Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Rent-Free Travels Around the World

Rent-Free Travels Around the World
By Yvonne Bauche
Three years ago, my husband Michael and I moved out of Canadian suburbia on a quest to see the world and to find our perfect place to eventually call home.
Since then we have lived in a stonewalled farmhouse perched amongst the rolling hills and valleys of Tuscany, Italy. Spent time in a Spanish casita with enclosed gardens and a private pool and then it was onto France where we had a whole vineyard to ourselves. Serried ranks of vines, gleaming vats of wine, a complimentary bottle of each of the vineyard's products and a warehouse stacked high if we wanted more.
After tearing ourselves away from Europe, we sampled Central America's retirement hotspots. A luxury villa overlooking San Jose, Costa Rica complete with live-in maid, was our first taste of the expat lifestyle here. Next was a long leisurely stay in Placencia, Belize. We walked the miles of beach, chatted with the locals, enjoyed happy hour at our favorite beach bar, spotted dolphins and manatees, and caught our own fish and lobsters.
To spice life up even more, we traded the beach life for a month in the depths of the Belize jungle near Belmopan. Our nearest neighbors were howler monkeys, their daily pass through the property allowed us to identify each member of the troop including a proud mom with her tiny baby holding tight as she swung from tree to tree. With no streetlights and no TV, we spent peaceful evenings stargazing, admiring the myriad of fireflies, feeding bananas to the fruit bats, and watching for the elusive nocturnal kinkajou (nightwalker).
Panama was next...we spent 10 weeks in the vibrant expat community of Boquete, in an open-plan villa with huge covered decks and a jaw dropping view of Volcan Baru. By now, we were addicted to this nomadic lifestyle. Why settle when there was so much more to explore?
Last year we arrived in the islands of the Caribbean for the first time. Since then we have lived overlooking Grand Anse beach, in a luxury villa overlooking Marigot Bay in St Lucia—complete with an infinity pool—and in two separate villas on a tiny island in the Grenadines.
From there, we headed to Barbados to sample life on a working sugar cane plantation. With beautiful white-sand beaches just a few minutes away—thanks to a complimentary vehicle—we were spoilt for choice. Bajuns, as the locals are called, love their music and their food, giving us plenty of options for eating out and nightlife, as the islands incredibly talented musicians perform throughout the year. We had the best of all worlds, seclusion and socializing as we wanted it.
We are back once again in St. Lucia and the Grenadines, enjoying the glorious weather, the hot curries, jerk seasoning, fresh fish, produce, and spices. We'll be here soaking up the sun and Caribbean atmosphere until January 2016 when we'll spend a couple of months in Quito, Ecuador, before returning to our favorite islands.
Memories of suburbia, the gray winters, and the daily commute have faded rapidly. However, they are still strong enough to remind us that we do not want to go back. Why would we when we live this amazing life for less than it costs to stay back home, tolerate the wet, cold winters, and work the 9-to-5?