I know it’s boring, dropping hints about what one is going to do in the future. It wasn’t my intention to tease, but truth is I’ve been dithering over this for almost a year now, and finally realized that I should heed the words I often preach to others:
“There is no such thing as a wrong decision. The hardest, the very hardest part of the decision is making it, once that it done you just have to take a deep breath and live with whatever the consequences are. There are bad decisions and good decisions, yes, but not wrong or right ones, because even the consequences of bad decisions result in something or other in our lives which turn out to be lessons. We can gain from every experience if only we open our eyes.”
Thinking back over changes in my life, the first enormous one was going to grammar school at 11. Granted it wasn’t entirely my decision, the state decided I go to grammar school, and I decided which one, but being thrust out of the comfort zone of my happy childhood into the big, wide world of a 1,000+ pupil school was daunting. After that life turned on my decisions; college, first job, subsequent jobs, relationship decisions, the decision to have first one child, then another, the decision to emigrate, to marry, to divorce, to become a Red Cross volunteer, education undertaken, to stay in Tenerife. All of these decisions led me to where I now am. Then there were the smaller ones; house moves, pets (to have or not), weight loss, weight gain (definitely a subconscious decision!), mortgages, vacations, books read, music listened to, credit cards maxed out, movies watched (definitely some life influences there), people accepted or rejected,courses done, job decisions, and a million more: all strands in the lives we have lived, which make us what we are at the present moment.
So, as briefly as possible, this is the back story. Around the turn of the century my plan was that when my kids were settled I would take off, explore the world, perhaps teach ESL, do some volunteer work, and learn to write and take photographs. It’s a dream you often hear repeated in the world of travel blogging, the thing was I should have been in a position to do it all nicely. The pension should be kicking in soonish, allowing me not to have to rely on other income. Long story, short? Didn’t happen.
Oh, I began the ESL course, and I set off exploring a couple of times. Mostly, I went about it the wrong way, spending too much money basically, and ended up back in Tenerife, almost broke. Plan B went into motion, work for a few more years, save money and when it’s time to retire “Bingo!” off I go. Long story short again? Didn’t happen again.
In January of 2010 I lost my job two years shy of retirement age, and with it my pension situation became problematical. I needed that two years of work to complete my social security payments in Spain. My half-a pension from UK kicked in on time, but I’d worked a half of my working life in UK, and a half here, so I only had a half. Wives in Spain have no rights under the social security payments of their spouses apparently, because at first, having no right to work here, I was a “homemaker.” That’s still the situation because a self-employed social security contribution in Spain is a hefty €250 per month, heck that’s a huge chunk of my current income. Not happening!
One choice I have right now is to simply stay put. I get by, doing what I do. Life, overall, is undeniably pleasant. But who wants to do that forever? Who wants to see the rest of their life, nice though it may be, stretching before them, unchanging, until the day they die, or become too old to care? I live in a great place. I love it here, but there are also a lot of frustrations. I’m pretty much the glass half full sort of personality, so most of the time they don’t bother me. By far the worst thing for me the last few years has been the inability to travel much. I often feel like a caged animal.
The other complication was one of those “small” decisions, the decision to adopt an abandoned dog. There were supposed to be plans in place – this was a family dog, her ownership was meant to be shared!……..yeah, of course, deep down I knew that wouldn’t happen. In fact on those first trips it didn’t matter so much. I have a fantastic boarding kennels here, and she loves going. It’s never been a problem. True I did break up my second, longer journey, with a trip back here for two months to live at the beach and try to make up to her for my neglect. Thing is, it’s expensive to board a dog long-term, and I don’t think I could leave her now for more than, say, a month. She’s an old lady now.
So this was my situation a year ago, when I did my mental, autumnal review. Going to WTM was a good decision and a bad one. It fed my travel lust something rotten, but it highlighted the frustrations too. I came back and set my mind to lateral thinking. Something I am a great believer in, and couldn’t figure out why I hadn’t applied it to my situation, or at least not hard enough. I truly believe that there is always a way around things.
How to travel with an elderly dog when you have no money was the problem, and this is what I came up with:
If I don’t want to leave her behind, then I must travel with Trixy. Air travel with a medium-size dog is out of the question financially and perhaps on account of her age too, but of course I live on an island, which means transport by boat (ferry) is also an option.
But how about the having no money thing?
Well, I’ve always thought that slow travel was my thing. I’ve always returned from vacations thinking that I needed another week or month in a place. So if I spend long enough in one place the accommodation becomes long-term rental rate and not vacation rental, which is another problem in living in a tourist haven.
So, are you still with me? Travel – by ferry – to other islands! Of course, how come I never thought of this before? I intended to leave in January, but was offered some short-term teaching which seemed too reliable to turn down since it was only for six months, that didn’t seem to be a problem. That brought me to July, and fact is July and August are bad months to travel around the Canary Islands, because of course all the world and his brother is on vacation and around and about.
All of which brings me neatly to this coming fall. Given that I’ve long had a sense of autumn rather than spring being about renewal, it seems highly appropriate that my travels begin in October, and with them a whole, new chapter in my life.
The first part of our journey will take us to the island of La Gomera, a mystical island, which has always entranced me when I’ve visited, and which has beckoned me from across the ocean for years. Every time I’ve been there I’ve felt an indefinable sense of peace and renewal. I have reserved an apartment for three months, and after that my plans are loose, but are in my head. Nothing has been booked yet. My idea is to think only three months ahead, unless, of course, opportunities arise, which is why I’m not booking any further, things change, and I want to be open to possibilities. After we’ve explored these “Fortunate Islands” then we will move on to places farther flung, but for now the Canary Islands. I will be looking for stories untold (or at least untranslated), and adventures which are, at least for me, a little “different.”
So, that’s the immediate travel part of my wee saga.
Then there are the new blogs. This one will always continue, I am islandmomma. She is my alter ego. More news on this over the next few weeks, when it’s all sorted out.