Our first month in Guatemala has been rough. Yet simultaneously, it has reminded me of the best reasons we travel.
Last week, we met a couple in a restaurant in San Marcos, Guatemala—the village where we are living. While they do not travel full time, they live in Maine and spend months away from home avoiding winter. Like us, they stay in Airbnb rentals a month here and there. We talked for more than an hour. It was a nice break, and in what feels like fate, they will be in Bratislava while we are there this fall.
In June, friends and family will converge on Courtmacsherry, Ireland. It is the place I tend to leave my heart, and it’s always there when I return. Pat and I will stay in Courtmac for two months. This year, a couple we met on a train between Budapest and Zagreb plan to join us–and perhaps our friend, Sue.
Bill and Mary from Charlotte, Colin from England, Juliana from Los Angeles, Bruce and Lee from Evergreen, Igor and Vlasta from Bratislava (can you find them in the photo?!)–the list goes on. We will see each of them this year in Bratislava and Budapest and California (Mary, please, do come to Book Passage!) I have written about this before. These friends are a gift which I don’t take for granted.
Last week, I got out of bed and priced change fees to return from Guatemala early. I can’t remember if that was the day after tiny ants swarmed our bed or Pat beat a scorpion to death with the broom, but something set me off. I craved screens over the windows, potable tap water, and paper-thin, wood-oven pizza. Or maybe, on that given day, as happens on many days in most places, I just wrestled with a vague longing to go home (to which Pat would say, “what home?”).
The couple from Maine asked one question that has stayed with me. “What is on your bucket list?” I realized, I have no bucket list. Of course, I always love Paris and Ireland and Budapest and Bratislava and anyplace near our family. That’s it.
Guatemala was a pragmatic choice: warm, cheap, and a fairly short trip within our time zone.There will always be Guatemalas in our future, but that doesn’t mean they came off the bucket list.
If someone told me I had a year to travel (I don’t say a year to live, because I would spend that year near my kids), I would split my time equally between my favorite places. Or, I’d sign a lease in Paris and be done with it.
This realization caused me to reflect on why we live the way we do. Bottom line, I can’t seem to pick just one home–or even two or three. Whenever I grow frustrated, I remind myself that 2016 is full of all the best.
For 2017, it is likely we will sign a year lease and live in a single place. After than, we may buy a tiny base or a house that could accommodate our family in a place we all love. Or we might just keep going.
As long as I get to spend my life living in places I love near the people I love, who needs a bucket list?