Something weird happened to me today while I was watering the yard at our house sit here in Patzcuaro, my phone vibrated in my pocket. That in itself is fairly weird since, while we do have phone service, I handle most of my communications through my computer (Skype, FB Messenger etc) and my phone never rings. But, what it was telling me was even weirder. TimeHop, that little app that tells you what you posted on Facebook years ago, was ringing me to let me know what about something I had posted two years ago. I was about to delete the message when I actually paused and read what it said. It was reminding me of a link I had I posted to a one of our first AWOL Americans posts. A post about packing the car and leaving Kansas City. That’s right, two years ago today we packed everything we owned in the car and drove off through a blizzard away from everyone and everything we had ever known. We drove away from the familiar and into a risk-filled life of the new and unknown. And I had no idea this giant step had an anniversary coming. Truly, I had no idea. I mean I knew we’d been in Mexico about two years or so, but the exact date snuck up out of nowhere and slapped me while I was watering the grass. Wow, two years. A full, exciting, scary, awesome, frustrating, awesomely frustrating, phenomenal, cooler than words two years.

These two years have seen us start a business, move to Playa del Carmen, go to Cuba (before Americans were supposed to), swim with the largest fish in the world, saw a little blog created to keep our families updated get more than 80,000 page views (thank you!), learn to live off the grid in a mansion on the beach, rediscover our love of pets, set up shop in an ancient colonial town in the mountains, drive back and forth across North America a few times, stop considering a trip to a Mexican grocery store an adventure, swim in a waterfall in Chiapas, get caught at a rebel checkpoint in Chiapas, have a TV episode filmed about us, teach English to kids, successfully navigate the Mexican healthcare system, climb Mayan ruins and a mountain, etc., etc., etc. And those are the things that just rattled off the top of my brain. I’m sure I’m forgetting a whole bunch of things, but my brain is a finite vessel.

Havana
Guess where this is. If you guessed Havana, Cuba – you’re right!

 

Isla Mujeres Whale Shark
Spending the day swimming with whale sharks has to be one of my top 5 favorite days in, on or around the water.

 

Izamal Carriage
One thing I forgot to mention? Horses wearing hats.

But these experiences didn’t come without sacrifice and we have given up a lot to see and do what we’ve done. Do we have regrets? Of course. We regret not seeing our nieces and nephews grow up and not being at their games or plays or birthday parties. We regret not being there for our family and friends when they’ve needed us. We regret not meeting the new additions our friends have added to their families. And, of course, we regret not being in Kansas City when the Royals were in the World Series.

But do we regret cutting the cord and taking our lives on the road? Nope. Negative. No way. Not for a second. Do we have “Oh s&*t! What have we done?” moments? For sure. Whether it was Deidre being super sick with Dengue Fever or me trying to figure out how to properly do the accounting for an American based business with Italian clients while living in Mexico, I have certainly began to doubt that we’d made the right decision a few times. But then? Something magical comes along and makes me forget about the difficulties and sacrifices. Every single day of our lives for the last two years has been an adventure. These adventures have been exhausting and even overwhelming at times, but we have had WAY, WAY, WAY more good days than bad days and the hard times just seem to make the rest of the times that much better. Cliche I know but cut me some slack, I’m waxing nostalgic here.

Teaching English, Playa del Carmen
It’s pretty tough to be in a bad mood when you’re surrounded by these giggly, smiley little guys. Plus? They give us a bit of a ‘niece and nephew’ fix.

We have seen, done and experienced so many things and had the pleasure of meeting and becoming friends with so many amazing people in the last couple of years that I’m truly blown away trying to think about it. This is really the first time that I have sat back and looked at the last two years as a whole. Sure, I’ve recapped our time in Playa del Carmen or our stay in Xcalak but to take everything in as a whole is truly a daunting task. The density of all of these once in a lifetime experiences have shaped us in very profound ways that I wouldn’t trade for anything. I think that I am truly broken for a “normal” life at this point and, frankly, I think I’m okay with that. After all, if normal is what we were seeking then quitting our jobs, selling everything and moving to Mexico was probably a bad idea.

Liz
Liz – our realtor, our House Hunters International co-star and our great friend!

 

Don Abundio Senor Elder
Don Abundio – Elder of the Mayan village of Señor and a wicked storyteller.

 

Xcalak Fishing
Jerry, Matt, Chay and Juilo, my Xcalak fishing buddies.

 

Making new friends. I think. I'm still not 100% sure what we talked about.
Making new friends. I think. I’m still not 100% sure what we talked about but we had fun.

 

Havana Lady
I never caught her name, but this lady in Havana was less than concerned about the road conditions.

 

Xcalak
Part of what we gave it all up for? Yes, please.

I have never felt more fulfilled, content, confident and most of all – happy, than I do right now. I think I speak for both of us when I say that I wish everyone could feel as good as I do right now (and have for the last couple years) and I wish we could share this happiness with all of our readers, friends and families. This happiness that stems from living life on your own terms and from overcoming whatever obstacles come your way. From opening yourself to new experiences and embracing each day as it comes and from trying new things even if they don’t sound like something you’d normally do.

I’m not a life coach and I certainly don’t want to tell anyone how to live their lives but I don’t think I’d be writing this post today if we hadn’t taken some risks and put ourselves in a position to be offered new opportunities. Look, I know that most people can’t just drop everything, sell all their stuff and move to Mexico, I get it. But what you can do is to learn to embrace new things, talk to strangers (just don’t get in their van or accept their candy), go to a different restaurant, leave the resort. Whatever, just doing new things and opening yourself to new experiences can have a profound impact on your life and we highly encourage it.

Deidre and Jason Feb 2013
Two years ago today. We haven’t changed a bit. Or have we?

When we left Kansas City two years ago I never imagined that I’d be writing this post from an adobe house in the mountains of Michoacan. In fact, I didn’t imagine anything two years down the road. All we had were some ideas, enough money to live on for a few months and the stuff in our car. After that, we just figured we’d let the day take us where it may and take us it did! Thank you all for following along with us on this journey and thanks especially to our friends and families who still (appear) to love us in spite of our distance and sometimes shoddy communication attempts. We’ve enjoyed not only living out the last two years of our lives, but we’ve also enjoyed sharing them with you immensely. We’re looking forward to many, many, many more years on this journey we call life and we hope you are too!