Border crossing days ~ no one relishes the chaos and confusion of attempting to exit one country and enter another. Now, we have done a lot of border crossings all around the world. But driving ourselves, and with black dog in tow, requires a bit more thought. And yet, we had somehow done almost zero research on what would become only our second country, but fourth border crossing in nine months. Finally, a mere 24 hours before the big day, we actually fired up the laptops to find out what the hell we were getting ourselves into.
Overlanders depend on their gear. After all, most of us are homeless in the traditional sense. The road is our home, and the gear we travel with can make or break the trip. As very active campers even in our old life, we were quite certain what cooking gear was going to make the list for the PanAm. Although we quibbled over and considered a few items, one item never in doubt was our Lodge Dutch Oven.
I can’t even say how long I have desired the opportunity to explore Oaxaca City. Back in my days working for Mexico Unlimited, we somehow never made the trip, truthfully probably simply because we tend to head to Mexico’s beautiful beaches. That fact didn’t keep me from dreaming of this place, not so far away in miles, and yet seemingly out of easy reach.
This blog post is in response to Natalie’s 10 Day Freedom Plan Blog Challenge Day 9
I know, I know.. I”m a day behind in my challenge quest. My adventure challenge turned into a two day jaunt between the mountains, and a surf camp on the Pacific!
Now I am back in the land of the internet and ready to continue my blog challenge! I expected Natalie’s 10 Day challenge to become more, well, challenging as it progressed. In my case, what to write about is getting easier because I am already living a nomadic, location independent life!
And here is what I’ve learned. It’s HARD. Life balance is a mystery to most folks, even if that life involves a 9-5, and relatively set schedule. Something always seems to take a back seat in the quest to make 24 hours last longer. Often that is exercise. Or seeing friends. Or spending time with your significant other.
Magnify these challenges with life on the road. Now, as Natalie states in her video for day 9, there are many ways to live a location independent life. Whereas at this time we are very, very nomadic, our end goal is actually to start making a good enough living to live anywhere we want in the world, at any time we wish.
However, for now I will just address my life as it exists today. These last two days is a mere snippet of what our daily life entails. Travel days are simply hard. We do our best; we have the camper nearly ready to go the night before. We get up early. We eat a quick breakfast. We start the day with a positive mindset. Often, it all goes well. Yesterday, it did not.
Two days ago, we spent over three hours attempting to send money to our house rental in Guatemala… unsuccessfully I might add. We are still trying to work it.
After a lovely evening at Hierve de Aqua, high in the hills of the Oaxaca Valley, we prepared to head towards the state of Chiapas, which requires heading to the Gulf of Mexico, or the Pacific. We chose the Pacific and spent seven hours driving a mere 180 miles, along endlessly scenic, but also endlessly winding roads. The views were stunning, but by hour 5.5, as the heat index rose, and the exhaustion of Mexico driving kicked in, crankiness ensued. By the time we reached camp the temperature on the dash read 102 degrees, and I think the temperature in the truck may have been even hotter as tempers flared.
We had been advised the camp had internet. I needed to check emails and write this post. It didn’t. Aspen was melting into a ball of black fur. Sweat ran like torrential downpour down my body as we got a quick camp set up. I was angry. Angry at the lack of internet. Angry at the 10 minute walk to the actual ocean. Angry at Jim, for no other reason than I couldn’t very well be pissed at Aspen right? Angry at the heat.
And then we took some deep breaths. We had a tequila shot. Then an ice cold beer. We found a place in the shade where the breeze hit and spent some time reading. I took Aspen into the shower to wet her down, and reduce her panting. We chatted with the surfers in residence, mostly about the heat. I started to focus on the joy of not “having” to do anything, at least for now.
Today, we were back on the road. After a warm night, we headed first to the beach so Aspen could fetch coconuts in the Pacific. We once again headed to the verdant green hills to Chiapas state. The feared roadblocks and protests failed to surface, and the road was smooth, and relatively straight. Tempers stayed in check, and the temperature at camp was manageable. Back in the land of Wi-Fi, the laptop once again reigns as I return emails, check work deadlines, and write this post while we catch up with the last couple of weeks of Master Chef.
The life nomadic requires the utmost in flexibility. It requires ordinary challenges made extraordinary with language barriers and cultural differences. It requires discipline and the ability to deal with slow, or nonexistent, internet. It requires patience and tolerance and a very, very strong desire to make it work.
And I wouldn’t have it any other way. That dream of “location independent” is real. The ability to choose when and where I work is a treasure like no other. After decades of being forced to pretend to work until my shift was over, after having to go to work the day after Thanksgiving, even when nothing would be happening. Those days are over. Yes, I am now working at 8pm on a Monday night. But I am sitting in Chiapas, Mexico. I am cozy in my camper with my husband, watching Master Chef and dreaming of new dishes to create. Aspen is nestled in for the night, after finishing off a special chew bone reward after being extremely patient herself these last two days.
At some point, my version of location independence is bound to change. I envision a continuation of my globe trotting ways, but perhaps house rentals for several months at a time. Perhaps a set location, with multiple trips each year to exotic destinations. Where the road will lead, I am uncertain. What I AM certain of, is there is no going back!
I had been anticipating our arrival in Guanajuato for what seemed like forever. The years spent preparing often meant hours, generally in my cubicle (shhh) poring over others trips. Hours reading of others adventures, beyond anxious for the time when I would be the one living out my dreams on the road.
I listened to the rain pattering on the roof, and took another sip of wine. We had planned to stay a couple of days. But, Patzcuaro proved to be pure magic. Yes, the town is literally one of Mexico’s pueblo magicos, but more importantly, the vibe is right. That couple of days turned into four and then six and then eight. The plan to see the town, buy some coffee, maybe take a boat ride to the island in the lake, morphed into simply enjoying the simple pleasures.
We miss our people, our tribe. Especially now, during in what is low season in central Mexico (although why that is I am baffled), among empty campgrounds, we are missing those we love. With no new overlanders to connect with, our thoughts turn, even more, to friends back home.
Lesson learned. Do not, and I repeat, do not, rent an apartment prior to arriving in town. Our three months in Puerto Vallarta was wonderful.. until it wasn’t. So much of our time was great; We got a lot of work done, writing for me and the launch of Jim’s first amazon product. We had visitors in the form of Jim’s parents and friends Dave and Anne. We swam and practiced yoga nearly daily. We enjoyed an extended time in one of our favorite cities in the world.