We’re tired. Tired of constantly packing (and unpacking) the car. Tired of constantly trying to find groceries in a new town. Tired of a feeling of being uprooted every few months. In short, we’re tired of constant travel. Not travel in general mind you, just the churn of constant travel.
The other day I sat down with Google Maps to figure out how far we’ve traveled in the past five years. Before I’d gotten even 18 months into our journey Google told me I’d reached the maximum destinations allowed on one map. Even Google thinks we’ve been going too fast I guess. Eventually, I just made multiple maps and came up with a total. The tally? More than 25,000 miles driven between the United States and crisscrossing Mexico. That number doesn’t include flights to Europe, train rides or road trips across America. Every mile of that 25,000 was done with every possession we own in the back of our car. Possessions that we continually have to pack and unpack at each of the house sits we stop at along the way. Not complaining, just sharing. So, we’re tired and have started talking about slowing down a bit. Not stopping, no way – just slowing down. We’re not alone in our weariness, I’ve read stories from a lot of other full-time travelers about their desire to slow down and find a place that they can call a home base. A place that lends itself to some familiarity, a place where you know how things work and where to find pickles. And for us, well, we’ve decided that we’ve found our place (for now) here in Mahahual.
Stop, don’t panic! There’s no way we’re stopping traveling or getting real jobs or anything like that! We’re just slowing down a bit and spending more time here, in addition to being on the road.
I mean we’re not going to live here (or anywhere) year round. We’re still house sitting and believe it or not, the homeowners actually have the nerve to want to spend part of the year here. You know, in the fantastic home that they own (crazy right?). But the part of the year that they can’t be here? Well, that’s where we come in. They’ve asked and we’ve committed to house sitting here each year for the long haul. I actually don’t know what the long haul might be, we didn’t sign a 10-year contract or anything. But for the first time in a really long time, we know where we’ll be living part of each year.
So, why did we decide to (temporarily) settle here?
Those things right there would almost be enough to keep us here. I’m grateful that we haven’t become jaded to the point that we’re not still awestruck by the talent show that nature puts on for us here every single day. But beyond that, we have found an embarrassment of riches. Trust me, it’s not the right place for everybody. I would venture to say it’s not the right place for most people to stay long term. Remote, off-the-grid living is challenging at best and a nightmare at worst. But the rewards that come with living like this are amazing. Do you know how many people I’ve seen on our beach today? One. And his name is Jason.
This is a place where we can discover and pursue our passions. Whether they are fishing, snorkeling, reading, writing or yoga, we have both the time and tools to do so (usually). Our location is such that we have peace, quiet and privacy, but we’re close enough to town that we can easily pick up groceries or go out for dinner. On top of all that, we love the house, we love the homeowners and we love the dogs. Oh, how we love these dogs that we’ve been charged with caring for.
But by far the best thing about picking a place to stay for awhile? We get to have a life. I realize that we have a life wherever we go, but an important thing in life, at least for us, is people, friends, a sense of community. We’ve written before about how lonely a life of constant travel can be, and after close to five years of never staying in one place for more than a few months it’s refreshing and fulfilling to regularly be able to have dinner with friends. Our life these days also includes invitations to holiday parties, good friends we can go snorkeling, swimming or just hang out with, the opportunity to meet friends’ partners, spouses and babies, and people who are actually happy to swap fishing stories with Jason. Volunteering has always been a big part of both of our lives and staying put a bit also gives us the chance to help out with causes that are important to us. To be clear, we have met loads of people while traveling that we have really loved getting to know and still keep in touch with. And we look forward to meeting many more people as we go along. But staying in one place for awhile means our conversations go deeper. The inside jokes get a little better. And long-lasting friendships are being made.
We also now have a rough idea of where we’ll be for several months out of the year. Which is important because now our family and friends can plan trips to see us. Hard as it for us to believe, most people have their lives planned out well beyond a month from now (I’m not exactly sure where we’ll be living in December – so I really can’t relate). Our constant moving and last minute plans means those who need to schedule vacation further out had to bypass us, but now that we have some stability, we’re back in the mix!
We’re not giving up traveling and seeking out the new, exciting, unknown, unpredictable and sometimes uncomfortable places (although to be fair, sometimes this place is unpredictable and uncomfortable). But we’ve decided that can be accomplished the part of the year we’re not here. Whether those new places are in Europe, Asia, Africa, Antarctica or even the United States remains to be seen (okay, probably, most definitely not Antarctica). But we’re pretty excited that wherever we go, we’ll get to return again and again to this. Traveling several months a year and then returning to this? Yeah, I think slowing down is going to work out just fine!