Our Plan to Have No Plan, Was a Great Plan!

For us, by having no plan for what was next, we opened our future up to literally ANY and EVERY possibility to come our way. 


In 2017 we packed up our life, and quit the 9-5 to head out into the world.  We came with no expectations, we only wanted to experience life.  Since we have left, we have packed more fun and adventure into our lives than we ever could have imagined.  Being on the road now for over a year, has brought with it the freedom to explore what it is that we want to do to create an income for ourselves, the time to pay attention to the things that are truly important to us, and the adventure to truly make life fun and interesting once again.  We left seeking an exciting life, and we have not been disappointed!  Join us as we explore as much of this big old world that we can!


Well 2 months have gone by since my last post, and mostly, I apologize for that.  When I got to thinking that I really needed to update my blog and let you all know what we are up to, I had that familiar inkling of guilt, for taking so long to write.  I thought a little bit about why I hadn’t done it, and at the end of it all, I really don’t know.

At one point I thought that maybe I was just tired of writing about our lives.  In the beginning it was fun and exciting and I couldn’t wait to share all of our travel adventures with you all.  But as time has gone on, and this just all seems to feel normal to us, i guess I’m not as anxious to write about every little detail.

The other thought is that I really do spend a good portion of my day working on my online business (www.jillianamatt.com), marketing etc, so maybe I was just sick of the computer?

I’m sure if I dug deep enough, I would find a few other excuses, but really, it is what it is and I can’t change it, so I guess there isn’t much point in dwelling on it.  I do know that we have been pretty busy for the last while, and our life has changed, once again, in ways that we never thought possible!  Let me fill you in.

After leaving our housesitting gig in Livingston on January 5th, we headed off into Rio Dulce for a couple of nights.  We had heard great things about staying on the river, so we decided that it would be nice transition from our busier lives with taking care of 3 cats, 4 Ducks, 5 Chickens and 1 Rabbit, to one of relaxation and lounging around for a couple of days.  We stayed in a quintessential bamboo hotel that had a beautiful common area as well as individual cabins.  For the price of about $200 US, we spent 2 nights there which included all of our meals plus kayak rental.  It was really great. Check out Hotelito Perdido Here.

Our days consisted of diving off the dock into the fresh river water, lounging in the hammocks and pretty much just enjoying ourselves.  One evening we kayaked around the corner to a neighbouring restaurant to check out the sunset.  We were not disappointed and afterwards were treated to an absolutely stunning star filled sky for our paddle back.  We even turned the headlamps off to stop and float beneath the cosmos for a while. A beautiful night, and one that we won’t soon forget.

Next we made our way back to Flores where we met Chris’ Mom and Step Dad on the 10th.  This was the start of their 12 day holiday, and we had a jam packed few days lined up for them!  I have another blog post that I am working on that will outline this trip in detail, but we basically did the major sightseeing destinations in Guatemala from Flores to Lake Atitlan!  Every day brought a new and exciting adventure, and I would be lying if I didn’t admit that by the end of it, we were all pretty exhausted. Good times were had by all though, and we really did enjoy our time with them and the experiences we shared.

On January 24th, we flew off to Ft. Lauderdale, Florida where we then connected to St. Thomas in the USVI.  We were meeting my parents for a two week holiday to celebrate my Mom’s 70th birthday.  We managed to celebrate it many times through the course of the trip, although her actual birthday was on the last day, February 9th.  We spent one week chartering a catamaran in the British Virgin Islands, then another week on the Island of St. John (USVI) in a timeshare.  It was a nice reminder of days gone by when my family used to head down to the Virgin Islands over Christmas and New Years for many years when I was a teenager.  We visited lots of the old places we had hung out in, plus some new ones, but were a little shocked and saddened by the changes that had occurred since the last big hurricanes tore through the islands. All in all though, I think we all enjoyed going back, just to check it out, and we had a wonderful time filled with fun and laughter with them.  This trip marked the end of our ‘planned’ future, and just as that adventure was ending, another one was beginning.


Now, this is where our lives managed to find the familiar serendipity that we have experienced through this chosen life of ours………

The story starts with us deciding to head the the USVI on a one way ticket from Guatemala.  With our last booked housesitting gig in Livingston behind us, we found ourselves with literally no plan, after the Virgin Islands, of course.  Our future was stretched out before us, every corner a possibility, over every horizon another adventure waiting to unfold.

It was a risky move.  The USVI is NOT cheap!  I knew this heading in, but I really didn’t realize just how expensive it was, as the last time I had been there was 24 years ago.  We knew after the trip with my parents, that we would have to figure out SOMETHING . Maybe find some work on a boat, maybe Chris could tatoo, maybe a housesitting job would pop up in the area (secretly this was my hope.) We didn’t know what was going to happen, we just went and knew that we would figure out something.  The worst case scenario was that we found nothing, then flew somewhere else, if even back to Guatemala.

Once arriving in the Virgin Islands, we vowed that we would take the first week on the catamaran, to really enjoy ourselves and not get too worked up over what was next.  Something would unfold, we had faith that it would. After the sailing trip, we would be spending a week in a hotel with good wifi, so we would figure something out then.  For now, we needed some time to relax and not think about what was next.

Not 2 or 3 days into our sailing adventure, I got a notification for a housesitting job on the island of Nevis, part of the Caribbean country called St. Kitts & Nevis, and only an hours flight south of us.  As soon as I read it, I had that feeling of “YES! I KNEW SOMETHING WOULD COME UP!”  Without hesitation, I messaged the lady to let her know that we were indeed interested in her housesitting position.  Up until this point, I had rarely seen housesitting jobs posted for the Caribbean Islands.  But here one was, and it was right in our neighbourhood! This could not have been more orchestrated.   The only catch was that she wanted us to start April 1st.  Since we knew that our time with my parents was over on February 10th, we didn’t really know what we would do to fill the time in between the dates.  But I messaged her none-the-less to let her know that we were interested.

The post stated that we would have our own self-contained cabin, taking care of 2 dogs and a cat.  Fair enough.  We could handle that.  However, she didn’t reply to my application until a couple days later with a hasty email explaining that she was seriously busy and promising to write us again in a couple of days.  But, she told us, in the meantime, we were to check out her ‘project’ The Botanical Garden of Nevis.   After clicking through to the website and seeing the property and the gardens, I was ecstatic!  I could barely contain myself when I told Chris what she had sent me.  At this point we didn’t know what was in store for us, we just knew that this lady had some pretty awesome gardens that we really couldn’t wait to see!

A couple more days go by and she finally writes us to let us know what the posting is really about.  She is looking for a couple to come and help her with organizing her volunteers at her botanical garden.  We were asked to commit to a bit of a longer term than most of her volunteers that are only 4-8 weeks.  Our housing would be covered, all lunches while working, and a small grocery allowance for each month.

Now, as avid gardeners and plant lovers, I have to say that we both have been missing this aspect of our lives since we set off travelling.  While we have dabbled in a bit of gardening here and there at various properties that we have taken care of, we certainly hadn’t satisfied our gardening itch since leaving Canada.  This was a great opportunity for us to get back to something that we love, all while having most of our expenses covered.  Plus, in retrospect, I think that we were both craving something a bit bigger than what we have been doing.  Most of our ‘work’ time is spent on our art and promoting our various online stores, but at times, that gets to be old, and we tended to be flailing around a little bit with trying to find other ways to entertain ourselves.

This was an opportunity to really get into a project, and a REALLY big one at that. We were ecstatic of the prospect!  Not too mention, we both have put on a few (ahem) extra pounds since leaving Canada, and this would be a good way to use our bodies again and rebuild some of the strength that we have lost.

But there was still that one catch, though.  The post stated that we would be starting in April, which meant that we had 7 weeks to kill before heading there.  With the Virgin Islands being unbearably expensive for us, and no other cheap options in the area, Dad suggested that I just tell her that we are available now if need be.

Again, another couple of days go by…….

Then, gloriously, she wrote back telling us that if we were willing to share a house with another couple that had a shared bathroom, then she could arrange for us to come at the beginning of March.  This was making it better, as we would only have to find somewhere to stay for 3 weeks. OF COURSE we didn’t mind!

Because we had decided that St. Thomas was too expensive, we figured that it would be a good idea to head to nearby Puerto Rico instead, only a 30 minute flight and a MUCH bigger island.  Surely there would be cheaper accommodation and cost of living there!?  I looked online and was dismayed with the prices that were laid out before me.  All of it was still well above our budget, but we still reasoned that we could likely find something that would work for us once we got there.  We knew that there was small villages and towns where we could find something that would carry us through for 3 more weeks before we could head to Nevis.

We booked our flights and felt good that we had a new plan moving forward, and were ecstatic to get to Nevis to start our journey there.  Well, within a couple days of booking our flight, she said that if we wanted, we could come anytime after February 21st.  This meant ONLY 10 days in Puerto Rico!  This was getting better and better by the minute!

We flew out of St. Thomas on February 10th, ending a wonderful 2 weeks spent with my parents, and jetted off to Puerto Rico to wait out our 10 days until we could head to Nevis.   New adventures were right around the corner, and we couldn’t wait to see what was next!

TO BE CONTINUED…………


Now, I will continue our story soon, I promise (!), but I want to just touch on a couple points with what has taken place in these last couple months.

  1. We had NO PLAN.  I believe that this is one of the scariest things that humans have the capacity to do,  live a life with no plans.  So many of us have completely constructed our life so that each day is meticulously laid out, each hour scheduled, each year has its holidays, x number of years means retirement.  We take comfort in the knowing what’s next, and we feel like we have no worries when it is all structured and neat and tidy.  But with that structure comes a life of predictability,  a life with less excitement and adventure. and possibly can lead to life that is stagnant and somewhat boring.  For us, by having no plan for what was next, we opened our future up to literally ANY and EVERY possibility to come our way.  Because we did this, there were literally infinite amounts of things that could fall on our laps.  We didn’t have a structure laid out, we just sat with the unknowing.
  2. We got hired because we had no plan.  A couple days after she had emailed us with the info about the Botanical Garden, my parents commented that it would be nice if we knew for sure that we had the job.  There had been no mention of others applying, but one never knows.  This was posted on our housesitting site where we apply for housesitting jobs, other do as well, of course.  But I had a knowing in my gut that we needn’t worry about any others.  I stated out loud “Don’t worry, we got the job if we want it.”  It was a brazen and bold statement, and of course Dad said it was so.  “Well surely other people will be applying as well?”  He stated. Sure, they would be, but at the end of it all, how many people can apply that have managed their own businesses (and crews), one being a landscaping company, absolutely love gardens and anything to do with nature,  PLUS (this is the biggy), have the time and flexibility to stay as long as she needs.  THIS was the catch, and Dad agreed on that point for sure. BECAUSE we have NO PLAN, we are able to orchestrate each day as it comes, and figure out every moment by every moment.  I can’t tell you how much stress this has taken off of our shoulders.  One would think that having our life structured before us would make us comfortable and relaxed with the knowing.  But the problem with constructing everything, is that you are then expected to make it all work.  You are suddenly tasked with deadlines and expectations.  If you don’t get your to do list finished, it’s a failure because then your next day is set back.  This could set back your week, unless you work harder to make up for it so that it doesn’t leak into your next week.
  3. We got this job because we are FLEXIBLE.  When I initially told her that we were flexible and could make anything work with our accommodations and any arrangements that she had for us, this set us above most others as well.  Even since we have been here for 2 weeks, we have seen her turn away potential volunteer candidates that asked a thousand questions, challenged her on why things were certain ways, and obviously displayed to her that they had their own agendas and expectations.  We didn’t have that when we agreed to this.  We were open to anything really.  I believe that by being flexible, and displaying to her our willingness to make this work, she felt more comfortable in our commitment level and seriousness of taking on the job.

So, you can see how this job, in the words of my mother “fell in our laps”.  However, it is also important to understand the reasons that it did seemingly do so, as I have outlined above.


From the beginning of this journey, and since letting go of so much,  I have felt fully supported in all decisions that we make.  And I feel like the more that I trust in that support, the more I feel like somehow, someway, somebody out there is looking out for us.  By letting go of so much that tied us down, we are in the position to let the universe guide us, and in doing so, the most beautiful and wondrous life is unfolding in front of us.  Day by day we are thrilled and excited by life.  It is constantly changing, morphing and rearranging itself to provide us with so many wonderful experiences.  Through the places we have seen, the wonderful people that we have met, and the ‘pinch ourselves’ moments that we have had, we have found a life that is full filling in ways that we never could have imagined.

My hope is that you too can build yourself a life filled with wonder and excitement, a life of adventure and a bit of unpredictability.  Because, let me tell you, it is the most exhilarating way to live!

(a sneak peak of the gardens!)


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

Xoxoxo Happy Travels!


Current Location: Nevis Island, St. Kitts & Nevis

Travelling Plans: We hope to be here for up to 6 months, but we are taking things day by day, and haven’t committed to anything long term 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 learn about housesitting, please click here.

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

If you like my writing, and want to follow along on our journey, please put your email address in the right hand column to subscribe. That way all of my posts will go straight to your email inbox:)

 

A New Look and a New Time

I am more interested in inspiring people to get out into the world and to live the life that they can only dream of. 


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 we sit in Costa Rica, after 8 months of arriving here, I can’t help but feel like pieces are finally falling into place.  It’s not like all of a sudden everything has become easy, and that we have it all figured out.  No, it’s more of a feeling.  A feeling that big things are starting to happen.  A feeling that we are both stepping into our shoes.

This past 8 months has allowed us the freedom to explore our deepest desires.  It has allowed us the time to really consider what it is we want to do, and where it is we are headed.  Day by day, bit by bit, the petals unfurl to our souls, moment by moment we are finding out who we really are.  Who we are without the crush of society telling us who we should be.

Since leaving Nicaragua, 21 days ago, we have rested, we have recuperated, and we have done a lot of thinking about where we are going and what is next. And the only thing that has been really clear, is that we really don’t know.  We have discussions about going to Mexico, or maybe Columbia.  But when that will happen, is something that has not yet presented itself to us.  For some strange reason, we are content here in Samara.  We are back in the safe arms of Costa Rica, and we are happy with our place in this life right now.

Horses in Samara
An eerie rainy day in Samara.  

Living in a hostel is not something that I ever would have considered in this life.  But I have to say, I am really enjoying it.  We have our own room, our own bathroom, a kitchen to cook in, and a social scene that is just perfect.  The average age of people that stay at our hostel is about 35 years old.  This isn’t your typical party hostel scene, and I’m realizing that at the ripe ol’ age of 41, most hostels aren’t really like that anymore.  I mean sure, if you go to well known party places like Whistler, Thailand, or Australia, and I’m sure even in parts of Costa Rica, sure there are party hostels.  But here, it’s different.  It’s nice.  We have a constantly changing rotation of roomates, and we like it that way.  We are meeting other travellers and are learning about where they come from, and what their cultures and traditions are like.

We have made lasting friendships with some of them, with promises to visit their countries one day.  We have exchanged travelling stories, and we have become immensely inspired.  Having this time to really dictate what we do with our days, has been refreshing and rewarding.  We both feel like our minds are clearer and our goals are manifesting.

My online stores have finally grown their own legs.  I mean, obviously it all takes work, and I will be putting effort into those things until the day that they cease to exist, but the hard work of getting them off the ground is finished for now.  I feel like now I have time to focus on my writing, and to really set out to start making a difference in the world.

You will notice that the visual format of this blog has changed to reflect something a little more professional.  It no longer serves as a fun Travel-y blog type thing, now it is a platform for me to share my experiences, I call it a Travel Lifestyle Blog.  I’m not interested necessarily in trying to promote travel destinations.  I’m not into doing those blogs that do “Top 10 budget destinations” type writing.

I urge you to travel

No, I am more interested in inspiring people to get out into the world and to live the life that they can only dream of.  And when I say “get out into the world”, I don’t necessarily mean to go travelling.  I guess more of what I mean is to get out of YOUR world.  To leave the feelings, the places, the normal-ness of your life to explore something different.  Try those things that you have always wanted to try.  Take that salsa class, do a pottery class, go to a paint and wine night.  Write that blog, go to that restaurant, call that person.

Just switch things up a bit.  Don’t become stagnant, don’t become normal.


Throughout this journey, and from day one of making this decision to sell all of our possessions and travel the world, I have been keeping a log of what we were going through at each stage of the game.  Some of this is reflected in this blog, but much of it is also kept in journals, by voice recording and memos to myself.  It all has to do with living a life that we create, stepping away from the normal day to day routines that have been set out for us by society.

I will be writing a book that will bring this message together.  My hope is that it inspires others to build a life that they love.  To get away from the everyday grind and to seek out a life that you love, one that inspires you, one that excites you.


Something else that is new is that I have set up a Patreon account.  (Click here to see that.) Patreon is a platform that allows individuals to fundraise money for certain causes, to create a product, to launch a book, to create a constant income stream to allow them the time to be creative.  I feel like we fall into all of those categories.  We are constantly creating, and putting our best work out into the world, but it takes time to build.  It takes time to build our own brands and to reinvent ourselves.

Patreon is a way for our fans to contribute to our journey in some small way.  You can donate as little as $1 per month to help us to keep moving forward and to bring our projects to fruition.

As always, we are so grateful to our friends and family that have supported us in our journey so far.  Without the community and family support that we have received, this journey and decision to live this life would have been much more difficult.

And so, here we stand.  We stand in immense gratitude for this life that we have created.  And we look forward to continuing to share that with the world. IMG_0113


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 are here still figuring out where we want to go next.

Travelling Plans: We have nothing scheduled at this point other than a housesitting job in Livingston, Guatemala in late November.

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 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 2

Of course, we were all horrified by the lives that were being lost by the hands of the government, but the ‘talks’ were coming, surely something would be sorted out then. Wouldn’t it?

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 at the beginning of this story, click here.

I think back to the days when we were at Amanda’s farm and wonder what our decision would have been had we not have been housesitting.  Would we have stayed in Nicaragua anyways?

We stayed on the farm for a week more, just to see what would happen.  We were safe there, it is a remote area well off the main roads, and her small community has a road that links directly to the local center, where we would go to the market and do our shopping.  As it was, we knew that we didn’t want to go to Granada, but where else would we have gone?  The north end of the country would have been hard to get around, as Leon, Masaya and Matagalpa were hot spots right off the bat.  Perhaps we would have chosen to go see the Corn Islands off the East Coast of the country?  As it turned out, one of the guys staying at Amanda’s farm ended up doing just that on May 4th, and wasn’t able to return to Managua by road, he had to fly as the roads were all blockaded and no buses were running.

However, as it was, we were supposed to be housesitting starting somewhere near the beginning of May, so we decided to stay.  The town where we were going, Rivas, is in the south of the country, there had been no violent conflicts there so we felt that it was safe to stay there, and we would just take it day by day and see how things went.  We rationalized that if we didn’t find ourselves in any danger, then what was the problem?

It seemed simple enough.

As stated in the previous post  we had had it with the conditions on the farm, and we really just wanted a bed to sleep in and a dry place to hang out as the rainy season was just beginning, and having a sopping wet tent day in and day out didn’t seem like much fun.  Plus there was the fact that my business is based online, and with having no wifi access for 3 weeks, it was time to get somewhere that I could get all caught up.

We weighed our options and knowing that the North of the country was already unstable, we opted to just head straight to Rivas and hang out there until our housesit started.

We arrived in Rivas on April 29th, 11 days after the chaos had begun.  Rivas was business as usual.  Tourism had dropped a little bit, but we stayed in one of the more popular hostel type hotels in the area , Hostel Julieta. When we arrived, we were the only ones there, but over the course of the next few days, a few more travellers arrived here and there and it seemed to be business as usual. Some of them had retreated south from some of the Northern Cities and were leaving Nicaragua.  Some were staying, but were headed to quiet and quaint San Juan del Sur which is just down the road.

During this time things had calmed down a little bit.  However, we did hear reports of attacks on the Universities, and even reports of some of the students being poisoned by the rations and water that were being brought in for the ones that had holed up in there. So I guess in saying that it “calmed down”, was relative to where you were in the country.  The Universities had become battlegrounds, and the buildings served as make shift fortress’.  There were still demonstrations and small road blocks up north, but Ortega had agreed to talks with the church at this time, so it seemed to be like everyone was just holding their breath to see what would happen next, after the “talks.”

To us, it was business as usual.  I think we both still felt like things would just blow over.  At some point this craziness will all end.  Won’t it?

We walked the streets at night, we hung out in the central park and watched the kids play and the world go by.  Nothing, I mean nothing, seemed out of sorts at that point.  It really felt safe, and we maintained that until we felt unsafe, we weren’t going anywhere.  We didn’t want to jump the gun and deny ourselves of a great opportunity to see and experience Nicaragua by letting fear get the best of us.

But on the other hand, we also didn’t want to act like we had our heads in the sand.  It was important to stay on top of the news and to pay attention to what was going on.  I joined a couple facebook pages for Expats in Nicaragua, and followed along on the progression as good as I could.  And of course there were still horrors happening, but our immediate experience was just so safe and non threatening, I think we brushed it off a little bit and just thought of it as a problem in the North, not where we were.

On May 3rd we met the home owners that we were supposed housesit for.  Our housesit was to start on May 10th, and while we were now all in the same city together, it just made sense to get together with them and get to know them a little bit.  We had a hilarious first 5 minutes of conversation as we found out that they are from British Columbia, Canada, the same province we had been living in before leaving on our travels.  We thought they were Americans for some reason, and unbeknownst to us they thought we were Americans.  Nobody knows where either of us got that info from, but here we were…….practically neighbours after all.

As we hit it off so well with them over Pizza at a local restaurant, we decided that it be best if we just went and stayed with them for a few days before we started the housesit, so that they could introduce us to their friends, and show us the good spots to go around in the neighbourhood.

We headed to their place on May 7th, giving us a full two days to do some touring around, meeting people and learning the ropes of Rivas, before they left on the 10th.  Things really seemed to have stabilized at that point.  We went down to Cardenas, along the south shore of Lake Nicaragua, and a stones throw from the Costa Rica border.  As the entrance off the highway to Cardenas was pretty much right at the border crossing to Costa Rica, we saw miles and miles of trucks lined up along the road, waiting to cross the border.  I was told that this was the normal scene down here, always tons of trucks.

We visited their friend Kelly in Cardenas and spent the night in an idyllic setting.  We chatted about what was going on, but really at that point it wasn’t affecting peoples lives the way that it would in the weeks to come.  Kelly has lived in Nicaragua for 15 years, and even has a resident status.  So clearly, she had a much bigger concern on her hands then we did.  Of course, we were all horrified by the lives that were being lost by the hands of the government, but the ‘talks’ were coming, surely something would be sorted out then.

Woudn’t it?

The owners of the house where we were to housesit left on May 10th to fly out of Managua.  It was clear sailing all the way to the airport, no blockades, no hassles.  Good news, things MUST be getting back to normal up there!

We had almost 4 months in front of us in a great Nica house, in a tiny Nica neighbourhood, in a safe city, and we really felt hopeful that everything was going to be just fine.

To go to part 3 of this story, click here.


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 website.  Their online newspaper has covered this from the beginning. 


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 almost 8 months.

Current Location: We are currently in Samara, Costa Rica where we are staying in a familiar hostel with 2 others that left Nicaragua in the last few days.  We have also met 5 other people in town that just left.  We call ourselves the Nicaraguan Refugees. 

Travelling Plans: Our ‘plans’ have been flipped upside down and we are now trying to figure out a new one. 

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.

Some Observations of Costa Ricans…..

It also got me thinking that we have literally not seen one bad exchange between people here.


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


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

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

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

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

Oh right! I remembered.

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

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

Hmmmmmmmmm…..

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

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

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

Hmmmmmmmmmmm…….

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

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

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

Hmmmmmmmmmmm……….

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

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

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

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

Hmmmmmmmmmmmm………..

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

Hmmmmmmmmmmmm……….

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

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

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

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

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

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

Xoxoxo Happy Travels!

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

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

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

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

To see my blog post menu, click here.

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

November 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.

 

 

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.

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

Xoxoxo Happy Travels!

To 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.

 

 

Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica – Destination Guide

As we were only staying for 2 nights, our main priority was to go to Manuel Antonio National Park. Chris had yet to see wild monkeys, and I knew that this was the place to be guaranteed a sighting.

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!

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Manuel Antonio

To read about our interesting arrival to Manuel Antonio, please click here. 

Manuel Antonio, best known for it’s National Park, is located just south of the larger city of Quepos in the Province of Punteranas.  The town mostly services the National Park, and is heavily populated with hotels, restaurants, gift shops and other tourist amenities.

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The Air BnB we stayed at in Manuel Antonio was a great find, as it was located in a Tico neighbourhood, a little off the beaten tourist track, but accessible to all the amenities as well. (Email me at the address below if you would like the Air BnB link to this place, it cost us roughly $20/night, but prices may increase during high season.) Just a 5 minute walk from our place, got us to the main road leading down to the beach, and the National Park. For only roughly 350 colones (roughly 75 cents USD), we could ride the bus down the hill, and check out whatever was down there, then could catch the bus back up again. In fact, that bus came all the way from Quepos, and runs constantly throughout the day.  Even if you have your own vehicle, I would recommend this option of getting there as parking is limited.

As we were only staying there for 2 nights, our main priority was to go to Manuel Antonio National Park. Chris had yet to see wild monkeys, and I knew that this was the place to be guaranteed a sighting. However, much to our surprise, we did manage to see them swinging from the power lines, and climbing on our roof and trees, at our Air BnB early that morning as well!

Home to 109 different mammals, 184 different bird species and many different reptile types, Manuel Antonio National Park is a very diverse coastal jungle. It’s one of the number one visited parks in Costa Rica, attracting 150 000 visitors a year, and was listed in 2011 as one of Forbes 12 most beautiful parks in the world.

Obviously it was necessary to go there for more than just monkeys! The scenery, the beaches, and all the other wildlife, are truly spectacular as well.

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When I was last there in 2004, the entrance was along the beach, and I have to say, much more ‘entrancing’ (pun intended) than it is now. Almost immediately, when you would walk in, the monkeys would be hanging from the trees, and you could see the beautiful beach and ocean on your right hand side.

As the park is now under some pretty major renovations, while they install miles of gangways and walkways that loop themselves through the trees, they have moved the entrance onto a non-descript roadway, where you have to walk for some time before spotting any wildlife.

I can see that these renovations are important, and will cut down on damage to the jungle floor, but in the meantime, the entrance is not what one would expect from one the 12 most beautiful parks in the world! They are also constructing a massive Welcome/Interpretive Center, which will definitely add value when it’s completed, hopefully soon.

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As we were told that it’s an absolute zoo in the high season, we were happy to have been there during the slower months. Apparently if you don’t get to the beaches by 9:00 on some mornings, you will barely find a spot. Not my idea of a relaxing day out. However, on this particular day, there were minimal people, but it was still busy enough to see that the high season would be much more difficult to even move around on the trails.

NOTE: The park is CLOSED on Mondays!! Guess the monkeys need a day off as well:)

As predicted, we saw many, many monkeys. And despite signs every 100 feet or so to NOT feed them, we did see some silly tourist throwing them an apple core! Argh! I had flashbacks of a trip that I did about 8 years ago, back to the popular tourist destination of Lake Louise, in the Canadian Rockies. My middle name is derived from this place and I grew up just down the road in Canmore. I witnessed chipmunks being fed directly from peoples hands and was thoroughly horrified by their domestication.  They certainly had never done that when I was growing up in the area, and they have now become quite the pests!

PLEASE! If you visit the park, DO NOT FEED THE ANIMALS!! The animals will become more and more dependant on these food sources, will lose the ability to forage for food themselves, and will eventually become aggressive and hostile if not fed. When this happens, as it always does, people will get hurt, and monkeys will be killed. It’s a cycle that, unfortunately, plays out everywhere around the world where there are close encounters with wildlife. In the end, the animals ALWAYS lose this battle!

Upon entry, we heard the distinct howl of the Howler Monkeys, and were able to spot one high up in the trees. Though we heard more howlers through the day, the White Faced, or Capuchin Monkeys were the ones we saw many of. We also saw a sloth moving slowly through a tree, a South American Coati and a cool Iguana was hanging out near us at the beach.  Of course many different birds, insects and butterflies were spotted as well.

We did a bit of hiking and hung out on one of the beaches for a bit. Our total visit was probably only about 2-3 hours long, but it was a nice day and we were lucky as it had been raining many days leading up to our arrival.  We actually had decided to cut our visit short, because we didn’t bring any food with us into the park, and we were getting hungry.  Needless to say, I think it’s proabably a good idea not to bring food into the park, as it inevitably leads to what I mentioned earlier.

After the park we gave into one of the many street vendors outside the gate that had earlier tried to sell us a fresh coconut, to drink the juice inside. However, this one came with a catch! He added a shot of Rum to it, and we happily drank our coconut juice with rum, and (sort of!) re-hydrated ourselves, after having felt dehydrated from the sweltering tropical sun.

After poking around a bit, and grabbing a quick bite to eat, we headed down to the public beach outside the park, beautiful in it’s own right, and relaxed until we were chased away by the rain. We were able to very quickly catch the bus heading back up the hill, and we retreated back to our Air BnB to cook some dinner and relax for the evening. Well, Chris didn’t exactly relax, as our roommate and new friend, “Aaron from Canada” (as our host had called him) at the BnB wanted a tattoo! Chris happily obliged, further solidifying his thoughts on making a living as a travelling tattoo artist.

We didn’t really experience much more in Manuel Antonio, and I have to say that as a lover of places that are quiet, and less touristy, I would probably not go back there.

Where we are now, is so much more up both of our alleys! For example, yesterday as we laid on the beach relaxing with a book, I looked in both directions and saw nothing but sand, sea, palm trees and sun for literally miles. Not another soul was in sight! Plus, we have monkeys in our trees almost every day, and Iguanas that actually LIVE on the property. We even saw a sloth today high up in a tree on the side of the road!
But, I won’t spoil it all for you, because this place surely deserves it’s own blog post……..or 6!  Stay tuned……..

Manuel Antonio National Park facts:

Park Entrance – $16USD – tickets must be purchased from a bank that is about 100 meters from the entrance to the park, on the left hand side of the road, one block back from the beach and bus drop off area.  There are guides that are available to hire, and I’m sure you will see much more wildlife than we did as they have long telescopes that they carry with them.  Only hire guides that are part of the park service! 

High Season approx. November 15 – February 28

Website: http://manuelantoniopark.com

Phone: 1-800-381 3770

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

Xoxoxo Happy Travels!

To 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…….

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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:

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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!

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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.

 

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