Yes, it was beautiful in the rain forest. Yes, the people were lovely.
There are two ways to see a place. One is through vacation eyes. I’ve been blessed to travel the world and always fall in love with each, but always through vacation eyes.
On my trip to Costa Rica, I was looking through do-I-want-to-live-here eyes.
But I still want that adventure. Here’s what I’m now looking for:
1) I want to learn Spanish fluently.
I studied Spanish at least thirty years ago. I took lessons once a week with two other women. Our teacher was a lovely young man from Barcelona, Spain. I even named my cat after him: Santiago (Santi for short.) I also spent two weeks in Cuernavaca, Mexico, where I went to Spanish school and lived with a Mexican family.
I was surprised and pleased how well my Spanish came back. Yes, I’ve been studying lately to prepare for my trip, but words bubbled up that I hadn’t thought of in years. So I’m pretty confident I will become fluent; just not sure how long that will take.
2) I want to experience living in a foreign country.
When I left my husband after being married twenty-nine years, I went to Maui. I didn’t like it there, so I went on to the place I knew I loved, Bali. I’d phoned my Balinese friend whom I knew was managing a hotel. I asked if he could give me a special price. He said he’d allow me to live in the hotel for free, in exchange for training his entire hotel staff how to interact with Westerners so they could upgrade their image.
I loved living there, but I was still in a hotel. I knew I needed to have my own place to feel like I was making a home for myself. Now I’m going to do that.
3) I want to get more for my money.
I’ve lived in Santa Barbara for forty-eight years. When I was married, my homes were big and beautiful. Since I’ve been on my own, not so much. I’m not complaining because I love living on my own.
But where I live is extremely important to me. I need certain things to feel like I’m ‘home.’ Like a little private area outdoors, with beautiful plants. And a dining room so I can have dinner parties. (I love to cook for friends and family.) And a kitchen big enough to do that.
Where I’ve selected will allow me, for the same rent, to go from a one-bedroom, one-bath apartment with no outdoor area I can call my own, to a beautiful three-bedroom home with gorgeous outdoor spaces. Plus, the dining room and big kitchen I miss so much.
4) I want to create a community of like-minded friends.
Santa Barbara is a difficult place to meet people. And I know I’m not the only one who feels that away. You’d think that after forty-eight years I’d have a huge community of friends.
If you’ve been divorced, you’ve probably discovered that it pretty much scrubs away the friends who weren’t really friends. I call them acquaintances.
Plus, now that I’m older and wiser, I’ve become quite particular with whom I spend my precious time.
One thing I’ve learned in reading up on expat living is that it’s easy to meet people because you’re in the same boat. Adventurous, seeking new friends, going out and enjoying what the new environment offers.
5) I want to focus on my writing and creative projects.
In order to build up my savings for my adventure, I started a new job a few months ago that keeps me away from my computer. I have a burning need to write, and miss having the time to dedicate to my favorite thing to do, other than readin, of course.
What do I want to write?
First, I have a novel I’m working on.
Second, two of my friends have been telling me I should write my memoir. I’m on chapter 3, and looking forward to delving deeper into that project.
Third, I have been working up my notes for a program that will focus on my favorite topic, how to be happy.
And fourth, I want to get my children’s book publishing company moving forward.
Also, I haven’t been able to make any videos since I sold my home with my recording studio, and I miss that. I also want to get my books recorded so they will be available as audio books.
6) I want guests to visit.
This one is easy because I’ll soon have a home with extra bedrooms. Family and friends will always be welcome.
Now the Big Question: Where Am I Going?
It was fascinating to let go of my desire to live in the tropics. I had wondered–now that I’m twenty years older than when I lived in Bali–if the desire for hot and humid environment was still there. It isn’t.
Discovering that I no longer wanted to live in a tropical environment opened new areas of the Spanish-speaking world to me.
I’ve selected a place that intrigues me. Partly because I’ve always wanted to see what it would be like to live in a big city.
Santa Barbara is a small city, with most all of the action on just a few blocks of State Street. Around 90,000 people.
I’m very connected to my family. We enjoy spending time together. We have absolutely no drama, just lots of love and laughter. And my son is having his first child, a boy, the first of December.
That means I need to be living somewhere fairly close.
I’ve decided the perfect spot for me is San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. It’s a quick flight, beautiful city, and will allow me to enjoy a home that will give me all that I have been missing. Here’s the home I hope to rent. But if not this, there will be something else that is equally enticing.
When do I make my big move? July 11th.
Now, back to packing up my apartment so everything I want to keep–which isn’t that much since I’ve been selling or giving a lot away–can go into storage.
I’ve committed to living in San Miguel for four months. Then I will come back to stay with my son, daughter-in-law, and her daughter (my new granddaughter), so I can help out before, during and after the birth, as well as bond with my new grandson.
Then, if I really love living in San Miguel, I’ll head back down. I love that Mexico has 6-month visas, instead of 3 months, like they have in Costa Rica. I’ll visit every six months so I can stay connected to my family and friends, and get to know my new grandson.
How about you? Is there an adventure inside you?
If there is, what’s keeping you from going for it? As far as I know, we only live once. I know if I don’t do this, it will be a deathbed regret. And that’s not okay with me.