A New Year and A Brand New Adventure!

Before the Morocco idea was implanted in our brains, we had planned to fly to the Southern US to visit friends, then travel by land down into Mexico, travelling by bus and public transit.


In 2017 we packed up our life, and quit the 9-5 to head out into the world.  We came with no expectations, we only wanted to experience life.  Since we have left, we have packed more fun and adventure into our lives than we ever could have imagined.  Being on the road now for over two years, has brought with it the freedom to explore what it is that we 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!


Wow!  Who can believe that we are this far into 2020 already?  Time is zipping by, and I suppose that is okay because we are flying off to Morocco on the 15th of this month!

We have been back in Canada since the end of August.  We never meant to stay this long, but we kept getting more offers of housesits, and it somehow felt right to just stay put for a bit.

How Morocco came to be……..

In early September, we had a visit from a good friend of ours that lives in the town we moved away from in Canada, before heading on our nomad adventure, in 2017.  He was on his way to help his mom pack up her house, and decided to stay a night in Canmore while driving through.

He mentioned at dinner that he was trying to get a group of people together for a trip to Morocco in January.  He suggested that we should join him.  Morocco?  Hmmmmmmm, it had a nice ring to it.

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A chance visit by our friend John has sent us off in a whole new direction to Morocco!

Before the Morocco idea was implanted in our brains, we had planned to fly to the Southern US to visit friends, then travel by land down into Mexico, travelling by bus and public transit.  However, we also realized that that plan could potentially get us back to Guatemala and once again stuck in the jungle because we love it so much.  Or, we may have made it as far as our buddies property in Costa Rica, before the jungle grabbed a hold of us and held on tight.  The point is, we LOVE those places, and definitely want to go back, but the problem is that there is also so much more out there to see.

The temptation for familiarity, though, and for visiting our friends that we made that we hold near and dear to our hearts, is very great.  We see peoples faces on facebook, instagram, or whatever other digital means, sure.  But it doesn’t replace the in person contact that is so crucial for our connection to our community.

But I also realize that there are SO many more great people out there in the world, and we want to meet as many as we can!  We want to learn about how other people operate, we want to experience their culture and their language.  We may not understand many of their belief systems, but that part is none of our business.  We just want to know people for who they are as simple basic human beings.

And so, the more we thought about it, the more we realized that we were about to make a crucial mistake.  We don’t have the time required to see all the things we want to see on this planet already!  Let alone if we start spending 3 and 4 years in one corner of the world.  We need to keep moving, keep exploring and keep educating.

Are travellers the real peacekeepers?

I do believe that as travellers, we are responsible for helping others to understand the world.  For example, we are able to help people to realize that certain cultures do things certain ways because that is how THEY HAVE ALWAYS DONE IT!  I think it is important for us to send out photos of our experiences, and the things we see, so that others can understand what a spectacular world we live in.  I think it’s great to share local experiences such as festivals and fairs so that people can see how others celebrate.

Despite the bad news that has reign on social media, news paper outlets, television news……..any news, there are so many celebrations going on in the world, all the time!  There are cultures that are not bogged down by these issues that plague “first world” nations (I hate that term).  They take the time to celebrate the good in their lives, they spend time with families, and they may sit on a neighbours porch just to chat and hang out.  These are all moments of celebration, moments of human to human contact.  But don’t get me wrong, many cultures celebrate big large festivals on a regular basis.  To them it is important to get EVERYONE together celebrating as much as possible, something I think is sorely lacking in our North American society.

For more on this: Travelers, Are they the real Peacekeepers?

Checking in with friends and family

This time, visiting my hometown and area, for this long, has meant that I have had the time required to check in and see so many great friends from my childhood.  It has been a real treat to catch up with so many and to just see how good we are all doing.  I am so lucky to have had the chance to grow up in a town with such close connections.  I went to school with about 30 people from my high school graduation class, since kindergarten.  Now those are some strong and lasting bonds that get formed.

Chris was happy to hear all the fun stories that were regaled about my *ahem* slightly rebel teenage years.   Many stories long since forgotten, brought back to the surface to laugh about again.  I’m so thankful for the happy and fun childhood that I had.  I think it is the best gift that a child can get, and I am forever grateful for mine.

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My spectacular hometown of Canmore, Alberta, Canada!
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New Years Eve on the Pond in Canmore with Jill’s parents!

It’s also been nice to have some solid time to spend here with Chris, showing him around to all my old childhood haunts, like literally ALL of them.  In the past we would duck into town for 3-5 days, barely getting a chance to hug a handful of people, then jet out again.  This time we have had the time to spend exploring trails and pathways, and many places from my past.

I also realized through this process that I haven’t been around my parents for this length of time in about 20 years!  It has been an interesting and enlightening experience, really getting to know them again after so long.  I mean, we all KNOW our parents, but over time, they grow and change like we do, and if you aren’t around them everyday, you don’t notice the subtleties.  My parents are on their own change of life journey right now as they are downsizing their house so that they can sell it and move into a smaller place.  So I have been using my experience of selling all of our things, to help them to get rid of the excess stuff that they have and don’t need anymore.

I have really appreciated having the time and space to really visit them and connect again.  This is something that didn’t exist in my old life.  In my old life I didn’t have time for such extravagances, it was work work work, busy busy busy all the time.  So much running around…….. so much……… too much.

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A visit on the farm at Christmas with Chris’ Mom, Stepdad, and his youngest sister Sienna and her boyfriend Landon.
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GROUP HUG!

It may seem now like all we are doing is running around, but it’s different.  Yes, we move from place to place, and it seems to some like our life is upended all the time, but we spend good quality time in places.  We spend time doing what is important to us.  We try not to get caught up in the constant pressure from society to ‘get a job’ or ‘look busy’ or the common thought that we all have ‘you aren’t doing enough.’  We try as hard as we can to do only what we want to do, which usually means working on our online businesses and our various forms of artwork that we always have going on.   We try as hard as we can to set boundaries and make sure that others understand what mission we are on and what we are working on.

We have also had a few nice visits with Chris’ mom, and his whole family, and even decided at the last minute that we were going to go and stay with his mom and her husband, plus see Chris’ youngest sister and her boyfriend for a good visit at Christmas time.  It turned out to be a beautiful drive and all the trees were covered in white frost as we passed the vast, flat and barren landscape.  Mother Nature was shimmering and sparkling as we drove along, and it was truly spectacular!

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Spectacular Prairie Sunsets!
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Winter Wonderland!

In getting in all of this visiting, we have realized that the most valuable part of this experience, and what has made us the RICHEST, is certainly NOT the money we make (believe me it is a pittance). Instead it is having the time to do the things that are important to us and sharing that time with the people we love.

Freedom of time, from my perspective, is the greatest and best kind of freedom a person could ever ask for.

New changes in 2020!

We are very thankful for this community that has been following us along on this journey.  We are uplifted and inspired by those that email us, chat with us on facebook, or pop us a whats app message or more.  As this blog is coming to the end of it’s life (who knew that blogs had memory and it’s almost full!), we have changed our direction slightly and have put our efforts into our new website and newsletter over at http://www.artisticvoyages.com.  This direction will have a more specific slant towards travel, creativity, and helping to make the world a better place.

 

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Subscribe at http://www.artisticvoyages.com

If you have the chance, please click on the link and sign up for our newsletter!  I will be sending out 1 or 2 newsletters per month just outlining what we have been up to, who we have met, what we have eaten, and what we are learning from each country that we visit.  Our aim is to live life with an open heart and open minds, to see and experience all that we can, and to share it, in hopes to inspire others to live their best life.

We are very excited about new opportunities in Morocco and beyond.  It doesn’t pass me by that the country sits on the north-western edge of the African continent, and gives us access to the rest of Africa itself, Europe AND Asia!  There are lifetimes of places for us to explore, and we can’t wait to see where following our noses will take us this time!

Wishing you all a wonderful 2020!  As my Dad says, it has a nice ring to it!  Surely this will be humanities best year yet!

This is me signing off on this blog!  Please join us over at http://www.artisticvoyages.com if you wish to continue to follow along with us on our journey! 


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: Cochrane, Alberta Canada

Travelling Plans: Off to Morocco on January 15th!

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. (Now under Artistic Voyages!)

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.

 

 

2 Years Nomadic – Finding Our Purpose

And it is in this realization, that we have found purpose.  It took us 2 years of the most diverse experiences we could muster, to find our direction, to figure out what it is that we REALLY want to do with our lives.  


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!


The passing of October has made us realize that it was October 2017 when we got on a one way flight to Costa Rica to start our journey.  I have to say, that it’s truly hard to believe that it was 2 years ago already.  We have officially been nomads for 2 whole years.

On one hand, it seems like the time passed by so quickly, yet we literally fit, what could be called “a lifetime” of experiences, into that time.  The things we saw and did, are impossible to quantify.  It has literally been 2 years of new sights being seen, new places being discovered, new people being met, a new language being spoken.  It has been 2 FULL ON years.  Every day a new adventure, every day a new possibility.

We have mostly tried to float on the breeze, to have our schedule so open, that literally we can follow any opportunity that comes our way.  I would say, for the most part, this breeze has carried us to only good places.  However, there has been hurdles along the way, emotional barriers that we had to break through, things we had to deal with within ourselves.

Like the time we were seriously considering leaving a 6 month commitment that we were only half way through, because we were being driven crazy by many different things that I won’t get into here.  We REALLY wanted to leave, but we also realized that with this lifestyle, also comes a way to literally RUN AWAY from your problems.  You have no attachments to anything, no reason why you can’t just pick up and go at any moments notice.

However, it also made us realize that running away is never going to solve anything.  With running away, you don’t grow and learn.  PLUS running away from commitments is bad for your integrity.  At least that is what we believe.  I kept thinking, and actually speaking to Chris aloud, that “I feel like somehow, someway, we will be rewarded for finishing this commitment.”  My gut was telling me something, it was saying to stick with it.  It was saying that we needed to FINISH the job.

I really did feel like somehow we would be rewarded for sticking it out.  It wasn’t necessarily a monetary reward that I was expecting, it was just something. Some feeling that I had, was telling us to press on.  Chris felt it too.  We both agreed that we needed to keep going, which helped.  I can’t imagine how much more stressful a situation like that one we found ourselves in would be if we had opposing viewpoints on the matter.

And in the end, we were rewarded.  We were rewarded tangibly in ways as well, but most important, we were rewarded emotionally.  We came away from that experience KNOWING what we can deal with.  KNOWING how resistant we are.  KNOWING that we are stronger than we thought.  It is this last part that is the most important.

I’ve realized recently that so many of us avoid things and run away from them.  It’s human nature.  But until you actually push through that barrier, to hang in there a little longer, to stick it out that tiny bit more, you never really know what you are capable of.

This reminds me of a quote by James Dyson, the inventor of the Dyson line of products, that I heard on a podcast last year.  His few words were really impactful to me, and they went something like this:

“When you are starting anything, you have to work twice as hard.  You inevitably will get tired, but then so will everyone else.  The trick is to push past the point where everyone else quits, just keep taking steps in the one direction.  If you do that, success is literally just around the corner.”

This resonated with me on a very deep level, and I have since applied it to a few different areas of my life.  The point, I believe is that as humans, we don’t tend to want to push ourselves.  Many of us have found ourselves in a ‘comfortable rut’.  We want to change our lives, but we are making good money, we are happy in our community, we are comfortable in our houses, we like our schedule, we like our bad habits.  The list goes on.  It seems, that the list of reasons to not change too much, far outweighs the list that does.  But does it?

Pushing through and finishing our commitment, made us realize what we are capable of.  In fact, this whole 2 year experience has reshaped our views of not only the world, but those of ourselves as well.  We now know what it is that we want to continue doing, how it is that we want to contribute to the planet.

For a while it felt like we literally were floating on a breeze.  Like, what good were we?  What were we doing that was benefiting humanity and the planet?  I felt a little bit useless to be honest.  I felt like I was a plague on the planet, always taking but never giving back.

But all that changed when we were given the opportunity to share our knowledge of permaculture techniques while working at a Botanical Garden on the island of Nevis.  We arrived at the garden being quite surprised that they didn’t have a composting system in place to feed and fertilize the garden.  They were using all synthetic fertilizers and pesticides, and burning all of their deadfall and organic material.  The soil throughout was devoid of nutrients, and desperately needed an organic lift.

Of course, it didn’t take long before we were building that compost, to show the owner how beneficial it could be.  We taught her employees all about the process, and we opened their eyes up to a whole new world of possibilities.  By collecting seaweed and any other organic refuse that came off the land, we were able to create a rich dark soil, full of nutrients and beneficial properties for the soil.  We also worked very hard physically every day, which took some getting used to after a year and a half of relative laziness.  I mean we weren’t grossly out of shape, but we definitely had become stagnant.

This experience provided us with an opportunity to not only use our bodies, but also our minds.  We both felt better in so many ways.  Because of this experience, our eyes became open to the possibilities that exist around the world, just like this one.  We have realized that although WE know all of this stuff, composting, building soil, gardening in general, that many don’t. And we now realize that people are actually HUNGRY for this information.

While collecting seaweed at the beach, to put it in our compost, we were always approached by a local wanting to know what we were doing.  They had heard that seaweed was good for the garden, but didn’t know how to integrate it and put it to good use.  So we would take the time to explain to them how they could do it in their own yards.

We have no idea if any of them ever did.  But maybe.  It’s impossible to say how that information travelled, but we are grateful that we spread the knowledge.  Hoping, at any chance we got, to help others understand that it is us that can heal the soil and the earth.  In fact, it is up to us.

If this past two years has provided us with anything, it is the clarity that comes with taking time away from distractions.  By freeing our minds from the pressing concerns of everyday life that we had back in our old lives,  we were able to focus on what was important to us, and we now solely focus only on what IS important to us.

We created a space for ourselves to breathe.  We created a space for growth and expansion, a space to push back our barriers, to prove to ourselves what we were capable of.  For that, we are both very grateful.

Right now, we find ourselves back where we left from, our home country of Canada.  We have been here since the end of August.  We hadn’t “planned” to stay this long, but as opportunities kept arising, our leaving date has been pushed back.

Recently we signed up for an online platform called Workaway.  The reasonable yearly membership gives you access to a network of people around the world that both want to volunteer on projects in foreign countries, and foreign countries that are looking for volunteers.  This platform brings it all together into one tight little bundle.

After only glancing over the postings that are available, I became really excited about the fact that many people are looking for others to help them learn permaculture.  They need strong bodies and capable hands to help them heal the land so that they can build gardens and live more sustainably.  It has made me realize that our skills are valuable all over the world.

And it is in this realization, that we have found purpose.  It took us 2 years of the most diverse experiences we could muster, to find our direction, to figure out what it is that we REALLY want to do with our lives.

Through Workaway, we have found a platform that will incorporate all of our loves; travelling to foreign lands, living like locals, using our bodies, spreading our knowledge, working for the benefit of the earth.  Honestly, we can’t wait to get back out there into the world again and get started!  But for now, we will sit tight in Canada, accomplish what we need to accomplish here, then, when the time is right, we will head off again to find a new adventure!


Being a Digital Nomad! 

It’s been a while since I updated my readers on the status of our ‘Digital Nomad’ life.  We now have 3 Etsy shops where we are individually selling our different creations.

I have split my products into 2 different shops, one is mostly clothing, and the other is home decor.

Chris has started a shop that incorporates many of his cartoon drawings.  The drawings are then sold on stickers, downloadable clip art, posters, pillows, cutting boards and more.  Check his shop out here.

Chris also does custom pet portraits and any other commissioned artwork.  He is a very diverse artist and can draw in many different styles.

Our art continues to be a priority as we grow and build these online platforms.  Again, it is something that we have really created time for, as in our old life we didn’t have as much opportunity to find time for creativity.


Travel Plans

As is our norm now-a-days, we don’t have any specific travel plans, but our current plan is to go to Morocco in January.  There are many Workaway opporunities there and it offers us a new experience and a new culture.

The pull to head back down south, to our friends and familiar landscapes is very strong, but we both know that once we get there, we may disappear into the jungles of Costa Rica or Guatemala, and never come out.  Heading somewhere totally different will help to quench our thirst to experience new and different places as much as we can.

All the pieces are not in place to make this happen just yet, but we are in full manifestation mode, and know that things will fall into place as they should if we try not to control our future too much.


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: Canmore, Alberta Canada 

Travelling Plans: Our plan is to stay in this area until Christmas or New Years.  Details of our next destination are yet to be confirmed.

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:)

The Comfort of the Known

It is only in those opportunities where we do something different, or outside of our norm that we have the chance to grow and change. 


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!


As I lay in bed last night, in a moment of some unrest, I had a thought run through my mind, for some reason, about what I would say if the first person that we housesat for in Costa Rica, asked us to do it again.

As stated, Costa Rica, was the first place that we travelled to upon starting this journey.  We had a housesitting job on an incredible 12 km stretch of uninterrupted, sunset facing, perfect beach, for 2 months. We then got a job managing a cabina rental, 2 houses down for another 2.5 months.  We spent enough time there to really get a feel for the neighbourhood.  We had a routine, we had a lifestyle that we had created for ourselves.

The warmth that I got when I thought of doing that, was immediate.  I thought to myself, sure we could do that. Wouldn’t that be nice, heading back to a place we already know.  I didn’t think too much more about it, then drifted off to sleep.

Today, Chris and I were on our usual perch after our day of work at the garden, drinking coffee, hanging out with the Dog and cats, and watching the sunset, when I mentioned that thought.  His immediate reaction was that he would go back just for a visit, but not to stay.

Huh, I thought.  In my mind, I was just starting to formulate a discussion point.  I was going to ask why he wouldn’t want to live there again, and then I caught myself.  I realized in that instant that I was being pulled back to that place somehow.  Something about that place had its grip on me.  What was it, what was making me want to go back?  Of course, being the over analyzer that I am, I was now determined to figure out what.

After pondering it for a few minutes, I realized that I was being pulled back by the familiarity.  Not only is it a beautiful place, and really, why wouldn’t I want to go back? I was being pulled back by the ‘knowing’ of what to expect.  We would know the veggie truck guy, the neighbours, and the neighbourhood.  We would know everything about the place!

How nice would that be?

How EASY would that be?

How convenient that would be?

BUT WAIT JUST A MINUTE!!!

How mundane would that be?

How BORING would that be?

How same old, same old would that be?

For gods sake!

Thank GOD I caught myself!

Immediately after realizing that I was thinking this way, Chris and I got into a conversation about what would seem to be, comfort zones.  We started philosophically trying to figure out EXACTLY what does generally pull us humans back to places and situations that we are familiar and comfortable with?  And while my focus for this deep dive is on travelling to the same places, this theory could also pertain to returning to your favourite restaurants, to camping in the same campgrounds, to repeating holiday destinations, to shopping in stores that we know, or getting our haircut by hairdressers that we trust.  The list could literally go on and on.

Is it laziness?

Are we too lazy to want to learn new things, make new friends, figure out all the ins and outs of a new place?  Maybe we are tired, and we need to rest?  Going somewhere familiar is less work, and easier.  Going somewhere familiar requires less thinking.

Is it to feel safe?

Do we just feel safer going somewhere where we know everything?  Maybe there is a personal security on some level with staying in known territory that makes you feel safe.  Maybe we are scared that a new place won’t offer the same security that we have had previously.

Is it fear of uncertainty?

Do we continue to go back to familiar places because we are scared of what we don’t know?  “What if the new place I go is terrible?” you may ask yourself.  What if we get robbed in the new place?  What if people aren’t nice in the new place?  What if we don’t make friends in the new place?

IS it for the love of the place?

Do you want to go back just because it is beautiful and you love it and miss it?  Or is it because you have friends there and you want to see them again?

There are many different reasons for wanting to return to the same place, but the straight up fact is, that if you constantly “go back”, you will get stuck.  You will stay in a familiar routine of travelling from point A to point B to always stay in the same places, and all of a sudden, there you are, back on the mundane circuit of life.  Back into some sort of routine, a routine that does not challenge you, a routine that allows your brain to almost just turn off because your body just knows what to do.

Comfort Zone Quote

For us, going back to places where we have already been, means that we are taking time away from exploring a NEW place.   We really do want to see as much as we possibly can of this planet in our lives, and by wasting time in familiar places, we take away from that potential.

But beyond just wanting to SEE new places, we also need to consider that no matter what “be all, end all” places we think we have seen, there is always MORE out there!  There is ALWAYS the potential for a better place.  And while I don’t think the ultimate goal is to find THE BEST place (because let’s just face it, EVERY place has it’s own awesomeness of some sort) the goal is to EXPERIENCE as much as possible.

I think it is within the familiar, that we lose the chance to have an interesting experience.  When we constantly repeat our experiences, we don’t grow.  We don’t change as human beings, we don’t learn anything new, we don’t try to broaden our understanding of things, we just exist.  Our brains get stuck in that place, and life begins to be a big blur of sameness, one day passing in front of the other, blending into each other. Weeks, months and years can go by, and you may hardly have noticed.  You will not have those breaks, those experiences, those stories about when you learnt something new, or that time you saw the coolest waterfall that you had ever seen, for example.

When your life is so steeped in routine, that you know exactly what you will be doing each day, you know exactly where you will go for holidays each year, or you know exactly what night you eat pizza on every week, it is in dangerous territory.  This sort of life is not challenging yourself.  You are unconsciously not opening yourself up to new opportunities in order to change your perspective.  You stop learning new things, your stop reaching for higher potentials. A life like this is stagnant.

It is only in those opportunities where we do something different, or outside of our norm that we have the chance to grow and change.  It can be meeting a new person, or seeing a new place.  Maybe we are trying a new flavour, or smelling a new flower.  THIS is when we open ourselves up to learning something new, to perhaps realizing a new way of thinking.  It is in those opportunities when your life gets a little lift, when a smile might cross your face, and when you will feel the most ALIVE!

Comfort Zone


In less than a month, we are, however, heading back to a lot of familiar territory, but just for some VISITS!  First, we head back to Flores, Guatemala, where we lived on and off for almost 5 months last year.  We need to do this because we left some things there, before flying to the Caribbean, and we need to pick them up from our friend who has graciously been keeping them for us.

But we REALLY are excited to head back to Flores.  We made some great friends there when we lived there, and we really want to check back in with everyone, just to see what’s up.  There is definitely the warm fuzzy feeling of knowing what to expect, knowing who we will see, knowing where we can eat, knowing what the costs are, etc,   so we are happy that we have this ‘excuse’ to return, as it will give us the chance to see everyone, and to feed our little familiarity needs.  Plus we are going to get tons of hugs, which will be awesome!

After that, we are headed back to Canada, and to my hometown of Canmore for likely a couple of months.  (More hugs!)  We will be doing some work there, visiting family, filing our taxes (eek!), and helping my parents to start downsizing some of their stuff so that they can sell their house.  As far as familiarity goes, well you know the old saying “There is no place like home.” I will admit that I am excited to cross that Canadian border, to re enter my home country, to be in a place where I pretty much know exactly what is going on!  No more guessing how to do anything, no more wondering what is around every corner.  Even I am happy to have a break from the constance of new experiences………once in a while!

There is no place like home

And while I do know that we could be spending our time, instead, seeing something new, going home is an important part of this journey for us.  Checking in with our families, visiting the people that are important to us, and just touching base with our past, I think, is important to maintain a grounded global perspective.  It is very easy to have our perspectives narrowed by the places we are in, and while I do think it is important to learn about and experience different cultures, it is also important to remember where we are from, to remember our OWN culture.  Parts of it we may disagree with, parts of it we may love, but it is THAT place that helped shaped who we are as people.  It is our experiences in the places that we all grew up in, that have had a huge part in making all of us who we are today.

But, after that?  Who really knows.  We have some skeleton plans forming, but you know us!  We really don’t like to plan too much!  Some sort of interesting opportunity may pop up, and before you know it, we will be off on some sort of brand new adventure!


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: On August 5th we will start our long journey back to Canada to visit family and friends for a couple months.

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:)

 

 

 

21 Months Later and Still Letting Go

I do think our pasts are important in shaping who we become, but we must sever the ties that do not serve us anymore.  We must cut the chords of our former selves, to allow ourselves to grow and move forward in this life.  


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!


It’s been almost 21 months since we flew away from Canada, bound on a one way journey to Costa Rica. We spent 9 months before that ridding ourselves of all of our possessions, pairing down our lives, shedding years of collecting things, letting go of our pets, our beloved garden and the house that we called home.

In that time, I wrote in what I called “Jill’s Letting Go Diary”, which documented the process, physically and emotionally, of literally letting go of everything.  I last wrote under this heading in November 2017 , but since then we have definitely continued to let go of many aspects of our former selves.  It’s impossible to dive down and list all the things, as we have now been given so much time in this life to do some deep soul searching, contemplating and realizing of things that just don’t serve us anymore.  I’m talking about ways of feeling, old habits that needed to be broken, lies we told ourselves, stories that we made up in our heads.  The list literally could go on and on!

But today, I realized that there is still one major thing that I STILL haven’t let go of, and that is the last town that we were living in in Canada.  I lived in Powell River for 12 years, Chris for 4, and I had decided while there that it was the ultimate paradise.  By then, of course, I had travelled to many places around the world, 46 countries in total.  I felt that because I had seen so much, I knew how special Powell River was.  And, I digress, I still do think it is a pretty special place.  But I have to say, it is a small place, but a dot on the world map.  Although it is spectacular, and many of its residents truly do value what it is to be part of a community, it is not the be all, end all that I had decided it was.

Powell River has many different issues that are tackled by the residents on a daily basis, their lives are entwined with what is right in front of their faces.  Of course, this is the way it is with most people that live in their communities.  We all react to those things that are right in front of us.  We choose to be in those places, and to deal with those issues.  There are always bigger problems in the world, but it is that which is right in front of us, that always gets the most attention.

Today, as I was mind numbingly scrolling facebook, I noticed just how much of my news feed still has posts about Powell River on it.  Now, for a while I have been saying that I need to stop getting so wound up and involved in the politics of a place that I have no intention of returning to.  But, you know,  I didn’t really put two and two together that by actually seeing all the things on a day to day basis, that I WAS involved.  It’s like a soap opera on TV that I can’t seem to switch off.  It’s that addiction to drama, the need to keep tabs on others’ lives, the want to just see what happens with some particular project or another,  that has kept me stuck.  These issues literally have NO bearing on my life anymore, yet I am drawn to their outcomes, keen to find out every little detail.

OF COURSE, there are those people with whom I made special connections while living there.  Connections that go farther than just the place that we both lived.  These people are on the same page as me, and I feel like we are kindred spirits that will likely see each other down the road somewhere.  I will keep in touch with these people always, and will always want to stay up to date with who they are and what they are up to.

OF COURSE, I do love it when people update me about the plants that we sold or gave them.  They send pictures of their gardens, or mention us in comments about these sorts of things.  I know that the people who bought our house are taking care of our beautiful garden well, and that makes me feel good.

OF COURSE, I will always have fond memories of Powell River and the people that helped me to grow as an individual.  I grew immensely while living there, and I left a much different person than I was before I moved there.  But the time has come to cut the ties.  I will no longer follow business pages, the local news paper, the blueberry picking farm (oooohhh I miss those blueberries!!), or any other group that I was a part of in Powell River.  My ties to these things are holding me back from moving forward.  It’s like some long tether that keeps me looking back, always interested, always wondering.

It’s time to re-prioritize my time, to allow more space to focus on the issues that affect me in my current space and time.  It is time to get involved in the places where I am living, and figuring out what I can do on the ground HERE, not somewhere else where I have no input anymore.  We all only have so much space and time to put towards certain issues in this life, and it is up to us to decide what is important, what is not, and where we should be directing our energies.

I do think our pasts are important in shaping who we become, but we must sever the ties that do not serve us anymore.  We must cut the chords of our former selves, to allow ourselves to grow and move forward in this life.

You will always hold a special place in my heart Powell River, but it is now time to say goodbye.


An update on our current travels…….

For those that are following along, and are interested in what we are up to and where we are, here is a bit of a synopsis.

We have been working at the Botanical Garden on the island of Nevis since mid February.  We have gone full circle from leaving our 9-5 jobs in Canada, to seek out more freedom, to arriving right back to a 9-5 job (well 8-4 actually) here in paradise.  We absolutely love the garden, and have taken great pleasure in getting back to working with plants, as it is definitely something that we have missed since leaving our home and garden, but I won’t lie, the schedule has been HARD.  The time that we would spend on our art and our online shops before this ‘job’ almost vanished and we found ourselves scrambling morning and night to fit time in in order to keep some progress happening.

One day, after some sort of emotional breakdown from both of us, we suddenly realized that we were both overworked and extremely exhausted with trying to do too much.  We also had been raising 3 kittens and taking care of 2 dogs that kept escaping the yard to run around the neighbourhood to kill goats (plus they killed one of the kittens!), so our emotions were frazzled to say the least.

It has been a strange and interesting few months, and I won’t get into details, but many times we have felt like running as far away from this island as we possibly could.  However, we had committed to helping out the owner here until August, and that is just what we are going to do.

IMG_4417
The beautiful Oasis Restaurant at the Botanical Gardens of Nevis.

Call us crazy, many who have been here before us, probably would, but we have also had a huge realization that with this nomadic lifestyle comes the ultimate freedom of when you don’t like something, you just move on.  However, the always running away from things, also doesn’t help us to grow.  It is in the tackling of these issues and annoyances in life, when we can dig deep and learn the most about ourselves.  This stop on our journey has tried us beyond belief, and it’s impossible for me to explain the details, but through it all, we have both come out feeling wiser and stronger than we did when we arrived.  The serendipitous way that this place came onto our radar, meant that we had important things to learn here, and we have tried our hardest to open ourselves up to the learning, and to not be drug down emotionally by things that we have no control over.

Thankfully in June, the owner of the garden sent us off for a bit of a break to another property that she owns on another Caribbean Island called Anguilla.  I have to say that it was JUST what the doctor ordered.  White sand beaches and spectacular turquoise waters surround the island, and with it being the low season, we had most places almost all to ourselves.  The house where we were staying was located a stones throw from the beach, so after our allotted 4 hours of work (yes we still worked a bit!), we were free to do whatever we pleased.

anguilla photo 4
We were so happy to have made friends with BJ while in Anguilla.  He is the caretaker of the house that we stayed at, and he took the time to show us around a little bit.  This is the lookout down to Sandy Ground. 
anguilla photo 7
The fact that turquoise is my favourite colour, and lime green a close second, I couldn’t help but snap this beautiful quintessential Caribbean pic. 
anguilla photo 3
This is the beach that is close to our house where we were staying.  It’s called Shoal Bay, and you can see just how close the corals come to the shore, making it an awesome snorkeling spot for all levels!  

The beach we were on had some spectacular snorkelling right along the shore, and most afternoons we would don our bathing suits and snorkel gear, walk to the furthest point away, then drift on the natural current that ran along the shoreline, back to the house.  This was the highlight of our day, and it seemed like each day we saw more and more incredible sea life than the one before it.  On the last day we saw 3 Barracudas, 5 rays, 1 spotted eagle ray, a few puffer fish, some sort of spotted eel or sea snake, and numerous, NUMEROUS large schools of fish, and other sea life.  The coral is not in the best shape unfortunately, likely trashed by years of people anchoring their boats on it, plus getting thrashed by hurricanes can’t help, but we did see much of it growing back, which gives me great hope that the reefs are mending.

We spent 2 weeks there healing from our kind of over-worked and hectic lives here on Nevis, but returned here on July 3rd to finish off our stint for one more month.  We have arrived back with a refreshed view, and know that in a very short time, we will be off on a whole new adventure.

anguilla photo 2
First day on ‘our’ beach and feeling pretty good about ourselves! 
anguilla photo 8
High above the natural arch!  Photo courtesy of BJ Kirong

On August 5th we fly to the island of St. Martin, also in the Caribbean.  There we will spend 2 nights before we make our way back to Guatemala for a short visit.  In Guatemala, we will not only be checking in with the friends we have made in the last year, but will also be collecting our art supplies and Chris’ tattoo gear (plus some clothing), then we will start our journey back up to Canada to visit family and friends for a couple months.  It’s a loose plan, other than our flights, there aren’t any set dates and times, but we like it what way of course!  We expect to be back in Canada mid-August.

Thanks to everyone who follows us along on our journey.  I know I haven’t done the best job of keeping you up to date, but I try to allow the writing to come when it is meant to, and not force myself to write just for the sake of it.  It is in these moments that I feel like I actually have substance and thoughts that are worth sharing, and hopefully it comes through that way to my readers.

xoxoxo Jill


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

Xoxoxo Happy Travels!


Current Location: Nevis Island, St. Kitts & Nevis

Travelling Plans: On August 5th we will start our long journey back to Canada to visit family and friends for a couple months.

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:)

Figuring it All Out!


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!


I spent some long overdue time this morning cleaning out my wallet and other storage vessels of receipts, airline tickets, and other paper items that I have been lugging around and obviously don’t need anymore.

At first I was just taking glances of what was there and throwing it in a pile, but as I went through them, things started to catch my eye.

The first few I grabbed were ferry receipts from the time we finally had sold all of our things, and left our small, ferry access only, town in Canada (yes, I RARELY clean out my wallet!), they were from September 2017.  Next came the odd receipt from a restaurant in Costa Rica.  Then came the receipt for Chris’ cell phone that we had to purchase in Costa Rica, it’s 1 year guarantee had expired, plus I don’t think we would be going back there to get a new one anyways.

More receipts, more receipts, next was a few from Guatemala.  One that stood out to me was one of our water bills that we had to pay for the house we were renting in Guatemala.  It struck me as something that was significant.  Suddenly I realized that my wallet was a bit of a timeline of things we had done in the last 20 months,  a collage of not only things we experienced, but of things we had had to figure out.

Guatemala Water Bill
Guatemala Water Bill (This equals about $7/month!)

Each and every place we have travelled to, we have had to figure out the ins and outs of how to do things.  Whether it is getting a new sim card so that we can have a local phone number, to finding out how to pay our water bill, to learning that we need to have a LOCAL driver’s license (which is the case now) to legally be allowed to drive in a certain country.  Every place has it’s ins and outs, and every place has mysteries to solve.

I realized that these things were never something that we had worried about before we got to each place we went.  They were all things that just sort of popped up once we got to a place, and as people generally tend to do, we problem solved, and figured it all out as we went along.

I think, in general, people spend a lot, like a lot A LOT of time, worrying about the ‘what if’s’ or the ‘how to’s’.  I see post after post on some of the nomad forums that I am a part of with people asking tons of questions about a certain place that they are going to.  They want to know all the details about a place, before they even get there.  Of course, some things are legit, like whether or not you can bring in certain medications, or how complicated it is to bring a pet or an animal into a country.  But much of it is simple and mundane things that really aren’t that big of a deal, and will easily be figured out upon arrival.

How many of us get so stuck on the details, that we get frozen in place?  How many of us wonder so much about the little things, that the big thing is forgotten about entirely?  I think it’s important for each of us to realize that worrying about the little details, is impacting how we live our lives, and how we move forward in general.  This isn’t specific to travel, this can be about anything.

Anything that is worried about in the future, is taking away from our time now.  You are wasting your precious time here on Earth, and are thinking about something that you literally have no control over anyways.  EVERYTHING in the future is unpredictable.  ANYTHING can happen at any time!  Doesn’t it just make sense to live life in the moment, take in all that we can TODAY?  Is tomorrow a guarantee?  I don’t think so!

If you are stuck on some details about the future right now, I encourage you to take a step back.  Consider what is in your power in THIS MOMENT, take action on those things, and figure the rest out when it comes.

Living like this, has enriched my life beyond words.  Living like this makes me appreciate my day to day existence by making me more open and aware of my surroundings.  I have power in the knowing that I am making conscious decisions about how I want my life to look.  And I’m not talking about how it’s going to look in the future, I’m talking about the actions that I take each day, that will shape my future.

We will all get to where we are going, step by step, one day at a time.  Do the best you can in each moment, because, at the end of the day,  it is all that you really have control over anyways.

And of course, we will NEVER figure it ALL out!  So please, stop trying to:)

quote_if-you-are-depressed


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 have committed to being here until mid-August.  After that we plan to head back to Canada for a visit, before returning to Guatemala to host our art retreat.

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:)

 

 

 

 

 

 

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:)

 

Happy New Year – 2018 Review

Within each of these simplified paragraphs, lies a wealth of other stories.  Stories of different experiences, friends we have made, people we have seen, and places we have witnessed. 


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!


HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Well, we have all collectively made it into another year, and the last year of the 2010’s.  This last year has been a hell of a ride for us as we have lived in 3 different countries!  When I sat down to do some writing today, I realized that it had been almost a month since my last blog post, and that I kind of left everyone hanging.  I still haven’t written my “San Cristobal Part 2” yet, and I kind of had plans to do that today.  But then I realized that with the New Year, comes a good time to reflect on all that we did in 2018.  And so, my San Cristobal Part 2 post will have to wait, as I decided that instead, I wanted to do a recap of what this last year has been like for us.  I must say, after writing it all out, it’s amazing to see all the things that we have done and the places we have been.  Within each of these simplified paragraphs, lies a wealth of other stories.  Stories of different experiences, friends we have made, people we have seen, and places we have witnessed.  Along with each of these paragraphs, we lived a wild and exciting life, and we are both incredibly grateful for all that we have seen and done in the last year.  As you read, you will notice highlighted words.  These are links to relevant blog posts that will catch you up on that particular area if you are interested.  Unfortunately, I lost my mojo to write around October, so the last bit is missing some posts, but I hope to get caught up on those in the next couple weeks, though I’m also not going to put too much pressure on myself to complete them, as we have some big experiences coming up right around the corner.  We will see.  Anyways, for now, enjoy the recap!

January started us off managing a cabina rental in Matapalo, Costa Rica.  Matapalo is located right on the beach in the southwest corner of the country.  It is smack between popular tourist spots of Dominical and Manuel Antonio National Park, and it is often overlooked as people pass right by from point A to point B, not realizing that there is a 12 km stretch of beach adjacent to the highway, that barely has any people on it at all.  We didn’t complain about that though, as we enjoyed the first 2.5 months of 2018 (following 2 months at the end of 2017) hanging out on this perfect, quiet, and picturesque beach.

In February we volunteered at a huge music festival called Envision.  It is held annually in February near Uvita, which was only a short drive south of us.  We spent 6 days frolicking about, dancing and partying and really had a great time.

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The middle of March saw us moving up to El Silencio, a remote mountain village set just at the base of the mountains.  We rented a house there for 3 weeks, and enjoyed watching the toucans, scarlett macaws and many other types of wildlife pass by our place.  We visited an incredible waterfall, swam in the river and hung out with our Canadian friend who owned property adjacent to where we were renting.  It was a lovely break from the more hectic life at Matapalo where we were managing the cabinas and taking care of 3 dogs.

By the beginning of April we were eager to move on, and because we had a housesitting gig set up in Nicaragua at the beginning of May, we decided that we were finished with Costa Rica, and we longed to see something new.  So we packed up and headed north to volunteer at an earth bag construction project with a girl that I had gotten contact for when we were volunteering at Envision Festival.

We were located in a very rural part of Nicaragua, well off the beaten track.  We volunteered and lived in our tent for 3 weeks in very dusty conditions, and literally had to pull at least one tick, if not 4, off of our bodies every night before bed time.  It was an interesting experience and we really enjoyed it, but I’m not sure if it is one that I would want to repeat.  April 18th, a civil war broke out in Nicaragua, and as we were supposed to start housesitting in May, it made for an interesting couple of weeks, trying to decide if we actually wanted to stay in the country or not.

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San Jorge Beach looking out over Lake Nicaragua and the to volcanoes that make up the island in the middle. 

We did decide to stick it out, and met the homeowners at the beginning of May.  We were supposed to housesit until the beginning of September but we only lasted about 4 weeks.  We hated to leave Nicaragua, but the political scene was volatile, many people were getting shot in the streets, and all but a handful of tourists had fled the country.  It wasn’t a very nice scene, but again we hated to leave.  As most of the violence was in the north of the country, we had no choice but to retreat back to Costa Rica, to try and figure out our next moves.  At that time, the only other concrete plan we had, was to housesit in Guatemala at the end of November.  So we had a few months to fill in and try to figure out what we wanted to do.

Not realizing how shell shocked we actually were from the experience in Nicaragua, we arrived to a hostel in Samara, a place we had stayed almost immediately after arriving in Costa Rica at the beginning of this trip in October 2017.  It felt good to get back to some familiarity and the warm, welcoming and safe arms of Costa Rica.  We were surprised when we arrived at the hostel to find a small group of us that had fled Nicaragua.  We called ourselves the Nicaraguan Refugees, and we made fast friends and shared many stories.  The owner of the hostel ended up asking us to paint a mural for him in exchange for our accommodation, and we happily obliged.  We really didn’t know where we wanted to go anyways, and we took the time we needed to fully recover and feel like we were ready to move on in our journey and figure out a plan.

We spent about a month in Samara, and left the hostel bound for San Jose, the capital city of Costa Rica, on July 4th.  We decided that it made the most sense to fly north, as we needed to get to Guatemala to housesit anyways, and had discovered the city of Flores in the northern department (like provinces and states).  It is an island city, located on Lake Peten Itza, and upon arrival we immediately fell in love with the area, and started searching for a house to rent for a couple months.  The universe provided for us and we lucked into a perfect rental house for about $220/month.  While in the area, we of course visited the famous Mayan city of Tikal, once the center of the Mayan culture.  We fell in love with the jungle, the people and the area, and we extended our initial 2 month rental period to 3.

After a couple of months of being there, my parent’s came down to visit us for a week.  We had some nice days with them, and headed back to Tikal.  Unfortunately Dad got food poisoning the day we arrived, so he spent a couple days in bed.  Shortly after they left, we started painting a mural for a coffee shop/restaurant/bar owner that we had come to know as it was our favourite place to hang out and use the internet.  However, after 90 days of being in the country, we needed to leave Guatemala to renew our visitor visa, but we still weren’t finished the mural.  So we headed up to Mexico for a week with the plan to renew our visa, then return to Flores to finish it.

IMG_1114
On the steps of Temple IV at Tikal with my Mom. 

We headed across the nearest border crossing, finding ourselves in Palenque in the Southern State of Chiapas.  We were anxious to see how the internet speed was in Mexico, as we had struggled with it immensely in Flores for the time that we had spent there.  As we were both still in the progress of really getting our online shops going, we found the internet issue really challenging especially when we needed to upload high resolution images to our online shops.  So we thought of Mexico as a place where we could get caught up on some projects as well.  Unfortunately, the internet in Palenque wasn’t too much better than in Flores, but we did take a few days to get some work done, but we also frolicked in some amazing waterfalls, relaxed in the park, and headed to the equally famous to Tikal,  Palenque Mayan Ruins.  After the week was up, we returned to Flores to finish our mural(s) (there was actually 3 different walls that we painted on, so I guess it was more ‘murals’ instead of just a ‘mural’.)

By October 19th, we had finally completed the murals and headed back to Mexico as we had plans to go to Oaxaca City to be a part of the Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) festival, one of Mexico’s premier celebrations, at the beginning of November. We first headed back to Palenque, then we were off to San Cristobal, high up in the mountains.  We spent about 5 nights in the busy city, then continued on an 11 hour bus ride north east to Oaxaca.

The city of Oaxaca and the festivities of Dia de los Muertos did not disappoint!  We took part in multiple days of festivities, hung out with friends that we had initially met in Costa Rica, visited a Mezcalaria, visited some artists workshops, went to the botanical gardens and visited the cemeteries to see the fiestas that were happening amongst the families.  It was an incredible cultural experience, and I PROMISE that I will try and get a blog post written about out time spent there.  It was a wonderful 2 weeks, and we FINALLY had found some fast internet.  So we wasted no time in updating our shops, and really getting the balls rolling with them again before the busy Christmas season descended on us.   After 2.5 weeks there, it was time to return back to Guatemala to start preparing ourselves for our upcoming housesitting job.

We returned through San Cristobal once again to REALLY cold temperatures.  We had found it cool on our initial visit, but this time it was down right COLD!  The nights went down to about 9 degrees, and a couple of days it was only about 12 in the day time.  Not too mention that the city is at 7000 feet, so we were pretty much in the clouds which made everything damp and bone chilling.  This normally is not too big of a concern in the north where you have a nice warm house to go into at night, but bear in mind that there is no central heating in these places, and because it was only just a cold snap, nobody had fires burning in their hotels either.  We wore our long johns and toques and pretty much ever other layer that we had, day and night.  We had returned because Chris wanted a tattoo from our new friend that we had met there, so once that was finished, we were happy to be moving on.

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We were REALLY cold! 

Getting back to Palenque (after a bit of a hellish 11 hour bus ride on an alternate route because the normal route was closed by a teacher strike road block) we were so happy to see the jungle again and sit in the warm tropical air.  We decided that 3 days in San Cristobal in those conditions was winter enough for our fragile, and obviously spoiled, bodies.  Living in the tropics for a year has clearly made us soft.  We spent a couple nights back in Palenque, staying in a completely different part of town, which was pretty neat as we hadn’t even realized that that part had existed on our previous 2 visits.  The last day we left San Cristobal, I received news that a childhood friend of mine had succumbed to his short battle with cancer at the age of just 40, back in Canada.  So the time in Palenque served as a mourning stage as I wrestled with the first feelings of homesickness that I think I have ever felt.  With all of my friends from my small home town gathered together to mourn and celebrate his life, I felt very distant and alone, and it took a few days to get back to my normally cheerful self.

We left Palenque and headed back to Flores where Chris had some unfinished tattoo work that he had to complete.  We fell back in with our Flores family like we had never left, and spent another week there visiting and hanging out with the gang.

On November 25th we descended down the Rio Dulce by boat to our next housesitting post in Livingston, Guatemala, which is where we sit now.  Livingston is located on the Caribbean Coast of Guatemala, on a tiny bit of land between Honduras and Belize.  It has a very funky and lively Garifuna (they came from the Island of Trinidad) culture which is mixed with the latino Guatemalans (think reggae culture but speaking spanish).  The community is water access only, no roads reach here, but there is a decent population base, which makes it feel like it isn’t too remote.  We are staying in a fantastic wooden house that was built by the owner.  He grew up here, but his wife is from Holland, which is where they went for Christmas because she likes the Christmas celebration better in Europe (it really doesn’t even exist here), and he doesn’t like the heat (go figure) and loves going to the European winter for a break.

Over the course of our time here, we have had 3 sets of visitors.  Alejandro visited us from Guatemala City.  He was one of our fellow Nicaraguan refugees that were staying in the hostel in Samara while we were there.  He is Guatemalan and has returned home to make some money and save up to go travelling again.  Tom is from England and we met him on our last return from Palenque to Flores.  He spent a few days in Flores, and we got to know him quite well.  After travelling around Guatemala a bit, heading down to Honduras and El Salvador, he decided that he wanted to come and spend Christmas with us instead of in a hostel with nobody that he knew.  And finally Sandra and Ed are friends from the town we last lived in in Canada who are currently travelling around Belize by camper van.  They popped down here for a couple nights over New Years.  So, our time here has been eventful and busy, but we have enjoyed it immensely.

As I type this, we have 2 days left before the owners arrive back, and we will be continuing on our journey.  We have a very exciting month ahead of us as Chris’ Mom and Step Dad are arriving to Flores to see us on January 10th and we will be travelling around Guatemala with them for almost 2 weeks.  Then at the end of January, we fly off to the US and British Virgin Islands where we will be spending 2 weeks with my parents for my moms 70th Birthday celebration.

Beyond that, the only plan is that we have no plan.  Our hope is to find some work there on boats, and somehow make our way back to Guatemala, before we head north to Canada next summer.  Between now and then we have about 6 months to fill in, and I am realizing by now, that 6 months can contain a wealth of experience and excitement like nothing I could ever plan or expect.

If you have read this far, I thank you.  It was an event filled year, and it’s so hard to pack so much stuff into a few words, but I hope it gave you a good over view of how our life has looked for the last 12 months.

We both wish you all a wonderful 2019, and hope that you too can find some time to get out of your comfort zone and find a little adventure!


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

Xoxoxo Happy Travels!


Current Location: Livingston, Guatemala

Travelling Plans: We are housesitting here until January 5th.  After that we are headed up Rio Dulce for 2 nights to stay on the river.  Then we are off to Flores to meet Chris’ Mom and Step Dad for 2 weeks of travelling around Guatemala.

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:)

Overwhelmed? Stressed? Anxiety Ridden? How Many of us Feel This Way?

Buying stuff WILL NOT make us happier.  Having the latest and greatest gadgets WILL NOT make us happier.  Working our asses off and saving up for ‘retirement’ WILL NOT make us happier!  So don’t let it happen!


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…….


In recent weeks, my email inbox has started to receive a few kind messages from different people letting me know that our story is inspiring them in some way.  Whether they are living vicariously through our travels, or they are struggling with getting rid of an overload of ‘things’ in their lives, they are reaching out.

The other day I received the following message from Arnold.  With permission from Arnold, I am able to post his letter here (copied and pasted as written) with the hopes that others will learn from, or be inspired by his story.  He writes:


Hello, I enjoyed reading your story very much.  I am currently at a crossroads myself. I am sixty years old and living in the house I inherited from my parents. This is my fifth house but the only one with only a fifty thousand dollar mortgage left. My dad passed five years ago and I moved from Vegas to Connecticut to be a caretaker for my handicapped mother. She passed a year ago. Because caring for my mom was a full time job I have not worked in five years. I do play in a very popular band which plays about 120 gigs a year but don’t earn much money. In fact I am in debt up to my neck. Getting shut off notices from everyone. I have even been driving without car insurance for two weeks. This alone keeps me awake at night. The house like yours needs a great deal of work but I don’t have the resources to make these repairs. It is currently up for sale as is. Some interest but not a lot. If I do sell I might walk away with $100,000.00. Not much but I need to find a way to unplug from getting a bill from someone every time I turn around. And like you I am governed by my stuff. I have three cars. WTF. I am coming around slowly to getting rid of stuff. Hard for me but I know in my heart and more importantly in my head that it is the right thing to do. One thing that I liked about your story is you live in Costa rica. I have heard many great things about this region and would like to learn more. I have no problem living outside the US because everything, EVERYTHING is so expensive. I know I am not framing my thoughts very clearly but just wanted to say hello and hope that your story inspires me. I want to live life and be happy. I don’t want to be burdened with to much responsibility. Been there done that. Raised four kids and had a business that made millions. All gone. lol I just want simple. I want to unplug and detach from the norm or what’s expected of me. In a way I blame my parents generation. They instilled in us that success was measured by how big your house was, how pretty your wife is, and how smart your kids are. Bullshit. All this mentality does is chain you to seeing these things come to fruition. Work the same job for decades to keep it going. Well I’m going to try to find Minimalism now and watch it. Thank you for lisening. Arnold.


My question is this:  How many of us feel this way?  How many of us are overwhelmed and desperately just want to unplug from it all?

There are a few key points to discuss in Arnolds message, and I will attempt to break them down below.

  1. “I’m in debt up to my neck.”
    • This is a sentiment that rings familiar with so many people across the Western World.  Societies push to have the ‘latest and greatest’ gadgets has created an overbearing consumer society.  People simply do not have the money to purchase items, but they use their credit cards to do so instead with the hope to pay it off someday.  Arnold is certainly not alone in this!  In fact, here is a link to the average debt that American Households have, and being a Canadian, I can guarantee that these stats are just as applicable there as well.

      Here’s the Typical American’s Debt Load

  2. “I do play in a popular band……..”
    • I have to say…….KUDDOS to Arnold for continuing to do what he loves, despite the overwhelming pressure (likely) to get a job to pay off his debt.  If Arnold didn’t do what he loved, he would likely be much further along down the Rabbit Hole of depression.  Stress and Anxiety have reached EPIC proportions in the US and beyond.  It is CRUCIAL to unplug from your worries of life, by being creative in some way.
  3. “if I do sell, I might walk away with $100 000. Not much………”
    • $100 000 in Canada and the US, definitely is NOT MUCH money.  But, after living in Central America for over a year now, I can certainly attest that it is PLENTY for down here.  Chris and I housesit as much as we can, or find locals houses to rent in other places where we aren’t housesitting.  In Flores, Guatemala, we rented a 2 bedroom, 2 bathroom house with a beautiful deck overlooking a lake for $225/month.  When we shopped at the market, we would spend about $15-$20 for a week of produce.  Eating out was also inexpensive.  Even in the nicest restaurants in Flores, our meal cost would top out at $30, for both of us, including a couple drinks each, but we also frequently visited the street food stalls that usually charge no more than $4 for a very fulfilling meal.
    • I haven’t kept perfect accurate records of our expenses, but I estimate that the last year of living has cost us about $15 000.  Bear in mind that this does include some travelling and staying in Air BnB’s, plus a flight from Costa Rica to Guatemala.  This is everything combined.  In Arnolds case, if he stayed in one place, and lived like the locals, he could likely get by on $7000-$10 000 per year.  Suddenly, with no bills to pay, and all of his debts paid off, Arnold’s $100 000 will go a seriously long way!
  4. “I am governed by my stuff……”
    • This is an all too familiar sentiment for so many people.  I myself was completely governed by my stuff.  And worse, I didn’t even realize it.  Watching the Minimalism documentary, opened my eyes up to the fact that my stuff was controlling my life.  I had spent years building up mountains of stuff all around me, yes I too wanted ‘the latest and greatest’ gadgets.  My life ran off of credit, house payments, loan payments, car payments……the list goes on and on.
    • After living for over a year with only what I can carry around with me, I can tell you with 100% authority that WE DO NOT NEED ALL THAT STUFF!  Sure you might need a few things here and there to make your life comfortable.  But in Arnolds case, he has 3 cars!  What does one person need 3 cars for?!  When we sold our cars back in Canada, we vowed never to own a money pit like that again!  It is one of the largest expenses that we have in the North!  Insurance, gas, car payments, maintenance…….it all adds up to being so much money!  Then when you go to sell it, it is worth basically nothing.
    • In the last year we have ridden on buses, tuk tuks, taxis and any other means of public transport.  When we can, we walk!  We haven’t walked as much in the last year as we have for most of our lives, I’m sure.  When walking isn’t an option, riding public transport is always affordable.  The people down here rely on these services because many of them certainly can’t afford a vehicle.  They are well used, and cheap!  There is no need for vehicles in any place that we have lived so far.  Sure, having a car would have made our lives a little easier in some spots, but we didn’t NEED one.  That is the difference.  Up north we buy things (whether we can afford them or not) because we WANT them, not because we NEED them.  It’s important to create this distinction for yourself and figure out what it is that you only NEED.  Get rid of the rest! Click here for my blog post about How to sell all of your things to travel full time. Even if travelling isn’t your end game, it will give you insights into how to tackle selling at least some of your possessions.
  5. “Had a business that made Millions. All gone. I just want simple.”
    • It is with sadness that I hear this.  Arnold obviously had a productive life back in his younger years.  Made lots of money, bought lots of stuff.  But where has that gotten him?  Here he is at the end of it all, saddled with debt, an overwhelming amount of stuff, and trying to figure out how to get himself out of it all. How many people have worked so hard their whole lives, just to get to this same place?
    • Well, I’m here to tell you that NO MATTER HOW OLD YOU ARE, it is NOT TOO LATE!  At 60 years old, Arnold hopefully has much time ahead of him.  But you know what?  None of us know just how much time that we have.  It is so important to take the steps to make you happy NOW!  Life is short, and we really need to make it count!  I can not STRESS this point enough!
    • After realizing that I had too much stuff, and also realizing that I constantly was trying to figure out ways that I could do more travelling, I FINALLY came to the conclusion that my stuff was getting in the way of it all.  If I wasn’t burdened with all the stuff, all the bills, all the RESPONSIBILITY, I could unplug from it all, and head out into the world to travel freely.  This realization was the single most important lightening bolt moment that I have ever had.  But the thing is, I acted on it!  I didn’t just sit there and feel sorry for myself.  I got busy!  I started selling things!  In a small amount of time, things snowballed and we kept at it.  And in 9 short months, we were heading off on a totally different adventure in life.
  6. “In a way I blame my parents generation.”
    • Yes, I can understand this sentiment.  Society has structured our lives in such a way that in order to succeed at life, we need to go to college, get a job, find a husband or wife, have kids, work our butts off, then retire.  I agree with Arnold, it is all BULLSHIT.  But you know what?  We can change the dialogue any time that we choose to.  WE can decide that we don’t want to live that way, and that alone is where our power is.
    • Having lived in Central America for the last 13 months, has taught me that there is much more to life than all of this.  Granted, nobody here can figure out why we don’t want kids…..but that’s a totally different story.  But no, here they know how to enjoy life.  If they need to work, they go out and find work.  If a restaurant owner is tired from partying the night before, they simply don’t open the next day.  If a group of men are sitting around on a porch on a Wednesday afternoon drinking, nobody questions it.  Nobody gets mad at the restaurant owner, they just go somewhere else.  Nobody wonders why the men aren’t working, it’s none of their business.
    • There is no pressure to be as busy as you can be.  There is no pressure to work yourself into exhaustion.  There is no pressure to ‘get a real job’.  People in this culture ENJOY their lives.  They live for the day, they live for the moment.  They don’t worry about some far off distant place called ‘retirement’.  If they feel like going fishing for a day to feed their family, instead of working to buy groceries, then they will do that instead.  The community spirit is strong, and neighbours support neighbours.  They work together to help each other if they need it, and everybody has SOMETHING to share with others, despite seeming like they have nothing at all.  It is a beautiful thing!

I know that Arnolds story is not unique.  I know that MILLIONS of people are feeling just like he is, in many parts of the world.  Trying to fit into societies standards has been a great undoing of the western worlds culture.  Until we realize that, individually, we need to live life to the fullest, be our happiest, and do what we love, the world will continue to dump its expectations on us, and we will continue to be over worked, over tired, and over run with anxiety and depression.

Buying stuff WILL NOT make us happier.  Having the latest and greatest gadgets WILL NOT make us happier.  Working our asses off and saving up for ‘retirement’ WILL NOT make us happier!  So don’t let it happen!

It is time that we all, individually, started living life to be happy.  Find something that fills your soul and try not to worry about the money.  If you put your best out into the world, you will be rewarded in some way.  Things will fall into place all around you, and you will be surprised by what life has to offer.  Be a role model for your friends!  Show them how life can really be lived!  Show them how they too can be happy and stress free!

Thank you Arnold, for writing me to let me know where you are at in your process.  And for all of you others out there, that are feeling the same way as Arnold, please don’t hesitate to share YOUR story with me.  I really do care about helping you to become a better version of yourself!  You can do it!  I know you can, and I am cheering you on 100%!


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

Xoxoxo Happy Travels!


Current Location: Livingston, Guatemala

Travelling Plans: We are housesitting here until the beginning of January 2019.

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

To see many travelling photos and to learn about where we are travelling, please follow our Facebook and Instagram accounts by clicking on the appropriate icon in the right hand column.

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

To see all of my blog post headings on one page, (including all of the ones about letting our stuff go) head over to my Blog Post Menu.

To contribute to our Patreon account, please click here.

To learn about housesitting, please click here.

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

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

The Feeling of Home

It makes me realize that home is what you make it.


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


After leaving Oaxaca, heading back to San Cristobal for 3 days, then returning to Flores, we feel like we have come home.  Chris even said at some point when we were in San Cristobal “We can do that when we get home.”  I laughed and he didn’t even realize what he had said.

But it’s true.  After spending the better part of 4 months here now, and making so many wonderful friends, we do feel like Flores is home, more so than any other place that we have been in the last year.

It makes me realize that home is what you make it.  Most of us focus so hard on creating that one space to call home.  We put all of our money and our efforts into creating that space, making it a representation of ourselves.  But what if we can create home wherever we go?

Although we did rent a ‘home’ here for 3 months, we are now staying in the Bar/Restaurant where we painted the murals.  They have 3 rooms here, and Chris has traded some tattoo work for the owner, in return for our accommodations (plus some cash on top!).  And even though we haven’t decorated it and bought lots of ‘stuff’ to fill the room, it is home, even if only temporarily.

Tomorrow we head off to a small town called El Remate.  Those that follow us will remember that we stayed there back in July before we headed up to the Tikal Ruins.  (Read that post here.) We are going back to meet with a man who owns a large retreat space on Lake Peten Itza.  We are scheming to organize an art retreat there. (Stay tuned for details!!)

After that we are headed to Rio Dulce for a couple nights to visit some friends of ours that are staying there.  Then, we will be travelling by riverboat to the water access only and Garifuna town of Livingston.  We will be housesitting in Livingston for 6 weeks.

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While we are sad to leave our ‘home’ of Flores once again, we are excited at the prospect of being settled again for a few weeks.  We always find that we are more creative, and more productive in our online business’ when we are static in one place for a few weeks.  And so, we look forward to seeing and discovering our new ‘home’ in the coming weeks.

As today is American Thanksgiving, I find it appropriate to express, once again, how thankful we are for this life that we have created.  Never a dull day goes by, and we are constantly inspired and excited by this life.


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: Flores, Guatemala

Travelling Plans: Tomorrow we head to El Remate, then we are off to Rio Dulce and Livingston, Guatemala.

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:)

 

 

 

One Year of Location Independence (aka Being a Digital Nomad)

“Yeah, but if we had never left there, then we wouldn’t know what else is out there to miss.” 


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…….


On September 20th, 2018, we celebrated our one year anniversary of being Location Independent.  It’s hard to describe in words what that means to us, or how it makes us feel.  It is definitely hard to believe that it’s been a year already, but at the same time, we have experienced and done so much that it could easily fit into some peoples lifetime of experiences. 

On that day in 2017, we left a town that we both loved.  We weren’t leaving it because we were tired of it, or sick of it per se.  No, instead we were leaving it because we wanted to take a chance at living an exciting and exhilarating life.  We wanted to see what the heck was out there.  We wanted to see life from a different perspective and learn how others live around the world.

Most of all, we wanted freedom. 

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When we left our town in Canada, we had to take a ferry.  This is our getaway vehicle waiting in the line up on a typical stellar west coast evening.  September 20, 2017.  To read that story click here.  From this post I mostly enjoy the following section:”This is it!  I have once again found joy!  THIS is what I have been searching for!  I vow to myself to never let it go again.”

We wanted to be the ones dictating our time.  We wanted to be the ones in the drivers seat.  We were tired of living life while conforming to some sort of unwritten standards that society had presented us with.  We were tired of seemingly working so hard, but never getting anywhere.  While there is so much more that I can say on this topic, I will leave it for now, as this isn’t a post about ditching the conventional life…….well I guess it is, all of my posts are, really.  But no, I want to dive into what we have learned in a year, a couple key takeaways from living life in the tropics, and how we have shifted and grown during this year.   

Let’s talk about the weather.   

Experiencing perpetual summer for a whole year has been interesting.  Watching friends and family chat about the weather and the changing seasons on Facebook has been entertaining.  I’ve really noticed how much energy is put into either loving the weather or hating it.  How people post about the snow and the rain, reporting on what mother nature is dishing out in their neighbourhood.  Now don’t get me wrong, I have certainly posted things about the weather from down here, but I have to say, it certainly doesn’t occupy my brain or my time like it did while living in the North.  I can see how seasons dictate our lives up there.  We are either planning for winter, or planning for summer.  Getting out the summer gear, or putting it away for the winter.  We garden in the summer, hibernate in the winter.  We go camping and enjoy the outdoors in the summer, stay warm and indoors in the winter.  For good reason obviously, the temperature dictates our lives in the northern climes. 

Down here, everyday is the same.  Most days we get a bit of rain (and let me tell you it does rain HARD when it does), but it never lasts long.  Usually no more than an hour or 2 at the most, then it clears off again and it’s business as usual.  Nobody frets about it, nobody looks at weather forecasts, nobody seems to care one way or the other what happens, they just take it as it comes.  If it’s raining, they may take an umbrella, but they certainly don’t let rain get in the way of them accomplishing their tasks for the day.  It’s literally a non issue.  Unless of course a hurricane is coming, but if that is the case, everybody knows that there is nothing that they can do about it.  If it happens, it happens and they just need to hunker down and ride it out.  There is no worrying about it, or preparing for it, it just is.  They do not give it ONE OUNCE of energy. 

Creating community and calling a place home.

After now living in our 3rd place for over 3 months at a time, we have begun to notice some trends in our ability to create community.  It seems that it takes a little while to really start to feel like we belong in a place, like we have friends and a bit of a network around us.  However, it has happened, each and every time. 

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Our rented house in San Miguel, Guatemala.  San Miguel is accessed by a 3 minute boat ride from Flores.  
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Very nice and modern.  We have loved living in this house.  2 bedrooms and 2 baths for approx $220/month.  

Eventually people start to recognize us in the neighbourhood, and notice that they have now seen us for longer than they would see other travellers for.  They start to ask us our names and shake our hands, and say hello as we pass.  Chris’ large stature is a hit with the local men, and they all want to high five and fist bump him whenever they get the chance.  I think secretly they all want to look like him as well:). After a time, we start to feel like we have a support network, and that if we need anything, any of our community members will happily help us out.

After a couple months in one place, we start to notice that some things also start to annoy us.  Like the drunken man next door that tries to speak slurring-ly over the fence at us in some sort of broken drunken spanglish.  Or the lancha (boat) driver that still tries to charge us the tourist rate, when we have told him numerous times that we are living here and we are supposed to get the locals rate (because that’s what every other driver charges us). 

Something else we have noticed, is that no matter how hard we try, it seems, our lives seem to get surrounded in some sort of crazy drama.  It’s never our drama, it’s always that of others, and of course, we try to keep an arms length away from it all, but somehow we simultaneously  get in knee deep before we realize it has happened.  The drama never has anything to do with us, but we somehow become emotionally involved in other peoples lives.  It’s an interesting thing to notice, but I’m not sure there is much we can do about it.  We are both compassionate and caring people and, well, I think it’s just part of our make up.  Surmise it to say that we never get involved enough that our personal freedoms are threatened, that’s for sure.  But it’s interesting to note that it exists every where we go.  I guess it’s just human nature after all. 

Missing places yet always feeling the need to move on.

The other night, as we cruised back across the lake from Flores, to our Home in San Miguel, I took a moment to take in the sights around us.  It was a perfectly still night, the lights were reflecting off the water in the stunning manner that they do.  Our shuttle across the lake was filled with locals and their motorbikes, coming home from their busy days. 

I turned to Chris and said “We are going to miss this.”  We love riding the boat back and forth to town, and at the end of a busy day, it’s the tranquility and peacefulness of it all that sheds the stresses and busyness of being in the city and amongst the traffic and noise.  Once out on the water it feels like it all falls away. 

Chris agreed, yup, we are going to miss this.  But in the split second it took him to say yes, I also realized that we had said this before.  We said it when we left Matapalo, and our 4 months of living on a spectacular Costa Rican beach.  I stated “Ya, but we said that when we left Matapalo as well.”  He replied “Ya and I still miss that beach.”

Yeah, I do too, there is no doubt about that!  But instead of voicing this, I said “Yeah, but if we had never left there, then we wouldn’t know what else is out there to miss.” 

“Fair enough” he said. 

We wouldn’t have had our experience in Guatemala, floating in a boat across this perfectly still lake.  We wouldn’t have had our exciting, yet sometimes crazy, experience in Nicaragua.  We wouldn’t have experienced living in the base of the Costa Rican mountains, in a traditional Costa Rican house, the jungle around us rife with parrots and Scarlett macaws, Toucans and Butterflies.  We quite simply would not have a lifetime of stories to tell in one year, if we hadn’t have left that beach. 

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Spectacular sunset over Lake Peten Itza.  This is our highway home at the end of the day.  

This is the life that we have chosen.  This is the life that we want to live.  We love the feeling of community, we love getting to know a place, and to make it home for the time being, but we also like to leave, to set out into a new frontier, to find a new and interesting place.  We don’t know if it will be better, we don’t know if it will be worse, but it will be different, and that is all that matters. 

We now know with 100% certainty, that if we can create community in three places so far, we can create community wherever we go.  It is out there, it is all around us, we just need to reach out for it. 

Soaring confidence and creativity.

This year, after pulling ourselves away from so many distractions that we both faced up North, we have found that our creativity has soared.  We literally can not get our ideas for art out of our head, and onto paper, canvas or walls quick enough.  Through this, we have begun to find an inner confidence in ourselves that I know both of us were lacking while living in the north, and among so many other talented artists in our community. 

This confidence has spread out into the rest of our lives.  We are realizing that if we can paint a mural, something both of us would NEVER have attempted while in Canada, then we can do anything.  In fact, I have had a book idea about creativity that has been brewing for some years now, and I am finally getting down to writing it.  It is coming out of me bit by bit, but it is coming none the less.  So stay tuned for that on the horizon!

Because of this new found confidence, on October 13th, we are hosting our very first art show!  While in Flores, our rented house has had no wifi (which is also my excuse for not keeping up with the blog), so our nights have mostly been spent deep in creativity.  Whether it is drawing or painting or working on the iPad, we have both created an pretty astounding body of work while here. 

So, because we are Nomads, and we can’t possibly drag around every piece of art that we create, we have decided that it’s best to sell our originals as we go.  The show will be hosted at San Telmo, a funky bohemian bar that has an incredible Terrace upstairs that looks out over the lake.  In this spot, we have also been painting a couple murals for the last 3 weeks, so it will double as an unveiling of those.  We are approaching this with nervousness and apprehension as it is the first official art show that either of us has ever had.  But we know that it is just like everything else that we have accomplished on this trip so far, we just have to summon up the courage and go for it!  Hopefully we sell a bunch as they will certainly be priced to sell, but don’t worry!  We have found a place in Flores that will scan them for us and we will be able to upload them to our online platforms and share them with you on Facebook and beyond!

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A portion of the mural that I am working on at San Telmo.  Chris has his own section, which means a lot less arguing between us than there was on the last collaborative effort!  🙂 . By the way, this is the first set of eyes that I have painted EVER!  I’m pretty happy with how they turned out:)
San Telmo Art Show October 13
This is our art show poster.  When trying to come up with a name for the show, we realized that the show is an extension of the life that we have chosen, so decided to name it the same as our blog and travelling brand.  In the future we hope to have a scheduled night in a hostel or other tourist gathering place where we sell our art, plus have a bit of a presentation about what it is that we are doing in an effort to inspire others to live the life they only dream of as well . The hummingbird in this poster is part of Chris’ mural that he is working on.  

As per usual, we are so grateful for this life we have chosen and for the people that have supported us along the way.  Thank you for reading and we look forward to sharing more news about our next adventure very soon! 

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My Mom and Dad made the trip down to Guatemala to visit us for one week at the end of August.  We had a really great visit, but unfortunately when this photo was taken, at the top of the largest temple in Tikal, Dad was sick with food poisoning in bed!  I am so grateful for their love and support of this life that we have chosen to live!  

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 Palenque, Mexico on a quick one week trip to renew our 90 day visa for Guatemala.

Travelling Plans: On September 30th, we will return to Flores until Approximately October 15th.  Then we will start heading west again and up to Oaxaca, Mexico for about one month.  On November 26th, we will be housesitting on the Caribbean Coast of Guatemala for 6 weeks.

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 receive added travel content by contributing a minimum of $2/month 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 to your email inbox.  🙂

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