Recent October first, I was on the road for 4 years so to speak. And it is kind of hard to remember how it felt, that day in autumn when I closed the door of my small townhouse behind me knowing I would never return to the Netherlands. On my way to the Philippines!
In 2015 I left together with my son, on his invitation I joined him after a hard time in the Netherlands while becoming unemployed and facing home eviction. The situation at my age was hopeless and I had no guarantee I would ever find a job or get housing. I never thought my life would take such a turn for the worse and all doors seem to be firmly shut until my son opened a new one for me towards a new future.
In the first few months, we traveled together. But although we make a great team we are mother and son and it is only natural for kids going their own way. So sometimes we split up for longer periods of time. Other moments we would travel together like that amazing motorbike trip we made through the Philippines.
Sometimes we live close, like now, he rents a studio in the same apartment building, but other moments we live far apart. Like me on Siquijor Island and he on Mindoro Island. You do not hop over for a quick coffee or a dinner. Especially not in the Philippines with endless ferry crossings and all those islands in between.
Although my son is not the type to mesmerize a lot in the past, he joined me in eating ice cream to celebrate our 4-year escape from the 9-5 ever so static society in the Netherlands.
So here we are eating our ice cream in Mexico while talking about the Philippines and our trip through Europe earlier this year. And boy do we have a lot to look back on.
Like the hotel fire and a hasty evacuation in the middle of the night, and the volcano eruption in Legazpi. Our first minor earthquake but nevertheless scary as hell since we never had felt one before. We didn’t get earthquakes back in the Netherlands. And the numerous typhoons blowing over or passing by.
We talk on how much we miss out at the moment in Mexico, since we are still waiting for the government to process our paperwork, and how much we miss riding our big motorbikes. We share so many memories and yet some memories seem not shared, for his perception of moments sometimes differs from mine. That only shows that we are individuals and that is great for we have different points of view to share.
I myself look back on 4 years of rebranding, redefining my (Dutch) business to an international one. Proceeding from scratch and lifting it up, making it grow into a money-making business so I can pay my own bills. A very hard job since my audience is shifting a lot due to traveling.
I seldom work in nomad hubs and co-working spaces, let alone on the beach, that is such a myth. I dislike digital nomads for the way they make things look. Like it is all peaches and roses while it is not, knowing half of them aren’t as successful as they try and make people believe in social media. And the other half already returned home, failing and stepping back in the treadmill they cursed publicly during the months they traveled.
Those that are successful you seldom see boasting in social media, they just do their work, do it with integrity and enjoy the life it offers them. Even if that is not all that luxurious. It is still an amazing life.
I also do not fit in with many expats. In the Philippines, those were mainly men, and they had an opinion about me, a woman, seeking a new life and riding big bikes. I was the town gossip I swear. I just kind of life in my little bubble, sometimes I interact with people, most of the time I mind my own business.
I have changed, not only have a lost a ton of weight, I am more self-supporting, more self-caring, and more self-aware. And I view life a lot differently now. I am stronger, more self-conscious, and more at peace than all those years I lived an ordinary life in the Netherlands.
Nowadays, for example, through Twitter I see what moves the Dutch, I kind of find it annoying first-world problems They visit doctors at every whim, complain about the weather, and worry about what to wear. it is all so different from my life now.
4 years without a fixed place to live
4 years on the road
4 years of a minimalistic life
4 years living from a backpack and moving from hotel to rental to resort.
I witnessed the most gorgeous sunsets and sunrises, traveled the most beautiful and spectacular roads in the world, had the most amazing views, I dipped my feet in the clearest water ever and walked lonely beaches that were so white that it almost blinded me. I lived in a cottage right on the beach, a house on a cliff with an amazing view over the Bohol Sea. I found shells I used to buy in a gift shop or a garden center, now I just pick them up, I ate fish that was caught on the spot, I met so many beautiful people and witnessed incredible poverty. I have added so much life experience!
Once I thought the most I would realize of my dreams was to have a small country house in France or Spain, with some chickens in the yard, a dog at my feet, and a cat in the window. I could have never ever imagined I would drive a 400cc motorcycle through the Philippine mountains to visit a remote beach for a swim.
Or to rent a small studio apartment in a tourist zone in Yucatan, Mexico, with no view whatsoever and only a plastic pink flower on the table to create some sense of green. I could have never ever imagined that I would live such a rich life.
4 years of nomadism, I sign on for a few more years!
Jeanette, a Dutch female nomad, started to travel the world at the age of 17. Walker of beaches, shell searcher and iPhone photographer. Writer and owner of two websites
Currently, she lives in Mexico.
She is an emigration coach and works online.
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