Will and I have been on a slow move for almost six years. We’ve lived in Taiwan, Peru, the United Arab Emirates, Panama, and now Mexico. We’ve visited more than 30 additional countries. We went to Chernobyl. We visited the Pyramids at Giza. We met then Secretary of State John Kerry at the home of the US Ambassador to Russia in Moscow. We took three road trips through Europe. We’ve seen more places than most people will see in a lifetime.
And I’m bored. We both are.
I hate saying that. I hate feeling that way. Here I am, privileged in a way that few people are and I’m bored.
Our intention was always to avoid our mutual perceptions of life in the United States. We both dreaded the life that often feels forced, a constant cycle of consumerism, work, bills, and little time to feel free from those constraints. However, as time has moved forward, I’ve found that this is exactly where we are now. Although that life takes place in Mexico, it’s still a work week much like any other, with a slapped together dinner and TV until bedtime.
It was only just a few weeks ago that we visited Sumidero Canyon, one of Chiapas’ most famous and beautiful natural wonders. It’s only an hour away from our home and we’ve been here for almost nine months.
When we were living in Huanchaco, Peru in 2011 I met a woman through a mutual friend. It was a brief personal meeting but we became friends on Facebook and I began following her blog. She and her husband had driven from California and were now in Peru. Somewhere in the back of my mind, I had always known that people did that, but I hadn’t ever actively followed someone’s Pan American Highway journey. I read her posts voraciously, not only because she’s a fantastic writer but also because I marvelled at their freedom. I wanted that, but I wasn’t sure I had the guts for it.
A few years later when we were living in Panama we were introduced to the Sparks family through a mutual friend. They were on their own Pan Am journey and we needed a housesitter. They arrived at our house in a customized van, a mobile fortress in a way, and with their young son. Before they became parents they had driven from the UK to South Africa. I loved listening to their stories, but I still wasn’t sure that was a lifestyle that I could handle.
Back in February Will and I took a much needed week at the beach. While he’s rarely writing on the blog anymore, I awoke one morning to find that Will had written a post. All of a sudden the idea of our own overland journey was back on the table and Will attacked it with gusto. He began scouring the internet for vehicles that he thought might be a good fit for us, and I sat in the background, jonesing for the adventure I knew we needed but still unsure how it would all play out.
The weekend of April 10th we took a long weekend in Mexico City for our anniversary. While he did take time off work Will’s vehicle hunt hadn’t ended. He’s whittled down his focus in a big way, and was convinced that a Nissan Titan with a camper of some sort was the best choice. We sat next to each other on the bed, and while he browsed car dealerships I logged onto a Facebook group for Pan Am overlanders and saw an ad.
“Are you dead set against a Ford?” I asked. I showed him the ad, I messaged the seller, and a few hours later we were on the phone with him. As I listened in on the conversation, not able to completely make sense of the talk of batteries and propane, a little tilt was going on in my brain.
This was it. I just knew we were going to buy this truck. Will put a flight to San Francisco on hold and we agreed to decide the next day if that flight would be purchased.
It was. We returned home to San Cristobal and Will left a few days later to go meet the truck and her owners. I felt very small in our big house that weekend, waiting for the WhatsApp notifications that kept me on the fringes of the loop that was swirling thousands of miles away.
Exactly one week ago today I woke up to an email. The subject line read “You’ and the body of the email simply stated, “Can announce.” My heart leapt and my then uncaffeinated brain struggled to comprehend what had just happened but I knew on a deep down level that this was it. We were going to take on the responsibility, the stress, the joy, the wonder, and the adventure that we so desperately need in our lives.
This is Moby.
Will drove away from her former Northern California home and headed for Wyoming to get shiny new license plates and registration. He’d WhatsApp me during the drive, hinting at rookie mistakes that he’d already made. He’s still not home, in fact, he’s probably in the air as I write this, but I’m sure he’ll tell me about things that are going to be the first of many mistakes. After all, a trip of this magnitude is not without its struggles, but I know that the joys will far outweigh those.
Right now, Moby is in storage in Salt Lake City. She will remain there until August when the lease on our house in Mexico is up. Exact dates and locations are still up in the air, but that’s part of the bliss that comes with this kind of freedom. Outside of a few restrictions, we can go where we want, when we want.
And as a relationship whose cornerstone is and always will be travel, I know that this journey will affect my marriage in profound ways. Although six years abroad has not been without its challenges, it’s also been a relatively comfortable and easy life. We always had our personal space, we always had enough of what we needed, and we always had people willing to help.
This has all changed. Now we have to reduce our lives to fit into a camper. There will be no room where one of us can go and shut the door when tension erupts. There will be problems; situations that force us to work together and navigate unknown territory. There will be disagreements, and the inevitable silence that’s deafening when you’re trapped in a vehicle with someone you’re currently irritated with.
But all of that aside, I am overwhelmed with how right this feels. This is exactly the decision we needed to make, at exactly the right time. I’m ready, Will is ready, and our relationship is ready for this next step, where we discard what we no longer need, carefully pack the rest, and hit the road.
I hope you’ll come along for the ride.