The Mighty Sahara

IMG_0384 smallI’ve never been one to keep a bucket list. I have places in mind that I would like to visit, and things that I certainly want to see, but they have never been written down, only thought about and dreamt about. Sometimes, and unbeknownst to me, the Universe throws me into one of these magical places, and I manage to live out the most epic dream of that place, that I could possibly have ever conjured up.

I’m delighted to say that the Sahara Desert was one of those places. 

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On Being an Inspiration

I never set out to do this, to become an inspiration.  I had no idea that this would be on the other side of this grand adventure that we are on. 


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 two years, has brought with it the freedom to explore what it is that we really want to do with our lives,  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!


I have to say, I have goosebumps as I write this post.

I just read a facebook post from a friend that had a picture of her packed suitcase, with a caption “…..and that’s ALL I need…🙏❤”

My heart leapt with joy when I saw it because I knew what it meant.  It meant that she had accomplished what seems to be impossible to most, she too sold all of her possessions, and closed down her life, in order to start over and set herself free out into the world.

Natasha messaged me back in the spring, and told me that her and her husband were going to sell everything and head to Mexico, where their friend would have a van for them to travel around in and live out of.  Of course I was stoked for her, but talk is cheap.

It’s not that I didn’t believe her, it’s just that I now know the mental fortitude that it takes, to accomplish a monumental task such as this.  It really does feel like you should win a medal at the end of it all or something.  Like, “Where the hell are all the cheering fans? Don’t you know what I just went through?”

But no, it’s not like that at all.  You just silently slip off, and the life that you once new as your everyday norm, continues on without you. In your future lies a completely new plane, a new universe of opportunities, another chance to decide who it is you want to be.

So when I realized that she had actually done it, I was PUMPED for her!  I am mostly excited for her next transition, the part where she really realizes that she is absolutely free to go and live her life in any way that she chooses.  Every corner presents a new opportunity, and in this life we either take each opportunity, or we don’t, but you can be sure that there will always be more.

In this life you get to choose the direction you want to go.  In this life you decide to do what makes you happy.  In this life you have the time and space to really find yourself.

Of course, there are factors to take into consideration such as the money to do it, how to get healthcare, and other things that we may let ourselves hold ourselves back with.  But at the end of the day, all of those things are secondary to the realization that you have finally taken the first step to truly LIVING your life.  And let me tell you, it is exhilarating!

When you are out there in the world, you are slowly taking in the scenery around you, adjusting to new ways of life, most times to new cultures, and often new languages. Nobody is telling you how to live your life, there is no media screaming in your ear about the latest bit of tragedy.  You aren’t influenced by societies standards anymore.  In fact, there are no standards, at least no consistent ones.

Every culture offers its own set of ‘standards’ that they follow.  In Central America, for example, it is pretty standard across the board to greet people as you pass them by.  Whether it is on the sidewalk in passing, or when you walk into the bank and announce “buenas dias” to the entirety of the patrons, people take the time to greet each other in that way.  Of course, we adjusted to that and many others, and loved feeling we had somehow, in some small way, become a part of each culture that we visited, or at least fit in with it.

And, of course, this is different everywhere we go.  And, of course, we adapt and change and adjust and take it all in.  This is the most exciting part of travelling, just the simple chance to get out there to see how it is that others live their lives.

Because peoples lives are all so different, and so interesting.  It’s impossible to conjure up in your mind what sorts of experiences you will have while getting to know these lives of others.  They are like none you could ever expect or anticipate.

Natasha is on the way to writing a new chapter in her life.  She is heading off to see what the heck is out there!  She too felt that she just needed to get out there and live life, and I am so proud of her for doing it! Doing what she has done takes guts and determination.  It takes a strong mind that is willing to go against the status quo, and it takes strength and courage to fight through the fears that try to bring you back.  The ones that whisper in your ear that you can’t do it.

Today she thanked me for being such a great inspiration, and all I can say is, I am honoured.  I am honoured because by following my passion and by bravely stepping away from a life that wasn’t serving me anymore, I have inspired another.

I never set out to do this, to become an inspiration.  I had no idea that this would be on the other side of this grand adventure that we are on.  My partner and I were simply following our hearts and doing what we felt like we needed to do.  It is in this that I now see what so many before me have said “Just be yourself and do what you love, because you never know who is watching and how you are changing their life.”

And it is so true.

And now Natasha, it is your turn to inspire.  It is your turn to go out there and realize your dreams, and it is your turn to pass your wisdom and experience on to those that follow YOUR journey.  I am so excited to see what waits for you out there in the big ol’ world, and of course, I am cheering you on!

Bon Voyage and Best Wishes!!!

xo Jill


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 that I can!

Xoxoxo Happy Travels!


Current Location: Canmore, Alberta Canada 

Travelling Plans: We have exciting news today!  We JUST booked the first leg of our flights to Morocco in January!  More details coming soon! 

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:)

 

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:)

The Comfort of the Known

It is only in those opportunities where we do something different, or outside of our norm that we have the chance to grow and change. 


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!


As I lay in bed last night, in a moment of some unrest, I had a thought run through my mind, for some reason, about what I would say if the first person that we housesat for in Costa Rica, asked us to do it again.

As stated, Costa Rica, was the first place that we travelled to upon starting this journey.  We had a housesitting job on an incredible 12 km stretch of uninterrupted, sunset facing, perfect beach, for 2 months. We then got a job managing a cabina rental, 2 houses down for another 2.5 months.  We spent enough time there to really get a feel for the neighbourhood.  We had a routine, we had a lifestyle that we had created for ourselves.

The warmth that I got when I thought of doing that, was immediate.  I thought to myself, sure we could do that. Wouldn’t that be nice, heading back to a place we already know.  I didn’t think too much more about it, then drifted off to sleep.

Today, Chris and I were on our usual perch after our day of work at the garden, drinking coffee, hanging out with the Dog and cats, and watching the sunset, when I mentioned that thought.  His immediate reaction was that he would go back just for a visit, but not to stay.

Huh, I thought.  In my mind, I was just starting to formulate a discussion point.  I was going to ask why he wouldn’t want to live there again, and then I caught myself.  I realized in that instant that I was being pulled back to that place somehow.  Something about that place had its grip on me.  What was it, what was making me want to go back?  Of course, being the over analyzer that I am, I was now determined to figure out what.

After pondering it for a few minutes, I realized that I was being pulled back by the familiarity.  Not only is it a beautiful place, and really, why wouldn’t I want to go back? I was being pulled back by the ‘knowing’ of what to expect.  We would know the veggie truck guy, the neighbours, and the neighbourhood.  We would know everything about the place!

How nice would that be?

How EASY would that be?

How convenient that would be?

BUT WAIT JUST A MINUTE!!!

How mundane would that be?

How BORING would that be?

How same old, same old would that be?

For gods sake!

Thank GOD I caught myself!

Immediately after realizing that I was thinking this way, Chris and I got into a conversation about what would seem to be, comfort zones.  We started philosophically trying to figure out EXACTLY what does generally pull us humans back to places and situations that we are familiar and comfortable with?  And while my focus for this deep dive is on travelling to the same places, this theory could also pertain to returning to your favourite restaurants, to camping in the same campgrounds, to repeating holiday destinations, to shopping in stores that we know, or getting our haircut by hairdressers that we trust.  The list could literally go on and on.

Is it laziness?

Are we too lazy to want to learn new things, make new friends, figure out all the ins and outs of a new place?  Maybe we are tired, and we need to rest?  Going somewhere familiar is less work, and easier.  Going somewhere familiar requires less thinking.

Is it to feel safe?

Do we just feel safer going somewhere where we know everything?  Maybe there is a personal security on some level with staying in known territory that makes you feel safe.  Maybe we are scared that a new place won’t offer the same security that we have had previously.

Is it fear of uncertainty?

Do we continue to go back to familiar places because we are scared of what we don’t know?  “What if the new place I go is terrible?” you may ask yourself.  What if we get robbed in the new place?  What if people aren’t nice in the new place?  What if we don’t make friends in the new place?

IS it for the love of the place?

Do you want to go back just because it is beautiful and you love it and miss it?  Or is it because you have friends there and you want to see them again?

There are many different reasons for wanting to return to the same place, but the straight up fact is, that if you constantly “go back”, you will get stuck.  You will stay in a familiar routine of travelling from point A to point B to always stay in the same places, and all of a sudden, there you are, back on the mundane circuit of life.  Back into some sort of routine, a routine that does not challenge you, a routine that allows your brain to almost just turn off because your body just knows what to do.

Comfort Zone Quote

For us, going back to places where we have already been, means that we are taking time away from exploring a NEW place.   We really do want to see as much as we possibly can of this planet in our lives, and by wasting time in familiar places, we take away from that potential.

But beyond just wanting to SEE new places, we also need to consider that no matter what “be all, end all” places we think we have seen, there is always MORE out there!  There is ALWAYS the potential for a better place.  And while I don’t think the ultimate goal is to find THE BEST place (because let’s just face it, EVERY place has it’s own awesomeness of some sort) the goal is to EXPERIENCE as much as possible.

I think it is within the familiar, that we lose the chance to have an interesting experience.  When we constantly repeat our experiences, we don’t grow.  We don’t change as human beings, we don’t learn anything new, we don’t try to broaden our understanding of things, we just exist.  Our brains get stuck in that place, and life begins to be a big blur of sameness, one day passing in front of the other, blending into each other. Weeks, months and years can go by, and you may hardly have noticed.  You will not have those breaks, those experiences, those stories about when you learnt something new, or that time you saw the coolest waterfall that you had ever seen, for example.

When your life is so steeped in routine, that you know exactly what you will be doing each day, you know exactly where you will go for holidays each year, or you know exactly what night you eat pizza on every week, it is in dangerous territory.  This sort of life is not challenging yourself.  You are unconsciously not opening yourself up to new opportunities in order to change your perspective.  You stop learning new things, your stop reaching for higher potentials. A life like this is stagnant.

It is only in those opportunities where we do something different, or outside of our norm that we have the chance to grow and change.  It can be meeting a new person, or seeing a new place.  Maybe we are trying a new flavour, or smelling a new flower.  THIS is when we open ourselves up to learning something new, to perhaps realizing a new way of thinking.  It is in those opportunities when your life gets a little lift, when a smile might cross your face, and when you will feel the most ALIVE!

Comfort Zone


In less than a month, we are, however, heading back to a lot of familiar territory, but just for some VISITS!  First, we head back to Flores, Guatemala, where we lived on and off for almost 5 months last year.  We need to do this because we left some things there, before flying to the Caribbean, and we need to pick them up from our friend who has graciously been keeping them for us.

But we REALLY are excited to head back to Flores.  We made some great friends there when we lived there, and we really want to check back in with everyone, just to see what’s up.  There is definitely the warm fuzzy feeling of knowing what to expect, knowing who we will see, knowing where we can eat, knowing what the costs are, etc,   so we are happy that we have this ‘excuse’ to return, as it will give us the chance to see everyone, and to feed our little familiarity needs.  Plus we are going to get tons of hugs, which will be awesome!

After that, we are headed back to Canada, and to my hometown of Canmore for likely a couple of months.  (More hugs!)  We will be doing some work there, visiting family, filing our taxes (eek!), and helping my parents to start downsizing some of their stuff so that they can sell their house.  As far as familiarity goes, well you know the old saying “There is no place like home.” I will admit that I am excited to cross that Canadian border, to re enter my home country, to be in a place where I pretty much know exactly what is going on!  No more guessing how to do anything, no more wondering what is around every corner.  Even I am happy to have a break from the constance of new experiences………once in a while!

There is no place like home

And while I do know that we could be spending our time, instead, seeing something new, going home is an important part of this journey for us.  Checking in with our families, visiting the people that are important to us, and just touching base with our past, I think, is important to maintain a grounded global perspective.  It is very easy to have our perspectives narrowed by the places we are in, and while I do think it is important to learn about and experience different cultures, it is also important to remember where we are from, to remember our OWN culture.  Parts of it we may disagree with, parts of it we may love, but it is THAT place that helped shaped who we are as people.  It is our experiences in the places that we all grew up in, that have had a huge part in making all of us who we are today.

But, after that?  Who really knows.  We have some skeleton plans forming, but you know us!  We really don’t like to plan too much!  Some sort of interesting opportunity may pop up, and before you know it, we will be off on some sort of brand new 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: 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:)

 

 

 

Figuring it All Out!


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!


I spent some long overdue time this morning cleaning out my wallet and other storage vessels of receipts, airline tickets, and other paper items that I have been lugging around and obviously don’t need anymore.

At first I was just taking glances of what was there and throwing it in a pile, but as I went through them, things started to catch my eye.

The first few I grabbed were ferry receipts from the time we finally had sold all of our things, and left our small, ferry access only, town in Canada (yes, I RARELY clean out my wallet!), they were from September 2017.  Next came the odd receipt from a restaurant in Costa Rica.  Then came the receipt for Chris’ cell phone that we had to purchase in Costa Rica, it’s 1 year guarantee had expired, plus I don’t think we would be going back there to get a new one anyways.

More receipts, more receipts, next was a few from Guatemala.  One that stood out to me was one of our water bills that we had to pay for the house we were renting in Guatemala.  It struck me as something that was significant.  Suddenly I realized that my wallet was a bit of a timeline of things we had done in the last 20 months,  a collage of not only things we experienced, but of things we had had to figure out.

Guatemala Water Bill
Guatemala Water Bill (This equals about $7/month!)

Each and every place we have travelled to, we have had to figure out the ins and outs of how to do things.  Whether it is getting a new sim card so that we can have a local phone number, to finding out how to pay our water bill, to learning that we need to have a LOCAL driver’s license (which is the case now) to legally be allowed to drive in a certain country.  Every place has it’s ins and outs, and every place has mysteries to solve.

I realized that these things were never something that we had worried about before we got to each place we went.  They were all things that just sort of popped up once we got to a place, and as people generally tend to do, we problem solved, and figured it all out as we went along.

I think, in general, people spend a lot, like a lot A LOT of time, worrying about the ‘what if’s’ or the ‘how to’s’.  I see post after post on some of the nomad forums that I am a part of with people asking tons of questions about a certain place that they are going to.  They want to know all the details about a place, before they even get there.  Of course, some things are legit, like whether or not you can bring in certain medications, or how complicated it is to bring a pet or an animal into a country.  But much of it is simple and mundane things that really aren’t that big of a deal, and will easily be figured out upon arrival.

How many of us get so stuck on the details, that we get frozen in place?  How many of us wonder so much about the little things, that the big thing is forgotten about entirely?  I think it’s important for each of us to realize that worrying about the little details, is impacting how we live our lives, and how we move forward in general.  This isn’t specific to travel, this can be about anything.

Anything that is worried about in the future, is taking away from our time now.  You are wasting your precious time here on Earth, and are thinking about something that you literally have no control over anyways.  EVERYTHING in the future is unpredictable.  ANYTHING can happen at any time!  Doesn’t it just make sense to live life in the moment, take in all that we can TODAY?  Is tomorrow a guarantee?  I don’t think so!

If you are stuck on some details about the future right now, I encourage you to take a step back.  Consider what is in your power in THIS MOMENT, take action on those things, and figure the rest out when it comes.

Living like this, has enriched my life beyond words.  Living like this makes me appreciate my day to day existence by making me more open and aware of my surroundings.  I have power in the knowing that I am making conscious decisions about how I want my life to look.  And I’m not talking about how it’s going to look in the future, I’m talking about the actions that I take each day, that will shape my future.

We will all get to where we are going, step by step, one day at a time.  Do the best you can in each moment, because, at the end of the day,  it is all that you really have control over anyways.

And of course, we will NEVER figure it ALL out!  So please, stop trying to:)

quote_if-you-are-depressed


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: We have committed to being here until mid-August.  After that we plan to head back to Canada for a visit, before returning to Guatemala to host our art retreat.

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.

20180518_140628
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.

IMG_1114
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.

img_2586
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.

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:)

Overwhelmed? Stressed? Anxiety Ridden? How Many of us Feel This Way?

Buying stuff WILL NOT make us happier.  Having the latest and greatest gadgets WILL NOT make us happier.  Working our asses off and saving up for ‘retirement’ WILL NOT make us happier!  So don’t let it happen!


Over the course of 9 months in 2017, my partner and I sold all of our possessions, including 2 vehicles, and a house full of stuff. In order to sell the house for its maximum value, we also completed 3 months of renovations that had been lingering for over 3 years. We wrapped up 2 businesses and left a town and tight knit community that we both cherished. We did all of this in order to seek out a life of freedom, away from the hustle and bustle of the 9-5 life, but most importantly, we did it so that we could travel. This is our story…….


In recent weeks, my email inbox has started to receive a few kind messages from different people letting me know that our story is inspiring them in some way.  Whether they are living vicariously through our travels, or they are struggling with getting rid of an overload of ‘things’ in their lives, they are reaching out.

The other day I received the following message from Arnold.  With permission from Arnold, I am able to post his letter here (copied and pasted as written) with the hopes that others will learn from, or be inspired by his story.  He writes:


Hello, I enjoyed reading your story very much.  I am currently at a crossroads myself. I am sixty years old and living in the house I inherited from my parents. This is my fifth house but the only one with only a fifty thousand dollar mortgage left. My dad passed five years ago and I moved from Vegas to Connecticut to be a caretaker for my handicapped mother. She passed a year ago. Because caring for my mom was a full time job I have not worked in five years. I do play in a very popular band which plays about 120 gigs a year but don’t earn much money. In fact I am in debt up to my neck. Getting shut off notices from everyone. I have even been driving without car insurance for two weeks. This alone keeps me awake at night. The house like yours needs a great deal of work but I don’t have the resources to make these repairs. It is currently up for sale as is. Some interest but not a lot. If I do sell I might walk away with $100,000.00. Not much but I need to find a way to unplug from getting a bill from someone every time I turn around. And like you I am governed by my stuff. I have three cars. WTF. I am coming around slowly to getting rid of stuff. Hard for me but I know in my heart and more importantly in my head that it is the right thing to do. One thing that I liked about your story is you live in Costa rica. I have heard many great things about this region and would like to learn more. I have no problem living outside the US because everything, EVERYTHING is so expensive. I know I am not framing my thoughts very clearly but just wanted to say hello and hope that your story inspires me. I want to live life and be happy. I don’t want to be burdened with to much responsibility. Been there done that. Raised four kids and had a business that made millions. All gone. lol I just want simple. I want to unplug and detach from the norm or what’s expected of me. In a way I blame my parents generation. They instilled in us that success was measured by how big your house was, how pretty your wife is, and how smart your kids are. Bullshit. All this mentality does is chain you to seeing these things come to fruition. Work the same job for decades to keep it going. Well I’m going to try to find Minimalism now and watch it. Thank you for lisening. Arnold.


My question is this:  How many of us feel this way?  How many of us are overwhelmed and desperately just want to unplug from it all?

There are a few key points to discuss in Arnolds message, and I will attempt to break them down below.

  1. “I’m in debt up to my neck.”
    • This is a sentiment that rings familiar with so many people across the Western World.  Societies push to have the ‘latest and greatest’ gadgets has created an overbearing consumer society.  People simply do not have the money to purchase items, but they use their credit cards to do so instead with the hope to pay it off someday.  Arnold is certainly not alone in this!  In fact, here is a link to the average debt that American Households have, and being a Canadian, I can guarantee that these stats are just as applicable there as well.

      Here’s the Typical American’s Debt Load

  2. “I do play in a popular band……..”
    • I have to say…….KUDDOS to Arnold for continuing to do what he loves, despite the overwhelming pressure (likely) to get a job to pay off his debt.  If Arnold didn’t do what he loved, he would likely be much further along down the Rabbit Hole of depression.  Stress and Anxiety have reached EPIC proportions in the US and beyond.  It is CRUCIAL to unplug from your worries of life, by being creative in some way.
  3. “if I do sell, I might walk away with $100 000. Not much………”
    • $100 000 in Canada and the US, definitely is NOT MUCH money.  But, after living in Central America for over a year now, I can certainly attest that it is PLENTY for down here.  Chris and I housesit as much as we can, or find locals houses to rent in other places where we aren’t housesitting.  In Flores, Guatemala, we rented a 2 bedroom, 2 bathroom house with a beautiful deck overlooking a lake for $225/month.  When we shopped at the market, we would spend about $15-$20 for a week of produce.  Eating out was also inexpensive.  Even in the nicest restaurants in Flores, our meal cost would top out at $30, for both of us, including a couple drinks each, but we also frequently visited the street food stalls that usually charge no more than $4 for a very fulfilling meal.
    • I haven’t kept perfect accurate records of our expenses, but I estimate that the last year of living has cost us about $15 000.  Bear in mind that this does include some travelling and staying in Air BnB’s, plus a flight from Costa Rica to Guatemala.  This is everything combined.  In Arnolds case, if he stayed in one place, and lived like the locals, he could likely get by on $7000-$10 000 per year.  Suddenly, with no bills to pay, and all of his debts paid off, Arnold’s $100 000 will go a seriously long way!
  4. “I am governed by my stuff……”
    • This is an all too familiar sentiment for so many people.  I myself was completely governed by my stuff.  And worse, I didn’t even realize it.  Watching the Minimalism documentary, opened my eyes up to the fact that my stuff was controlling my life.  I had spent years building up mountains of stuff all around me, yes I too wanted ‘the latest and greatest’ gadgets.  My life ran off of credit, house payments, loan payments, car payments……the list goes on and on.
    • After living for over a year with only what I can carry around with me, I can tell you with 100% authority that WE DO NOT NEED ALL THAT STUFF!  Sure you might need a few things here and there to make your life comfortable.  But in Arnolds case, he has 3 cars!  What does one person need 3 cars for?!  When we sold our cars back in Canada, we vowed never to own a money pit like that again!  It is one of the largest expenses that we have in the North!  Insurance, gas, car payments, maintenance…….it all adds up to being so much money!  Then when you go to sell it, it is worth basically nothing.
    • In the last year we have ridden on buses, tuk tuks, taxis and any other means of public transport.  When we can, we walk!  We haven’t walked as much in the last year as we have for most of our lives, I’m sure.  When walking isn’t an option, riding public transport is always affordable.  The people down here rely on these services because many of them certainly can’t afford a vehicle.  They are well used, and cheap!  There is no need for vehicles in any place that we have lived so far.  Sure, having a car would have made our lives a little easier in some spots, but we didn’t NEED one.  That is the difference.  Up north we buy things (whether we can afford them or not) because we WANT them, not because we NEED them.  It’s important to create this distinction for yourself and figure out what it is that you only NEED.  Get rid of the rest! Click here for my blog post about How to sell all of your things to travel full time. Even if travelling isn’t your end game, it will give you insights into how to tackle selling at least some of your possessions.
  5. “Had a business that made Millions. All gone. I just want simple.”
    • It is with sadness that I hear this.  Arnold obviously had a productive life back in his younger years.  Made lots of money, bought lots of stuff.  But where has that gotten him?  Here he is at the end of it all, saddled with debt, an overwhelming amount of stuff, and trying to figure out how to get himself out of it all. How many people have worked so hard their whole lives, just to get to this same place?
    • Well, I’m here to tell you that NO MATTER HOW OLD YOU ARE, it is NOT TOO LATE!  At 60 years old, Arnold hopefully has much time ahead of him.  But you know what?  None of us know just how much time that we have.  It is so important to take the steps to make you happy NOW!  Life is short, and we really need to make it count!  I can not STRESS this point enough!
    • After realizing that I had too much stuff, and also realizing that I constantly was trying to figure out ways that I could do more travelling, I FINALLY came to the conclusion that my stuff was getting in the way of it all.  If I wasn’t burdened with all the stuff, all the bills, all the RESPONSIBILITY, I could unplug from it all, and head out into the world to travel freely.  This realization was the single most important lightening bolt moment that I have ever had.  But the thing is, I acted on it!  I didn’t just sit there and feel sorry for myself.  I got busy!  I started selling things!  In a small amount of time, things snowballed and we kept at it.  And in 9 short months, we were heading off on a totally different adventure in life.
  6. “In a way I blame my parents generation.”
    • Yes, I can understand this sentiment.  Society has structured our lives in such a way that in order to succeed at life, we need to go to college, get a job, find a husband or wife, have kids, work our butts off, then retire.  I agree with Arnold, it is all BULLSHIT.  But you know what?  We can change the dialogue any time that we choose to.  WE can decide that we don’t want to live that way, and that alone is where our power is.
    • Having lived in Central America for the last 13 months, has taught me that there is much more to life than all of this.  Granted, nobody here can figure out why we don’t want kids…..but that’s a totally different story.  But no, here they know how to enjoy life.  If they need to work, they go out and find work.  If a restaurant owner is tired from partying the night before, they simply don’t open the next day.  If a group of men are sitting around on a porch on a Wednesday afternoon drinking, nobody questions it.  Nobody gets mad at the restaurant owner, they just go somewhere else.  Nobody wonders why the men aren’t working, it’s none of their business.
    • There is no pressure to be as busy as you can be.  There is no pressure to work yourself into exhaustion.  There is no pressure to ‘get a real job’.  People in this culture ENJOY their lives.  They live for the day, they live for the moment.  They don’t worry about some far off distant place called ‘retirement’.  If they feel like going fishing for a day to feed their family, instead of working to buy groceries, then they will do that instead.  The community spirit is strong, and neighbours support neighbours.  They work together to help each other if they need it, and everybody has SOMETHING to share with others, despite seeming like they have nothing at all.  It is a beautiful thing!

I know that Arnolds story is not unique.  I know that MILLIONS of people are feeling just like he is, in many parts of the world.  Trying to fit into societies standards has been a great undoing of the western worlds culture.  Until we realize that, individually, we need to live life to the fullest, be our happiest, and do what we love, the world will continue to dump its expectations on us, and we will continue to be over worked, over tired, and over run with anxiety and depression.

Buying stuff WILL NOT make us happier.  Having the latest and greatest gadgets WILL NOT make us happier.  Working our asses off and saving up for ‘retirement’ WILL NOT make us happier!  So don’t let it happen!

It is time that we all, individually, started living life to be happy.  Find something that fills your soul and try not to worry about the money.  If you put your best out into the world, you will be rewarded in some way.  Things will fall into place all around you, and you will be surprised by what life has to offer.  Be a role model for your friends!  Show them how life can really be lived!  Show them how they too can be happy and stress free!

Thank you Arnold, for writing me to let me know where you are at in your process.  And for all of you others out there, that are feeling the same way as Arnold, please don’t hesitate to share YOUR story with me.  I really do care about helping you to become a better version of yourself!  You can do it!  I know you can, and I am cheering you on 100%!


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 the beginning of January 2019.

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.

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One Year of Location Independence (aka Being a Digital Nomad)

“Yeah, but if we had never left there, then we wouldn’t know what else is out there to miss.” 


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…….


On September 20th, 2018, we celebrated our one year anniversary of being Location Independent.  It’s hard to describe in words what that means to us, or how it makes us feel.  It is definitely hard to believe that it’s been a year already, but at the same time, we have experienced and done so much that it could easily fit into some peoples lifetime of experiences. 

On that day in 2017, we left a town that we both loved.  We weren’t leaving it because we were tired of it, or sick of it per se.  No, instead we were leaving it because we wanted to take a chance at living an exciting and exhilarating life.  We wanted to see what the heck was out there.  We wanted to see life from a different perspective and learn how others live around the world.

Most of all, we wanted freedom. 

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When we left our town in Canada, we had to take a ferry.  This is our getaway vehicle waiting in the line up on a typical stellar west coast evening.  September 20, 2017.  To read that story click here.  From this post I mostly enjoy the following section:”This is it!  I have once again found joy!  THIS is what I have been searching for!  I vow to myself to never let it go again.”

We wanted to be the ones dictating our time.  We wanted to be the ones in the drivers seat.  We were tired of living life while conforming to some sort of unwritten standards that society had presented us with.  We were tired of seemingly working so hard, but never getting anywhere.  While there is so much more that I can say on this topic, I will leave it for now, as this isn’t a post about ditching the conventional life…….well I guess it is, all of my posts are, really.  But no, I want to dive into what we have learned in a year, a couple key takeaways from living life in the tropics, and how we have shifted and grown during this year.   

Let’s talk about the weather.   

Experiencing perpetual summer for a whole year has been interesting.  Watching friends and family chat about the weather and the changing seasons on Facebook has been entertaining.  I’ve really noticed how much energy is put into either loving the weather or hating it.  How people post about the snow and the rain, reporting on what mother nature is dishing out in their neighbourhood.  Now don’t get me wrong, I have certainly posted things about the weather from down here, but I have to say, it certainly doesn’t occupy my brain or my time like it did while living in the North.  I can see how seasons dictate our lives up there.  We are either planning for winter, or planning for summer.  Getting out the summer gear, or putting it away for the winter.  We garden in the summer, hibernate in the winter.  We go camping and enjoy the outdoors in the summer, stay warm and indoors in the winter.  For good reason obviously, the temperature dictates our lives in the northern climes. 

Down here, everyday is the same.  Most days we get a bit of rain (and let me tell you it does rain HARD when it does), but it never lasts long.  Usually no more than an hour or 2 at the most, then it clears off again and it’s business as usual.  Nobody frets about it, nobody looks at weather forecasts, nobody seems to care one way or the other what happens, they just take it as it comes.  If it’s raining, they may take an umbrella, but they certainly don’t let rain get in the way of them accomplishing their tasks for the day.  It’s literally a non issue.  Unless of course a hurricane is coming, but if that is the case, everybody knows that there is nothing that they can do about it.  If it happens, it happens and they just need to hunker down and ride it out.  There is no worrying about it, or preparing for it, it just is.  They do not give it ONE OUNCE of energy. 

Creating community and calling a place home.

After now living in our 3rd place for over 3 months at a time, we have begun to notice some trends in our ability to create community.  It seems that it takes a little while to really start to feel like we belong in a place, like we have friends and a bit of a network around us.  However, it has happened, each and every time. 

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Our rented house in San Miguel, Guatemala.  San Miguel is accessed by a 3 minute boat ride from Flores.  
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Very nice and modern.  We have loved living in this house.  2 bedrooms and 2 baths for approx $220/month.  

Eventually people start to recognize us in the neighbourhood, and notice that they have now seen us for longer than they would see other travellers for.  They start to ask us our names and shake our hands, and say hello as we pass.  Chris’ large stature is a hit with the local men, and they all want to high five and fist bump him whenever they get the chance.  I think secretly they all want to look like him as well:). After a time, we start to feel like we have a support network, and that if we need anything, any of our community members will happily help us out.

After a couple months in one place, we start to notice that some things also start to annoy us.  Like the drunken man next door that tries to speak slurring-ly over the fence at us in some sort of broken drunken spanglish.  Or the lancha (boat) driver that still tries to charge us the tourist rate, when we have told him numerous times that we are living here and we are supposed to get the locals rate (because that’s what every other driver charges us). 

Something else we have noticed, is that no matter how hard we try, it seems, our lives seem to get surrounded in some sort of crazy drama.  It’s never our drama, it’s always that of others, and of course, we try to keep an arms length away from it all, but somehow we simultaneously  get in knee deep before we realize it has happened.  The drama never has anything to do with us, but we somehow become emotionally involved in other peoples lives.  It’s an interesting thing to notice, but I’m not sure there is much we can do about it.  We are both compassionate and caring people and, well, I think it’s just part of our make up.  Surmise it to say that we never get involved enough that our personal freedoms are threatened, that’s for sure.  But it’s interesting to note that it exists every where we go.  I guess it’s just human nature after all. 

Missing places yet always feeling the need to move on.

The other night, as we cruised back across the lake from Flores, to our Home in San Miguel, I took a moment to take in the sights around us.  It was a perfectly still night, the lights were reflecting off the water in the stunning manner that they do.  Our shuttle across the lake was filled with locals and their motorbikes, coming home from their busy days. 

I turned to Chris and said “We are going to miss this.”  We love riding the boat back and forth to town, and at the end of a busy day, it’s the tranquility and peacefulness of it all that sheds the stresses and busyness of being in the city and amongst the traffic and noise.  Once out on the water it feels like it all falls away. 

Chris agreed, yup, we are going to miss this.  But in the split second it took him to say yes, I also realized that we had said this before.  We said it when we left Matapalo, and our 4 months of living on a spectacular Costa Rican beach.  I stated “Ya, but we said that when we left Matapalo as well.”  He replied “Ya and I still miss that beach.”

Yeah, I do too, there is no doubt about that!  But instead of voicing this, I said “Yeah, but if we had never left there, then we wouldn’t know what else is out there to miss.” 

“Fair enough” he said. 

We wouldn’t have had our experience in Guatemala, floating in a boat across this perfectly still lake.  We wouldn’t have had our exciting, yet sometimes crazy, experience in Nicaragua.  We wouldn’t have experienced living in the base of the Costa Rican mountains, in a traditional Costa Rican house, the jungle around us rife with parrots and Scarlett macaws, Toucans and Butterflies.  We quite simply would not have a lifetime of stories to tell in one year, if we hadn’t have left that beach. 

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Spectacular sunset over Lake Peten Itza.  This is our highway home at the end of the day.  

This is the life that we have chosen.  This is the life that we want to live.  We love the feeling of community, we love getting to know a place, and to make it home for the time being, but we also like to leave, to set out into a new frontier, to find a new and interesting place.  We don’t know if it will be better, we don’t know if it will be worse, but it will be different, and that is all that matters. 

We now know with 100% certainty, that if we can create community in three places so far, we can create community wherever we go.  It is out there, it is all around us, we just need to reach out for it. 

Soaring confidence and creativity.

This year, after pulling ourselves away from so many distractions that we both faced up North, we have found that our creativity has soared.  We literally can not get our ideas for art out of our head, and onto paper, canvas or walls quick enough.  Through this, we have begun to find an inner confidence in ourselves that I know both of us were lacking while living in the north, and among so many other talented artists in our community. 

This confidence has spread out into the rest of our lives.  We are realizing that if we can paint a mural, something both of us would NEVER have attempted while in Canada, then we can do anything.  In fact, I have had a book idea about creativity that has been brewing for some years now, and I am finally getting down to writing it.  It is coming out of me bit by bit, but it is coming none the less.  So stay tuned for that on the horizon!

Because of this new found confidence, on October 13th, we are hosting our very first art show!  While in Flores, our rented house has had no wifi (which is also my excuse for not keeping up with the blog), so our nights have mostly been spent deep in creativity.  Whether it is drawing or painting or working on the iPad, we have both created an pretty astounding body of work while here. 

So, because we are Nomads, and we can’t possibly drag around every piece of art that we create, we have decided that it’s best to sell our originals as we go.  The show will be hosted at San Telmo, a funky bohemian bar that has an incredible Terrace upstairs that looks out over the lake.  In this spot, we have also been painting a couple murals for the last 3 weeks, so it will double as an unveiling of those.  We are approaching this with nervousness and apprehension as it is the first official art show that either of us has ever had.  But we know that it is just like everything else that we have accomplished on this trip so far, we just have to summon up the courage and go for it!  Hopefully we sell a bunch as they will certainly be priced to sell, but don’t worry!  We have found a place in Flores that will scan them for us and we will be able to upload them to our online platforms and share them with you on Facebook and beyond!

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A portion of the mural that I am working on at San Telmo.  Chris has his own section, which means a lot less arguing between us than there was on the last collaborative effort!  🙂 . By the way, this is the first set of eyes that I have painted EVER!  I’m pretty happy with how they turned out:)
San Telmo Art Show October 13
This is our art show poster.  When trying to come up with a name for the show, we realized that the show is an extension of the life that we have chosen, so decided to name it the same as our blog and travelling brand.  In the future we hope to have a scheduled night in a hostel or other tourist gathering place where we sell our art, plus have a bit of a presentation about what it is that we are doing in an effort to inspire others to live the life they only dream of as well . The hummingbird in this poster is part of Chris’ mural that he is working on.  

As per usual, we are so grateful for this life we have chosen and for the people that have supported us along the way.  Thank you for reading and we look forward to sharing more news about our next adventure very soon! 

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My Mom and Dad made the trip down to Guatemala to visit us for one week at the end of August.  We had a really great visit, but unfortunately when this photo was taken, at the top of the largest temple in Tikal, Dad was sick with food poisoning in bed!  I am so grateful for their love and support of this life that we have chosen to live!  

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

Xoxoxo Happy Travels!


Current Location: We are currently in Palenque, Mexico on a quick one week trip to renew our 90 day visa for Guatemala.

Travelling Plans: On September 30th, we will return to Flores until Approximately October 15th.  Then we will start heading west again and up to Oaxaca, Mexico for about one month.  On November 26th, we will be housesitting on the Caribbean Coast of Guatemala for 6 weeks.

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 receive added travel content by contributing a minimum of $2/month to our Patreon account, 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 to your email inbox.  🙂

Majesty, Mystery and Magic at Tikal

Pictures will never do justice to a place like Tikal. You simply have to experience it.


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…….


How does one put into words the sense of being in a place as truly astounding as Tikal? 

I have seen many photos through the years of Tikal, and the photos have been truly incredible.  Incredible enough that for as long as I can remember, I have wanted to go there.  But it’s always been some thought that was deep back in my subconscious, lingering and waiting for the right opportunity to present itself.  I don’t necessarily have  a ‘bucket list’ per se, but I know that many other places exist in there as well, and their time will come to fruition also, when they are meant to. But, I have to say, many other places that I wish to visit, probably won’t pull me into their depths like Tikal has. 

When I set foot on this ancient land, I suddenly felt like I had come home.  Like somehow, someway, I had lived there before.  I walked the trails with a calm sense of knowing where I was being led, feeling an invisible pull from location to location, temple to temple. 

Pictures will never do justice to a place like Tikal.  You simply have to experience it.  It is profound, it is absolutely mind blowing, and it is transformational. 

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Our day began early, we caught a 5:30am shuttle bus in front of a nearby hotel that is located in El Remate, the closest town to Tikal National Park.  There was 4 of us waiting for it, the other 2 were well into their late 50’s or early 60’s.  As the medium sized bus pulled up, it looked like it was some sort of travelling slumber party.  The average age on the bus was about 19, and maybe one or 2 of them were wide eyed and bushy tailed to start their day, but the rest were sawing logs.  Realizing that they had come from a hostel in Flores, another hour away, I can imagine that their morning started much earlier, and knowing the backpackers general routine of partying every night, I’m sure many of them barely had had any sleep. 

The 4 of us filled the only remaining 4 seats, which were those fold down deals that fill the aisle way all the way to the back.  This bus was full!  But we were whisked off to Tikal none-the-less, giggling inside at the sights of heads bobbing, and one poor guy trying to hold onto the seat in front of him to rest his head on his arm, only to have his fingers slip off as soon as he fell asleep.  Once his hand slipped, he would snap awake, make a grab for it again, and then repeat the sequence all over again.  I couldn’t help feeling terribly sorry for him, but I also couldn’t stop watching as the suspense of watching his hand slip off, each time was as enjoyable and as hilarious as the last.    

We paid our Q150 (roughly $20) entry fee, and got back on the bus for another 5-7 kilometre drive.  I was actually surprised at how long it took us to get there.  I expected only a 30 minute drive, and thought we would be in the park by 6:00 or so.  However, it took us until closer to 7:00 to finally start our day.

I bought a map outside the gates when we were paying for our ticket for roughly $3.  I could tell right away that it wasn’t a great one, but I felt that it would be worth having something, as I had no idea what to expect once in there.  I took a look at it right away, and noticed the farthest point out from the gate.  It’s called Temple IV, and I had a quiet knowing that we immediately had to go to that temple to start our day.  My rational thinking was that as it was farthest from the gates, it would be the quietest place for the longest, but I had no idea what sort of temple it was, and certainly didn’t know that it would be the absolute most spectacular temple of them all, and a perfect place to begin our day from. 

After walking through some other temples to get to the big one, we referenced the map a couple times, to make sure we were still heading to the farthest one.  While doing this, we got a bit of a lay of the land so we had some idea where we were at all times.  When we got to Temple IV, and climbed the stairs all the way to the top (it’s mostly man made stairs now unfortunately), we were astounded by the view of the lush green canopy that was presented before us, and could see a few temples poking out of the foggy and mystical tops of the trees, in the distance.  We soon figured out which one was which, and from this perch, 212 feet above the jungle floor, we are able to decide our route for the rest of the day. 

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The Central Plaza is flanked by 2 temples of this side at either end.  I am standing atop one of them to take this picture.
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Many of the carvings that graced these temples have been worn away with time.  This one is the most in tact that we saw on top of the temples.

When we arrived at the top, we chuckled at the sight of the other 2 older people that we had waited for the bus with that morning, having already arrived.  We had a quick laugh about all of us wanting to beat the kids to this spot, to enjoy some quiet morning time from up there.  Again, we didn’t have a clue what this temple had in store for us, and were gobsmacked by the majesty of it for sure.   

After one very loud group of Europeans finally left, we enjoyed almost an hour of peace and reflection on top of this incredible structure with the other 2.  Interestingly enough, they are British, but had been living in Leon, Nicaragua, and are currently political refugees, taking a one month break in Guatemala.  We had an interesting conversation with them about their experience, and their stories were horrific.  Mortar and gunfire had been going off outside there house for multiple nights before they decided that their nerves were frazzled, and they needed a break.  They aren’t sure what they are doing, or where they are going.  The husband had work there, she took a three year sabbatical from teaching in England, and he had another year in his contract.  But at that moment the NGO he had been working for had no plans to return to Nicaragua, and they are left feeling lost and floating around in the world. Yet more people displaced by the chaos in Nicaragua.

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The spectacular view from the top featuring temples we had already walked by popping up out of the misty morning canopy.

We sat atop this incredible structure and watched Toucans zip from tree to tree throughout the Canopy.  I saw a big howler monkey in the tree branches of one tree, and we had a visit by a Pozote (coatimundi) that had obviously climbed all the way up there from the ground.  By then, a group of the students had arrived to the top of the temple, and when one guy approached the edge to look down, he turned to the rest of us wide eyed and said “There is a crazy animal down here!”  One girl asked what it was from her seat on the stairs, and he announced “I really don’t know, it’s like a Dog Monkey.”  Haha!  Well that was it! Many people jumped up from their seats to go and check out what a “Dog Monkey” looked like, including Chris.  Thankfully, having seen these guys already in Costa Rica, he knew what it was, and was able to tell people it’s correct name. 

 

The Pozote had come up sniffing around for food that our new friends had dropped.  Their cake, that they bought for lunch was incredibly crumbly, and she had thrown a bunch of the crumbs that were falling on the ground, down the side of the temple.  This super cute guy came up from exactly where she had thrown it, and was sniffing for more.  As they also had a huge pile of crumbs near where we were sitting, he made motions to come closer to get them, but thought more wisely about it and stayed his distance.  I’m sure once all the people are gone at the end of the day, these guys climb up and recover the goodies that have been left by the tourists. 

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It looks like a sheer drop off from where we sat but in fact it was a bunch of stairs that led to the ground.  Unfortunately people aren’t able to climb them anymore as they have eroded beyond repair, but a wooden set of stairs has been erected on the side of temple.

In witnessing him, and the rest of the jungle animals, we realized that they are the lucky ones.  The animals of Tikal get to live in this magical play land.  This place where time seems to stand still, where your worries about the rest of the world just melt away.  Where mother nature dictates what is happening, and where the powerful energy of the place just breathes life into every corner of it.  I can’t tell you how many times through the day, I wished that I could make this place my home.  A little roof here, and an extra wall there, we could easily make this place inhabitable again.  I couldn’t help but think that this place had housed thousands of people throughout it’s history, yet none were here now.  Of course, our society keeps these places sacred, and of course, people aren’t able to live there now, but I almost had a strong vision that this place would be inhabited again.  Like somehow, the world will fall into such a state of disrepair, that I think people who survive, will come back to these places.  Will seek solace in the sprits that reside on these magical lands.  I do believe that somewhere, somehow, these places will rise again.  I don’t know how I have this feeling, call me crazy if you want, but the power I felt from that land was great, and I can’t explain it either. 

With more people starting to arrive at the top, and the sun starting to get warm, we decided that it was time to descend back into the canopy, to start our day of exploration.  We had plenty of time, our bus wasn’t leaving until 4:30, we had food and plenty of water.  We were absolutely in no rush at all. 

Having an overhead view of the park from Temple IV allowed us to also use our map to figure out where we wanted to go next and how we wanted to plan our route for the day.  So we set out immediately for the next structure that you could climb to the top of, and that was also poking above the canopy.  We wanted to look back at where we had been sitting atop Temple IV, to get a scale of what we had ascended. 

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From the top of the next temple that we climbed, looking back at Temple IV.  We had been sitting just at the tree top level.

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After we satisfied our curiosity, and finished checking out the next temple, the sun was starting to get hot, and it only made sense to stay below the canopy and stay mostly out of it’s deadly tropical rays.  We flitted along the paths from temple to temple, took tons of pictures, and even had an awe inspiring connection with a butterfly about the size of Chris’ hand that flew past us.  I didn’t notice, but Chris watched where it flew to, just down the trail.  It landed at the base of a tree trunk, and as we made our way down to it, it stayed in the same place, seemingly not caring about us at all.  As we realized that we could maybe get a picture of this fabulous creature, we slowed way down and crept up to it.  At first we zoomed our phone cameras in, but we soon realized that there was no need for a zoom, as this butterfly was really in the mood for a photo shoot.  We both got within one foot of it, and it didn’t even twitch.  After thanking it for it’s incredible-ness, taking a ton of phots of it, and walking away, I realized that the whole scene would be much more impactful had I videoed it. 

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I see a snake head on the top right.  Do you?

We were 50 feet away or more, and I decided to turn back. I mean really, how often does one get to witness such an incredible creature up close and personal like that.  It was still in it’s spot and I told it that it was going to be in a movie.  It was also in the mood for this I suppose, as we  videoed it, got super close, and talked to it the whole time. Again, without even a twitch.  Just incredible, and certainly a highlight of the day. (You can find the video on our Facebook Page.)

We also had run ins with many wonderful fuzzy caterpillars crawling on the ground, birds of many species, a giant grasshopper, more monkeys and of course Pizotes scattered here and there on the forest floor.  We walked amongst ancient trees and massive plants.  Of course, one can’t help but make comments about feeling like they are in Jurassic Park, when wandering through the incredible flora.  Familiar plants that we have in pots in our houses in Canada, towered high above our heads as we walked the trails of this dense tropical landscape. 

We finally stopped for lunch back in the Central Plaza around 11:00.  We were finding it hard to just stop ourselves for a bit as we were wide eyed with wonder as we went from temple to temple, realizing the massive scope of this city.  While eating, we couldn’t help but notice the tourists that were just arriving, at the hottest part of the day, and with all the other crowds.  This was our first look at just how many people visit this park, and here we were in the slow season.  I can’t imagine how busy it can get in the high season months.  We were thankful that we had planned our day the way that we did, as we had seen very few people in our first 4 hours of exploration, and we were thankful that that was the case.  I can imagine that with 40 or more people sitting on top of Temple IV, there would be no sign of the little Pizote that had visited our smaller gathering in the quiet of the morning.

With not a moment to spare, and knowing that we still had lots to see and explore, we ate quite quickly, refilled our water bottles, and set off.  (Something to note: there is NO Food available throughout the park, only a couple restaurants right at the beginning.  So pack a lunch, and plan to stay a while!)

The second part of our day was filled with explorations that mostly took us in and around the structures.  We climbed countless stairs, ascended and descended structure after structure, walked through tiny tunnels, and explored as many nooks and crannies that we were allowed to, and possibly one or two that were at the very least, a grey zone of whether we were allowed to or not.  We somehow found ways to avoid the crowds, and made sure that we stayed away from the main trails and guided routes.

 

It was in this alone, that we were thankful that we had not decided to hire a guide.  We came across many groups with guides, and it was clear that these groups were not moving at the pace that we were, and many weren’t able to cover the vast amount of area that we were.  And while there are a thousand unanswered questions about these temples, how they came to be, who lived in them, what the structures represented and countless more, what we really felt like we were there to do, was just experience the land.  To realize that countless thousands of people had lived here, and that while Tulum was but a tiny seaside village, this was a city.  It was an empire.  It was, and is, royal, majestic and incredibly humbling. 

When our buzz of excitement and our need to explore everything we possibly could wore off, we realized that we were exhausted.  Suddenly our knees and legs and every part of our bodies were tired, and we realized that it was time to go.  We had seen all that we could in one day, and we knew that we would be back.

Tikal is a place that I think a person could return to countless times, each time finding a new thing to explore, a new carving, a new structure.  We do plan to return, but next time it will be with a guide.  Next time we will get our burning questions answered.


Do you want to visit Flores and Tikal?

We have rented a house here in Flores for a couple months, but will possibly stay longer as we don’t have any other plans to go anywhere until we housesit in Livingston, also here in Guatemala, in late November.  So we have decided to share our experience with others who may want to come here to see Tikal, and what Guatemala has to offer.

We are offering a one week package for a very good price.  You will be staying with us in our house, and we will take care of your meals and all of the details to go to El Remate for two nights, and Tikal for a day visit.

Check out the information here, and let us know if this interests you at all.  We feel that it is a really good value, and are happy to share what we know, and help you to get to know the area and the people that inhabit this land.

Of course, we are open to altering the schedule to suit your needs, and we can add on extra excursions if it is wanted.


In other news…..

I have been forgetting to blog about a fun project that Chris and I did while we stayed in Samara, Costa Rica for a month.  We were able to put our artistic skills to good use and paint a mural for the owner of our hostel, in exchange for part of our accommodation.

While both of us are artists of various mediums, neither of us has had much experience with actual painting.  I myself have watched many artists paint, and I understand the basic gist of layering up your image starting from the background and moving forward, but have never really attempted anything on a large scale, and certainly not something detailed like what the owner wanted, as I normally work in an abstract fashion.

However, with Chris being the very skilled, artist that he is, and knowing that drawing animals is one of his strong suits, I knew we could accomplish this project.  So, despite a healthy amount of fear, we decided that we just needed to attempt it, and give it a try.

We made many mistakes through the process, and at times had a hard time trying to make things look the way we wanted, but through trial and error, and the beauty of just painting over our ‘mistakes’, we feel that we were able to come up with something pretty awesome.

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This is on a 4×8 piece of plywood.  The whole project took us roughly 3 weeks, with both of us working on it at least 1-2 hours per day.
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These are the owners, an Italian couple that has lived in Samara for the last few years.

We are very proud of ourselves, and mostly learned through this process that the most important thing we can say to these kinds of opportunities, is to Just Say Yes!  By saying yes we broke through our own barriers of fear and doubt, and we came out beaming on the other side.

We are pretty excited to know that this painting will be hanging in the hostel for many years to come.  It’s a great privilege to be able to leave bits and pieces of our creative selves wherever we go, and to know that we have brightened and livened up different spaces around the world.  We plan to continue to spread our creativity and artwork around in every place that we visit!


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

Xoxoxo Happy Travels!


Current Location: We are currently in Flores, Guatemala.  We have rented a house and expect to stay here for a minimum of 2 months.

Travelling Plans: No plans to go anywhere at this point!

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 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:)

Venga Vale Vamos Guest Interview

I am honoured to join the ranks of many before me, and have been featured in this section with regards to our recent experience of travelling and living in Costa Rica.

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Kristie Jeffries is a traveller, blogger and digital marketer.  She has been on the road for a few years now, and has travelled to 72 countries…….and is still going!  Her website offers a wealth of information about travel around the world, expat life, budget backpacking, working as a digital nomad, Australian working holidays/work visas, the Spanish auxiliares de conversación program, and so much more.

She has a section of her website where she features interviews from fellow travellers, called the Travel Talk Interviews.  These interviews run the gamut from learning about being a Digital Nomad, to becoming a Spanish Teacher’s assistant in Spain, from travelling on a budget to seeing the world in style.

I am honoured to join the ranks of many before me, and have been featured in this section with regards to our recent experience of travelling and living in Costa Rica.

You can read that interview here.

Thanks so much Kristie for the opportunity to share my travel story and my tips to travelling in Costa Rica!


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

Xoxoxo Happy Travels!


Current Location: We are currently in Flores, Guatemala.  We have rented a house and expect to stay here for a minimum of 2 months.

Travelling Plans: Our next plan is to head to Livingston on the Caribbean coast of Guatemala, where we will be housesitting for roughly 6 weeks at the end of November.

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 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:)

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