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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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