Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Our (Almost) Housesit In Costa Rica

Well, I can't believe I'm saying this, but we just turned down a 1-year housesitting assignment in Costa Rica. At first glance, it looked like a no-brainer: a large, custom-built home nestled in lush tropical foliage, surrounded by howler monkeys and geckos, only 10 minutes from a premier surfing beach. And with its on-site casita, there was an opportunity to earn a little extra cash as property managers.

The woulda-coulda-shoulda-but-didn't housesit in Costa Rica.
The allure of Costa Rica isn't new to us. We've toyed with the idea of moving there before. Its warm climate, endless beaches, and green rolling hills are paradise on earth. There's also many established expat communities, favorable immigration laws, and a relatively low cost of living.

So why did we say no?

My head came up with a million practical reasons to go, but I couldn't commit a year of my life to something that didn't make my heart sing. Not after working so hard, physically and emotionally, to get to this point. For now, I'd rather forsake security, stability, and comfort for adventure, freedom, and the thrill of the unknown. As a wise friend once told us, "You can always go to Costa Rica. Dream bigger, go farther!"

So we're rolling the dice, surrendering to the universe, and letting things develop organically. Whatever will be, will be!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

All about Croatia

Hi all,

Congratulations, you've guessed it! Jim and I will soon be on our way to Zadar, Croatia. This is a pre-trip to our summer housesitting assignment in France. We'll be spending 5 weeks in Croatia from early May to mid-June.

Croatia is a European country on the Mediterranean Sea. It's located across the water from Italy, facing the back of the "boot." Once a part of Yugoslavia (1945-1992), Croatia is now an independent country that has recently voted to join the EU.

Unfortunately, we haven't found any housesitting opportunities in Croatia, so we'll be paying for accommodations out of pocket. But on the flip side, this gives us tremendous flexibility to wander around and explore the area as the spirit moves us.

We'll be flying into and out of Zadar, a city on the central coast (across from Italy's "calf.") Zadar itself isn't a big tourist destination, certainly not compared to Dubrovnik, but it does offer an Old Town, Roman ruins, and good transport links to nearby islands and national parks.

So what made us decide to visit Croatia?

First, it looks like a beautiful place, with sparkling blue water, rocky mountain ranges, forests, lakes, and miles upon miles of coastline. Croatia also offers an intriguing mixture of architectural and cultural influences.  Ever since I caught a glimpse of Dubrovnik's windy streets, orange-tiled roofs, and city walls, Croatia has been firmly planted on my must-see list -- ah, the powers of advertising!

We also have practical reasons for choosing Croatia. American tourists can spend 90 days there visa-free. Croatia is also a non-Schengen country, so our travels won't count against the rest of the time we spend in Western Europe.

Beyond Croatia, the Balkans offer a wide range of possibilities for future travels. Large city centers, such as Sarajevo and Belgrade, are easily accessible by bus. And aside from Croatia and Greece, most of these countries are cheaper and less heavily touristed than the rest of Europe.

Last but not least, we're excited to visit Croatia simply because we've never been there before. Traveling to a new place always adds to the allure of an adventure, don't you think?

What do Dalmatians, Balki, and an ugly car from the 1980s have to do with Zadar, Croatia? Here's the answer to our Name That Place puzzle:

We're starting our travels on the Dalmatian coast in an ancient city known by the Venetians as Zara. This area of the Balkan peninsula was once a part of Yugoslavia.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Name that Place!

Friends, here's some clues to our first destination. Can you name the city and country?

We're starting our travels on the:
Modified from

In an ancient city known by the Venetians as:

This area of the:
Modified from

Was once a part of:

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Let the Countdown Begin!

It's official! Natalie and I have booked our tickets and will be leaving Phoenix on May 7th, 2012. Stay tuned for details on our first destination! ;-)

Thank you!

I would like to express my gratitude for the comments and personal stories that you've shared in response to my recent post on finding purpose. Thank you for taking the time to share them, for the privilege of hearing your personal thoughts, and for offering encouragement and insights on my own self-reflections.