It’s been just over 2 weeks since we’ve made our move to this beautiful but sometimes-challenging-to-live-on island. The adventures continue but we are slowly settling in.

We are truly feeling the contrast between our “previous lives” and our current situation. Sometimes it feels surreal to be living here and sometimes it just feels like a slap in the face reality check!

From “Riches” …

 

Selvarajah didn’t fit on the elevator screen! 😉

When we tell people about the setup we had in El Salvador with our previous jobs, most react with a resounding: “Why would you leave that???”

For a bit more context, here are some things we had:

  • A private driver who took us around whenever and wherever we wanted
  • Lived in one of the most prestigious buildings in the country (finger print scans to get up to our apartment and all).
  • Best internet and phone plans available.
  • A maid that came twice a week.
  • Ladies, I know you will appreciate this one: A huge walk-in closet where I had a hard time finding space to put all my shoes!

Essentially, a VERY comfortable life, mostly paid for by the company – unfortunately, they didn’t want to pay for my shoes!

Our driver and company in El Salvador took care of everything for us! Just a few examples:

  • All paperwork for our residency, which can be an arduous process in any country, especially in a Latin American one!
  • Everything related to our banking and any contracts (e.g. apartment rental) also taken care of by the company
  • Our driver paid all of our bills so that we wouldn’t have to spend time waiting in lines. Sometimes he even did some shopping for us! Yup, we got that lazy :/

… to “Rags”

 

Our new mode of transportation!

 

Who needs rearview mirrors?

Ian and I joke about the fact that we went from having a private driver to not having a car at all and taking local public transportation.

In juxtaposition, here are a few highlights that illustrate our current situation:

  • Walking and public transportation are our primary mode of transportation (with the occasional lifts from some of our new friends here 🙂 – we are very thankful for those!).
  • Residency process and paperwork is time consuming and costly. Paperwork, or any type of process for that matter, on an island in Latin America, requires a whole new level of patience!
  • No Internet in our home; it seems that there are no cables coming to our house and we have been chasing the Internet company since before we got here (almost 2 months!!) but barely get any response.
  • The power goes out sometimes, it’s normal here.
  • We noticed a sudden smell of poo around our house and realized that the pipes leading to the septic tank were blocked and overflowing (gross!!). We quickly called a company to come suck out all of the crap (literally!)- thank God they actually showed up within a reasonable time frame!
  • Our washing machine was acting up and just stopped working. We pulled all the soaked clothes out, squeezed and hung them all over the house to dry and then scooped out the water from the machine with Tupperwares.
  • Every. Single. Day. We find something wrong with the renovations/construction in the house. Positive note on that: I am learning all about plumbing and electrical work!
  • When we decided to make the move here we decided to minimize the amount of “stuff” we own. I think we did pretty well, but our closet is so tiny that we may need to minimize further!
  • 99% of time I wear flip-flops, rather than high heels.

I could go on… but will save some anecdotes for a future post 😉

Perspective

During my “freak out” moments I sometimes tell Ian that I am not sure if I will be able to handle the “rough” life. He, of course, teases me that living in our brand-new beautiful beach home, which has running water, electricity, and everything else we need, located within a 5-minute walk from one of the world’s most beautiful beaches, is certainly NOT “roughing it out”!

Alright, fair enough, we are obviously not coming from riches and going to rags, hence the quotation marks, but you get the point!

Intentional Downgrading

Are you also wondering why we made this decision?

It boils down to priorities, lifestyle and what Ian referred to as the “deferred life plan” in his post “3 Lifestyle Lessons from The Story of the Mexican Fisherman”. I’ll write more about this in another post but for now, I’ll just end with some thoughts…

You see, I have always [theoretically] been a proponent of “less is more”. I’ve mostly spent my money on experiences rather than material things. I’ve tried to keep myself in check when it came to “putting my money where my mouth is”. However, the truth is: I am more human than I wish I were.

There is something to be said about living with less. I’m not sure what it is, but I’ve experienced it time and time again (as a spectator) through my volunteering and travels. Why do people with less seem to be happier and more generous? Yes, I am generalizing, but generalizations exist for a reason.

I don’t yet (and maybe never will) have answers to these questions. But I am experiencing it (somewhat) first hand now. Again, let me be real here: it’s so stressful sometimes to think that I am running out of money and have no income. However, my situation is SO FAR from what the large majority of the people in this world experience.

For now, I just keep asking myself:

  • What is life really about? Or rather, what is my life really about? – I truly believe everyone has a different calling.
  • What makes life better?
  • What kind of life do I want to lead?
  • What kind of person do I want to be? And how is this impacted by how I choose to spend my time and what I invest my energy on?

More on that to come… Yes, I love suspense, but mostly, I haven’t figured those out yet! 😀

6 Comments

  1. Maranda

    Wow Paula!

    Those are the exact questions that I have been asking myself, especially since I gave birth.
    Let me start by telling you how inspiring and courageous I an and you are. It is not easy to give up and to let go, but I am sure you felt there was more ahead…
    What we are made of as human being is conceive to look and reach for this more.
    I cant wait to read you again and know about your adventures.
    Be blessed and keep on living!

    Much love xxx

    • Paula Da Silva

      My dear friend Maranda, I miss you. Thank you so much for your beautiful words. They mean a lot to me. I will be in Montreal in August and hope we can get together and chat some more about this or anything else.
      Big hug!
      Love,
      Paula

  2. Annie

    Great article puts our lives in perspective !??

    • Paula Da Silva

      Thank you Annie! Would love to hear more about what this post meant to you; how it applies to your life. Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment!
      All the best,
      Paula

  3. Rinaldo (Rino) Fiorilli

    I know all about what it’s like to live by faith; I was a missionary for nearly 3 years in the city of Hialeah,Florida, where everyone is Cuban and very few speak fluent English. I had no salary, and the monthly offerings I received from Canada was $200 a month. Rough, you say? That doesn’t even scratch the surface of the meaning…But one thing I can say with 100% certainty: having to rely uniquely upon God and seeking His face daily at any moment, brings clarity of purpose, direction for the course and power to withstand every tactic that the enemy throws our way. My prayer for you both is that you are drawn into His presence and be continually led by the Holy Spirit. Who knows how God will choose to use your lives to bless those around you?

    • Paula Da Silva

      Great and encouraging words Rino! Thank you. Perhaps one day you can tell us more about your experiences. I love hearing about others’ stories and learning from them. Thanks for commenting.
      Best,
      Paula

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