People often look a little surprised, even confused, when we say that.
They ask, “Why would you do that?” and “How did you ever think of that?”
Let me begin 7 years ago….no worries, this won’t be a 7 year diary. I can condense it down to OUR 5 STAGES TO GET TO PARADISE!
STAGE 1: FREEDOM
After staying in vacation condos for both long and short trips, we began to fall in love with the idea of going on vacation with only what fit in our suitcase. Clean, comfortable spaces that had what we needed yet no clutter that we had to look at or take care of. This gave us the sense of freedom that we love.
STAGE 2a: AWAKENING (at least for Guy)
The start of the second stage of our mind reformation was Guy talking to friends. Chuck often spoke of his trips to Costa Rica. He, in fact, had decided to retire there and had even purchased a home. Austin was retiring soon and moving back to Panama with his Panamanian wife.
Guy would tell me stories of the beauty and inexpensive living that could be had in these countries. His eyes were filled with excitement and wonder. He wanted to live in these places, even if only part time. I was incredulous, “Why would I live there? I wouldn’t even go on vacation there!” Poor Guy…
STAGE 2b: AWAKENING, this time me 🙂
I love cruising. It’s fun & easy. And safe. I don’t have to worry about public bathrooms or weird food or anything like that.
We were coming up on several significant milestones in our lives and decided to celebrate with a cruise. I asked Guy where he wanted to go, assuming Alaska since he loved the wild and preferred the cold. Surprisingly, he said the Panama Canal. He has always been a Roosevelt fan and has always wanted to see the Canal. So I got busy looking for a cruise (yay for sun and heat :)) and found an 18 day Holland America Panama Canal cruise. So in April of 2012 we set sail from Port Everglades.
Two excursions changed my thinking. First was a boat tour in Costa Rica, second, a tour of the Mayan ruin of Tikal, deep in the jungles of Guatemala. At one point I turned to Guy and said, “I could do this. I could live here. I LOVE it!”
STAGE 3: RESEARCH
Guy, of course, wasted no time. I think he started checking out everything he could online as soon as we got off the gangplank in San Diego.
He subscribed to 2 online companies, Live and Invest Overseas and International Living. These companies are heavy on sales, but have a ton of information without having to buy everything. You have to be willing to read past a lot of it to find the gold. For my part, I purchased a book (the old-fashioned paper kind) and read it cover to cover in about a week. It turned out the author, Kathleen Peddicord, was the publisher for Live and Invest Overseas.
Now armed, in fact, overloaded with facts and excitement, we headed into Stage 4.
STAGE 4: PLANNING
This part was the most fun. From May 2012 to July 2013 our focus was definitely to GO. Pretty much the idea was always to go south but in the beginning it was like innertubing on a wide river, meandering slowly along the curves, enjoying the relaxing, dreamy pace. We were always headed south but had little changes along the way that brought interest to our float down this river. It was so cool reading about all the places we’d see, things we’d do and people we’d meet. Plus the cost was so minimal that our desire to be debt-free was not just a some day plan but serious reality.
We had always said that we’d be leaving maybe July-ish or August-ish of 2013. Then in March we got our tax bill. YIKES! So we began to step up our plans and get them from the dreamy “some day” to the reality of an actual date. The river narrowed and the current began to speed up.
STAGE 5: ACTION
At this point along the river analogy we were entering into the rapids. All the maybes, what ifs, how abouts, etc., had to turn into decisions to act on now.
We decided to sell, give or throw away everything that we weren’t taking with us. We got 2 suitcases each (seriously!) and narrowed our life down to all we could fit into them. We upgraded our laptops (soon to be our primary means of communication). We both got iPhones so we could purchase prepaid SIM cards in other countries. We got Spanish lessons (video, audio and books) so we could learn the language. We had already sold our house and were living in a rental so we put in our notice.
Then we were packed and on June 29 drove away. And we were……homeless.
Okay, so we were homeless. But we didn’t have to live in our car thanks to the goodness of our friends, Frank & Susan and Bob & Kim. We stayed with them for a couple of weeks sorting out the last of the last of the stuff we were taking with us and headed off to Texas.
That’s not exactly tropical paradise!?
To be continued….