All pictures by Bianka Ibarrra
The forest through the trees
The regular road was blocked. Every time we had to drive to the hospital where my father was recuperating we had to take a detour over the Feldberg. What a majestic mountain.
There is this valley near Oberursel which has been taken straight from an artist’s mind. Higher up, between the evergreens, the clouds did battle with the view; swirling, obscuring and sometimes revealing. In those moments, when we saw the landscape below, it didn’t feel like we were looking across the landscape. It felt like you were looking across worlds.
And then there are the sunsets from the top.
Isn’t it funny that at the very moments when we most need to stop and appreciate, are the times it’s the most difficult to do so? We only took this one picture. The rest of the time we barreled on through, barely looking up from internal little worlds.
Continue reading 9 Of The Best Photos From Our Travels And Their Stories
Live on the road and want to get news of what you’re doing out there? Then content marketing is a no-brainer. It’s markedly cheaper than traditional marketing and gives you about three times as many leads. What’s more, you’ve already got the one thing most people struggle with – content. What else would you call do you call a life filled with beautiful places and interesting adventures? That gives you a massive leg up on your more sedentary competition.
Of course, you already knew that. It’s why you’re reading this article, right? You don’t need to be told that it’s a good idea. Instead, you’re here for guidance on the execution. How do you make sure that your attempt at content marketing does not disappoint?
To help you in that regard, here is what I’ve learned from a year of content marketing on this site and elsewhere. None of that regurgitated crap from other websites, where I have no idea of the effectiveness but I rehash it because it sounds good. No. Only tried and tested ideas here!
Sound good? Then let’s stop dipping our toes into the water and jump on in.
Continue reading A Content Marketing Guide for Digital Nomads and Travelancers
Machines beep. Green and yellow lines wiggle up and down on monitors. My father’s glazy gaze meets us from where he’s nestled in a web of tubes filled with bodily fluids that run the same red, green and yellow. When we ask him how he’s feeling he gives a waxen grin. “No more pain. But the colors keep changing.” The painkillers seem to be working, then.
Even though it’s weird to hear my 70-year-old father giggle like a schoolgirl, it’s better than last night. Then he’d told us it hurt so much he wished he could kill himself. That’s not something you want to hear anybody say; let alone your father.
It was good we came. Even if you do feel absolutely powerless as you sit there, your presence does make a difference. I know. He told me so. That’s quite something for my dad, who showed affection in my younger years with a leg pat or a hair tussle and a smile. To have him take your hand and voice his appreciation means something.
Yes, even if he’s high as a kite.
Continue reading Coming Home And How To Survive Reverse Culture Shock
We don’t find our path. It finds us. Chris Haulmark learned this lesson the hard way. By most standards he had it made. He had a good job, children and a marriage. And sure, he dreamed of seeing the world, but that plan was on the backburner. “I thought I’d get to all that when I retired.”
Then his father died far too young at the age of 54. The resulting shockwaves reverberated through Chris’ life and knocked down his foundation. As he dealt with the sorrow of the sudden loss he started questioning everything.
“My father had worked all his life for his retirement, never to get there. I started to wonder how I would feel if that happened to me. From there I started wondering if this was the life for me. Was I living life to its full potential? Was I all I could be? If I ended up where my father was, would it fill me with regrets?”
For a time he wrestled with dark thoughts like these. He kept going back and forth between his commitments and his desire to see what was out there and – equally important – what was inside him. He couldn’t decide which way to jump.
So his children finally pushed him.
Continue reading Road Interview Chris Haulmark, Former Wanderer And Current Candidate for Congress
Colombia has become the Digital Nomad Mecca of Latin America. So it was obvious we had to go spend some time there. But, as I’m always skeptical of very popular places (okay, I wanted to stay at the beach), we didn’t go to the actual epicenter. That’s in Medellin for those who haven’t kept their fingers on the Digital Nomad pulse. Instead, we chose to spend two months in Santa Marta on the Caribbean coast.
So what did we think? Here’s the short version:
In comparison to Granada in Nicaragua I’d say the city is worse but the surroundings are better. Don’t get me wrong, the city itself is alright. Still, it’s places like Palomino Beach, Tayrona and Minca, which tip the scales. So why not go stay at one of those awesome places? Convenience. Santa Marta and the nearby Rodadero have fast internet, as well as plenty of supermarkets, cafes, and restaurants. Services are stable, with power outages being few (for a developing country). All that is less true in those awesome places. And since Santa Marta is only at most a few hours away from them, it’s a great place to set up shop.
So there you go. If you were planning to skim the article, that’s about the gist of it. Thank you for tuning in. For those that wanted a more elaborate answer, follow me.
Continue reading Freelance Abroad from Santa Marta, Colombia
I don’t talk much about my past. I don’t like doing it. You could say I’m a private person. Besides, to me, ideas are far more interesting than I am. That’s why rarely use my stories in my writing. Yeah, I get they’re great literary devices. But there are enough tricks and techniques that I don’t feel the need to put myself on display like that.
Somehow, it feels exhibitionistic or self-indulgent.
Today I’ll make an exception. That’s because other literary devices won’t let me get my message across. After all, who is going to listen to yet another glib this-is-how-you-should-live-your-life post if I’m not personally invested? The internet is filled to the brim with those types of texts and most make about as much difference as digging in a desert.
That won’t do for this article. Here it is important to me I have an impact. Otherwise, I suspect a friend (and those like him) will follow the same path I did. For, as George Santayana’s said, “Those who do not know history’s mistakes are doomed to repeat them.”
Continue reading My Life As A Warning To A Friend And A Whole Generation
Sure, freelancing has some big plusses, with the biggest one being the freedom. I love that freedom. A while ago we just got up and moved countries (something I described at length in the myths of Digital nomadism). Right now, I’m working in my swimming trunks, as after this I’ll be going for my daily swim in the Caribbean.
At the same time, freelancing isn’t some flying unicorn farting rainbows. There are downsides. The biggest one is the other side of that freedom coin – uncertainty. We’re creatures of habit and with freelancing that goes right out of the window. For many, that’s stressful.
So how do you deal with it? Well, being more proactive helps but isn’t a cure-all. The best tool is time. The longer you do it, the better you get at it. That’s down to you having a reserve of previous experiences to mellow out the downs and lessen their impact. So stick with it. It will get better.
Of course, that won’t help you much if you’re not feeling that great right now. So, for that reason, here are some ideas to help you acclimatize that bit faster.
Continue reading How To Effectively Deal With The Strain Of Freelancing
We don’t understand ourselves that well. The more time the behavioral sciences spend studying us, the more judgement errors they find. For example, Daniel Gilbert spends a whole book on how bad we are at figuring out what makes us happy.
At the heart of the digital nomad life resides a similar misconception. We have an inborn need to belong and be part of a community. And yet many people seek out this life to be free and unattached. They don’t seem to realize that when a need goes unfulfilled it ends up dominating your mental landscape. (Try locking yourself in a room without seeing anybody for a week if you don’t believe me). And when a need goes unfulfilled it ends up leeching the color and enjoyment out of everything else.
Yes, I did cover this at length in why most digital nomads fail. Don’t worry. I’m not going to get into that side of it again. Instead, today I’d like to discuss the other side of the coin. If we have an evolved need to belong what advantage does our community give us? To paraphrase Mont Python, what has the community ever done for us? And why if it is so meaningful, do so many of us fail to recognize it for being as important as it is?
Continue reading Why It Is So Important To Be Part Of A Community
Now I know how an ant under a magnifying loop feels. I look at the others. Their faces bathed in sweat that reflects harsh light of the mid-day Caribbean sun. None of us had expected it to be this hot. “I need a break,” Somebody – maybe it was me – mutters. Nobody disagrees. Finding a place to stay can be hard work sometimes.
Yeah, sure, you can do a lot of it from the comfort of your couch – but often you should still hit the pavement, ask around and shake hands. The reason is pretty straightforward. When a place is easier to find, that means more people are going to find it. And as economics 101 taught us when demand goes up so do prices.
So we’re out here on the Colombian coast looking for a place where to stay. It’s not fun, exactly, but it sure beats working from a crappy hotel room and it’s vital to be productive as a digital nomad. And since we’re looking for a place to rent for several months, it’s well worth it. Even five bucks less per day adds up. What’s more, by taking to the pavement we’re getting a good feeling for the town and where we want to stay.
In fact, we’ve gotten quite experienced at this whole deal over the years we’ve been out here. And, since many people seem to struggle in this regard, I thought that while we take a break from the hammering sun, I’d run some tips by you. (Note, this article was written after apartment hunting in Santa Marta, Colombia and so is extra applicable to that area).
Continue reading How to Find a Great Apartment When You’re on the Road
It’s quite incredible what some people believe about the digital nomad life. Whenever I scan the many questions of the wanabes I’m left dumbfounded. Do you think digital nomads live in paradise? Are we modern-day gods to you?
Sorry to burst your bubble, but it isn’t anything like that.
I mean, don’t get me wrong, I enjoy what I do. I’ve met tons of awesome people, visited lots of countries (I’ve long since lost counts) and done some awesome things. For example, a few weeks ago in Nicaragua, we climbed a volcano and swam in a crater lake, near Granada. Last night we were in a hostel located beautiful old mansion in Costa Rica called Tripon 2. There the owner plied us with free rum as we discussed how we could work together.
Continue reading 6 Myths about Digital Nomads You Need To Let Go