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Sweetie, There is a Sloth in our Tree!

Published December 10, 2017 by jillamatt

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


The monkeys were running around on the roof of the house and jumping from palm frond to palm frond as they made their way through our yard, just as they do everyday.  Sometimes there are only a handful of them coming and going, and other times there are a dozen or more jumping around in the trees, knocking coconuts onto our roof, and just causing a general ruckus.  As usual, I generally can’t help but to step out from our covered porch area, and look up to the trees to watch them move around.  They are so curious about us, and really make honest to goodness eye contact, and I generally can’t help but to say “hi!” to each and every one of them.  Although, I have recently learned that making eye contact is a practice that is not generally recommended when interacting with monkeys.  Apparently doing so can make them aggressive and angry.  However,  I have so far found these to be peaceful exchanges, and have had nothing flung at me like coconuts or worse (!) monkey shit!

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The White Faced or Capuchin Monkeys come through our yard pretty much every day just before sunset.

On this particular day, as I was watching them jump around in the branches, I noticed something else crawling around.  At first I thought it was a possum, because it had such a long nose, and was crawling horizontally across the branch. I yelled to Chris that there was a possum in the tree, but as quickly as I got that out, I realized that, no, it was only an iguana.  A really big iguana mind you, but an iguana none-the-less.  We have tons of them around the house, so those too have become common place for us.

But all of a sudden, however, I noticed that the iguana was in an almond tree.  We have been actively learning about the different trees in this area, there are almonds and teak, different kinds of palms and many types of bushes and shrubs and everything in between.  But the unique thing about the almond trees, is that the Sloths like to sleep in them.  I’m not sure if it is the tight knit branches, giving them lots of places to ball up and create a sleeping pad for themselves, or maybe it’s because they are so high up, and away from predators.  Either way, I all of a sudden noticed that we had 5 different almond trees growing around the house.

As I backed away from the house, and looked way, way up there, I spotted one.  Sure enough!  A Big gray ball of fur was peacefully sleeping up in our branches.  WOW!  I ran and got Chris and we watched it for a few minutes.  Of course, Sloths sleep all day, so we weren’t going to be seeing much action at that point anyways.  In fact, we learned on our night walk in Monteverde that sloths are nocturnal, meaning that they are only active in the night, and they usually don’t come down from trees unless they need to poo, or migrate across an open area with no trees.  And so, we decided that maybe later on we would be lucky enough to catch it pooing in our yard!

I did head out later on with the flashlight, and I was pretty sure it wasn’t in it’s perch anymore, and after shining my light across the sand floor outside our door, decided that it was definitely gone.  Since then, I have looked up once or twice to try and spot another one, but haven’t had that particular privilege again.

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A couple weeks ago we expressed some interest to one of our expat neighbours that we would like to see the turtles nesting, or hatching, on the beach if it was possible.  There is a small turtle hatchery just down the beach from us, and each time we walk by, we get more and more curious about what is going on.  The hatchery consists of a bamboo shack on the beach, and a levelled area with plastic netting surrounding it. Inside the net fence, are grids that are laid out, each with a number or a date, or some kind of indication of when the eggs were put there. We had asked a few people in the area about the cycles of the turtles, but nobody seemed to know the answers for sure.  We are both curious about the goings on of nature, and would be honoured to see a turtle laying her eggs, or some small little babies hatching out of the sand.  Of course, turtles only lay eggs at night, so to see that part, we had to go in the dark.

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This shack is maned day and night with volunteers that make sure no turtles hatch without them knowing.  And also partly, I’m sure to protect them.

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These cone fences are placed over the holes where the eggs are put so that if any babies do hatch, they will be contained in the cage.

Because, there are literally no people at our beach, and it isn’t very discovered yet, there is no tourism program to go see turtles,  so there are never throngs of people milling around with lights and shining them in the turtles eyes, like the time I experienced in 2004 at another Costa Rica location.  We felt that a nice quiet walk with a local, would be a much better experience.

Our neighbour hooked us up with Andres, whom we had already met, and who told us that for $15, he would take us for a walk down the beach, to hopefully catch a mom in the act of laying her eggs.  Andres is around 20 years old, and works for the local turtle hatchery where he is partially tasked with walking the beaches in the early a.m. and digging up the turtle nests before a local comes and takes the eggs home to eat.  As we were nearing the end of nesting season, we knew that a sighting was not guaranteed on our outing, however we had seen the holes that were dug up in the early morning when we walk Omber, so we were still hopeful.

In retrospect, though, Andres took us out on a night that was likely not the best.  The tide was really far out, and after we got about 2 kms down the beach, we started to discuss this issue.  At that point, with nary a turtle in sight,  we came up with the brilliant idea that it was probably better to do this at high tide.  At least, I thought,  if I was a turtle, I would appreciate a lift all the way to the beach, instead of having to walk half a mile through dragging wet sand, while ready to burst out all of my eggs!

We turned around to come back, only to find ourselves in an absolute torrential downpour of rain, for the entire 2 kms back to the house.  All I can say is thank god for waterproof cameras!

There were actually 5 of us getting soaked, that night on the beach, as Andres had brought one semi-English translator, and another buddy along for the show.  It didn’t take long for us to realize that the locals were absolutely HATING the walk, and were actually cold, while we were just on cloud nine with it all.  Wow!  That amount of rain, continually washing over you for an extended time, is nothing short of soul cleansing.  We were both completely drenched, and despite our assurances that we were both fine, the local boys continued to worry about us, offering us some small tokens of shelter from the rain, such as an already drenched rain poncho.  We laughed and told them that we were just fine.  I still chuckle about the fact that they were so worried about us, yet we both felt like we had never been better.

At the end of the walk, Andres offered to take us to the hatchery the next day to see if we could see any turtles hatching there.  Apparently they can hatch at any time, so he just had to let us know when it was happening.  We couldn’t afford to wait another 5 or 6 days for the high tide to again be at night, as nesting season was already nearing to a close as it was, so instead of seeing a mother laying her eggs, we decided that the next best thing would be to see the babies hatching.

The next day came and went, and the next day………. and the next day, and still never a word from Andres.  Mind you, he doesn’t speak a word of English, and our Spanish is still not anywhere near fluent, so these heavy discussions are difficult and do require some effort.  Each time we would see him down on the beach, we would exchange pleasantries, but never really talked about the Tortugas again.  In fact, after a few days I had just resigned myself to the fact that we many never see the turtles around here.

The signs in the hatchery were pretty cute!  I especially like the “Don’t Eat” one:)

However, yesterday, about two weeks since our wet walk, Chris came running into the room early in the morning, and said that “Andres is here and there are turtles hatching at the hatchery!  We have to go now!”

We quickly grabbed the camera and whatever we needed and took off down the beach with Andres.  We arrived at the hatchery not really sure what was going on, but there was a guy headed down to the beach with a cutdown bucket.  Andres yelled at him to stop and we ran and looked in it.  Of course, there were about 4 or 5 baby turtles, only about 3 inches long.  He was setting them free in the water.  Instead of going down with him (duh), I went back up the beach to the hatchery to see if any more were coming.

There were three staff members involved with digging up the spots where the eggs get buried.  One was digging the sand and siphoning through the egg shells for still full eggs, or hatched turtles.  The other was taking field notes on what was extracted, and Andres was throwing the discarded egg shells into a bucket. When we got there, I half expected to see a swarm of baby turtles exploding out of nests, but sadly this wasn’t the case.

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These are the tags that indicate the dates and # of eggs placed in the hole. This one has 59!

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These will be the final ones dug up for the season, or so I understood. Turtles stop laying in December.

They dug up nest after nest of empty eggshells, only finding one fully developed turtle amongs 5 nests, and dozens of eggs.  It was officially heartbreaking.

Unfortunately, we didn’t ask questions, and we weren’t told why the survival rate is so low.  They seemed happy that at least one survived.

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The lone survivor……..

Andres, Chris and I walked down to the water, and Andres passed me the yellow glove to wear, indicating that I should be the one to let our little survivor go.  When we got close to where the water was coming, I gently lifted him out of the bucket and set him down on the wet sand.  He instinctively started heading towards the water, pulling himself across the wet sand with his tiny little fins.  It seemed that the tide was receding, so I picked him up once more and ran with him another 8 feet or so, closer to the water.  Finally a shallow wave came into the flats, and he swam free.  We watched him get tossed around in the surge a little bit, but each time could spot his tiny little head, come back up to the surface for air.  After watching him swim his little body away from the beach for about 5 minutes, Andres yelled “adios!” And laughed.

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This is an Olive Ridley Turtle.

I waved at him/her and yelled “Buena suerte Totuga, Buen viaje.”  (Good luck turtle, good journey.)

I couldn’t help but to contemplate about what a big ocean that must seem like for such a little fella.  Heading out there, I’m sure his/her rate of survival at that size is still slim to none.  But we can only send him/her on their journey with the best intentions, and a hope that they will thrive and prosper.

It was an amazing experience and I asked Andres if he still wanted some money, as we hadn’t settled the entire $15 payment yet, agreeing on a portion of it that night of the wet walk, and the rest when we saw them hatching.  He insisted that he didn’t but made some mention about the tattoo he is getting from Chris next week.  I didn’t understand the entire sentence but I understood enough.

‘Si, una descuento por el tatuaje.” (Yes, a discount for the tattoo.)

His eyes perked up at the mention of this, and I could see that he was very happy with this solution.

We thanked him for his kindness and for sharing the turtles with us, and made our way back to our house.  We walked in silence, as we both contemplated what a neat experience it was that we had just had, realizing again just how grateful we are for what is unfolding around us day in and day out.

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Our adventures with animals lately, don’t stop here though.  In fact, it’s a day in and day out occasion around here!  The other night, somehow, someway, we had a bat fly into our house.  It took us about an hour of chasing it around, poking at it with the broom, trying to swing a sarong over it as it flew, and a lot of jumping around and screaming, but it finally flew out the door.  If it had of been filmed, it would have made a great comedy script!

Pura Vida!!



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

Xoxoxo Happy Travels!



Current Location: We are housesitting until December 30th at Playa Matapalo, between Quepos and Dominical, in Costa Rica.  If you are travelling in the area, please get in touch! We would love to connect with you.

To learn about how YOU can be housesitting as well, click here.

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

Please follow my Instagram Page Just Some Wandering by clicking on the bottom right hand corner of this feed.

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

To see all of my blog post headings on one page, head over to my Blog Post Menu.

To email me directly, please do so anytime at jillamatt@me.com.

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Some Observations of Costa Ricans…..

Published December 1, 2017 by jillamatt

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


There is this guy and his little puppy that are often sitting on the same log on the beach when we walk by with Omber in the morning, or afternoon. The puppy is the cutest little thing, but we can’t get near to it as it barks it’s head off and seemingly wants to tear us limb from limb. Usually we are walking down at the bottom of the beach, while they are sitting at the top of the beach. The man looks to be about the friendliest person you could ever lay eyes on, he has a huge Afro and a great smile. We always collectively laugh at the state of the puppy going crazy, and even from 50 yards away, you can see this mans massive smile light up, and he sends a friendly wave our way.

Today, I was at the top of the beach walking, and I could see from down the beach a ways that he and a friend were sitting in the usual spot. This time I decided to try and get closer to say hello. The sun is shining today, and it’s been a bit of a dismal week around here with cloudy and rainy days seeming to never end. We exchanged a few words about how nice it is to see the sun, we asked each other how we were doing, the puppy barked it’s little head off, and then I decided that I better get going.

I had a task to do, you see, I was walking the dog.

After we walked to our usual spot, and returned down the beach, we were further down by the surf, but he and his friend were up at the top still, just chilling. I kept walking and started to think about the fact that we had been passing this guy and his puppy for a month, and still didn’t know his name. I immediately started to feel bad for not asking his name, and finally getting to know him a bit. I realized that I too could have just sat on that log and chatted for a while. ‘Why didn’t I do that?’ I asked myself.

Oh right! I remembered.

I was on a mission, you see, I was walking the dog!

And in that moment, I caught myself, I suddenly, miraculously, realized that I too have all day to chat if I so desire. I too could just sit on a log and hang out for hours, if I really felt like it. Omber would be happy to just chill in one spot. There really was no rush. Besides, what could be better then practicing some Spanish and making new friends?

Hmmmmmmmmm…..

A few hundred yards further down the beach, Omber decided to run to the top of the beach to chase through the palm trees where I couldn’t see him. Of course, I walked up there to find him, and a man was doing some raking amongst the palms. As soon as he saw me, he immediately waved a friendly hello. “Hola”, I yelled.

This got me realizing how pleasant our exchanges are with the locals. Rarely do we walk by someone, whether on the beach, or on the road, where they don’t take the time to say “Buenas Dias, Hola, Pura Vida, (Good Day, Hello, Pure Life) or some combination of all three.” In fact, as we walked the road the other day to the bus stop, a man crossed the street and shook Chris’ hand, wanting to know who we were and whether or not we owned some piece of property in town. We chatted with him for a bit, then were on our way.

It also got me thinking that we have literally not seen one bad exchange between people here. There have been no children throwing tantrums, no people yelling at each other in hatred or malice, no aggression of any kind has been displayed, in fact.

Hmmmmmmmmmmm…….

Chris had a tattoo job the other night just down the street from us. I popped over after a bit to see how it was going. It was the father that was getting tattooed, and his wife, 9 months pregnant with a second child, was busy in the kitchen. Their little girl was playing in the corner as quiet as could be, with her dolls and a handful of toys. They were not spread all over the room, they were in one spot, and she happily toodled away talking to them and playing by herself, with hardly a peep to anyone.

I asked her mom how old she is, and they told me ‘5 years old today’! You can imagine my immediate surprise as this certainly didn’t seem like your average 5 year old on their birthday, at least where I come from. There were no streamers and balloons hanging up, no huge party with a thousand other kids running amuck, no big deal was being made…….at all! I told her “Feliz Cumpleanos!” (Happy Birthday), and she turned and gave me a shy “Gracias”, then busily got back to playing. In the two hours we were there, she never once bothered her mother or father for anything, just happily, and QUIETLY played in the corner with her dolls.

When I had initially arrived to the house, I immediately walked over to see how the tattoo was going. The father said hello and asked me how my day was going, in English. Without really realizing what was going on, I just told him “Oh it was okay, I was lazy today.” Later I realized that I never even asked him how his day was………did he notice, did he think badly of me. What was my problem?

Hmmmmmmmmmmm……….

The other day, Chris and I caught the bus to Uvita. We hadn’t been there before, and needed some groceries, so we thought we would just go there and hopefully get some supplies after doing some exploring. While waiting for the bus, we sat on a bench in front of the Pulperia (Convenience Store), and had many exchanges with locals coming and going. Old or young, they all had time to say hello and ask us how we were doing.

As we rode the bus to Uvita, we sat in the front 2 seats to the right of the driver. As I watched people get off the bus, most people thanked the driver, one guy shook the drivers hand and exchanged a few words with him. The driver wasn’t in a rush to get going again, it was more important to talk to this man for a minute, then to worry about his schedule.

I watched as the driver eased his big bus through tiny communities, and yelled and waved out the window at familiar faces. Were these people he knew, or just people he saw on his route everyday? “Pura Vida!”  was yelled more than once, and the people on their porches or in their yards returned the exchange with huge smiles on their faces.

In one instance a man was standing on the side of the highway and waved the bus to stop. The driver pulled over and the man simply stood on the ground at the door and spent about 5 minutes asking the driver a bunch of questions about the schedule and where he went. Obviously gathering information for a future trip.

Hmmmmmmmmmmmm………..

Our friends that moved here from Canada two years ago, told us of a time when they had first bought their property up in the mountains. For the first while, they obviously couldn’t speak much Spanish, but their neighbours would come over anyways, and just sit with them on their porch, sometime for two hours, with barely a word spoken. They just wanted to interact, to share the human experience. Words weren’t needed to be decent human beings, to show their new neighbours appreciation of their arrival onto their lands.

Hmmmmmmmmmmmm……….

All of this has me realizing that these are the sorts of things that you may not notice if you are travelling to a place for a week or two. It’s only after being in a spot for a length of time, when how a society works, is repeated enough for you to you start to notice it, and you begin to realize what really makes it tick.  We have been here now for over 6 weeks, and although it didn’t take us this long to see that people are friendly, it has taken this long to really notice that it definitely is a way of life.

In Costa Rica, it truly is the land of Pura Vida. People have TIME for each other. It isn’t normal to just say hi quickly, and then be on your way. What’s normal is stopping, and actually talking. Looking people in the eye, and asking them how they are doing, asking them how their day was or is. Taking the time to connect with each other and respect and appreciate each other.

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As of today, I am making a commitment to myself to really start to notice when I rush myself, when I push myself to “get going” because I think I have something important to do. When I start to think that ‘getting the dog walked’ is more important than stopping to meet somebody and learn about them, I will stop myself. I will stop this habit of being on a mission, of being in a hurry. As of today, I will stop to connect with people better. I will take the time to learn their names, I will spend the time learning about them, and finding out who they are and what they do. I will make TIME for them, because, this is truly the way it is here. This is what people do here. This is literally how their society functions, and I really can’t think of anything more beautiful than that!

Pura Vida to you all! I hope this inspires you to take a moment to reflect on what you spend your time doing.  And is it meaningful, after all?

NOTE:  Of course, this is our experience of Costa Ricans outside of heavily trafficked tourist zones.  In places where we have noticed that many tourists go, the Pura Vida mentality certainly does not extend as far as it does in these smaller more remote areas.  But it is in these places, where you truly get a sense for how people actually live.  

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

Xoxoxo Happy Travels!

Current Location: We are housesitting until December 30th at Playa Matapalo, between Quepos and Dominical.  If you are travelling in the area, please get in touch!  We would love to connect with you.

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

Please follow my Instagram Page Just Some Wandering by clicking on the bottom right hand corner of this feed.

To learn about where I have previously traveled, click here.

To see my blog post menu, click here.

To email me directly, please do so at jillamatt@me.com.

November 29, 2017 – Thoughts on Being Busy

Published November 29, 2017 by jillamatt

***Jill’s ‘letting go’ Diary***

This is part of a series of posts (ordered by Dated Titles) where I have recorded my thoughts and emotions as we got rid of all of our possessions, a house, 2 cars, 2 businesses, and tons of STUFF, in order to free ourselves so that we could live a life of travel. From the day that I came up with this idea, to sell everything and travel the world, I have recorded my thoughts, and still am, on certain days where I feel like writing. These are real time, and not edited (except for grammatical corrections). My hope is that my writing inspires you to live your dream. You may not want to do it like we have, but whatever that passion is, grab and hold it and don’t let it go! Xo


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Xoxoxo Happy Travels!

To get all the way back to my first blog post about our decision to sell everything and unplug from Society, please click here.

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

Please follow my Instagram Page Just Some Wandering by clicking on the bottom right hand corner of this feed.

To learn about where I have previously traveled, click here.

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To email me directly, please do so at jillamatt@me.com.

Life as a Digital Nomad!

Published November 26, 2017 by jillamatt

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


NOTE TO READERS:  I wrestled with writing this post as I realize that people are following my blog because they want to read about my travels and adventures.  But I’m realizing along the way that there are so many other things that go along with trying to become a full time traveller, and I would be remiss if I didn’t talk about those as well.  Obviously, making money on the road is a big one, so here we are!  It’s an important part of the puzzle, and honestly, it’s good marketing:)  Thanks for your understanding and I hope you gain a little more insight into what the heck I am trying to create for myself out here in the big ol’ world!  Xo

According to Wikipedia, Digital nomads are: ‘a type of people who use telecommunications technologies to earn a living and, more generally, conduct their life in a nomadic manner. Such workers often work remotely from foreign countries, coffee shops, public libraries, co-working spaces, and recreational vehicles.’

In listening to numerous podcasts, and reading all about life on the road, I have come across the term ‘Digital Nomad’ alot in my research. It is something that appeals to me, the ability to work and travel in this way.  There are many career titles that can fall under this heading, the least of which are writing, and teaching English, both of which I am quite capable.  However, making a career out of writing takes time to build, as does becoming an English teacher online.  Not impossible, but not immediate income either.


(Click here for link to store.)


We have been away from the 9-5 for a couple months now, and all this time I have been thinking about what I would like to do with myself, and what direction I want to go to make a passive income on the side.  I have been writing a bit, composing a couple articles that I would like to submit to various online publications, have started the rough outline of a book I want to publish one day, and have been, of course, blogging.  None of which, at this point is making me any money yet. No surprise!

However, one evening while we were doing some artwork and listening to a travellers podcast (Zero to Travel), it was repeated to me again that if you are already set up to make a passive income on the side online, just do it. Even if it is something that you don’t want to do for the rest of your life, it will help you to find your bearings, and get your feet under you.


(Click here for link to store.)


Well, I realized that I DO have something that I can do, and decided that it wouldn’t take too much time to get it set up again.  It is something that I have tried to do, over and over again in the past few years, in many different ways.  And I think it’s because I had tried so many times, and hadn’t really gotten anywhere, that I suppose I had mostly given up on it.  However, I have come to realize that the exact reason that it didn’t work is because I was “half-assing” everything.  I didn’t have the time and energy to direct at this, I was too busy making a “real” living, so I could try and pay my mountain of bills that arrived non-stop every month.

And so in that moment, my spark for selling my Fractal (What the heck is a Fractal? Click here!) art was re-ignited and I decided, somewhat with a vengeance, to get my online stores up and running again!


(Click here for link to store.)


I have been really busy doing this for about a week, and I have to say that I am actually enjoying it!  I have gone into each of my profiles and updated my descriptions, and really put some effort into the look of the stores.  I have time to focus on promotion, tailoring my posts for certain crowds, and thinking outside the box when using hashtags and certain tag words.  It feels good.

All of the images you see are created by me, and are then uploaded to websites.  These websites do what is called sublimation printing onto the individual items. Each item is printed on demand, and then shipped directly to you from the company itself, and I maintain a portion of the sale.  Some companies offer more of a commission than others, for some it really is a pittance, but at least it is something.


(Click here for link to store.)


As time moves on, I will be continuing to do some other artwork that I have been doing with pointillism and dotwork.  These images I am building up on my new iPad Pro, which I am loving!  I have made a couple of these images available in my shops, but there will be much more to come!

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This is one example of the pointillist art that I am now working on. Look for images like this to grace the items in my store as well!

There are many other ways that people make money while living a nomadic lifestyle.  I am really just starting to scratch the surface of this different life, and I’m sure it will take time to really carve out a niche for myself.  In the meantime, I am happy to share my artwork with the world in this way.


(Click here for link to store.)


I have included links to the 2 stores that I am running underneath the sets of pictures that I have posted.  Each group of items, is only available in each specific store indicated.  Though I strive to have all of the fractal images available in both, this isn’t always the case.  If you see an item you want, but can’t find the right image to go with it, please email me and I will make it happen!   There are MANY more images available, please take a look if you are interested.  

For Duvet Covers, Shower Curtains, Wall Tapestries, Coffee Mugs, Pillows, Makeup Cases and other Home Decor items, visit www.society6.com/jilla.  

For clothing items including Tank Tops, T-Shirts, Dresses, Towels, and Leggings, please visit www.etsy.com/shop/JillianAmattDesigns.

As always, if you have ANY questions at all about any of my work, please email me at jillamatt@me.com or follow me on my ART business Facebook page at Jillian Amatt Designs or on instagram @jillianamatt.  

For future reference, I will be making a page, find it at the top of this page, that says Shop Fractals.  This will link you to the appropriate shops, so you won’t have to scroll through my blog posts to find this post, and get the links!  


As this IS supposed to be a travel blog, please find related links to my travels below:

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

Please follow my Instagram Page Just Some Wandering by clicking on the bottom right hand corner of this feed.

To learn about where I have previously traveled, click here.

To see my blog post menu, click here.

To email me directly, please do so at jillamatt@me.com.

Notes on my Hometown – Canmore, Alberta, Canada

Published November 21, 2017 by jillamatt

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Policeman’s Creek runs through town.

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Policeman’s Creek, just behind the Drake Hotel

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Happy to be home and in my element!

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

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

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

    (Click on individual images for descriptions.)

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

(Click on individual images for descriptions.)

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

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

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


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

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

Please follow my Instagram Page Just Some Wandering by clicking on the photos in the right hand column of this page.

To learn about where I have previously traveled, click here.

To see my blog post menu, click here.

To email me directly, please do so at jillamatt@me.com.

 

Emily’s Voyage Interview

Published November 15, 2017 by jillamatt

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

With gratitude,

Jill xoxo

When nothing is sure


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

Xoxoxo Happy Travels!

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

Please follow my Instagram Page Just Some Wandering by clicking on the bottom right hand corner of this feed.

To learn about where I have previously traveled, click here.

To see my blog post menu, click here.

To email me directly, please do so at jillamatt@me.com.

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