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:)

Nicaragua – Should We Stay or Should We Go Now? Part 3

We had heard reports that a roadblock was set to begin in Rivas around that time.  We were concerned about what this would mean to our tranquil little corner of the country, but until we felt like we were in danger, we obviously weren’t going anywhere.

We arrived in Nicaragua on April 9th, 2018.  On April 18th, we got news that President Ortega had put into law a new social security reform which would negatively affect the entire population. The students took to the streets to protest, and in what would become the historical beginning to this crazy civil war that they have now entered, over 70 people were killed, mostly students, and many more hundreds were injured, around the country.  On May 10th, we began a housesitting job in Rivas.  Things had calmed down a bit, and we felt right in our decision to stay in the country.  The violence had’t reached where we were, we really felt like it would stay calm.  Day by day we watched as things escalated around us.  We started to feel trapped.  Roadblocks made travelling impossible and we weren’t sure if it was even safe to go anywhere.  Maybe it is best where we are, we thought.  On May 30th, a peaceful Mother’s Day March took place in Managua, the capital of the country.  Estimates of 200 000 people took to the street to show solidarity and a will to make a point, to tell Ortega they wanted him out.  They marched to remember their children that had already been lost in this bloody war.  They were thousands upon thousands strong, mostly waving the Blue and White striped flag of Nicaragua.  It was a sight to behold and I felt a surge of pride for the country and what it was representing.  We read the following morning that late in the day, Snipers located high off the ground, started shooting into the crowd.  That day they killed upwards of 15 people and injured hundreds more.  One boy was shot right from his mother’s arms.  On Mother’s Day.  This was the turning point for us. This unspeakable and despicable act is what forced us from the country.  Because you realize that if a person is capable of that, he is capable of anything.  This is our story of 8 weeks in Nicaragua, when a civil war broke out.  


To start with part one of this story, please click here.

Our first few days on our own, in the house we were housesitting at, were spent hanging out in our Nicaragua neighbourhood.  It was fun to meet the neighbours and explore the streets around our house.  Having already lived in the city for a couple weeks, we had our favourite spots to visit at the market, we shopped from vendors in the park and pretty much had our lay of the land figured out.

The National Dialogue, or commonly known as ‘the talks’, was ordered by the priests and was set to begin on May 16th.  The residents of the country, and the visitors alike, seemed to be waiting with baited breath for this to begin.

Surely something would be sorted out, and all of this bloodshed and violence could be put behind us.  Couldn’t it?

On May 16th, the students, the church and the government met to begin a dialogue to move forward.  The message from the students was clear, Ortega was to step down immediately.  A young Lesther Alleman, a University student, took the charge and declared directly to Ortega that the country, the people, wanted him to step down.  He insisted that there was no other way to move forward.  (Please see articles here and here.)

Ortega had likely never been spoken to like that, and certainly not from a young person like Lesther Alleman.  He immediately became a national hero, the voice of the people.  Watching the videos brought goosebumps to my skin and I felt like in some way, despite it only coming from one young man, the people had spoken.  Indeed at this time, I had read that upward of 70% of the country was not happy with Ortega’s direction and where he was leading the country.  Surely Ortega would listen, surely he would understand that he is not liked, not wanted, not appreciated.

Nothing was solved at ‘the talks’ that day, Ortega insisted that he didn’t know who was killing people, he said that he had ordered the Police to break up protests with non-violent tactics.  He also insisted that the only thing wrecking the country at that time was the road blocks and that they should be lifted immediately to try and recoup the lost economy that had happened since their beginnings.

He didn’t apologize for anything.  He didn’t accept responsibility for anything.

The talks were finished that day and it was declared that further talks would begin in two days.

That night, the following occurred according to the Havana Times:

Proof of Ortega’s intransigent stance is the fact that on the same day of the installation of the dialogue, on Wednesday, his paramilitaries attacked the Cathedral of Jinotega in the night, where students protesting against the regime were given refuge. And on Thursday the attacks continued at the Polytechnic University of Nicaragua (Upoli), where a 16-year-old boy died; and in Masaya, the siege and looting of shops continued on the part of the mobs launched by the Ortega regime.

It’s impossible to report on all of these sorts of activities as this was the normal run of events.  We heard of students living in the Universities, using them as some sort of bunker.  We heard of them being poisoned by rations that they had coming in.  We heard of all sorts of atrocities that were being committed, all the while Ortega declaring that he was not directing it and that he had nothing to do with it. In fact his wife (also Vice President) declared that those protesting were the vermin of society, further enraging the students .

On day 2 of ‘the talks’, they began with Ortega’s representatives showing up in his place.  Word travelled fast that he hadn’t even shown up.  Apparently he didn’t want to be talked to like that again.  Memes flooded the internet about him being a chicken, and not manning up to his position.  However, it turns out, that him and his sidekick did attend, but much later then they were supposed to.  By then, most of ‘the talks’ had been completed by his cohorts. But, yet again, it seemed, nothing was solved and nothing decided on.

Ortega wasn’t going anywhere.

Violence continued in the streets, Tranques (road blocks) were erected, the students were mobilizing, and they were becoming more organized and more determined by the minute.

However, all was still tranquillo in Rivas.  We had seen no road blocks in our area, supplies were getting in, there was no violence, no bloodshed.  We felt like we were living in an alternative reality.  It was hard to comprehend that so much craziness was going on in the rest of the country, when we felt completely safe and normal where we were.

However, we were also keenly aware that things weren’t normal, and that we, ourselves,  were also becoming a rare thing in Nicaragua.  At that point, the travellers had mostly ceased to exist and this became very apparent to us when we took a walk to San Jorge one day.

San Jorge is located 5 km from where we were living.  It is the gateway to Ometepe Island, one of the main tourist attractions in the country.  Ometepe is an island in the middle of Lake Nicaragua, the largest lake in Central America.  It is composed of 2 volcanoes which are popular for tourists to hike and climb on.  It is a beautiful island, but it too had been blocked by roadblocks over the last couple weeks.  We heard that these road blocks were actually in retaliation to gas prices that had gone up.  But I’m sure it’s all related, and the bottom line is that nobody was travelling to Ometepe anymore, let alone the rest of the country. Screenshot 2018-06-23 12.09.06

As we arrived to the beach where the ferry dock was, and where restaurants, normally hustling and bustling with travellers, lined the ocean front, there was nobody.  Not one tourist was in sight, let alone barely any Nicaraguans.  We walked along the beach and finally got waved into one of the restaurants where we were the only people in the place.  We sat in disbelief as we drank our Tona’s (local beer) and stared out at the spectacular view in front of us.  I think this is when it really started to hit home.  This is when we realized how few of us were still in the country.

Maybe this is when we started to get a little more worried then we had been before.

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On May 23rd, I started to write some thoughts down about how I was feeling about the situation.  Day by day we heard horrific reports of terrible human rights violations.  The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) had visited the country and had declared that awful human rights violations were occurring.  (This article came out June 1st, but it states many of the same things that the IACHR had declared when they initiated their investigation.) Things were not getting better, but we still had not seen any violence or felt unsafe at all.  In fact, the more we left our house, and walked the streets, the more we were reassured that all was just fine.  Why would we leave this place when we were still having such a positive experience.

Here is what I wrote on May 23rd:

Today we hear this news:

Starting today at 6:00 am, it has been declared by the Campesino Leader, Francisca Ramirez, That road blocks along the Pacific Coast will become permanent.

What does this mean to us?  What does all of this craziness mean? 

The truth is, we aren’t sure either.

It has been a day to day following of events around here for the last month, tying to decipher what really is going on, vs what we are reading online. 

My emotions run the gamut from completely freaked out and thinking that we are over the top CRAZY for still being here, but I also have days where we walk into town, the people are friendly, life is normal and business is as usual. 

Our own Canadian government website has stated that we should avoid unessential travel to Nicaragua.  But somehow that seems unjustified.  I can’t explain the feelings that we are going through, at times it doesn’t even make sense to us, but we feel like we need to be here right now.  We feel comfortable, and settled, and mostly at peace with what is going on around us. 

Are we burying our heads in the ground?  Are we purposefully rationalizing what is going on around us, so that we feel justified in staying?  I really don’t know.  But I do know this.  Until we personally feel like we are in an unsafe situation, we aren’t leaving this place. 

I’m sure there are thousands of people out there that think we are fools for staying.  And believe me, I have been there.  THIS is not a place I would choose to visit.  I would never purposefully travel to a country with any sort of drama or unrest happening. 

But yet here we are.  Here we sit.  Waiting and watching to see what unfolds.  Trying to focus on the day to day and not some point in the future.  We are dealing with this as we have dealt with every other challenge that we have had in regard to plans or planning of any kind, each day we make a decision of what we are going to do that day, and that is all. 

We have focused really hard on this trip to not contrive our future too much.  I mean, it’s one thing to book a housesitting gig at a far off point, just to secure accommodation of some sort moving forward.  But mostly we are living in the moment.  We are taking the time we need to focus on what is important to us.  To work on our online businesses and to carve out our niche in this world of Digital Nomadism.

So far we have kept a low profile in Nicaragua.  So far we haven’t felt threatened in any way.  So far the people are amazing.  So far we love our neighbourhood.  So far we really have no complaints. 

So why fix what’s not broken?  When we move into a different phase of emotions, we will act on that.  That is it, that is all. 

We had heard reports that a roadblock was set to begin in Rivas around that time.  We were concerned about what this would mean to our tranquil little corner of the country, but until we felt like we were in danger, we obviously weren’t going anywhere.

To be continued………


Disclaimer:  The information provided in my writing is based on articles that I have read from many publications, information gathered from Nicaraguan Expats and Locals, and from videos that I have seen posted online.  I don’t pretend to be an expert on Nicaraguan politics, and if you feel like I have misrepresented information in anyway, please email me at jillamatt@me.com. 

For news on what is happening in Nicaragua and to learn all about this crisis, please visit the La Prensa or 100% Noticias websites.  Their online newspapers have covered this from the beginning and continue to do so. 


After selling all of our possessions in Canada in 2017, we flew to Costa Rica to do an initial housesit for 2 months.  Our journey has continued and we have now been ‘on the road’ for just over 8 months.

Current Location: We are currently in Samara, Costa Rica where we are staying in a familiar hostel with others that left Nicaragua around the same time that we did.   

Travelling Plans: Depending on whether or not we get some work here painting another mural, we will be headed up to Mexico at some point.  But nothing is set in stone yet. 

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

To see more travelling 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.

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:)

Yes, Bali has an erupting volcano! But so what??

To those of you who weren’t planning to go to Bali, I must say, NOW IS THE TIME!!


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…….


An article came to me today while doing work on my laptop, and it got me thinking about how little it takes to scare most people out of travelling.

The article was put out by the New York Times (click here to read the whole article) and is titled “Bali’s Rumbling Volcano Leaves Tourist Industry Gasping for Air.”

The article was written on December 7th, only 10 days after the rumblings of Mt Agung, caused the mandatory evacuation of 100 000 people who lived within close vicinity of it.  The ash spewing from the volcano, caused flight cancellations and delays, stranding thousands of passengers.

The article goes on to say that because of the uncertainty of this erupting beast, it’s said that it could erupt again soon, many future flights and travel plans have been cancelled, and tourism seemingly came to an abrupt halt.  One man is quoted as saying that occupancy was at 20%, instead of the 60% that was typical at that time of year.

Despite the fact that none of the tourist facilities are near the volcano, people have been frightened off, once again, from this absolutely incredible island nation.  Is it the possible inconvenience of flight disruptions?  Is it fear of being in direct line of a piece of lava spewing from the volcano?  Is complete and utter unabashed fear?  Fear of not even knowing what one is fearful of?  Or maybe it is a fear that is ignited by others’ fear?  Maybe people get scared because someone else gets scared, and then suddenly it’s all contagious!?

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I have to say that I certainly can not relate to this sort of fear.

Bali is a very large island, by island standards, and there are many places to see that will bring you nowhere near the erupting volcano.  The people are some of the most caring, thoughtful, friendly and wonderful people that you will ever meet.  Experiencing the Balinese culture is like nothing else.  Their Hindu values make them extremely warm and inviting, and you can’t help but feel completely at peace when among them.

I first travelled to Bali in 1995 when I was 18 years old.  I was a student with Class Afloat, a floating class room, if you will, that took place aboard a 188 foot tall ship, S/V Concordia.  There were 52 of us students on board, plus about 16 professional crew.  We spent about 10 days on the island of Bali, back in the days of less tourism and less commercialism.  We stayed in Ubud for a few nights, many of the streets weren’t paved, there weren’t many people around at all.  There were a few smatterings of craft stalls and art markets, but nothing like it was when I returned in 2008.  I was aghast at what had become of quaint little Ubud during the 13 years that I had been away.  It was in that moment, that I realized how seemingly quickly things can change.

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This is S/V Concordia. 188 feet long, and the main mast stood at 150 feet high.  Yes, that is me at the very top and center, perched on the royal yard, as we navigated into port in Boston, Massachusetts in 1995.  Sadly, this vessel sunk many miles off the coast of Brazil in 2010.  All students and crew survived.

Although Bali has always been a tourist destination, mostly servicing Australians back in the early days, its popularity now, has put it firmly on many peoples’ bucket lists.  And for good reason!  However, this has unfortunately created a false economy for this island nation, as the slightest little things that go wrong, send it reeling into the pits of despair as tourists decide to go elsewhere, somewhere safer.

Well, I can tell you right now, that there is nowhere ‘safer’.  The world is changing at an incredible rate.  There are rumblings going on all over the place.  As I type this, I am sitting in Costa Rica, and my partner and I experienced our first official 6.8 Earthquake about a month ago.  Of course, it didn’t stop flights from flying, and it didn’t cause massive devastation, but it could have.  If the epicentre was in San Jose, it very easily could have created a scenario that might have stranded passengers and caused many fatalities.  But it didn’t.

Around the world there are hurricanes and floods, mud slides and typhoons.  They happen ALL THE TIME.  In fact, there are also volcanoes erupting here in Costa Rica.  At any moment one of them could really start spewing, and then what?  Do we all flee out of here, afraid of the entire country being carried away in a stream of lava?  Of course not!

It is time that people started thinking clearly about these things.  By cancelling a trip of a life time, or maybe one that you do every year, because of the teeny tiny rumblings of a volcano, is utterly ridiculous.  You are in more danger of being hit by a car outside your house, then you are of being harmed by an erupting volcano.  Let’s not forget that people have lived amongst volcanos for centuries!  Besides, how cool would it be to actually see an erupting volcano!?

One of my all time favourite travel moments, actually was right here in Costa Rica back in 2004.  I was near the town of Fortuna, made famous for it’s proximity to Arenal Volcano.  The volcano was erupting at the time we were visiting, not a lot, just a bit of smoke through the day, but the real show was at night.  I will never forget the experience of sitting in a RIVER of hot water, coming straight from the innards of that very volcano, while watching red rocks rumble and tumble from the top of it, splitting into thousands of red embers as they crashed down the slopes.

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Photo Credit:  Aaron White.  This is a recent shot of Volcan Fuego, which is currently erupting in Antigua, Guatemala.
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Photo Credit: Aaron White. This is a recent shot of Volcan Fuego, which is currently erupting in Antigua, Guatemala.  You can imagine what a cool experience it was for them to witness this!

Of course, we were well enough away to not be in harms way, but seriously, can you imagine bearing witness to such a sight?  I really felt like I had to pinch myself.  I absolutely felt like I was in a dream world, like this only happened in books and in movies.  But no, here I was, ACTUALLY there, ACTUALLY experiencing this awesome sight!  Wouldn’t you like to experience that?  Are you willing to set aside your fears of the unknown to really get out there and see things that you only dreamed of? That you too only thought happened in movies.

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This is me looking up to the summit of Volcan Arenal in Costa Rica, 2004.

Please for the sake of all that is holy (I am not a religious person), re-consider your decisions when you make them based solely on ridiculous insights.  Think, for once, about the lives of the people that depend on you.  About those who survive solely because you have enough money to go wherever you want in the world.  Don’t punish those that rely on you, just because you have an inkling of a fear! And really, don’t punish YOURSELF by taking away what could be one of the most incredible experiences of your life!

To those of you who weren’t planning to go to Bali, I must say, NOW IS THE TIME!  Less tourists means a better experience after all!  Go check Bali out, check it off your bucket list, and do it as SOON AS POSSIBLE!!!

The Balinese people will be thankful for it, your soul will be thankful for it, and in turn, you will help to heal the world!

This will be a decision that you will NOT regret! And while I can’t promise you everything, I can certainly promise you that much!

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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, 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.

Life as a Digital Nomad!


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.

Emily’s Voyage Interview

Life is such an interesting journey, and you never really know where one path will lead.


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

With gratitude,

Jill xoxo

When nothing is sure


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

Xoxoxo Happy Travels!

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

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

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

To see my blog post menu, click here.

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

Experiencing a 6.8 Earthquake!

By then the gentle ocean bouncing, had turned into more of a feeling of walking in jello, or maybe that of being on a bouncy castle.


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


 

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

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

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

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

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

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

THIS post is about an Earthquake!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pura Vida!

Xo


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

Xoxoxo Happy Travels!

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

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

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

To see my blog post menu, click here.

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

 

November 10, 2017 – No Regrets!

The world is an open book, and I intend to read every chapter of it that I can!


***Jill’s ‘letting go’ Diary***

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


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

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

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

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

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

Do we regret anything? Not a chance!

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

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

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

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

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

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

And guess what? We survived!

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

Oh the craziness of it all!!!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Xo

It's how we embrace the uncertainty - Quote

Thanks for reading!

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

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

Please follow my Instagram Page @justsomewandering  by clicking on the bottom right hand corner of this feed.

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

To see my blog post menu, click here.

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

 

 

Troubles in Paradise!

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

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

However, even paradise has it’s challenges!

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

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

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

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

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

Pura Vida!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

_________________

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

Xoxoxo Happy Travels!

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

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

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

To see my blog post menu, click here.

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

 

Wandering in Varna, Bulgaria – Guest Post

A few days ago I found a request from a fellow blogger on one of the traveller Facebook pages that I follow. She was looking for people to contribute to her blog and write guest posts on one of their favourite travelling spots.

In 2015, my partner and I did a six week trip to Bulgaria, Greece and Italy. Although, we didn’t spend nearly long enough in Bulgaria, it was actually our favourite country to visit out of the three. I’m not sure if it was the laid back pace, the beauty of it, the friendly people, or the fact that it wasn’t on the Euro yet (which made it much more affordable against our Canadian dollar), but we absolutely fell in love with it, and long to go back someday.  Next time it will be in the summer months!

When I saw Emily’s request for posts on a favourite travelling spot, I couldn’t help but recall our experience in Varna.

Feel free to check out my guest post on her blog here.  Thanks for this opportunity Emily!

Also, if you would like to read more about our trip to Bulgaria, the first post is here.

______________________________

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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