How Did This All Start?

How 2 Crazy Kids From Opposite Sides of The Globe Came Together to Live Out a Similar Dream

So, let me give you some context...

Ray lived in Spain (the Costa Del Tropical area specifically before he moved to the United States in 2000.  Being a part of the British Commonwealth (Australia), he was eligible for a working holiday visa to live & work in England.  (you can find lots of information country specific websites about working or living in their country, like this one (the British 'Youth Mobility Scheme Visa') for how someone who is part of the British Commonwealth, like Ray, was able to do it with little restrictions).  It was interesting for me to hear how it happened back then, because he was admittedly NOT interested in leaving Australia!  WHAT?!  I was DYING to move and explore, so I always thought that was weird.   Thanks to a friend for the push, he made the jump and after his initial time was up, decided to not move back downunder and make it permanent, did very well at his company, bought his flat and made a new life in London.  A series of fortunate events led him to be able to travel a TON...and the he popped over to Spain for a brief stint to learn Spanish (living with a local family for full immersion, and learning to SCUBA Dive and working in their dive shop) before finishing off his world travels through South & Central America.   

Me?  Well mine wasn't as glamorous or as fully immersive as I had always wanted.  I studied Spanish starting in 8th grade, a pilot program of sorts that ended up with me and a group of fellow high school students being the first class to finish 5 consecutive years of a foreign language by the time we graduated (go Spartans!).  I loved every minute of it and wished every year to be able to take the trips or sign up for a student exchange, but it wasn't in the cards for me then.  Off to University of Cincinnati I went where I continued my Spanish language classes and eventually on to Human Geography courses, which led me to delve more and more into Latin American studies and my first real international trip .... drum roll, Mexico! 

It was amazing, I loved everything about the experience and learning more about the Mayan cultures and exploring the Yucatan Peninsula.   As I was finishing up my degree there in 1997, I sent what seemed like 1,000's of resumes to international companies (both Mexico and Spain) trying to land the perfect job to take me overseas.  It didn't happen, but I did end up with an international company based in Southern California and I thought that was a good start.  

That put us both on a course to end up in New England around the same time, early 2000's, and working for the same company.  I eventually moved to Brooklyn, NY to move in with Ray in 2002 and it was then that we started our 'real' travels together - Careyes, Mexico

Hamburg/Hamelin/Berlin Germany, 


and England.....

and then he took me to Spain to where he lived and shared a gorgeous little area called La Herradura with me. 

I was completely addicted.  Travelling to all of these places was exactly what this Human Geographer craved and loved.  Meeting new people, learning about new was the best.  We ended up back in Southern California for work, but kept going, married and about 7 full months pregnant with Hunter we spent 2 weeks in Italy with friends.  Ahhh, this was IT!  Do we have to go back?  Can't we just have the baby here and stay?   It was probably one of the first times I really remember thinking, why not?  Like...everyone says it when they are travelling and fully relaxed and falling in love with their new environment, but really, WHY NOT?  

Then reality hits, you come home from vacation, have the baby and the next thing you know you blink your eyes and you have 2 more kids in tow, you're driving a minivan and lucky if you can remember to make your husband request vacation time so you can take the trailer down to Lytle Creek for some get-a-way time.  

And that's it.  Literally.  That's how it all started.  I eventually revived my dream and kept it alive when Hunter started school.  We were not fans of the public school options where we lived and found a dual immersion charter school near by.  He was 90% Spanish in Kindergarten and we were freaking out.  They even did some Mandarin on the side and some fun cultural events.   Eventually all 3 of the kids went through there (boys both got a bi-literacy stamp on their elementary transcripts for finishing through 5th grade, but we moved before Brooklyn could finish there and she went on to public school for 5th grade).  Being able to throw in some Spanish here and there was great, kept me practicing a little bit.  But for sure at the pace the kids were going with their studies...I tapped out of homework help around 3rd or 4th grade.

Ray & I would talk about retiring internationally at some point, moving away and keep finding new adventures.  And as cliché as it sounds,  COVID 2020 and the lockdown really put some things in to perspective.  We talked more openly about the international retirement dream and as the story goes, the kids heard us one day and in so many words exclaimed "wait, what? how come we can't go? why are you waiting for retirement? can't we go now?"   From the mouths of babes.

Tomorrow isn't promised.  We can work our whole lives to retire and then what?  Why wait, exactly.  Live in the moment.  You're not a CAN move.  

Stephanie Carnes December 8, 2022
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