Adjusting to a nomadic life

Before I left the US, several people asked me I was nervous. I wasn’t. I just wanted to get on with it already. I’m now in country #4 in less than three weeks (France, Monaco, Switzerland and now Morocco) and my situation is juuuust now sinking in: I’m technically homeless.

Yes, I need to write about Geneva (not much to write about) and Marrakech and Essaouira (too much to write about and I don’t even know where to start). But more than anything, what I need to work through is how to feel my way into the darkness of not knowing what’s next, and to be totally ok with it.

My original plan was to spend a month traveling around Morocco. There’s so much to see and do in this country, and I’m craving all of it. Yet in the past few days, I’ve instead felt this sudden sense of urgency to leave Morocco in favor of seeing all the possible places where I could realistically put down roots. I want to make a decision and rent an apartment, just so that I can have some sense of groundedness. Even if I don’t stay there full time, I’m craving a real place to keep my change of clothes instead of in a couple suitcases in a friend’s storage locker outside of Geneva. A place to start making friends and settling in. Sounds reasonable, right?

And yet.

On paper, Portugal looks good. Favorable weather, expat tax program, in the EU, socially more liberal, etc etc. But when I started looking for places to stay in Portugal, something stopped me. Ok then, perhaps some other place is calling.

My little treehouse in the sky with 360-degree views of the medina — in Essaouira, Morocco

Yet after searching all over the world on AirBnB, I realized something: I’m not ready to go anywhere other than this little seaside fishing village of Essaouira in Morocco. Not because I love it so much that I want to live here… although who knows, maybe someday. I do love it, and have already fantasized about owning a little treehouse in the sky like the one I’m staying in now.

No… what I’m sensing that I need is to find my balance between groundedness and freedom. I’ve been craving freedom my entire life, and now I have it (sort of; I could use some client work) and it’s disorienting. So after 4 countries I need to stop and catch my breath. Essaouira, with its laid-back surfer vibe and perfectly photogenic light, is a perfect place to do that.

Essaouira, Morocco

This process also involves shifting my frame of reference: while it feels like I’m on vacation, I’m really not. If this is a permanent (or at least semi-permanent) state of affairs, I need to create work/life balance every single day. And that does involve staying in one place for longer than a week. Continually researching the next place is a total time and energy suck.

So I rented another place here in Essaouira this coming Monday. The new place is, in fact, new. It’s in the new part of town, it’s brand-new construction, and while it’s on the beach it’s a bit of a walk to get to the old part of town. I did this on purpose, because it’s a great place to actually be productive with great internet access. It’s next to a proper grocery store so I’ll cook more. And Essaouira is pretty affordable compared to a lot of places I might want to go.

And it will be a good place for me to continually wrestle with the tension between wanting to settle in one place and my urgent desire to see and experience the rest of the world.

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