The middle way - or how we decided to move to the jungle

9 years ago

It all started almost five years ago. Newly pregnant and stuck on a deserted island, not trapped but by choice, on a vacation of sorts. We made friends in candlelight, the electricity on the island shut down at dark and the only place to go was the common room of the guesthouse. They were there with a deck of cards and we had a flashlight and we played games late into the night.

They suggested we go western into the jungle, a route we'd not planned on taking. Go, they said. You won't regret it. Just go. Call it traveler's karma, but when you hear the call you listen and the next day we headed west. We arrived after a long and dusty bus ride in a small town and from there headed up to a small village in the jungle. Our plan to stay one night evolved into a week and as we sat in the dark with the pulsating sounds of night creatures all around us we started talking. What if we, could we possibly, how would we.....and by the time we left we'd made a decision. We decided to do whatever it takes to move back to this place.

It sounds crazy, but as the years progressed and we returned a number of times our decision never wavered. When the time was right we were going to leave everything we knew about our lives so far and see about carving out a life in this place. In the last five years we've visited several times, including a month on maternity leave. We bought two acres of land from a collectivo driver we'd met on one of our trips and later found a place nearby to rent. We've paid off all of our debt and saved some money and are in the process of selling everything we own. We've both quit our jobs and all the security that goes with it. And next month we are moving to Central America.

The main question I am asked is why. Why would we want to leave a relatively comfortable existence and move our family out of the country, facing uncertainties around every corner from health care to employment to isolation. I always nod my head in agreement because I know this is crazy. I hear what you are saying and I agree. But I know we are doing something unique, that we are onto something here. And I know it's hard to understand why.

We are moving because we want our daughter to experience life outside the USA. We want her to learn more than one language and see that life is more than what you can easily buy off a shelf in a store shaped like a box. We want to teach ourselves to grow our own food and to live more sustainably. We want to put our years of domestic poverty work into use in an international setting. We want to get off the production and consumption treadmill. We want to raise chickens and see more of the world. We want to challenge ourselves to live more fully in the moment and seize life for the gift that it is, a grand adventure filled with peaks and valleys and also dirt and quiet and fear and heat. We want to see who we are and who we might become in a place that will shake us up and hopefully also hold us close.

So we are nearly off, but between now and then we've got a house to empty and belongings to sell. We need to buy some mosquito netting and consult a map. Because five years after we got off the deserted island the dreams and plans have collided with the truth. We are moving to the jungle and we have only the tiniest of safety nets beneath us.

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