A couple of weeks ago we reached a milestone, the end of our first six months in Mexico. We can’t believe it has been that long already! Six months is also the standard time limit for a tourist visa. In order to extend your stay, you have to spend at least seventy-two hours outside the country before re-entry, at which time you can renew your visa for another six months. So that is what we did.
We took an all-day shuttle which dropped us off at the border after making sure all of our passports and visas were stamped out. Then we simply walked down the street to the Guatemalan side of town and had them stamp us all in. After that, we got into a different shuttle and finished the trip to Panajachel. We stayed in Pana for three nights and visited a couple of the other towns on Lake Atitlan while we were there. Bryn will post a full trip report with lots of pictures real soon!
Before we left we had a few decisions to make. Initially we had planned to just move to Guatemala and stay about 90 days before moving on south, but a few things came up that caused us to hesitate. One brief possibility was a seven month housesitting opportunity in southern France, in the Provence region. Not only is this a part of France we have long wanted to visit, but it is only a couple of hours south of where one of Bryn’s cousins lives, in Lyon. We considered shifting our travel plans and flying to Europe, but there were some obstacles. First, most of Europe is in what is called the Schengen Zone. Your typical tourist visa is for ninety days, and that is for the entire Schengen Zone! If you move around enough and occasionally visit the U.K. you can stretch that out, but it’s tricky. In the end they selected someone else, but we also looked at several other opportunities in southern Spain. We already know basic Spanish, enough to live here for six months, so that is also appealing.
One reason we thought of changing our plans is that there simply aren’t that many housesitting opportunities south of here. A couple in Costa Rica, maybe one in Nicaragua, one in Panama, and… that’s about it! Every housesitting site that we use shows a global map. North America and Europe are just full of pins, and quite a few pins are scattered around SouthEast Asia, but South America and Africa are just empty. So if we do continue going south from here we will compensate by living 2-3 months at a time in each place and finding cheap rent. In the meantime we are staying put in San Cristobal. It’s just so nice here, and we have some expat friends, and we’ll be paying about $212 in rent for a studio apartment with a beautiful courtyard, wifi and hot water. The previous tenant is now living here and will leave some furniture for us. We’ll have a small kitchen and fridge and a bathroom all inside the apartment, which ought to be a nice change.
But tomorrow I will be taking a phone call from China. An interesting opportunity came up recently and I applied for it. A couple of expats run a business in Shenzhen, just north of Hong Kong. They make all kinds of apparel products and they are going to hire an intern for 90 days. In exchange for 4-5 hours a day, five days a week I would get a free apartment w/ wifi and a stipend, free laundry and lunches most days and possibly a cook! I would be running their website and working with their staff to do some creative stuff with photography and video, plus marketing in general. Tomorrow is a screening call, and I have no idea how many other candidates they are looking at, but hopefully we’ll know by tomorrow night what the possibilities are. Sure, it’s a job, and it is nice to not have to work, but flying to that part of the world is expensive and having a group of people on hand to help you get settled would be a big bonus. And who knows, maybe it turns into something I really love doing and becomes a full-time job? I’m still in China, learning Cantonese! Seems like an adventure to us.