I have always enjoyed adventures, traveling, seeing and experiencing new things, places, food, and people. Well, sometimes maybe not all the people but at least enough to keep it interesting. I seem to get board and an itch for change if I am stationary for too long of a time. I have also come to avoid people if in groups of over about 8. No it is not a magic number but if there are more folks than that you are almost guaranteed that the interaction will be superficial at best, noisy with multiple conversations at once, and no one really paying attention. To me life is too short for these interactions. Ya, just me….
I have, of late, had people toss different labels out saying are you this… are you that…? Everyone always wants to put everyone in a box. Lately I had been labeled a Gringo and an Ex-Pat. One is just slang in Spanish/Latin countries for just about anyone, especially an American, who is not Hispanic or Latino. The other is short for Expatriate that is nothing more than a person who lives outside their native country. I have been guilty on both counts. I guess these labels fit.
On a more grand scale terms like Nomad, Wanderer, and Vagabond have surfaced. Hey just quit calling me names! You must be Racist! 🙂 Sticks and Stones… I guess the good side is these names do have more than 4 letters. I have been called worse. Well I began to wonder, do some of these labels describe me?
A nomad is always a part of a larger group that keeps traveling in search of stuff, mainly food and shelter. So, they have an aim in mind when they travel. Nah, I don’t see me as part of a larger group with a specific aim. A wanderer is someone who will travel without any motive to fulfill. Hmm…this shoe may come closer to fitting. I just like travel, adventure, and change. A vagabond is a person who travels without any destination or time period in mind. No, not me. I almost always have some broad plan and timetable. I do like some structure.
So doesn’t everyone like vacation and travel? These labels refer to more than just the travel of an average Joe (no offense meant Joe). Also vacationing and living somewhere are two very different things. Well for us, we have been quite different than average. I always thought of myself as ‘above’ average but others may have a different opinion. So where am I going with this? It might be good to first know where I (we) came from to know where I am going with this.
We both are originally from Ohio. I always felt Ohio was a good place to be ‘from’. It seems like; many people in Ohio never leave their hometown or have a desire to do so. I believe many Ohioans think they needed a passport to enter the next county (no r). It seemed in Ohio, if you really wanted a job you could eventually find something but the pay was usually just enough to get by on but never enough to leave. This ‘same old..same old..’ environment was quite stifling to me. During that time in Ohio, when old enough, I left for periods of time. I backpacked two different summers through Northern Europe, would often drive to DC and/or Florida just because and frequently would go to Cleveland or Pittsburg Airport and watch the big planes coming and going. Yes there were actually accessible observation decks to watch from. I proved that you don’t need much money to travel. I was just a farm boy saving nickels, dimes, and quarters.
We, yes now it is a ‘we’, left Ohio to live in Virginia for a while. From there we located to Georgia. After experiencing the humidity, mosquitoes and poison ivy we collected up our cotton and peaches and pushed on to Oklahoma (yes I sang the movie song to spell that). Being an Okie was a unique experience but it didn’t take long to get bored of buffalo and prairie dogs. Denise would say, the ‘Sooner’ we leave Oklahoma the better and the best view of Oklahoma is in the rearview mirror. Washington State was the next destination. These moves were largely due to work. Join the Army, travel to exotic lands, meet different and unusual people, and kill them. In those days when Uncle Sam spoke we listened, but there was a bit of choice involved also.
After 10 years in the Army we returned to Ohio. Our families were largely still there. We were gone for quite some time so it was good to become re-acquainted. Well after a couple years the time came and we were on the road again. Utah was next on the list. We spent a couple of years there and after a couple failed conversion attempts we returned to Washington State where we stayed for the longest period of time – 25 years. While in Washington I was able to go to Europe many times for work but also travel around the EU. We also, whenever we possibly could, headed to a beach. This was at times Hawaii as well as Florida. The beach always had a magical draw. That is where my heart feels at home.
After those years in Washington and as the nest began to empty we put our desires together. We always wanted to be at the beach, warm, and have adventure. After research and planning we put things in motion and ended up living right on a tropical beach in Panama. It is hard to explain what we experienced – amazing beauty, object poverty, wonderful simplicity, extreme satisfaction and extreme boredom, a few wonderful folks, and peace. Third world and First world clashes. To steal some words from a fellow traveller, who actually wrote about Costa Rica, this somewhat sums it up for me:
“I love Panama because shoes are always optional. Sunrises and sunsets set my sleep schedule. My neighbors are surfers and sloths (these are animals not individuals). I love Panama because I can drink chocolate for breakfast and call it healthy…It’s totally acceptable to live in a swimsuit, bikini or yoga pants. I love Panama because nature comes first and takes over if I forget. Days move slowly and transformation happens rapidly. Life expresses itself vibrantly. I love Panama because it’s normal to be weird. We can all be different and still live in harmony. I feel safe to be authentically me…Adios for now Panama, you’re forever in my heart.”
We are back in the USA, for now. We are in Florida. Our plans are to set up a ‘home-base’ most likely at the beach somewhere on the SE coast. We want quick and easy access to a major airport. From there we will plan and launch our next adventures. So what (que) am I (are we)? I guess ‘Wanderers’ fit best but remember ‘sticks and stones’!
Enjoy the few pictures and feel free to send questions, comments, or criticisms.
After over a year without a car we had to get one.