spots of Dominical and Manuel Antonio National Park, and it is often overlooked as people pass right by from point A to point B, not realizing that there is a 12 km stretch of beach adjacent to the highway, that barely has any people on it at all.  We didn’t complain about that though, as we enjoyed the first 2.5 months of 2018 (following 2 months at the end of 2017) hanging out on this perfect, quiet, and picturesque beach.

In February we volunteered at a huge music festival called Envision.  It is held annually in February near Uvita, which was only a short drive south of us.  We spent 6 days frolicking about, dancing and partying and really had a great time.

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The middle of March saw us moving up to El Silencio, a remote mountain village set just at the base of the mountains.  We rented a house there for 3 weeks, and enjoyed watching the toucans, scarlett macaws and many other types of wildlife pass by our place.  We visited an incredible waterfall, swam in the river and hung out with our Canadian friend who owned property adjacent to where we were renting.  It was a lovely break from the more hectic life at Matapalo where we were managing the cabinas and taking care of 3 dogs.

By the beginning of April we were eager to move on, and because we had a housesitting gig set up in Nicaragua at the beginning of May, we decided that we were finished with Costa Rica, and we longed to see something new.  So we packed up and headed north to volunteer at an earth bag construction project with a girl that I had gotten contact for when we were volunteering at Envision Festival.

We were located in a very rural part of Nicaragua, well off the beaten track.  We volunteered and lived in our tent for 3 weeks in very dusty conditions, and literally had to pull at least one tick, if not 4, off of our bodies every night before bed time.  It was an interesting experience and we really enjoyed it, but I’m not sure if it is one that I would want to repeat.  April 18th, a civil war broke out in Nicaragua, and as we were supposed to start housesitting in May, it made for an interesting couple of weeks, trying to decide if we actually wanted to stay in the country or not.

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San Jorge Beach looking out over Lake Nicaragua and the to volcanoes that make up the island in the middle. 

We did decide to stick it out, and met the homeowners at the beginning of May.  We were supposed to housesit until the beginning of September but we only lasted about 4 weeks.  We hated to leave Nicaragua, but the political scene was volatile, many people were getting shot in the streets, and all but a handful of tourists had fled the country.  It wasn’t a very nice scene, but again we hated to leave.  As most of the violence was in the north of the country, we had no choice but to retreat back to Costa Rica, to try and figure out our next moves.  At that time, the only other concrete plan we had, was to housesit in Guatemala at the end of November.  So we had a few months to fill in and try to figure out what we wanted to do.

Not realizing how shell shocked we actually were from the experience in Nicaragua, we arrived to a hostel in Samara, a place we had stayed almost immediately after arriving in Costa Rica at the beginning of this trip in October 2017.  It felt good to get back to some familiarity and the warm, welcoming and safe arms of Costa Rica.  We were surprised when we arrived at the hostel to find a small group of us that had fled Nicaragua.  We called ourselves the Nicaraguan Refugees, and we made fast friends and shared many stories.  The owner of the hostel ended up asking us to paint a mural for him in exchange for our accommodation, and we happily obliged.  We really didn’t know where we wanted to go anyways, and we took the time we needed to fully recover and feel like we were ready to move on in our journey and figure out a plan.

We spent about a month in Samara, and left the hostel bound for San Jose, the capital city of Costa Rica, on July 4th.  We decided that it made the most sense to fly north, as we needed to get to Guatemala to housesit anyways, and had discovered the city of Flores in the northern department (like provinces and states).  It is an island city, located on Lake Peten Itza, and upon arrival we immediately fell in love with the area, and started searching for a house to rent for a couple months.  The universe provided for us and we lucked into a perfect rental house for about $220/month.  While in the area, we of course visited the famous Mayan city of Tikal, once the center of the Mayan culture.  We fell in love with the jungle, the people and the area, and we extended our initial 2 month rental period to 3.

After a couple of months of being there, my parent’s came down to visit us for a week.  We had some nice days with them, and headed back to Tikal.  Unfortunately Dad got food poisoning the day we arrived, so he spent a couple days in bed.  Shortly after they left, we started painting a mural for a coffee shop/restaurant/bar owner that we had come to know as it was our favourite place to hang out and use the internet.  However, after 90 days of being in the country, we needed to leave Guatemala to renew our visitor visa, but we still weren’t finished the mural.  So we headed up to Mexico for a week with the plan to renew our visa, then return to Flores to finish it.

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On the steps of Temple IV at Tikal with my Mom. 

We headed across the nearest border crossing, finding ourselves in Palenque in the Southern State of Chiapas.  We were anxious to see how the internet speed was in Mexico, as we had struggled with it immensely in Flores for the time that we had spent there.  As we were both still in the progress of really getting our online shops going, we found the internet issue really challenging especially when we needed to upload high resolution images to our online shops.  So we thought of Mexico as a place where we could get caught up on some projects as well.  Unfortunately, the internet in Palenque wasn’t too much better than in Flores, but we did take a few days to get some work done, but we also frolicked in some amazing waterfalls, relaxed in the park, and headed to the equally famous to Tikal,  Palenque Mayan Ruins.  After the week was up, we returned to Flores to finish our mural(s) (there was actually 3 different walls that we painted on, so I guess it was more ‘murals’ instead of just a ‘mural’.)

By October 19th, we had finally completed the murals and headed back to Mexico as we had plans to go to Oaxaca City to be a part of the Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) festival, one of Mexico’s premier celebrations, at the beginning of November. We first headed back to Palenque, then we were off to San Cristobal, high up in the mountains.  We spent about 5 nights in the busy city, then continued on an 11 hour bus ride north east to Oaxaca.

The city of Oaxaca and the festivities of Dia de los Muertos did not disappoint!  We took part in multiple days of festivities, hung out with friends that we had initially met in Costa Rica, visited a Mezcalaria, visited some artists workshops, went to the botanical gardens and visited the cemeteries to see the fiestas that were happening amongst the families.  It was an incredible cultural experience, and I PROMISE that I will try and get a blog post written about out time spent there.  It was a wonderful 2 weeks, and we FINALLY had found some fast internet.  So we wasted no time in updating our shops, and really getting the balls rolling with them again before the busy Christmas season descended on us.   After 2.5 weeks there, it was time to return back to Guatemala to start preparing ourselves for our upcoming housesitting job.

We returned through San Cristobal once again to REALLY cold temperatures.  We had found it cool on our initial visit, but this time it was down right COLD!  The nights went down to about 9 degrees, and a couple of days it was only about 12 in the day time.  Not too mention that the city is at 7000 feet, so we were pretty much in the clouds which made everything damp and bone chilling.  This normally is not too big of a concern in the north where you have a nice warm house to go into at night, but bear in mind that there is no central heating in these places, and because it was only just a cold snap, nobody had fires burning in their hotels either.  We wore our long johns and toques and pretty much ever other layer that we had, day and night.  We had returned because Chris wanted a tattoo from our new friend that we had met there, so once that was finished, we were happy to be moving on.

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We were REALLY cold! 

Getting back to Palenque (after a bit of a hellish 11 hour bus ride on an alternate route because the normal route was closed by a teacher strike road block) we were so happy to see the jungle again and sit in the warm tropical air.  We decided that 3 days in San Cristobal in those conditions was winter enough for our fragile, and obviously spoiled, bodies.  Living in the tropics for a year has clearly made us soft.  We spent a couple nights back in Palenque, staying in a completely different part of town, which was pretty neat as we hadn’t even realized that that part had existed on our previous 2 visits.  The last day we left San Cristobal, I received news that a childhood friend of mine had succumbed to his short battle with cancer at the age of just 40, back in Canada.  So the time in Palenque served as a mourning stage as I wrestled with the first feelings of homesickness that I think I have ever felt.  With all of my friends from my small home town gathered together to mourn and celebrate his life, I felt very distant and alone, and it took a few days to get back to my normally cheerful self.

We left Palenque and headed back to Flores where Chris had some unfinished tattoo work that he had to complete.  We fell back in with our Flores family like we had never left, and spent another week there visiting and hanging out with the gang.

On November 25th we descended down the Rio Dulce by boat to our next housesitting post in Livingston, Guatemala, which is where we sit now.  Livingston is located on the Caribbean Coast of Guatemala, on a tiny bit of land between Honduras and Belize.  It has a very funky and lively Garifuna (they came from the Island of Trinidad) culture which is mixed with the latino Guatemalans (think reggae culture but speaking spanish).  The community is water access only, no roads reach here, but there is a decent population base, which makes it feel like it isn’t too remote.  We are staying in a fantastic wooden house that was built by the owner.  He grew up here, but his wife is from Holland, which is where they went for Christmas because she likes the Christmas celebration better in Europe (it really doesn’t even exist here), and he doesn’t like the heat (go figure) and loves going to the European winter for a break.

Over the course of our time here, we have had 3 sets of visitors.  Alejandro visited us from Guatemala City.  He was one of our fellow Nicaraguan refugees that were staying in the hostel in Samara while we were there.  He is Guatemalan and has returned home to make some money and save up to go travelling again.  Tom is from England and we met him on our last return from Palenque to Flores.  He spent a few days in Flores, and we got to know him quite well.  After travelling around Guatemala a bit, heading down to Honduras and El Salvador, he decided that he wanted to come and spend Christmas with us instead of in a hostel with nobody that he knew.  And finally Sandra and Ed are friends from the town we last lived in in Canada who are currently travelling around Belize by camper van.  They popped down here for a couple nights over New Years.  So, our time here has been eventful and busy, but we have enjoyed it immensely.

As I type this, we have 2 days left before the owners arrive back, and we will be continuing on our journey.  We have a very exciting month ahead of us as Chris’ Mom and Step Dad are arriving to Flores to see us on January 10th and we will be travelling around Guatemala with them for almost 2 weeks.  Then at the end of January, we fly off to the US and British Virgin Islands where we will be spending 2 weeks with my parents for my moms 70th Birthday celebration.

Beyond that, the only plan is that we have no plan.  Our hope is to find some work there on boats, and somehow make our way back to Guatemala, before we head north to Canada next summer.  Between now and then we have about 6 months to fill in, and I am realizing by now, that 6 months can contain a wealth of experience and excitement like nothing I could ever plan or expect.

If you have read this far, I thank you.  It was an event filled year, and it’s so hard to pack so much stuff into a few words, but I hope it gave you a good over view of how our life has looked for the last 12 months.

We both wish you all a wonderful 2019, and hope that you too can find some time to get out of your comfort zone and find a little adventure!


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

Xoxoxo Happy Travels!


Current Location: Livingston, Guatemala

Travelling Plans: We are housesitting here until January 5th.  After that we are headed up Rio Dulce for 2 nights to stay on the river.  Then we are off to Flores to meet Chris’ Mom and Step Dad for 2 weeks of travelling around Guatemala.

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

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

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

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A Visit to Samara, Costa Rica – Destination Guide

We spent 6 days in Samara, located half way down the Nicoya Peninsula. It had a great chill vibe, and a funky beach town atmosphere!

I have noticed that the title “Travel Blogger” can have many different connotations.  Some travel blogs simply tell of the travellers experiences.  Some travel blogs tell people how to travel; ie. what to pack, how to secure medical insurance, what kind of currency to bring etc.  Some travel blogs tell people about locations and destinations, specifically how to get there, what to do, where to stay, and all the ins and outs of each spot.

As I do with how I live my life, I like to think that I don’t necessarily fall into any specific category.  My ultimate joy is to share my experiences, those that I feel are WORTH writing about.  They might be inspiring, they might make people laugh, they might bring insight into the places that I am visiting.  But above all, they are what make me WANT to write.  They give me great joy in sharing them with the world, which in turn inspires me to “put pen to paper” (I do try to still do that once in a while!), and to just get them down and out of my head.

However, I too realize that there is also great value in me sharing the things that I learn along the way. By sharing a few local statistics, information about where we stayed, what we did, and where we went, I may be helping those out there that are just getting started traveling, and who may need a nudge in the right direction.  Or I may be helping those that feel like my information helps to give them a little insight into a place, which will make them more comfortable with going there.  After all, there IS a reason that the website Tripadvisor is so popular.  It’s because people can either recommend places, or not.  In the grand scheme of things, all information that a person can gather before heading out, helps them to have the best trip possible.

But don’t forget one important thing!  Some of the best experiences do not come about from sitting in front of a computer, doing hours of research about a place.  They come from just TRYING it, from just DOING it, from just LEAVING your house, and heading out into the world!  The beautiful thing about travelling, is that it is absolutely impossible to plan for every eventuality that you may encounter.  That is the exciting part!  That is what makes it so much fun!  That is why we keep doing it over and over and over again.  We get away from our day to day, predictable lives, to places where anything can happen, at any time.  It sends our endorphins into overdrive, alerts our senses, and makes life adventurous.  Humans are adventurous by nature!  It is in our genetic make up that we want to see new places, explore different horizons, try new experiences.  We wouldn’t have spread ourselves all over this planet, in every nook and cranny, if we didn’t.

So, what are you waiting for?

Get out there, have fun and explore!

Samara

Samara is a very cute little Costa Rican town, located about half way down the Nicoya Peninsula (see map below.)  It’s home to about 1500 full time residents, but services about 4100 people that live in outlying areas.  After travelling around in Costa Rica for about a week.  We choose to make a visit to Samara, as I had heard some really good things about it, and because friends of mine from Canada, had just moved there last spring, after purchasing shares in an established bar.

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If you would like to read about our bus adventure getting there, click here.

When we first arrived, we weren’t sure how long we were going to stay.  We promised the man at our hostel we would be there for 2 nights, and just left it at that.  However, he offered us such a great low season rate, and the town turned out to be just the chill vibe that we were looking for, that we decided to stay for the 6 nights we had left before we had to go down to Manuel Antonio to get ready for our house sitting gig.

Because we had friends there that are from Canada, as mentioned before, they were able to take us out of Samara for a day, to have a bit of an adventure at what Nicki said was a ‘secret beach’ nearby.  It was past Playa Carrillo, a vast beautiful white sand beach itself, south of town.  We brought their two new dogs, and they promised a Tico (Costa Rican) style bar-b-que on the beach.  The beach was spectacular as was the bar-b-que.  Eron brought an actual BBQ grill to place over the briquettes, but the Tico style is to weave barbed wire back and forth until you create a grill like surface for cooking on.  Although the cove was a bit rocky for swimming, it had a fabulous waterfall spilling onto the beach at one end.  A perfect place to rinse off after our sandy, beach day.

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Notice the waterfall spilling down at the far end.
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A standard Tico BBQ built with beach rocks, and briquettes to build a fire. Most Ticos use barbed wire woven in and out until they create a grill out of it.

 

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Walter, one of Nikki and Eron’s Dogs wanted a rinse off as well!

We spent the next few days just bumming around Samara, not really doing that much.  We spent some time at the beach, but the weather actually got pretty nasty for our last couple days, and we spent much of our time there inside.  We were happy to just relax for a bit anyways.  The time before leaving Canada was hectic, to say the least, and we were still in recovery mode.

We did, however, take a walk out to the point at the far left hand side of the bay on one day.  It took 2-3 hours, round trip, but we didn’t hurry.  We dunked in some of the tidal pools, and found another cool spring dripping from the cliff walls.

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We walked out to the point behind me in the background.
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Tidal pool dunking!
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A freshwater spring falling from the cliff
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Looking to the island off the point. Apparently when the tide is right, it’s possible to swim there.

All in all, we were pretty happy that it was quite overcast, as it gave our pasty white Canadian skin time to acclimatize and not get completely fried on our first days.

We also spent some sunset evenings on the beach sipping tropical happy hour drinks.  And Chris got to tattoo one of the locals, which really helped him to streamline his portable process, and made him feel good about doing his first international tattoo!

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Sunset from Chicos at Happy Hour!

Unfortunately, I didn’t get a picture of the main drag of Samara, but it’s lined with many little shops and restaurants and leads all the way to the beach.  We enjoyed hassle free travelling here as there were no hawkers or anyone trying to sell us anything.  Not sure if that is a low season thing, or if it is the norm, but it was nice!  The beach stretches a really long way in both directions, and is wide and expansive.  The swimming is safe and there were no rip currents or undertows to note.

All in all, I highly recommend a visit to Samara if you are looking to experience a more laid back, funky little beach town.  There is good surfing in the bay, and you can ride horses and do tours from there as well.  It’s cheaper, overall, then places like Tamarindo and points south such as Santa Teresa and Mal Pais.

Accomodation – We stayed at El Dorado Hostel.  We really lucked out with this place as the only reason that we chose it was because it was the closest hostel to where our bus dropped us off.  It was located off the main drag, making it less noisy at night, and we had a quick and easy walk to the beach from here.  Larry, one of the locals, was living at the hostel when we were there, and he speaks good English, and gives surf lessons if you are interested in that.  We paid $20/night ($45 in high season) for our own private room with a little bar fridge, and a personal, locked bathroom just down the hall.  The kitchen is good, with more fridge space, and the common area is nice with a big table where you can meet new people and make new friends.  The owner is Italian (with a Tico wife), and they live right across the street and are easily accessible if there are any problems.  Highly recommended.

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The road from our Hostel to the beach.  A five minute walk at most.  

Restaurants

Bar Arriba – This is the bar that our friends have bought shares in.  It is located on the main strip, and is on the second story.  There is a great sitting area against the railings, and you can look down on the town, people watch, and witness the world go by all day if you want.  Tip:  The Mojitos are large and to die for!  We were told that this place is the top night club scene after 10:00 (much too late for us, and it sounds as though every patron at that time is half our age!). It also doubles as a sports bar and is THE place to be on game day!  Although we didn’t eat there, we were told that they also have an extensive pub type menu, and do specials for different occasions of the year.

Flying Taco – We went here one night for happy hour from 5-7 and enjoyed 2 for 1 drinks.  We also had some appy’s that were half price for happy hour.  Unfortunately, we were the only people in the place, but I think that was more of a low season thing, then a problem with the establishment.  The service was good and the food was good.  We also noticed that even outside of happy hour, the prices were very reasonable compared to other places in town.  There was a stage and a ping pong table, I’m sure both would be hopping in the high season.

Gusto Beach – This was a great spot to sit and relax at the end of the day.  We spent 3 evenings here for happy hour, enjoying an extensive menu of tropical favourites for only 1990 Colones.  It was great to just sit and watch the surfers in the bay as the sunset started to form behind them.  As it got darker, the fireflies would start to flit about, and the ambience became very romantic.  We didn’t eat there, or look at the menu, but I can imagine the food would be pretty good, as they have put a lot of time and attention into the ambience and decor of the place.

Coco’s Mexican Restaurant – We went to Coco’s on our first night, as we didn’t know where else to go, and it is located on the main drag.  It was my birthday so we splurged a bit, but even with a pitcher of Margaritas, the bill only came to about $55 USD.  The food was good, and they had an extensive menu.  There was a cat that seemed friendly at first and just wanted to be pet, but after we didn’t feed it, it bit me! (It didn’t break the skin, but it was a bite none-the-less.)  Be careful!

Supplies & Shopping – Samara is well supplied with anything that you may need.  There is a large, well stocked PALI grocery store (which was almost right across the street from our hostel) and some pharmacies and hardware stores.  There are many little boutique shops and a strip by the beach where local artisans sell their goodies every day.

Getting There and Away – 

We arrived to Samara by bus coming from Liberia.  If you do this route, be forewarned that you will have to catch 2 buses, the first to Nicoya, and the second from Nicoya to Samara.  The first bus is more like a city bus, and left the Liberia station every hour or so.  There is no place to store luggage, so you must bring it inside, and it stops at what felt like, every km or so.  It is very busy but very cheap.  I think it was about 2000 colones for both of us.  To connect to Samara, you will need to walk about 5 blocks to another bus station.  This bus is less frequent, and you will just have to ask when the next one is.  It was a direct route with minimal stops, had storage under the bus for luggage and was air conditioned!  A much more comfortable ride than the previous bus.  This one also was about 2000 colones for both of us.  Alternatively, there are many taxi drivers at the Liberia station offering a direct ride for $80USD.

To leave, we had to prepay on a bus that goes directly to San Jose, a 7 hour ride, for about $9 USD each.  (Read about that post here if you like.). We were only taking it to Punteranas, but it cost the same regardless.  There is a ticket booth at the entrance of town, and we had to make sure that we bought our tickets in advance, on a specific bus.  Any hostel or hotel front desk will tell you how to do this.  Coming from San Jose, I can imagine that it is the same bus, but I have no idea where to get it from.

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!

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