We only had three months from when we first fell in love with La Colina to pack up our lives in England, clear out and find renters for our house, apply for Mexican resident visas, and say goodbye to our UK friends and family.
It was a year ago today Beave and I arrived in Mexico with 11 bags and a surfboard to start our lives anew.
We made the decision to move to Mexico spontaneously – a decision to follow our hearts as opposed to a carefully planned out strategic move.
It could have so easily turned out to be a decision we would regret, however I am grateful every day that we did it, and chose the adventurous option.
I regret nothing about our move to this beautiful land of friendly people and endless opportunity.
Throughout my life I’ve found that making the choice to travel, to explore, to learn new things, meet new people and get out of my comfort zone has always been the right choice. While deliberating whether to quit my corporate job to ride a motorcycle from Alaska to Argentina (a prime example of one of my adventurous, life-changing decisions) my close friend Dave gave me advice I will never forget.
He said: “If you don’t do it, and stay here, how many days will you be in a meeting or sitting at your desk wishing you were riding a motorcycle across two continents? And, if you do it, how many days will you be on your motorbike wishing you were back here in England at work?”
I spent 20 months on that voyage, and can assure you that I didn’t spend even one second wishing I hadn’t chosen adventure.
A year ago Beave and I arrived to San Pancho, the quaint Mexican village we now call home, to the streets running with six inches of water, energy-sapping heat and humidity, and the beautiful sandy beach having been half washed away.
We weren’t able to close on our purchase of the land because of a series of bureaucratic delays, and the pick-up truck we had rented was unable to make it down the 1km dirt road and across the five arroyos (streams) required to reach La Colina.
We abandoned the truck at the biggest, fast flowing arroyo, waded across and walked the rest of the way.
The land was much lusher and greener than when we had fallen in love with it, 12 weeks earlier, and the task ahead of us all the more real.
Even when my dear friend Abi, who was with us that day, said with worry in her eyes: “Oh Jayne you have such a lot to do!!!” I felt much more excitement and potential than I did fear or apprehension.
We worked hard for the next six months. With help from our new friend and neighbour Rogelio, my dad, friends visiting from around the world, new friends met here in Mexico, Beave’s son Jake, and cheered on by friends and family globally, we transformed this piece of long abandoned jungle into a place where people can come unplug, get in touch with nature, experience off-grid living, and find themselves.
More importantly than that, we created a home for ourselves, one which we love being in so much, that for the first time in many, many years, neither of us feel compelled to leave to explore the rest of the world.
Have you seen the beautiful two minute video our friend Tim and his drone made of La Colina? If not, click here to see it on our homepage.
We have had so many momentous successes. The day we got water pumping from our well to the tinacos (water tanks) high up on the hill above, the day we finally switched on the power from our 12 solar panels and I could finally have a fridge (and a freezer full of ice cream!), the day I first had a hot water shower in the jungle (thanks Dad!), the week at Easter when all our cabañas were fully booked and we actually made more money than we spent that month.
It is a real gift to finally find the spot on the planet which challenges, inspires and comforts us all at once. A place which we are proud to show to friends, family and strangers, and which constantly surprises and delights us with its wonders and absurdities.
Every week the jungle changes character, fireflies and butterflies give way to armadillos and passion fruit, the dry season’s hot days and cool nights morph into summer’s humidity and thunderstorms. Each development a cause for wonder and delight.
The less-than-delightful happens too of course. Trees fall (sometimes on us!), bees and wasps sting, and we’re constantly dirty; but we’re happy and busy and surrounded by love.
We have met so many amazing people in the past year. There is something about this small corner of the planet which attracts great humans. We are fortunate to be able to call many of them our friends, and are thrilled that so many who have come to visit are considering making Mexico their home as well.
Amongst all the magic, the progress and the love, there have been two major challenges.
The first is being away from family. It is indescribably difficult to be on a different continent when your loved ones are facing challenges and/or celebrating special occasions. All the phone calls and skype video in the world are not the same as being physically able to be there when a loved one needs your support, or to celebrate special achievements and occasions. This is a challenge I have faced most of my adult life due to my passion for travel, even having faced it over many years doesn’t make it any easier.
Our second challenge has been financial. While the cost of living in Mexico is generally much more affordable than in much of the developed world, our desire to invest in La Colina has meant that we have recently found ourselves property rich and cash poor. Our families and friends have been incredibly generous with gifts, loans, cash and hiring us to work for them. It is because of you amazing people that we are still solvent. THANK YOU!!
We very much hope that the coming months will see more paying guests coming to stay at La Colina, and we have started to find other opportunities here to make some extra cash. It will be a glorious, and hopefully not far-off day that our incomings are higher than our outgoings!
I think all entrepreneurs starting a new business have this challenge to overcome, the period when their investments into their future are high and the income hasn’t started to flow. It takes a lot of faith in the new venture(s), and definitely some belt-tightening and careful budgeting, to get through to the awaited days of plenty.
There’s always the possibility (threat?) of getting a 9-5 job to spur us on to making a success of ourselves!!
If it weren’t for small challenges to keep us down to earth, we might very well get too full of ourselves. It is with no small amount of amazement and gratitude that I look out of my treehouse, with our cat Maustrappe licking my feet, our three remaining (still eggless) chickens scratching around for bugs, our glistening swimming pool nestled amongst the palm trees and jungle growth, knowing that we live in a community of incredible people, protectors of an ancient jungle filled with fruit trees, home to countless animals and plants, with plenty of room to welcome all those who find themselves in need of a break from their default world. (Is this you? Come visit us!)
It’s been one of the most memorable and special years of my life, and I can’t wait to see what happens in the next year. Thank you to each and every one of you for following along with our adventures, for your support and for your love.
This adventure would not be the same without you.