Finally, a plan
Or at least a decision... We finally gathered the steam to pack up the bus, say our goodbyes to pandora and drive the whopping 10 minutes down the peninsula to the next beach, playa coco. Coco seems crazy busy compared to our last stop, clearly a party town/beach and we drive by the discotecas and bars on our way to the hostel we hope to camp at. We nestle in under an orderly row of the largest palm trees we’ve ever seen across from the hostel, and secure another cheap night of camping before hitting the town for lunch. We share some nachos while chatting with a couple down from Minnesota who simply cant get it through their minds that we drove here and that it was safe to do so. Sometimes it would just be easier to say we flew in for a week and found/trained a stray dog...
On the way back up the boardwalk we spot a volleyball net and some people with skills so we stop and gawk hoping for an invitation. Volleyball hasn’t been as frequent as we hoped during the trip, but we insist on not passing up an opportunity to play. These guys and gals were great, and welcomed us with open arms. Took a while to find a third that was a good fit but we soon started at least holding our own. What fun! It would have been a perfect evening except for a nasty roadrash from diving on essentially asphalt with a thin layer of sand (followed by a run in with a road sign on the walk home...all completely sober, seriously). We planned on pulling out in the morning but the volleyball convinced us to stick around for a another day and another couple games during sunset. That was enough to ensure we were sufficiently sore/reminded of what bad shape we’re in, so we’ll move on again- a bit more quickly now.
Things in general feel like they’ve been moving really fast over the past months. Impossibly fast in a 67 VW Bus... hard to not chuckle at the mere thought. Even breaking down/recovery in nicaragua went faster than we anticipated. We are no less bipolar in our ideas about the future than we have been at any point in the trip, but we have decided indeed that we need to pause and recollect.
We have tried to take a step back; to look at ourselves and realize we may be pushing a bit in terms of decisions. Putting maybe too much pressure on ourselves to “solve the puzzle” all at once. We want so badly to know what’s next. We have so much energy building up in us to devote to “it”, whatever it is. Because of that, it seems we might be fighting against everything we have been trying to achieve. It’s not surprising, in fact it’s my nature. It’s how i’ve always worked. My brain and body seek the comfort of a master plan, to know whats coming next so i can layout a plan of action and check items off accordingly. Im terribly good at it, and right now its a problem.
At the very onset of this trip i told myself that i wanted to live for a while seeing the world through jen’s eyes. To experience it in a way i hadn’t before- without planning and by simply trusting that things would fall into place and turn out for the best. Yes, we did spend several years planning/saving to ensure that we didn’t look back and regret our choice in the future, but after our preparation we basically closed our eyes and took a leap. To leave our current lives behind far enough that we could see what we really wanted for our future.
And daily, i’ve been able to essentially do a really good job at that. To let life come, to point the bus down the road and see what came next. I haven’t been charting the course or planning the next stop. We usually don’t even know where we are heading the following day and don’t decide until after breakfast whether or not were leaving. And- much a surprise to me, it hasn’t been more stressful or less fun. It’s been an adventure in exploration. But while daily destinations are a non-issue, the part of my brain that works to figure out our master plan or whats next in our lives has been working overtime. I don’t need a plan for our lives at large, or even need to know what the next few years hold; but my brain has been craving an answer to what comes next. What happens after one more country and we run out of road to drive down? What then? Do we ship to south america and continue driving? Not likely, at least for now. Do we go home? Do we start something new on a beach in these countries and cultures that we love so much?
One thing i’ve learned about myself in our trip is that i love the visualization stage. Not the planning that i do by default, but more imagineering. I love taking a blank canvas and seeing what it wants to be. What we could turn it into. I think that not knowing what’s coming next means that i don’t get to visualize it, and my brain has been struggling with that gap. How can i create a sketch (or build a 3d model) of a space when i don’t know where/what it is? I think that this drive, combined with my “old brain” has been pushing us- adding pressure where it doesn’t need to be. Where will we live, how will we make money, whats next? We discuss these things in plentiful depth but cant answer the (supposedly) easy question about what we want to do with our lives. And that inability has led us to sometimes frantic action.
A while back we made an offer on a lot in central mexico. A simple lot in a town that we stayed at months ago, loved and could easily dream a future around. We could see the potential clearly, but counted our money and couldn’t afford it. It was a leap, but we made a lowball offer not ever expecting the owner to accept- but he did. And we almost dropped everything to return to mexico and make it work... and we still might, eventually. It’s a really exciting proposition...to create something new together, to see how it turns out, and to spend our days in the sun and on the beach. We dreamt of spending half of our year there and half at home among friends and always in the best weather both places. In many ways it’s perfect. But it’s also intimidating. Its a huge commitment, and it would mean every dime to our names.
This is the coin we’ve been flipping every day for months...and i think we’ve finally realized that it’s all very rushed. We are thrilled that we’ve put ourselves in a position to have the freedom to consider the option, but maybe we’re pursuing it for all the wrong reasons. We just spent 5years working hard to free ourselves and trying to find a way of living that has less stress, more passion and more play. But now we almost jump into a decision that at least financially has the potential to be more stressful than any we’ve made before, and would commit us for at least several years. Time to pause and reflect.
In the same way that a year ago we needed to escape our lives to see what we really wanted- we now need to remove ourselves from this trip, and pause in order to see what want now. Take a look at things from the other side again- at least for a bit. Not by going back to our old lives in every way, that’s not an option. This trip has changed us. Changed who we are, how we think and what we want. But we keep thinking how exciting it would be to live back home among our loved ones with this new mindset. To be in a city we love and around people we crave and see what that does to our plans/desires.
When we lay in a hammock in the sun in mexico we cant imagine being anywhere else. When we walk the streets at home will we feel the same way, or will we crave the other option just as we crave some parts of home now? Maybe some time at home will answer that question and help us figure out the right direction to leap. We are close to our southernmost point (without opening up a new continent), so it’s either ship the bus (somewhere) or turn around and drive north...which sounds more than a bit repetitive and very exhausting at this point. We planned on taking a month or two at home in the fall, but we’ve now decided to move that up. Up to now.
Were going home in 10 days, and we couldn’t be more excited. We were so tempted to ship the bus back with us, but it felt too much like the end of this journey and we have too much left to do. We are excited to come back later with renewed energy and excitement, and to tour costa rica and panama in depth and possibly even backtrack for more time in Nica and El Salvador. The bus will sit here waiting on us and hopefully have as much renewed spirit and energy as we think we will!
So it’s done, we know our next step...even if it’s temporary one. We will park/store the bus, go home to Portland and spend bit of time north of the border seeing what our minds and bodies tell us to do. We don’t yet have the vision or an answer to the next phase of our journey, and that’s not what’s driving us home. If you look back a few posts at our financial debates you’ll see that we don’t think we can afford to stay back home for long...but it’s something we’re missing and longing for, and it’s where we want to be today more than any other place- and that happens to be exactly what we promised to give ourselves each day when we started this crazy journey.
And maybe, just maybe after a bit of time we will know for certain what’s next, or at least where we’ll be heading after that.