Finding a Home in San Juan del Sur
Eighteen months ago, after trying for seven years to make my life work on the Oregon Coast, I was fired and given two weeks to vacate my home. This coastline is gorgeous beyond belief, truly awe inspiringly beautiful, but that had not been enough. I was done with it and clearly it was done with me, too.
With deep breaths and focused consideration I determined my priorities for what would come next. They were in order of priority–sunshine, ocean, and affordability on my bare bones Social Security check. Since I am closing in on 70 years old, finding “a place for me” that meets these few requirements seemed of vital importance and merited whatever change in perspective necessary.
Ocean access and affordability on my limited funds was going to be beyond hard to find and it quickly became apparent that I was not going to find it in the USA.
The artist-expat lifestyle is not a brand new vision for the end of my life.
I focused on Latin America, because after living in Panama as a child and experiencing a few Mexican adventures of a lifetime, I have a solid place in my psyche for all that is Latin. I dragged out the Spanish tapes. With the assistance of my youngest son, I began researching the possibilities and surfing the internet, Craigslist, expat blogs, and senior and international living sites.
The artist-expat lifestyle is not a brand new vision for the end of my life. I have harbored such a dream since my youth. It was deeply buried and romanticized with visions of Gauguin and Hemingway to mention but two. My mother had a “land-lease option” in San Felipe, Mexico.
I traveled there on several occasions and envisioned myself living and making art there. I had done a little research on living in Mexico when an artist friend recently made the leap. But until now, I had never done any due diligence towards making this my reality.
I thought that giving it all away would set the karmic spirit that I needed for starting anew.
Speedy liquidation of my three-bedroom, two-car garage home was required. I made the decision that to hold a “sale” of all that had to be disposed of was an unrewarding and time consuming option. I thought that giving it all away would set the karmic spirit that I needed for starting anew.
I sent out a broadcast email to a lengthy list of friends, fellow artists , amazing women and life associates accrued in my seven years there, announcing that if I had anything they wanted, they could come pick it up before the week was out. I contacted all the organizations and causes that had hit me up annually for donations of art for auctions and said, “Come get all that you can carry.”
The results were much more successful than any of the moving sales I’ve held over the years.
Finding a Home for the End of My Life in San Juan del Sur
Leaving the Oregon Coast behind, I drove to Boise, Idaho to visit my daughter and four of my grandchildren. Driving east through Bend and those tremendous desert mountains provided a refresher course in how deeply I am connected to the physical universe. All the power and possibility I needed to face the changes ahead were surging through me. I remembered the joy I get from traveling and new experience
s. I continued leisurely down the West Coast, working with my Spanish tapes and visiting friends and family in some cases for what was likely to be the last time.
With my three priorities leading me, a less than thorough investigation of what it would take to make this move work, and a mad race to get my passport before my flight, I zeroed in on Nicaragua and San Juan del Sur.
All the power and possibility I needed to face the changes ahead were surging through me.
My son bought me a round-trip ticket partially because it was cheaper than a one-way but mostly, I think, to give me an exit plan if needed. He also traveled with me for the first seven days to help me get settled. It took super human effort to get everything I had left in the world into a carry-on and two suitcases that weighed less than 70 lbs.
Eighteen months later, living as an artist expat in Nicaragua, I still struggle to pay my way with just my Social Security check but I enjoy sun-filled days and watch the sun set over the San Juan del Sur Bay from my rocking chair.