Good morning! Today is usually the day for a Guatemalan life recap, so I am publishing a post I wrote back when I got there, about the reasons why I ended up there, hope you like it!
Cancún, Mexico. I just flew in, and my dream house, on a little patch of land by a big lake in Northern Guatemala is a 12 hour bus ride away. Sigh. I try to see the positive things: after all, I am saving $900 by not flying directly, I can have delicious tacos in Cancún, and get to see a part of Mexico that I don’t know yet. I am far from imagining that the best of it all will be the bus driver.
A young man, 30 year-old or so, greets me with a big smile. And greets everyone the same, men, women, young or old. He makes sure we are all comfortable, jokes about the fact that I’ll be there until the last stop and I should sleep ”three times, then when (you) wake up, we’ll be arriving”. Save for the fact that he drives like the typical Mexican, a bit too fast, with long pushes on the brakes where you wonder whether he is just taking a curve too fast or if we are going to collide with a truck, he will be a doll for over twelve hours.
While we sleep, he drives, and when we stop, he asks us if we are well, cracks a few jokes and does his job as well as possible. He reminds me of myself, fifteen years ago, when I started working at Mc Donald’s during my first year of college. I was so happy to have a job, a simple one, but a job I would do well, go back home, and forget all about. No responsibilities, no worries, just a few hours in and a paycheck at the end of the month. I had been a piano teacher and a tutor during high school, which I was good at too, but having to deal with kids forced to learn the piano and frustrated parents when I would tell them that their kids should try karate instead was not easy.
Anyway, as the bus rides through the Yucatan Peninsula, I reflect on my ”professional” career. After a bachelor degree, I went straight to Business School to get my master. Never wondered much what I wanted to do with my life, just pleased my family and followed my peers, college was the thing to do, and once again, I was not struggling or anything, so it should be my thing after all. During my degree, I had a variety of students jobs that globally made me happy, even when I was a waitress coming home at 2am and waking up at 8am to attend class. It changed while in business school, an IT company paid for my tuition and I had to work for them three days a week. Normal, easy, 9-5 hours and two days at school, what a change from my double shifts for the past three years! Except that I didn’t fit in.
My job was a bit technical, and included a bit of sales, which I am absolutely not made for. I am an introvert and when people come to me to buy something, like they did at Mc Donald’s, I am happy to help them, but when I have to convince them to buy a computer, I can’t. Watching that happy Mexican bus driver made me wonder if it was the simplicity of the task that I was longing for, or simply that I hadn’t found my calling. Am I made to serve burgers for the rest of my life?
After my master, I traveled the world for a year, then worked for a law firm in Guatemala, a green energy company in Barcelona, and an IT company in the UK. Every time the slightest glimpse of corporate life or rate race came up, I stopped liking the job that I was doing. I hold to the last one in the UK in order to buy a flat, and then quit at the end of 2009. The last months at a job I loathed and was miserable at helped me think about what I really wanted. Freedom, independence, no boss, no rat race came to mind. I started writing travel articles for a few websites and have been living off my writing for the past three years. My investments could more than cover my living expenses but I like to keep busy.
I have lived in Morocco for a year, and traveled around Europe and North America on a motorcycle for two years. I am free and do not have a boss, or a working schedule anymore. But I missed social interaction. I missed what this bus driver has every day: he is useful, he helps people, and people are grateful. Helping is selfish in the end, we do it to feel good, to feel included in something, a community, to know that people need us.
How could I do both things, be my own boss, with a flexible schedule, and yet interact with people and give them a service they are happy to pay for? I had this dream for a long time, to run a small guest house. Mix a simple life, where I would do most house maintenance and upkeep myself, cook for my guests and make a living, with the social part of the hotel, meeting people from all over the world, and showing them my little corner.
This dream should come true very soon. I bought a patch of land in Guatemala, Central America. A waterfront property next to many interesting Mayan ruins. At last, I feel like I have a project that can fulfill me and give me purpose. It is going to be a long road until I can open the doors to tourists, a road that I will travel with a smile.
What is your dream? How does your definition of a dream life evolve with time?
This post was featured in Money Bulldog, thank you!