Off to Guatemala!


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…….


Although we have been content here in our hostel in Samara for 3 weeks now, we also realize that we can’t stay here forever.  We exchanged part of our stay for painting a mural for the hostel owner, but we are now living on paid time, and while the price tag is only $25/night, we also realize that over the course of time, that adds up.

A couple weeks ago I went online to find cheap flights up to Cancun.  Obviously, flying is not our travel method of choice, but since the roads are blocked in Nicaragua, civil war has broken out, and the country is at a standstill, there really isn’t any other option.  If we want to go somewhere, it has to be by plane. 

As we are to be housesitting in November in Guatemala, it only made sense to head North, and not South, to cut down on future travel expense and time. 

A couple weeks ago I researched flights up to Cancun.  We have our sights set on Merida, a beautiful colonial city that we spent only 3 nights at back in 2015.  It sits about 4 hours by bus to the west of Cancun, and is close to the northern tip of the Yucatan Peninsula.  We fell in love with the city and vowed to return for longer some day.  Being close to Guatemala, makes it a good option for us to be close to our housesitting gig in November, and we can find apartment rentals for $150-$200 per month.  Good deal!

Screenshot 2018-06-29 14.58.40
Image courtesy of Googlemaps.com

When I did my my initial search, the flights were looking like they were about $200-$220 per person.  Not bad.  I researched many different days around the beginning of July, and found them all to be about the same price. So I figured that I would wait until we got closer, to see if any other opportunities came up for us around Samara, or in Costa Rica, before we committed to something solid. 

When living a nomadic life, booking a flight is a bit of a big deal.  When you are trying to live day to day, and take whatever opportunity comes your way, committing to some far off point can be stressful and a bit overwhelming.  But as everything in life, we have to make decisions, and once we do, new opportunities will arise that never existed before. 

Last night, feeling like our time is definitely up here in Samara, and in Costa Rica in general, I decided that I should sit down and find a flight and just book something.  We needed to make a move.  However, I was dismayed when I saw that all of the $200ish flights had now jumped to sometimes $350 or more!  If we wanted a $200 flight, it would mean staying in Costa Rica for another 2-3 weeks, which would negate the cost of the cheap flight anyways. 

Not to be deterred, I checked many websites and although I found the odd cheaper flight, most of them only allowed carry on bags and charged extra for checked bags.  Unfortunately, although we are nomadic, our bags do not match our nomadic lifestyle!  We have one complete duffel bag that is full of Chris’ tattoo gear, our tent, some thin sleeping bags, and (shudder) wool sweaters and cold weather gear!  We do plan to get to Ecuador eventually and these warm clothes WILL come in handy, but just thinking about them at this point makes me sweat!

PLUS we have an entire carry on suitcase that is dedicated to our art supplies.  This case in particular is a little worrisome as we have been adding heavy paper and other supplies to it making it quite heavy.  Even if it does fit in the overhead bins, there is a chance that they won’t allow it onboard the plane due to its weight. On top of all that we have 2 small back packs and another large backpack that contains both of our clothing. 

Like I said, one would NOT think we are nomadic with all of the stuff we are hauling around, that’s for sure!

However, this is a cross that we bear, and is why once we got down here we had resigned ourselves to bus travel only, at least in the near future.   But, with travel comes uncertainty, changed plans, and never really knowing what is around each corner.  So here we are, booking flights and stressing about our luggage!


I continued my searches through many websites and finally decided to switch things up a bit.  Previously, I had considered checking flights to Guatemala, and they had all been quite cheap as well, in fact cheaper than to Cancun.  I decided to throw that into the search engine to see what came back.  Right away it was obvious that flights were cheaper, but Guatemala City is so far away from Merida, it seemed silly to try to save the $100 when we would have to spend days travelling north from there.  Sure Lake Atitlan is nearby, a very popular destination and a “must see” Guatemala sight, but with the explosion of Volcan Fuego happening recently, maybe that wasn’t the best place to go.  I’m sure there is an economic spin off happening with that, tourism is likely down and possibly, there could be other problems.  No, we weren’t really interested in going there, at least for now, especially having just gotten over our shell shock from Nicaragua. 

However, as I typed Guatemala into one search engine, just to see other options, in tiny writing and in an obscure corner of the page, was an option for other airports.  Other airports?  I had no idea that there were other international airports in Guatemala!  I assumed that all international flights flew into Guatemala City, then connected from there (never assume….I know, I know.)  I quickly chose another destination, Flores, yes, that looked like a nice name, meaning Flowers in English.  Lets look there, I thought. 

Screenshot 2018-06-29 15.07.14
Image courtesy of googlemaps.com

Our German friend Nico, one of the same hostel family members that had been with us since we arrived in Samara, and who also left Nicaragua, had been to Flores.  He quickly announced “Oh yes, Flores is lovely, then you can go to Tikal.” 

Tikal???  What??  I have dreamt about going to Tikal for so many years, but it’s never been a solid plan, just some sort of far off fantasy.  One that would manifest itself one day when I ever got to Guatemala.  Well, all of a sudden this far off plan was suddenly manifesting itself before my eyes.  Chris announced “Book it!”, and Nico was immediately on his feet with enthusiasm, whipping out his Lonely Planet guide, pulling up maps on his phone, and showing me all sorts of things to do and places to go in that area.  I had to get him to slow down for a few minutes while I booked the flight, but I was pumped for his excitement.  Clearly this was a great place to head to!  Plus, it’s located in the Northern part of the country, which means getting to Merida, may be a little bit easier than it would be from Guatemala City. 

The flight to Flores is $160 each, and includes one checked bag each (now we just have to make sure they are below 24kg!).  BINGO!  In an instant our flight was booked and just like that we are off to Guatemala.  The hilarious thing, also, is that our flight is on the same day (July 5th) that our friend Nico’s is to Mexico City, and within half an hour of his.  So we are all going to travel to San Jose together, stay in the same hostel, and see each other off at the airport. 

In the course of a couple hours, we went from not knowing what we were going to do, or where we were going to go, or if we were EVER going to get out of Costa Rica, to finding a cheap flight, booking it, and planning our trip to Guatemala!  For the first time since leaving Canada, I am finally going to a country I haven’t been to before, and I couldn’t be more excited! 

We have no idea how long we will spend in Guatemala, we don’t really know anything about what we will be doing when we get there (other then going to Tikal of course!) but we are going, that much is clear!  It feels incredibly good to have a bit of a plan, and to know that very soon we will be in a new county, experiencing a new culture and seeing new sights. 

This is the life of a Nomad, this is what is exciting!  One day at a time, step by step we choose our futures.  It’s an exhilarating feeling and we wouldn’t want it any other way. 

Pura Vida from Costa Rica (for only one more week!)

When nothing is sure, everything is possible


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 Samara, Costa Rica.  After having to leave Nicaragua unexpectedly due to civil unrest.  We have been in the El Dorado Hostel (highly recommended!) for 3 weeks.

Travelling Plans: Heading to Guatemala on July 5th!

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:)

Advertisements

January 11th, 2018 – One Year Later


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…….


Today marks one year since we made this crazy decision to sell all of our things, to not only seek out a life of travel, but to free ourselves of the burdens that society had placed on us.  (To read my post that day, click here.)

We had found ourselves suddenly drowning in debt with no clear picture of how we were going to get out of it.  We were living a life that seemed normal to others, but was terribly uninteresting and uninspiring to us.  We both made and created art, but because of our need to make money doing our “REAL” jobs, we didn’t have the time to properly sell it or promote it, something we really wanted to do.

We lived a life that was the epitome of being on the hamster wheel.  Running, running, running, working ourselves to utter exhaustion, but never getting ahead.

I asked myself all the time:  “Is there more to life than this?”

I knew there was, I knew there had to be, but I didn’t know how to get there.  I didn’t know how to pay all the bills at home, keep my house, keep my car, keep my things, keep my small business, and still do the thing that I really wanted to do…….travelling.

As I sat in my art studio one year ago, I was watching ‘Minimalism’ a new documentary that had just come out on Netflix, while working on my creations.  As I watched this enlightening documentary, in the most quintessential way possible, I had an epiphany.  It was as though a lightening bolt blasted down from the heavens and jolted me in the back of the head.  From that film, I suddenly realized that my house, my car, all of my stuff, was actually what was keeping me from travelling.  All of the stuff, was literally drowning us.  All of the stuff was what was making us feel like we were treading water.  All of the stuff was what was keeping me from doing what I wanted to do the most.

I say this in a first person narrative because Chris, at that point, hadn’t travelled a ton.  We had done a 6 week trip to Europe in 2015, and had done a 2 week trip to Mexico, but that was it.  He understood that he liked travelling, but he didn’t really know what it was like to LIVE in a different country, to really spend time learning different cultures, customs and traditions, and to learn about what makes different places tick.  He had had a taste, that was all.  But thankfully, he too decided that he wanted more.

On that fateful evening, we decided that enough was enough!  All of our stuff didn’t matter anymore!  The only thing that mattered was making our life count!  We knew in that moment, that we had some HUGE changes ahead of us, and we knew it would be a ton of work, but we were committed.  We had a plan, it was set, and we immediately got started on undoing the life we had built, to seek out a vastly different one.  One that was fulfilling, one that was inspiring, one that was EXCITING!

Fast forward one year later, and it all seems like a distant dream.  In nine months we held multiple garage sales, we sold items on Facebook, to friends, to neighbours.  We took mountains of things to the thrift store and inevitably, the dump.  We finished renovations on our house that had been half done for over 3 years.  We sold our vehicles and our house.  We closed down our business’ and we worked our butts off to pay off as much debt as possible.  We stopped drinking, eating out and buying things.  We completely flipped our life upside down, in order to make this happen, in order to unburden ourselves, in order to seek out a life of freedom.

It was not an easy ride!  We were utterly exhausted most of the time.  We put in as much effort as we physically could, and worked harder than either of us ever had before.  But guess what?  It worked!  We did it!

Our life has gone from “normal” to extraordinary, and it happened all in 9 months!


Today I sit in Costa Rica, staring out to the waves breaking, to the pelicans soaring by, and sometimes, to a sloth climbing the tree in our front yard.  Today I feel FREE!  Today the worries about money, how I’m going to pay the next bill, how I’m going to find the next client, and how I’m going to be able to travel again, are gone.  Literally gone!

Don’t get me wrong, life is not a perfect, easy, breezy time, all of the time.  Of course, we are both working on ways to secure a financial future, as the money we now have will run out eventually.  But we are doing it with clear intentions.  We are focussing on what is important to us.  We are seeking out those things that inspire us, that motivate us, that move us.  We are going where the wind blows us.  When we see a good opportunity, we take it.  If we don’t like the situation we are in, we change it.  We don’t owe anyone our time.  We certainly don’t owe anyone our souls.  We are in charge of what we do, that is it, that is all.

Many people we meet ask the same question over and over again.  They hear about what we are doing now, but then they can’t help but ask “But what about your future?  What is your plan for the future?”

Well, the answer if simple.  We have no real plan for our future.  We are simply just being.  Being in the moment, taking life one day at a time, enjoying ourselves and really getting to know ourselves.  We have given ourselves the gift of presence.  We have given ourselves the gift of living each day as it comes.  We don’t know what is around the corner, and quite frankly we like it that way.  Our future is not some construct that we have laid out, hoping that all of the pieces fall into place the way that we have planned.  Our future is determined one day at a time.  Each day determines tomorrow’s path.  Each day brings new directions, new thoughts, and new opportunities.

And so, I ask you this.  Are you living a life that is inspiring and exciting?  Is there something that you would like to do, but just can’t quite figure out how to do it?

My advice is simple, take a hard look around you and find ways to let go of what is burdening you.  Maybe you are like me and you realize that it is your stuff that is weighing you down.  But maybe it is your job, your relationship, the place you live, the people you surround yourself with?  There can be any number of things that we carry around with us that are holding us back from doing what it is that we really want to do in life.  But it is up to us, and ONLY us, to figure those things out, to let go of those things, and to build a life that we truly love.

Pura Vida from Costa Rica!

img_6558-1


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 managing a Cabina on the beach 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 fellow travellers!

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.

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

A Visit to Samara, Costa Rica – Destination Guide

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

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

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

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

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

So, what are you waiting for?

Get out there, have fun and explore!

Samara

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

C9C54125-2DB1-4731-A77B-8D5FE982BED7

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

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

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

2B05BBA8-AF50-4AA1-BEE1-21501F4849B2
Notice the waterfall spilling down at the far end.
3552A3F6-0899-478B-8917-E1A964E77924
A standard Tico BBQ built with beach rocks, and briquettes to build a fire. Most Ticos use barbed wire woven in and out until they create a grill out of it.

 

E7951BB2-AD9F-4559-86E0-EA4C87A28606
Walter, one of Nikki and Eron’s Dogs wanted a rinse off as well!

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

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

6D1F892B-17A2-44CD-A796-5CDF1FCB6E2E
We walked out to the point behind me in the background.
1B36EC98-3EC0-4251-B3C0-3A3A984E2555
Tidal pool dunking!
F626977C-96E9-4CD3-BE46-45C3ECE7DEB8
A freshwater spring falling from the cliff
8C25541C-C13F-4E3C-9CDA-F48D64F6EAA6
Looking to the island off the point. Apparently when the tide is right, it’s possible to swim there.

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

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

73DD17B6-D134-4E2C-B64D-5C584E0C63DE

E7219BC7-6ABC-4371-BF1D-780749D6BF33
Sunset from Chicos at Happy Hour!

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

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

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

790301E0-2CC5-4206-B322-E3751F1A7341
The road from our Hostel to the beach.  A five minute walk at most.  

Restaurants

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

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

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

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

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

Getting There and Away – 

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

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

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

Xoxoxo Happy Travels!

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.

 

Traditional Living in Costa Rica – Part 1

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…….

We are on day 4 of our trip, and I can honestly say already that if we had to return home for some unknown reason, that I would be content with our experience. Today was everything that I had hoped to achieve on our travels, and more!

We are currently in Monteverde, a mountaintop community, located in Costa Rica’s northern highlands. “Green Mountain”, the translation of Monteverde, couldn’t be more accurate. Every direction you look, there are plants of seemingly endless descriptions and green mountains stretch as far as the eye can see. We know this for sure, as the Air BnB that we booked is perfectly perched on the side of one such mountain, and the vista below is absolutely breathtaking. We can see all the way west to the Nicoya Peninsula, and in the right light the “Golfo de Nicoya” (Gulf of Nicoya) in front of the peninsula, dances and sparkles in the sunlight.

Read on to hear about our experiences so far…….

__________________

After spending 2 nights in Alajuela, the neighbouring city to Costa Rica’s capital city, San Jose, and feeling that we had recovered sufficiently from our dreaded red eye flight from Calgary, through Toronto, we decided to head into the interior of Costa Rica, instead of hitting the beach. We will be house sitting right on the beach for 2 months at the end of October, so we will have lots of beach time to come. The mountains were calling us.

In 2004, my last visit to Costa Rica, I had visited a small mountain town called Monteverde. I had very fond memories of this place, but such as it was back then, our main motivation was to get to the beach, so we only spent a night or two. I longed to come back to explore more of this area, and to try and get a better feel for life in the highlands.

I did a search for Monteverde on my Air BnB app, to see what would come up. There were many options in many price ranges, but as I scrolled the list, one caught my eye. “Paradise House Monteverde #2 – Farmstay”.  The description definitely called to my yearning to learn more about the Costa Rican life.  Check it out below:

950C22F8-F29B-4AF1-8AFA-9232AAB33289
Turns out that as it is the low season, and the internet had been washed out with the latest Hurricane, we got a discount and only paid $68 for 3 nights!

I quickly read it out to Chris and he said “Yes! Book it!”

Our plan was set! Here was our chance to learn about a traditional Costa Rican way of life. My goal with travelling is always to connect with locals, to see how others are living, to learn their way of life, and to share it with others. This sounded like a perfect fit! I booked 3 nights, knowing that would give us 2 full days to enjoy ourselves in a lovely, peaceful location.

3 nights = $68 CAD

With the help of our host in Alajuela, we booked a bus trip up into the mountains. Costing just $15 US (including a $5 booking fee for booking online), the bus would leave Alajuela at 3:00 and arrive at 7:00pm. In the tropics, every day of the year, it is dark by 6:00, so I knew that it would be dark when we arrived at our location. I messaged this to Orlando, our farm host, and he assured me that since they were located well out of Monteverde proper, he would arrange a transport to pick us up at the Bus stop.

The bus ride was a typical one, driving quickly down paved highways, weaving along the coastline of the Gulf of Nicoya, until all of a sudden we took a sharp, right hairpin turn onto a gravel road. After 2 hours on the road, we were finally headed into the mountains. Immediately there was a sign that said Monteverde 35km. I commented to Chris that surely it can’t take 2 more hours to go 35 kilometres. However, I was sorely wrong!

617FD645-D8D0-4B2D-A86B-CB5B42A1BB05.jpeg
Note:  It took us almost 4 hours to reach Monteverde.  Mind you, we were on a large bus, a private vehicle is likely quicker.

Within minutes, make that seconds, I could see that YES, this definitely could take 2 hours! The road was windy, narrow, steep and seeming impossibly small to accommodate the bus that we were riding on. As we were seated in the front two seats to the right of the driver, my favourite spot to “see it all” we got a full spectacle of what was to transpire. Corner after corner, sharp curve after sharp curve, we wound our way up the tight mountain road. With the recent rains of Hurricane Nate , having wreaked havoc with many mountain roads, we witnessed a few places where part of the road was washed away down the mountain. In these instances, the bus would slowly but surely, squeeze itself down the inside lane, hugging as close as it would dare to the inside ditch, without falling into it. We also watched the Humidity indicator that was located at the front of the bus go from 50% to 90% as we approached the clouds and entered an area aptly known as the Cloud Forest. We watched numerous small frogs leap across the road, scurrying out of the way of the large bus wheels, some we knew made it, others we weren’t so sure. Never the less, we cheered them on as we saw them.

Many times we would come across another vehicle going down the road, each time both of us would squeeze as tight as we could to the opposite shoulders of the road, literally inching past each other. However, in one instance, we came head to head with a driver of a commercial utility truck. It was now dark and drizzling rain and there was clearly no way for both vehicles to pass each other on the current stretch of road.

After both vehicles flashed their lights at each other a couple times, the driver of the truck finally realized that if anyone was to back up, it was him. He jumped out of his truck to survey the situation around him, and to come up with a solution, a way to pull over so that we could pass each other. After realizing that the other driver needed assistance in backing up (so that he didn’t drive off the road and over the cliff side) our driver jumped out to direct him. The amusement in the bus was hilarious as the locals chitter chatted back and forth laughing and carrying on about the situation. I couldn’t help but think about if the same situation would have happened in Canada; Number one, there would not be a public bus driving on a road such as this in Canada (unless of course it was guaranteed to be the only vehicle driving back and forth), and Number 2, if a bus load of people were held up in this way, there would be more than one very unhappy person. However, the mood was jovial, and everyone was just happy to have the entertainment.

Finally, as our driver helped the other driver back up down the windy road, and into a slightly wider section, another man, that we had picked up at a rest stop, and who had been chatting with the driver at the front of the bus ever since, jumped into the drivers seat and started driving the bus down to meet him. Chris and I burst out laughing, as we had no idea who this guy was, but trusted that he knew what he was doing either way. What little choice did we have after all? Thankfully, he safely drove us the couple hundred meters forward to pick up our other driver, but not before passing the transfer truck and another vehicle behind it on the cliff side of the road, with mere inches to spare between us (and I’m sure mere inches to spare with the side of the road, and in turn, the cliff as well.)

I mentioned to Chris more than once that I was thankful that it was dark because although we knew that we were driving up the side of the mountain, we were unable to see just how perilous and treacherous that it was if we were to simply slide down into the abyss below.

As we started to approach a more populated area, made obvious by the lights that now lit the road ahead of us, many locals would signal to the driver to be let off in various areas. Again, NOT something you would necessarily see in Canada.

Despite all of this, we arrived in Monteverde at about 6:50pm. We departed the bus and stacked our luggage against the wall. Other travellers scampered around grabbing taxis or staring into their iPhones to figure out their next move. Nobody approached us about a ride, so I poked my head around the corner and locked eyes with a man standing next to a van. He gave me a look of approval so I walked over to him to show him the address of where we were going. Before I had a chance to do that, and much to my surprise, he showed me a picture on his phone of Chris and I! I realized that it was our Air BnB profile photo, and that our host must have sent it to him so that he knew who to pick up. “Perfecto!” I announced and patted him on the shoulder. I ran off to grab Chris and our luggage, and we were whisked away into the darkness, along another bumpy and washed out gravel road.

Unfortunately, I never did get our drivers name, but he quickly realized that I spoke a bit of Spanish, and we were able to carry out a simple conversation. He explained to me that the reason the roads were so bad was because of the extensive rains that the hurricane had deposited on the area. There were many more washed out areas along the next section of road that we travelled, and even a couple of crews working late into the night to repair them.

After about 15 minutes, we pulled into a tiny gap in a fence, and his headlights illuminated our home for the next few days. It was absolutely pitch black, but we could tell by the lights in the distance and below us, that we were perched on a hillside of sorts. He helped us with our luggage, found the key and opened the door, and then wished us well. I asked about when we would meet our host, Orlando, and he said something about “Manana”. Good enough, we would see him tomorrow.

We quickly unpacked our food and got busy with making some dinner. The house was simple, with 2 bedrooms, a bathroom and a small kitchen where we could make our meals over the course of our stay. We took turns running in and out of the front doors, both ecstatic with our location, and wanting desperately for it to be the next day, so that we could see the fantastic view that we knew was spread out before us.

But alas, we knew that we would have to wait. In the meantime, we ate our dinner, sat on our front porch, and stared off into the vast unknown. Tomorrow would bring the light and a whole new adventure!

** Thanks for reading! This is part of a larger group of blog posts about us letting go of all of our possessions to go traveling. If you would like to read from the beginning, click here.**

To see more photos, and to follow our progress on Facebook, please follow our 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.

 

July 23, 2017- We are getting there….

***Jill’s ‘letting go’ Diary***

This is part of a series of posts (ordered by Dated Titles) where I am recording my thoughts and emotions as we tackle getting rid of all of our possessions. From the day that I came up with this idea, to sell everything and travel the world, I have recorded my thoughts on certain days where I feel like writing. These are real time, and not edited (except for grammatical corrections.) 

Wow!  It’s been a while since I wrote last. I have had so much to say about this process, but never the time or energy to sit down and write it. I’ve also been having trouble with my laptop lately, so that has seemed like an easy excuse to not have to write. However, I remembered today that I wrote my whole Europe Blog in 2015/2016 on my iPhone. And so, here I sit, on my iPhone. But this time, instead of scrolling through Facebook or Instagram, I’m going to try and catch you all up on what has been going on.

On July ninth we had our third yard and plant sale. As we set up for it, we had a chuckle about how tired we had been after our first yard sale. It almost seemed cute.  Like really??  Did we really even know what tired was at that point??

The sale went fine, we made our ,what now seems to be, typical $1000 or so. But instead of putting everything away into the house again, we made a decision then and there that whatever had now been in three sales, was going to the thrift store. This also included our Christmas decorations, a massive bag of clothes, and a few other items that we didn’t feel like looking at anymore. So we packed up the van and took it in the next morning.

We felt massive relief right away, and high fived outside the thrift store doors to celebrate our jubilant mood, when we had finished dropping it all off.

Other than the sale, we have both been working full time, plus busting our butts around here to get our house ready to list on the market. I have learned so much about myself over these last few months. It’s almost impossible to wrap my head around it all. But over all, I have learned these three major things:

NUMBER ONE:  I will NEVER burden myself with so much stuff again, that climbing to get out of all of it, feels like scaling Mt. Everest.

I am sick to death of my things! Although, there are still l moments of feeling bad about getting rid of something, I know that I don’t need it where I’m going. All of this is in my way. It’s in my way to my dreams, it’s in my way to my sanity.

I feel like the moment that all of this stuff that is burdening me is lifted, I will FINALLY feel like I can think again.

I feel like I’m going to be popping my head out of a gopher hole to see what’s  been going on in the world lately.

I can’t wait for that moment!

NUMBER 2 : I will never ever, never ever ever, never never never ever start SO MANY PROJECTS without finishing them again!!

This house has been one massive unfinished project from almost the day I arrived. It’s not just the house itself, but it was filled with many, many, many started art and craft projects that were never finished. They all just sat around in various spaces whispering to me as I would go by. Some were hidden in boxes, but I knew they were there!  Calling my name, taunting me to come back……..”please finish me” they would call.

The house had walls half torn down, drywall up in some spots, not in others, trim that had been pulled off some windows, had crumbled the plaster walls away, leaving a gaping hole in the wall that would just sit there forever. Old construction meeting new construction, but not completed.

For some reason, I just couldn’t get to finishing things up. Was I mentally ill?  Am I mentally ill?  Was it my need to seek out new experiences that had me jumping from project to project, always finding a new way to express my creativity, or a new way to change my surroundings.

I really don’t know the answer to that. I just know that because of all of these unfinished projects lurking about, I constantly was able to guilt trip myself. Everything I looked at made me feel bad.

I lived in an environment, one that I had created, that literally just made me feel bad ALL OF THE TIME.

As we near the end of our renovations, and are finally just down to painting and small cosmetic things, I also am starting to feel a massive amount of relief. We have started the ball rolling with Realtors, but don’t want to list until we are finished. We are close!

NUMBER 3: If our relationship can make it through this, I feel quite confident that it will get through anything.

We are both so exhausted from working all day, then working on the house all night. We have barely taken a day or two off since we started putting this house back together.

We are short with each other, our patience is fried, we are exhausted. But we are both very aware that we are living in extremely stressful times, and if we can just get through this, we know there is a reward at the end.

At the end of the day, we share a common goal. We are both extremely hard working, and I know we will get there. But man oh man, I don’t think either of us anticipated how challenging this was all going to be!  All I can think is that there absolutely MUST be a payout in store for us after all this hard work. We have to believe this.

The minute my mind starts wandering and I think, “Why are we doing this to ourselves?”  I find myself returning full circle to the night that I made this decision, to sell everything and head out into the world.

I knew then what I know now.

That it’s the only way.

My heart knows. My gut knows.

My whole being knows that I must disengage with this life. I must cast off and seek out new experiences. It’s a deep yearning. A need. An itch that desperately needs scratching.

Only once I do it, will I know the reasons why.
** Thanks for reading! This is part of a larger group of blog posts about us letting go of all of our possessions to go traveling. If you would like to read from the beginning, click here.**

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

To see my blog post menu, click here.