20 questions with @tangerinetravels (The Steemian Series)
Many people dream of quitting their job, selling their possessions and moving to another country.
Few people actually do it.
Two long-time Steemians – Jordan (@shenanigator) and Maddie (@sharingeverybite) – recently joined the nomad lifestyle when they decided to pack up their lives into a modest-sized, tangerine Toyota Prius C with a few essential belongings – including their Siberian Husky, Laska – before driving south of the US/Mexico border.
In this exclusive interview, the wanderlust-consumed couple talks about what led them to this incredible life change, how Steemit empowered them to turn a dream into reality, and what they're hoping to get out of the journey.
Best of all, thanks to their new blog/vlog @tangerinetravels, they're letting us tag along for the ride.
20 questions with @tangerinetravels
1 - For those who haven't heard yet, what is @tangerinetravels all about?
Maddie: It all started when we (@sharingeverybite and @shenanigator) made the bold decision to sell everything we own. Except, that is, what would fit into our trusty mode of transportation: a “tangerine splash pearl” colored Toyota Prius C. (That ended up being just two suitcases each and our Siberian Husky, Laska.) We plan to continue sharing all our crazy adventures and places we discover while driving our little creamsicle through Mexico.
We don’t have much of a plan, except to travel down the Pacific Coast side of Mexico and explore any city we like along the way. If we find a place we love, we’ll stay there a little longer. If it doesn’t seem “right” for us, we’ll continue driving. At this point, we’re not sure if this is truly a move or the beginning of a much longer adventure across the globe.
2 - Why did you two decide to sell the majority of your belongings and move to Mexico?
Maddie & Jordan: About a year ago, we were living in a reality where neither of us was totally satisfied with our lives in the US. The best thing we had was our relationship. Everything else we dealt with—jobs, friendships, social norms, cultural expectations, closed-mindedness, etc.—just felt like a constant drag.
I think it was around the time we attended the first SteemFest that we were really contemplating taking the plunge and leaving the states. We realized neither of us had seen much of the world or experienced other cultures, languages, places, and people, and we needed to do something about it. Something drastic. Selling everything we owned seemed like a small price to pay to gain freedom from all the things making us unhappy.
3 - Now that you've set your plan into action, how would you describe the feeling you're currently experiencing?
Maddie: Relieved. It seemed like we were building up to this moment forever! Now, I wish we’d had the resolve to do it sooner.
Jordan: Happy and excited for what’s to come. It was incredibly stressful preparing for this huge life change, but now that we’re actually doing it, it feels like my life is a whole lot simpler and more fulfilling.
4 - What do you think will be the most challenging aspect of this adventure?
Jordan: I think the most challenging aspect is already behind us. It took every bit of will we had to leave our lives, careers, possessions, friends, and families to set off on this adventure. Not to mention the immense amount of time and effort it took to sell nearly everything we owned.
Maddie: Now that we’re here, I think it’s been the language. Despite doing 30-minute Spanish lessons each day for the past two years, we still have so much to learn. Every awkward or tense situation so far revolved around our inability to communicate or understand Spanish fluently. Fortunately, I’ve already noticed it getting much easier.
The only other challenge I imagine we’ll face is with visas and the TIP (Temporary Vehicle Import Permit). Depending on where we are in Mexico, it may be difficult to drive back to the border to get them renewed. As we’ll talk about below, we had some crazy obstacles to maneuver the first time.
5 - How long are you two planning to travel through Mexico for?
Jordan: We’re starting with a few months and going from there. Once we find a place we fall in love with, we’ll probably settle down for a while until we start our next adventure.
6 - Did you consider any other countries? Or were your minds always made up on Mexico?
Jordan: We have and will consider other countries, but Mexico seemed like an easy place to start since we lived just a few hours away from the border in Phoenix. The idea of buying property in a country where real estate is cheap and positive changes are taking place really appeals to me (though a home purchase isn’t something that’d happen soon). A lot more research needs to be done, but Costa Rica and Ecuador are probably the first places I’d look into.
7 - What initial issues did you run into while crossing the border into Mexico?
Jordan: Mexico is one of the easiest countries to get into due to extremely relaxed immigration policies. To give you an idea, I went to Mexico to get some dental work done a year ago. After parking in a lot on the US side, I literally just walked across the border at the designated crossing. There were no border patrol officers, no IDs presented, and no questions to answer. I just walked right in.
Therefore, we weren’t expecting any problems at the border. Most cars get the green light to drive right through, and we were no exception. They did, however, stop us to see Laska’s papers. We showed them the health certificate and proof of rabies vaccination we got from our vet a couple days prior. After taking a quick peek and petting Laska, they let us go on our way.
Excited (and distracted) about getting through with no problems, we continued driving. It wasn’t until 20 minutes from the border that we realized our big mistake—we forgot to get our 6-month tourist visa. At this point, it was getting dark. Everyone we’d talked to who’s familiar with traveling through Mexico urged us not to drive at night (for many reasons that I won’t get into now). Still, we had to turn around and return to the border.
We quickly found the building to get our visa, but then learned we couldn’t pay for a visa with a Visa (or any other plastic for that matter). So, with daylight fading, off we drove back into the town of Sonoyta to the nearest ATM. With cash in hand, we drove back to the border once again. Thankfully, it was a quick and easy process to get the visa, but we still had to make the rest of our drive to Puerto Penasco in the dark. We were incredibly fortunate not hit any potholes or topes (Mexico’s gigantic and often unmarked version of speed bumps).
Maddie: I’ve never been more terrified to drive in my life. So glad that experience is over. We will definitely NOT be driving at night again.
8 - Is the concept of vlogging a new one for the two of you? Who is responsible for video editing?
Maddie: Vlogging and video editing were completely foreign to both of us before starting TangerineTravels. I ended up taking the reins on editing all the videos up to this point. We’ve started to get into a nice rhythm where Jordan does a lot of the social media posting/commenting/responding and blog post writing while I’m spending time in iMovie. We have a great knack for using our strengths to balance each other out.
Jordan: As Maddie said, it’s brand new to both of us. Not just the editing but filming aspect, too. Talking into a camera still feels really strange. I’ve always been much more comfortable with writing than speaking, so my oratory skills are something I’ll have to work hard to improve.
9 - How would you rate your Spanish on a scale of 1 to 10?
Maddie: Cinco (de malo). Necesito aprender MUCHO mas. / Five (bad pun lol). I need to learn much more. I’m getting tripped up over verb conjugations right now, but luckily we’re both starting to accidentally say Spanish words when we mean to say them in English. I think Jordan and I are well on our way to being fluent, especially since we don’t sound like gringos with an American accent.
Jordan: Over the past couple weeks, people have frequently complimented me on how well I speak the language, so I’ll give my pronunciation/enunciation skills a 7. However, I don’t know nearly enough words to speak to someone comfortably. As I’m looking around the room, I notice that I don’t know how to say “wall, closet, chair, rug, lamp, nightstand, mattress, pillow, mirror,” you get the idea. I have to give my vocabulary a 2. What does that average out to? 4.5?
10 - Are you confident the tangerine Prius is mechanically fit for the journey?
Maddie: Although we were advised that a four-wheel drive car would better handle Mexican roads and topes, we haven’t bumped into (heh, heh) any real problems with them yet. It hasn’t had mechanical problemas since mid-2016 when I bought it, so I’m hoping it will continue going strong wherever our travels take us.
11 - How has Laska been doing with the spontaneous journey?
Jordan: For the first few days on our long drives, she was an anxiety-filled disaster and giving us so much sass. We’re glad to report she has settled down a lot since then. The biggest issue we’ve noticed is that she’s having some trouble with the language barrier. She sometimes gets frustrated when she can’t communicate with the Mexican dogs. Despite that, she’s been a trooper and is always excited for our next adventure.
12 - I noticed a recent post of yours featured a Spanish version of the video. Is your plan, going forward, to produce English and Spanish videos for each blog post?
Jordan: We’d like to start creating videos in Spanish right away. They’d be horrendous due to our lack Spanish vocabulary, but I think it would help us learn the language much more quickly. Plus, we could start sharing our adventures with a whole new (Spanish-speaking) audience.
13 - One of your videos already caught Maddie singing along to Christina Aguilera. What type of music dominates your road trip playlist?
Maddie: Our Pimsleur and Rocket Languages 30-minute Spanish lessons. ;) But as you’ll see in some upcoming videos, I’ll burst out dancing to just about anything.
Jordan: As Maddie said, the drives are mostly dedicated to learning Spanish. But, if the question were “What’s your favorite music?” my answer would be Country and Late-90s Early-2000s Pop/Rock. Maddie would probably answer with Tropical House or some type of EDM music that I know nothing about.
14 - You recently suggested that you'd encourage anyone else who tries this type of move to do more planning that the two of you did. What, specifically, were the most stressful factors to deal with at the 11th hour?
Maddie: Even though we started planning (including selling our belongings) six months in advance, there was still SO much left at the end. Somehow, even when we had “almost everything” out of the house, there were still carloads—well, SUVloads—of crap to deal with.
Meanwhile, all the logistical details like vet paperwork, canceling our internet, getting supplements from my doctor, and arranging finances at various banks took ten times longer than they would have if we weren’t racing against the clock. (Don’t they always?) With all the focus on these tasks, I didn’t feel like I had enough time to make tough decisions on what could fit in my two suitcases. Not just, “can I bring these two extra shirts?” but “do I need to leave my drawing pens and sketchbooks?” (the only hobby-related items I had left.) I ended up being an emotional disaster at the very end.
Jordan: We had a seemingly never-ending supply of things to sell, donate, or throw out. Selling and getting rid of the remaining inventory from my business was the worst part for me. Since that took up almost all of my time, it put a huge burden on Maddie’s shoulders to try to sell not only her things, but also mine. It was down to a week before we were leaving, and I hadn’t even listed my car for sale in addition to some of my other more valuable possessions.
15 - How many arguments have you two had since you left?
Maddie: I feel fortunate to be in a relationship with Jordan. We really don’t argue that often—at least nothing super memorable. I think the most notable spats have been when we were both exhausted after long days of driving and hadn’t eaten since the night before. I’ll be the first to admit I get “hangry” like a mofo without some coffee and grub.
Jordan: The first few days of the trip consisted of long drives (with a few highly-stressful weeks before then). Our patience had been tested, our energy levels drained, and our wills a little broken. I think we had a couple arguments during those first few days, but the two weeks since have been smooth sailing.
16 - Although your trip is just getting started, what have you learned about Mexico so far?
Maddie: Oh wow, where to begin? I’m definitely not going to do Mexico justice with a short answer, but I’ll try. First of all, it’s a completely different culture here than in the United States. In many ways, I think it’s better. Most of the people here are good-humored, friendly, patient, and “present.” All our Airbnb hosts have been more than hospitable—usually going out of their way to do nice things for us. For instance, the couple we stayed with in Ciudad Obregon wrote a detailed list of places to visit and safe roads to travel on. I’ve also already noticed a night-and-day difference from the self-centered and materialistic culture I was getting sick of in the US.
There are other things we’ve learned as well, like how hard people will work here to make an income. You don’t see many people begging on the side of the road in Mexico. You see them working their tails off to sell products—many of which they made themselves—even if that means carrying them up and down the sidewalk all day.
We’ve learned so much from this incredible country, but I’ll stop there for now.
Jordan: It’s probably because I’m a bit of an economics nerd, but I tend to focus my observations on the economy and their way of life. There are a few things that have stood out to me so far. First of all, Mexico is spending a lot of money building out their infrastructure. They’re building new highways everywhere, and nearly every road we drive on has some type of construction going on.
I feel perfectly safe in the parts of the country that have the highest-level travel warning from the US State Department. It makes me think there are some ulterior motives behind those warnings.
Mexicans are wealthier than when I visited 10, 15, and 20 years ago. You don’t see nearly as many children walking down the streets and beaches selling goods as you did back then. As societies get wealthier, child labor tends to decrease (they no longer need to work to survive, so they get educated instead).
Also, something peculiar is that we’ve seen very few Mexican women out in public. My theory is that the women are typically stay-at-home moms taking care of the home and the children, while the men are usually the breadwinners. Overall, the things I’ve noticed remind me of the USA in 1960, economically speaking.
17 - Was Steemit (and the fact you can blog about your journey) one of the reasons you put your dream into action?
Maddie: Abso-freaking-lutely! In an unexpected turn of events, I was let go from my job a few months before we left. There were fleeting moments when we considered postponing the journey until I could find a new job, but we ultimately decided that Steemit, among a few other income sources, would be sufficient to supplement my savings for now.
Jordan: Yes! We are officially full-time Steemians! We’re incredibly grateful for the team behind Steemit that made this possible. Not to mention the 1000s of other awesome people who’ve worked their tail off to make Steem what it is today.
I’ve closed my online retail business and am (hopefully) free from that world for good! I can’t put into words how thrilled we are to have this platform and community at our fingertips. Just yesterday Maddie said to me, “This life is so much better than what we were just living. Why didn’t we do this sooner?” I couldn’t agree more.
18 - The two of you have been sporting Steemit shirts in some of the videos. Do you plan to talk about Steemit with those who you meet along the way?
Maddie: During a recent conversation in Mazatlan with an older Mexican couple, we quickly realized that we need to learn wayyyy more Spanish before we can even begin to explain Steemit. Turns out we don’t know many vocabulary words about the internet and blogging. (They were convinced we were programmers based on our clumsy explanation in Spanish.) Figuring out how to share what Steemit is all about is a big priority, though. There are so many people in Mexico who could benefit from it.
Jordan: Although we aren’t able to promote Steem in Spanish yet, any chance we get we’re talking about it in English.
Also, in order to grow our social media presence, we are members of quite a few niche Facebook groups that are specifically dedicated to US/Canadian Expats who are traveling through, living in, or wanting to move to Mexico.
We’re finding that these groups are excellent places to post our blogs, videos, and experiences. It’s already resulting in quite a bit of traffic to Steemit, d.tube, and busy.org. For example, this post and this post have already received 100s of hits from people outside of Steemit, despite only having been at this for a few days.
19 - In one sentence, what do you hope to get out of this journey?
Maddie: I’d like to gain a better understanding of the world and how I can help make it a better place.
Jordan: Many new experiences and a more fulfilled life.
20 - What is one fact about each of you that very few people know?
Maddie: I’ve never really been the “early adopter” type of gal when it comes to products, apps, restaurants, or anything else really. I’m inclined to let other people test the waters before I jump in. But that wasn’t the case with Steemit. Despite my lack of blockchain/cryptocurrency knowledge, I created an account and started blogging in August of 2016, a few months after the initial launch.
And boy, oh boy am I glad I did. Since then, I’ve traveled across the world to attend both SteemFests and my life has been completely changed by the community. As I’m sure you can guess by now, I probably wouldn’t be here in Mexico today living the best life I can imagine with the man I love and our little furball, Laska if it weren’t for this decision.
Jordan: I have a (self-diagnosed) severe case of prosopagnosia, or “face blindness” as it’s often called. Basically, my ability to recognize faces is highly impaired.
Before I was aware of this condition, I just thought I was an inconsiderate jerk for not recognizing people. I got a job working at a country club where we had to learn the names and faces of 100s of members. During my first few weeks on the job, I’d approach any member I didn’t know and introduce myself. After one of these exchanges, though, the member replied in a low, annoyed voice, “Yeah. I know. You’ve introduced yourself like five times.”
That was the single most embarrassing moment of my life. It wasn’t until several years later that I learned about prosopagnosia. The world makes so much more sense now.
The moment I heard about @tangerinetravels, I was intrigued. A huge thank you to Jordan and Maddie for taking time out of their trip to share the story behind their adventure.
As always, thanks to all of you for taking the time to read.
Who would you like to see me throw 20 questions at? Drop me a comment below and I'll work on setting up the interview.
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