Four years. As I sit down and type those two words, it feels a bit surreal to me. Four years ago, we sold our entire life, hugged everyone we loved, said “see you soon, we’ll be in touch,” and hopped on a plane to Ecuador. Everyone thought we were crazy, even the ones who were excited for us. We thought we were crazy too, but we were also giddy. Drunk on the idea of a new life – one that was really different from our old one.
As our plane was landing in Quito, Ecuador, and we were looking out at the city lights, we held hands & kissed. One of us said, “wow, I hope this goes as planned,” and then we laughed until we cried. It was a release of all the pent up anxiety and excitement about our decision. We had never traveled for longer than three weeks. Never truly backpacked our way around anywhere. We thought we had a plan, but the truth is we had no idea what we were getting ourselves into and no clue what we were doing. And we knew it. But, for the first time in a long time, we were really excited about our life.
There is a quote I love that says, “My entire life can be described in one sentence: It didn’t go as planned and that’s okay.” And this life the past four years has certainly not gone as planned. But that’s also been more than okay. We’ve failed epically on countless occasions and we’ve done incredible things. We’re different people now even though we’re also the same people who clutched hands on that plane all those years ago. We’re still happy with this life and in awe of the fact that we get to live it. We still get scared. We still fall in love with every new place. We still savor every day we get to spend exploring this world together. We still dream about what is next. We still have big and small successes and hilarious and painful failures. We’re fulfilled but still hungry for more.
Originally, we planned to be gone for a year, and then two years, and then “hey, maybe if we slow it down we can go for three years.” Somewhere along the way, this adventure we planned turned into our life. We are probably more surprised by it than any of you. It continues to morph into something new all the time, and Oaxaca is the latest chapter for us – and definitely one of our favorites.
We originally came to Oaxaca because I had a job offer to work with someone I admired. The plan was to settle down in Oaxaca, work with this woman I considered a mentor, learn from her, and then take that knowledge and drive our life forward in new ways. We were excited to move to Oaxaca. We love Mexico. (Hello, Tacos!) It all seemed like a dream come true, and with perfect timing. So we hopped on a plane and flew from Paris to Oaxaca. It was Day of the Dead when we arrived. The city pulsed with passion and energy and celebration. We were drunk on fiesta life. The job seemed like it was going to be fantastic – really interesting and challenging in new ways. Within days, we had found an incredible apartment in the centro. This life practically fell into our laps.
But remember that quote up there?
The job ended up being a bust. Projects didn’t end up going as planned. There were some major setbacks over which we had no control. She just wasn’t ready to have people work with her. After only 3 months, she let me go. And I understood. I really did. And I was happy to get out of a situation that was not what I expected or wanted. It definitely wasn’t in the plan for us to move to Oaxaca, sign a year long lease, and then lose my job. But it was okay – and almost freeing in some ways.
In fact, the week after I lost my job, we went out and bought the bed that we’d been talking about buying for months. It was like all that time I had been putting off truly settling down in Oaxaca because I was holding my breath. I was afraid that something like this would happen and then we’d be stuck. But when it happened we discovered that we felt the opposite – it was a relief to be in charge of our own destiny again. New doors started opening and we started considering all sorts of new possibilities.
We realized that what we really wanted to do was live here, have a home base again, and a routine, and friends we see everyday. It makes us happy. So we’re going to keep on doing that. Oaxaca is a special place for us and we’re happy to call it home. We’ll keep our apartment here, which we’re slowly starting to furnish and fix up just the way we want it. And we’ll spend part of the year here, part of the year in Albuquerque so that Kyle can do some work, and part of the year traveling.
This plan ticks all the boxes for us. We get to keep traveling. We get to have an international life with a Mexican home base. We get to spend time back in ABQ with all the family and friends we miss when we’re on the road. We get to have all the best parts of our life. It’s no secret that Kyle and I place a premium on flexibility and the freedom to create our own life – and this plan gives us that in spades.
It’s time to settle down for a bit. To live in this place – experience the food, the people, the culture. To soak it in and make it a part of us. We’re happy to have a home base again.
There is a video by Gnarly Bay – The Story of Your Life. It came out the year we started traveling and I remember watching it over and over before our trip started, fascinated and excited to think we might get to play a small part in driving our own adventures in this life and wondering what ours would look like.
In it, the narrator asks two questions:
- Is it possible to be happy with this life?
- Did you enjoy your story?
Four years later, we’re still going strong and here to share that it is more than possible to be happy with this life we’ve created. We’re proud of what we have accomplished, humbled by what we’ve learned, and lucky to have experienced all we have. This world is a magical place and in all our years and miles of travel, we’ve had so many positive experiences and met so many gracious, kind, funny, and generous people, even in the places that are supposed to be broken or dangerous – especially in those places. We’ve enjoyed our story so much. Long term travel is not for everyone and we’re grateful that it has turned out to be the perfect thing for us.
Time has a way of blipping and flying by before you realize it. It often still feels like that flight into Ecuador was just yesterday. We’ve spent time this past week going through old photos and memories. And the resounding feeling has been one of shock and awe – it feels unbelievable that we’ve done all the things we’ve done. Been to all the places we’ve visited. Met all these people around the world who we not only call friends, but who have become an extended family. And we are so grateful that we’ve gotten to share so much of it with all of you. Whether you’ve supported us from afar or joined us on an adventure, we’ve always felt so much love and support from our community. Thank you for loving us enough to let us go out in the world and live the life we used to dream about.
Yesterday, we did the math and realized that if we travel for 2 more years, that means we’ll have spent half of our marriage traveling together. It’s totally on! The adventure continues…
What a wonderful thought it is that some of the best days of our lives haven’t happened yet.
Yes, there is a slideshow of photos from this past year. But this week definitely didn’t go as planned, so it’s not finished yet. Stay tuned – we’ll share those memories with you early next week.