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:)

 

Cool San Cristobal de las Casas – Part One

As we sat in stunned amazement, watching the spectacle unfold all around us, we couldn’t help but realize just how lucky we were to have witnessed this. 


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


As our collectivo (small shuttle bus running locals from town to town) wound its way from Palenque to San Cristobal, we noticed that the flora and fauna all around us began to change.  And then, just like that, we were up in the mountain tops, not a palm tree in sight!  It was if we crossed an invisible line, dividing the jungle from the mountains, I guess, in essence, that is just what we did.  We were now amongst the pine trees and the higher altitude scrub brush.  The lush tropical jungles that we had grown so accustomed to over the last year, disappeared behind and below us.

We arrived in San Cristobal de las Casas, the first time, at around 6:00pm.  Immediately out of the bus, we could feel the cool crisp air, and I have to say, it was a bit of a relief.  We were excited to not only breathe the fresh mountain air, but we looked forward to spending some days without the familiar sticky humid feeling on our skin that we had grown so accustomed to.

We had heard many a good thing spoken about San Cristobal, namely the amount of art and creativity that the city exuded, so we were eager to check it out.  We had been warned that it was cooler, so we prepared ourselves for that, and were excited to finally use our wool sweaters and other warm weather gear that we had been lugging around with us through the tropics for the last 12 months.

We had left Guatemala only 2 days earlier, leaving behind our beloved Flores, the place we called home for 3.5 months.  We were on a mission to get to Oaxaca, the capital of the Mexican state of the same name.  There we would be celebrating Dia de Los Muertos (Day of the Dead), one of Mexico’s premier festivals.  San Cristobal was on the road to Oaxaca, and we would visit it on the way, and again on our return heading back to Guatemala.

Since we knew that there was much to see here, we decided to spend about 5 days exploring the funky mountain town.  The temperature was cool at night, I would venture around 15-17 degrees celsius (59-63 F) (although there would be frost on the grass first thing in the morning, so it must have gotten colder), but was brilliantly sunny during the day with temps at a reasonable 22-25 C (72-77 F).

We enjoyed ourselves as we walked around this magnificent town.  Although, sitting at  2200m (7200ft) above sea level, we found ourselves very tired for most of the time, and also did a lot of sleeping and relaxing as well while we adjusted to the altitude.  The town sits in a sort of valley that is perched between several small peaks that flank its edges.  Normally, atop most of these surrounding peaks, sits a church or other significant building.  Many of them have stairs that go up to them, so we found ourselves huffing and puffing up these stairs, in order to gain a good view, and a better perspective of the city below us.

The streets consist of ancient cobblestone sidewalks that are worn smooth with wear over the centuries that it has been occupied.  The main downtown area, a pedestrian section only, bisects the center of the city and is rife with artisans and street pedlars from all over the world.  From the get go, we could see that San Cristobal was not JUST another Mexican City, it was in fact very multinational.  Because of this, for the first time in many months, we had access to Sushi, Noodle Bowls, Indian Food and more!  In fact, our very first foray into the city brought us straight to a little corner restaurant that served Poutine!  (If you don’t know what Poutine is, it is one of Canada’s national dishes along side Maple Syrup, Back Bacon and Ceasars.  Check it out here.) Of course (!) we just HAD to have some poutine! It warmed our hearts and our bellies, and literally, our bodies, the first night we arrived.

After a couple days we found ourselves climbing some random stairs up a random hill and stumbled upon a funky bohemian bar.  Immediately upon entry, we knew that we had found ‘our place.’  The building functions as an artist coop and we made quick friends with the people running it, plus met the current artist in residence, Jackie.  Jackie is a hand poke tattoo artist, which of course, intrigued us.  She is from LA, but would be living at the coop for 2 months while she promoted her art and secured some business.  She has been travelling and working in many parts of the world, so we had lots in common and tons of stories to share.  We hit it off with her right away.  Most of the rest of our evenings were spent in this spot hanging out, and enjoying what must have been, one of the best roof top terraces with a stunning view over the city, that there was.

On our last full day in San Cristobal, we decided that rather than just hanging out in the city, we had better see something of the surrounding area.  Together with Jackie, we decided to head to Mamut Caves, a cave system that was located just outside the city, a 15 minute cab ride for about $1 per person.  We asked the guys at the artist coop where we should go.  I had heard about Rancho Nuevo, but Meow (local born and raised) said that the Mamut Caves were just as spectacular, and not as busy.  Perfect!

We headed off at around 12:00 and wound our way through the city streets and out into the wilderness.  We arrived to an open field and a young man, clearly not happy with his day (or life) to pay our entry fee of about 50 cents.  I asked him if this was his family’s property, and he begrudgingly nodded.  After walking another 20 feet though, we were approached by another young man, this one asking for 50 cents more.  He gave us a ticket and we reasoned that the first guy was charging us for driving onto his property to get to the caves, and the second guy actually owned the property with the cave on it?  Who knows!  Either way, for the price of $1.00, we weren’t going to put up a stink.

We entered the cave and were pleased to find out that we were, in fact, the only people that were visiting it at this time.  Thank you Meow! We explored the well worn trails that had lights on them, plus went a little further with our headlamps into the far reaching corridors, until it got to the point where we would have had to crawl on our bellies to get any further.  At the beginning of the cave, and the largest ‘room’, we had noted a vent in the ceiling and we could see greenery and light coming down the shaft.

 

After exploring the rest of the far reaches, we found ourselves back at the beginning and kind of feeling like “now what”.  We had explored every nook we could, and it had only taken about half an hour.  We didn’t want this party to end so soon.

As I went over and inspected the vent, I noticed all sorts of greenery, lichens and mosses, growing on the sides of the shaft.  I commented that it would be really cool to be there when the sun shone down, which I was certain that it must do at some point during each day.  Not 5 minutes later, after we had started looking at other parts of the room again, Chris pointed and said, “Look!”

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Looking up the shaft. 

There it was, a single sun beam shining down the shaft.  We were immediately drawn to it.  The cave was quite cool, and we relished in the warm beam that came down and caressed our faces as we stood under it.  Little did we know that the show was just about to get started.

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Playing with the sun beam. 

 

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Favourite pic of the day! 

Immediately, Jackie noticed a green mound at the base of where the light hit.  It was iridescent green like pond algae, and it looked just as slimy.  But when we all touched it, it was hardened rock.   It was a feast for the senses as we took turns touching it.  Water would drip on it from above every few seconds, and somehow, probably because of the tiny bit of sun that hit it, it was retaining some chlorophyl or other green element, that the rest of the cave didn’t have access to.  We were mesmerized by this phenomenon, and we spent much time looking at it, and playing in the sun beams.  We affectionately named the green blob…….well ‘Blob.’  How appropriate.

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This is Blob.  It is solid rock, no slime at all! 

 

 

In no time at all, we started to notice that the cave was illuminating all around us.  Previously missed features that were hidden in dark corners, were now receiving light beams that were refracted from the tiny crystal structures that graced the entire cave.  Light bounced into every recessed corner and we started to see just how intricate and incredible this cave was.  As the sun moved, and the light beam adjusted with it, the light  would bounce around to different spots and we sat for about an hour and watched one of the most spectacular shows that mother nature could ever produce.

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This formation didn’t have near as much detail as this before the sun came through the vent. 

As we sat in stunned amazement, watching the spectacle unfold all around us, we couldn’t help but realize just how lucky we were to have witnessed this.  Our timing could not have been more perfect, and we were all so grateful.  As the sun beam crept up the wall, starting to leave the cave, we heard voices coming in.  Those voices were followed by other voices, and it became apparent that we were no longer the only ones in the cave.  Although we were sad to not have it all to ourselves anymore, we also couldn’t help but feel sorry for the new arrivals, as they had literally just missed the most awesome event of the day, by mere minutes.

 

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People arrived just as the sun was starting to sneak back up the wall of the cave. 

We thanked ‘Blob’ for the show, and continued outside back into the stunningly sunny and beautiful day.  A little trail wound up the hill above the cave entrance, so we headed up to hang out on some sort of old zipline platform, to decompress from what we had just experienced.  While up there, some butterflies flew by us and all around us, and as they flew away, Chris declared that he wanted a butterfly tattoo on his hand, to remember this experience.  With Jackie being just the girl to do it, our plan was set, we would return to San Cristobal again on our way back to Guatemala after visiting Oaxaca, so that he could get his tattoo.

We hailed a taxi from the side of the road as the sun was setting, and headed back down to San Cristobal, but not before we took a selfie and watched the awesomeness of the San Cristobal valley below.

To be continued………


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.

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:)

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