Mark & Betsy
“Traveling is a brutality. It forces you to trust strangers and to lose sight of all that familiar comfort of home and friends. You are constantly off balance. Nothing is yours except the essential things – air, sleep, dreams, the sea, the sky – all things tending towards the eternal or what we imagine of it.” – Cesare Pavese
Constantly off balance. Yep. It’s hard to remember the exact months or sometimes even the year of where we have been when during the last six years. A recent acquaintance after hearing our story said, “You guys are really out there, living on the edge,” and quickly added, “but in a good way.”
We call it slow travel. We target interesting places where we might want to live, do some research, and then go about finding an apartment — sometimes for a month, but three months is better. We both work remotely and need a routine to balance our schedules between work and play in order to pay for our travel.
We would love to have more flexibility in how long we can stay, but most tourist visas are granted for 90 days. In Europe the Schengen Agreement covers 26 countries with a common 90- day limit. In Central America the C4 Agreement sets similar parameters. Mexico has a six-month tourist visa. Some countries like Argentina allow you to leave for a day or two and return with a new 90-day visa, but that can be fickle.
Two to three months seems like a good amount of time to experience a place, after which you can almost say you have lived there. Certainly it is more than a casual affair. It is time enough to get to know people and burrow under the covers of a place.
Some exciting places where we have spent some slow-travel time during the last six years include:
Crucita and Cuenca, Ecuador
Dupont Circle, D.C., and Baltimore
San Miguel de Allende, Mexico
When we add housesitting, Morganton, North Carolina, and New Orleans get thrown into the mix. If we include one- and two-week places, the list grows to include Slovenia, Scotland and much of Mexico, Spain and Ecuador.
We consider ourselves expats and at a minimum enjoy living in other countries to experience different cultures. Hopefully we can share experiences and learn.