For the past year whenever we'd make extra money I'd try to stash it away. Occasionally I'd have an article published for some extra cash or Clyde would do handyman work or sing and play his guitar in a restaurant, and both received payment. Unbeknownst to Clyde, whenever he left his wallet around unattended I'd snag some money out of it and stash that away also. Then one day after having saved up a few thousand dollars I proposed the idea of Europe to him. "We can't afford Europe," was his response. "Well if not now then when?" I asked? " Should we wait until we're too old to walk? Will we have the money then? And what if we die or become sickly in the meantime? Then it's too late, so the time is NOW.
After much prodding he finally agreed that a Mediterranean cruise was the way to go. If you're a blog follower from way back you've followed along on that trip, or can go back and read all about it. Our travels began with four days in Paris, then we flew to Barcelona, Spain for another four days. There we boarded a ship for a 12-night cruise. Our itinerary included stops in France, Spain, Greece, Turkey and Italy. We disembarked in Venice, the most beautiful place in the world where we enjoyed another four days. On our flight home we did a long layover in Zurich, Switzerland where we enjoyed touring the city by bus.
Something changed deep within our souls during that month long journey. We came back to Panama longing for more adventure. Our comfortable, safe lives here would no longer work for us as we needed more. We both craved that feeling of stepping out of our comfort zone, that adrenaline rush we got from seeing a place for the first time and just had to do more.
So we decided that our first step would be to sell the house and all of our stuff. This would give us the freedom to go whenever and wherever we wanted along with extra cash in our bank account. We'd no longer have to worry about a house, large garden and dogs. Maybe we could find an inexpensive, furnished rental where we could just lock the door and go? Or perhaps we'd have no home base at all and just become retired nomads?
The concept of travel is easy with so many choices on the horizon of new places to see. But the daunting part is the idea of getting rid of our stuff......yes ALL of it. Our idea is to hand over the keys of our house to the new owners, when they find us along with ALL of our belongings. The furniture, pots and pans, dishes, sheets and towels, decorations, knick knacks and so much more. Yep, you got the idea now to sell the whole kit and caboodle and to walk away with a few suitcases of clothes and personal items.
So as time progresses and we think about this more we begin to look at our stuff differently. This coffee cup from which I'm drinking out of....nothing special so it stays behind. The stuff we shipped here from Texas, yes that stays behind too. All of the furniture that my wonderful husband built with his own hands stays too. My beloved workout equipment as much a I enjoy it, it won't fit into a suitcase so it stays here too. Hopefully the next owner will use it as much as I have. I just have to tell myself there are gyms everywhere and surely I'll enjoy trying out new ones along the way as we travel. While it's "just stuff" we all do become attached to our stuff and find it hard to let go. But let go we must IF we want to pursue other endeavor and be free enough to travel the world with less baggage.
For the first time in our lives we really have no plans, or shall we say our plans are open ended? Once the house is sold we'll decide on our next move. Depending on how long this all takes we may choose to visit more of Latin America in the mean time. We've been wanting to visit friends in Nicaragua for some time now. Also we'd love to visit Chile, Peru, Medellin, Colombia, Belize, and Argentina just to name a few. After we're free of our ties to Panama meaning that our house is sold and our dogs have found a new home, we can head to Europe. My idea is to first make a trip back to the US to visit the kids in Texas. Then we'll either fly or take a repositioning cruise to Europe and house sit our way around for a year or two. And who knows how we'll feel after that or where we'll choose to go?
Within Europe there are 26 countries that have no border checkpoints or passport control.. This area is known as the Schengen zone. While it makes it easy to pass from one country into another it also limits our options as to how long we can stay. As US citizens we can only legally stay in these countries for a maximum of 90 days out of every 6 month period. While this makes travel more difficult it will also make us move around more and not get settled or comfortable in any one place.
But since the United Kingdom and Ireland are NOT part of the Schengen area we can move to one of those two places allowing us to legally live there longer.
For example we might take a house sit in Spain for one month and another in Portugal for two months before we'd legally have to exit the Schengen zone. Then we could house sit our way around London and the rest of England for the next six months which would reset our time to legally go back into the Schengen area. Then perhaps we'd pick up a house sit in Italy and some in France before having to leave the Schengen once again. This time we could cross over to Ireland for a three month stay before going into Croatia for a bit. In between house sits we can rent apartments or hotel rooms for shorter intervals. And our plan is to do all of this without a car which will be more economical as public transport is reliable and reasonably priced.
So there you have it my friends the next chapter of our lives laid out before you in writing. And now comes the plea for anyone out there that might be considering retiring to Panama who is looking for a house.......why not buy ours? Our spacious house is absolutely lovely in a very safe neighborhood with plenty of other gringos nearby in Coronado. Please click on the attached link to view the full listing of the property.
Panama has been good to us and we love it here but we'd also love to see other places in the world. We're certainly not leaving Panama for good as we plan to leave our car here with friends and return after a while. We've made some wonderful friends here and have fond memories of many good times here that we'll cherish forever.
So perhaps we can help someone out there fulfill their dream of moving to Panama by selling them our house? And in turn someone can help make our dream of traveling the world come true by buying it? Together we can all grow from the experience of living abroad and expanding our horizons a little more at a time........along the gringo trail.