When we first became nomads in the fall of 2011 it was easy to decide where to go: we had our bucket list of places we really wanted to see – Italy being at the top of the list, and then Tiruvannamalai, India, and then Bali. So we toured through Italy in the fall of 2011, at the beginning of 2012 we went to Tiruvannamalai for 10 weeks to soak up the spiritual energy of Ramana Maharshi, and from Tiru we went to Bali for a month to recuperate from the rigours of life in India. Of course, it being so close, we then went to Australia to spend some time with Alison’s family. In May of 2012 we flew back to Vancouver. We knew we needed to spend the summer there to sort out business, financial and health insurance matters.
Since then the process of deciding where to go next has appeared to be partly our choice, but mainly serendipity. We have been offered choices and have said yes or no to them.
While in Australia longtime friends of Alison’s asked if we’d like to housesit for them for five weeks starting in September of 2012. It took us a few weeks to decide, but finally we said yes. What made us decide to go back to India after Don swore he’d never go back again after ten weeks in Tiruvannamalai? Seeing the movie The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel that was set in Jaipur. It showed us a whole other India than the one we’d previously experienced and got us excited about going there again. From India it was only a short flight to Bangkok and the beginning of our Southeast Asian odyssey.
Weather plays a part. One of the reasons for accepting our friends’ offer of housesitting in Australia, and following that with travelling around India and South east Asia is that October through March is the best time of the year to go to that part of the world.
Having flown across the Pacific Ocean and back twice within a little over twelve months we decided to head south to Central and South America rather than spend that kind of money on airfares again. That led to friends offering us their casita in La Manzanilla, Mexico where we are currently staying. Once more we had to take time to think about whether this was what we most wanted to be doing next. It didn’t take us very long to realize that we would be in need of some serious rest and recuperation time after six months travelling around India and Southeast Asia, so we said yes. We had no idea at the time how perfect it would turn out to be in every way, and the very haven we needed. (Except for the threat of scorpions – eek!)
Our next big move after Mexico will be to visit Don’s family in Sweden, and Alison’s sister in Montreal, because it’s time to be with family, but then what? We return to the original plan of exploring South and Central America because come the end of September it’s the right direction to be headed in for warmer weather. We’ve already booked a flight from Montreal to Buenos Aires. Yes I know, we’re all over the map. There’s no rhyme or reason to it. Down to Mexico, back up and across to Europe, then Montreal then back down past Mexico to South America. Nuts. And yet it’s the direction that yearning and intuition take us in.
I’ve travelled through South America many many years ago. Don has never been. I look forward to sharing some of my favourite places with him, and to us discovering new ones together. I love the exotic. Don has become less fearful about going to new and more exotic destinations. He was very frightened to go to Burma and almost stopped us from getting there but once there he found it so wonderfully exotic, fascinating and friendly that he got over most of his fears.
We were able to make arrangements with the B.C. Medical Services Plan to be away from British Columbia for a two-year period from September 2012 to September 2014 and still retain health coverage. The only downside is that we’re not permitted to be back in B.C. for more than 30 days during that entire time. This has meant that we’ve had to be fast on our feet in Vancouver, and making clear plans about where we want to go next well ahead of time.
Do we know what we’re doing? We haven’t got a clue. We’re just making it up as we go along. Things get presented to us (like the offer of house sitting) or we see a movie, or read about some place, and then a seed is sewn that grows into reality, or not. We still have something of a bucket list. Neither of us has been to Greece and would love to go. Egypt to see the pyramids. Eastern Europe because we’ve never been there and have this idea that it’s less expensive than Western Europe.
Our current dilemma is to do with health insurance and weather. In order to maintain coverage in BC we have to be back there by September of 2014 and stay for a minimum of five months. Over a BC winter. Brrrrrrrr. Also after September 2014 if we want to retain BC health insurance we have to live there for a least five months of every year. Naturally we’d choose to live there in the spring/summer/fall. Which would mean we’d never get to be anywhere else during the northern Summer. Which would mean not seeing Greece or Eastern Europe or the far north of India, Nepal, Tibet, Bhutan or China in the warmer months. We haven’t figured this one out yet. We talk. We look at the climate of all different parts of the world. We argue. We sleep on it. We try not to get too far ahead of ourselves, and at the same time know we have to make some decisions. Not right now, but it’s right now that the process begins, months ahead of time so ideas and desires can arise, be discussed, percolate, and simmer. Each of us trusts that within the time we have available to make the decisions that need to be made clarity will be reached. It’s a process. It takes the time it takes. We trust ourselves. We trust each other. We trust the Mystery. And the future? That’s what it is at the moment – a mystery. Our current plans take us up until March of next year. Between now and then clarity will emerge, consensus will be reached, and we’ll be off somewhere else.
Photo of the day: Altar offering, Luang Prabang, Laos
All words and images by Alison Louise Armstrong unless otherwise noted.
© Alison Louise Armstrong and Adventures in Wonderland – a pilgrimage of the heart, 2010-2015.