The adventure begins
Plan A underway
Last time I talked a little bit about proceeding with Canada. Some people have asked about that and so I'll tell you what I know, at least so far. Caveat, this shit is complicated, I'm figuring it out the best I can but don't take me as a single source of truth.
So far, I have identified a law firm to work with and gotten my US education validated.
Next month, I am traveling to Nashville to take the approved English-language test, which annoyingly you cannot do online from what I can tell so far, and the testing centers are few and far between (like, in 10 states here in the US). Even more annoying, its spread across two days so me and the dog are driving eight hours to Tennessee and staying in a hotel for a long weekend that I'm frankly, not terribly excited for even though I normally love travel. Waking up at 7am on a Saturday to take a written exam, eesh.
There appears to be an annoying bureaucratic wrinkle that to create a profile for Express Entry (the skilled worker application pool for Canadian residency) they want to already know your English language score, and without that keep blocking me from proceeding. On the language test side, they say to have your results sent directly to Canadian immigration you have to have an active application reference number. So kind of a loop of dead ends and redirects at the moment.
But fuck it, whatever, I plan on giving a law firm all my documents so fine I'll just accept the results directly. At this point it looks like I'd have all my materials together to apply in September. Processing time could be, a year, two.
Emergence of plan B
Last time I included with irony a Washington Post article, some dude's perspective saying Roe might not really be dead, after the leaked draft opinion of the Supreme Court came out. My analysis? That it would die.
I'm sure we all know at this point, who was right between me and WaPo guy.
It's difficult to explain, it isn't like I was WAITING, I already had wheels in motion. However, if by some miracle the opinion had gone a different way maybe I could have felt less rushed. No such luck.
So between the processing times for Canada and current reality of US law, it has been weighing heavily on my mind to have a plan B. Over the past few days, it has emerged with more clarity, and although on one level it is a crazy prospect, on another level it could be great. So here's the plan:
Pick a destination city in Mexico
Begin rapidly downsizing belongings, selling/donating etc
Put the house on market in June 2023 to maximize sale price
Put the tiny subset of meaningful belongings in storage here locally in NC (so that if Canada accepts me...I can swing back up through and grab them)
By hook or by crook, make my way with three animals to my chosen destination
Simple, right? Ha. Some of it seems easier than I'd have expected, some of it harder. I've gone from lurker to dumb-question-asker in the nomad groups I'm part of. Learned there is a whole term for people moseying through unknown lands at a leisurely pace, which I'd have to do because of the three pets: slowmad!
The pet logistics honestly do seem, tough. I almost wish I could hire something like a traveling pet nanny. I'd cover room and board and travel costs to springboard them to Central America, and pay for a flight onward to South America or back to the states depending. I had a roommate at one point who was suuuuper into travel who I feel like would totally have done this, unfortunately I think she now has her own pets and couldn't. If you know anyone with a travel bug looking for a weird adventure though, I'd non-jokingly hire someone for this if the right person came along.
If you are wondering how serious I am about plan B, the answer is: quite serious. It is looking like because of processing time for Canada, the likelihood is that plan B is more like, plan A.
Plan B does have its charms. I could potentially spend years slowmad-ing down through a series of 180 day tourist excursions into different countries (normally that's the limit to time in-country for tourism). I wouldn't need to pay for a traditional vacation for years, it would be one long rolling trip.
It also could facilitate me crossing off a bucket list item, which is seeing the southern borealis, borealis australis, from Ushuaia, Argentina. As I learned in Iceland, this phenomenon can be difficult to catch and it's not guaranteed. I went out 3x over two weeks in Iceland and never managed to see the northern lights. When I mused over trying again, I randomly concluded I would want at least a month to try to be CERTAIN I wouldn't fail again. Before all this talk of leaving the US, a daunting prospect -- how would I get a random month to spend in Ushuaia, literally known as the "end of the earth"? Guess I've found out how.
It would be really cool to make this happen. Honestly I've had some bucket list items that were more standard fare, things like seeing Venice, getting a pilots license. I have not happened to meet anyone else with my fascination with the borealis australis. Most people I bring it up to haven't even heard of the Southern Lights. It feels like my special, personal dream to chase. I imagine it would feel pretty incredible to make it a reality.
These plans may (at least partially) fail
There's a lot that can go wrong here. A lot of these plans are made with current assumptions, including: that by selling my house I would net about 150k (conservative guess with some padding for repairs, closing costs). I didn't do much to earn that windfall in three years, so honestly its a plan built on dumb luck as much as anything I deserve credit for. But I'm working with the circumstances I've got.
If the housing market collapsed, that would seriously impact my ability to do this. I have to be prepared for that reality.
I suppose things also could go RIGHT, like maybe Canada makes a decision faster somehow. Probably not, but it could happen. It is a residency requirement that you be in Canada x days out of the year to have the residency status, so potentially it could cut short my foray into Mexico.
Or I could get COVID and become disabled, and none of this would be possible. Or I could get COVID in Mexico and become disabled, and get stuck. There's some very real risks to think through here.
I worry about feeling isolated, I know there will be loneliness at the sheer volume of information I'd have to take in to improve my Spanish. I see that as a difficult but worthwhile period of adversity. It might not feel great in the moment though.
Random other musings
It is almost comical how scrambled my thoughts are with all the different details of this plan floating around in the mental ether. Trying to consolidate what makes up the MVP of me feeling like somewhere is "home": I'd be storing or donating almost all my belongings, but considering what makes you feel at peace somewhere in the most minimal format is an interesting exercise. I wouldn't want to bring anything breakable. I'd need some kind of desk for work. I could do without a dishwasher or dryer but if I'm being honest, would hate not having a washing machine.
There's a weird sort of imposter syndrome, like "ok, all these places you went that you felt like you could have kept exploring forever, all these times you wanted an adventure without limits: here it is. Can you really do it? Or were you just kidding yourself?"
There's the question of what people should even CALL me in Latin America. My name doesn't translate well. The closest equivalent is pretty but I don't know that it fits me (Alegria).
But it is hard not to look at this picture from the last time I was in Mexico, and not imagine I'd have some amazing new experiences if I were to return.
If you made it this far thanks for reading, will have more soon as these crazy plans unfold <3