Martijn Reintjes and his girlfriend rented out their home in Holland for the year and left for Central America and the Caribbean. She wanted to follow her dream of volunteering as a child psychologist and Martijn decided to turn his game design studio in a location independent enterprise.
After studying Spanish in Leon Nicaragua for a month, they went to El Progreso Honduras, where Rian volunteers at ProNi–o, a foundation that takes in street children. And Martijn continues to expand his Quiz Game company QuizControl. Please enjoy a little insight into what a week-in-the-life of Martijn looks like!
“What’s that noise?” I thought with my eyes closed, but before I could open them I heard something drop right beside my head. Rian and I both jumped up and that same second I knew exactly what I had heard, a big cockroach had fallen on our bed! I saw it scurrying away on the ground. Darn critters! It was only 5:30 in the morning and I really didn’t feel like hunting cockroach, so I stumbled out of bed and opened the door, hoping that the filthy insect would leave. But 15 minutes later I woke up from another sound. When I opened my eyes for the second time that morning I saw the 8 cm cockroach sitting on the curtains right above our heads.
I rose not a second too late because the insect fell again, now just where my head had been a couple seconds before. “That’s it,” I thought, “the hunt is on!” I jumped out of bed, got the broom and looked for the cockroach. I found it trying to flee in our closet. I swept it away, out of the bedroom but the cockroach made a daring dash to escape. I was in no mood so I swung at it, crushing the bug in a single blow and went of to bed again for 2 more hours of sleep.
When I woke up again I knew it was going to be “one of those days”. So I just took it easy, made some breakfast and opened my RSS reader. After that I tried to work on the webshop I’m building as another income stream, but couldn’t really focus. When the internet connection slowed down to unworkable speeds around lunch, I decided to call the day a loss and nestled in my hammock with a book.
Too bad I was too restless to really enjoy it. I really don’t like these wasted days, especially when there are multiple projects that need my attention. But without internet there wasn’t much work I could do.
At four o’clock Rian came home, I cleared the hammock for her and finished the ciabatta bread I was trying to make for dinner. Being Dutch, there are 2 things I can’t live without: proper bread and Dutch cheese (Gouda, Edam, etc). Dutch cheese is available at the supermarkets but getting good bread is a real problem in Progreso. The Hondurans don’t really like bread and if they do make it, it always has sugar in it which I don’t like. So the last weeks I have been trying to make bread myself and today I tried baking an Italian ciabatta. Although I had my doubts about the dough the bread turned out delicious! Win!
The internet connection hadn’t picked up after dinner so I decided to photoshop some of the pictures we took last weekend when we visited the Copan Ruins. I had taken a bunch of photographs from one angle and tonight I shopped them together in a nice collage. The collage turned out quite well, and I went to bed pleased that today wasn’t a total failure after all with the delicious bread and the cool photo.
Last night was hot again and I really needed a shower to wake up, but when I turned the knob of our cold water shower there was no water! A look outside learned that some men where digging around in the neighbors’ garden so that probably was the cause for the lack of water. Today was tax day and this was not a good start.
As usual taxes took way longer then necessary because I kept procrastinating, so when Rian came home I had barely finished. Luckily the water was turned on somewhere in the afternoon so I did have my shower, otherwise my mood would have been even lower.
After a nice meal of left over Chinese food and some Cuba Libres while watching an episode of the tv series Leverage, I felt refreshed and decided to make something of the evening. So I managed to empty my in-box and I even send out a couple of e-mails to some prospects, something I really hate to do. Strange how things seem to have bigger highs and lows here…
This morning Rian got up a bit later and we ate breakfast together. After she left for work I opened my laptop and went through my dailies I replied some mails and finished a lot of random to-do’s. This day started out really nice!
After lunch I went to the supermarket downtown. It’s an 8 minute bus drive in a local chickenbus (if you ever wonder what happens with old US school buses, they end up here for use as public transportation). I’m not sure what happened but I got really depressed at the supermarket. I couldn’t find the stuff I wanted, people were looking strangely at me and the stuff that I did buy was almost more expensive than it would cost in Holland. And of course, the checkout register had some computer problems. So when I finally exited the store I was really annoyed and depressed. I took a taxi home and tried to shake the bad feeling off. I didn’t succeed and didn’t really know what to do with myself.
I tried to do some work, read a bit, played some games but nothing worked and the worst was, this wasn’t the first time I felt this way since we moved to El Progreso! The city was not what I expected. I don’t feel at home here and there are very few things to do. Most days I barely come out of the house! The whole location independent lifestyle isn’t really glamorous if you are stuck in a place you don’t like to be.
When Rian came home she noticed right away that I wasn’t happy. We talked about our situation and how we felt about it. Rian also isn’t really happy with the town, but she really likes the work she is doing and the fact that she is in a unique position there to help set up the psychology office at ProNi–o makes her want to stay. I also really didn’t want to ask her to leave because she likes it so much, but I also didn’t want to stay here! But eventually Rian made a decision. Since we started this adventure together, we therefore both needed to be happy with it. And if one of us wasn’t, then we needed to move. I was so relieved and proud of her when she said that!
So we are going to leave Honduras in the first week of June. Where to and how we don’t know. But the adventure is wide open again!
After all the emotion of yesterday, Thursday was going to be another workday. I have been trying to start on a new big quiz game project for days now but am always putting it off. Filling my time with smaller projects and tasks, but today was going to be different! I was going to start and work on the new project!
But when I checked my mail, I allowed myself to be distracted by other projects and the internet in general. I brainstormed a bit about new possible locations to move to and worked on a smaller project that needed my attention.
Happy that I finished the smaller project I tried to start with the quiz game after lunch but then I remembered today was Thursday. Thursday is my weekly Skype conference with my QuizControl partners in the Netherlands. The meeting took longer than expected and after it I needed to finish up some small tasks for some upcoming pitches.
At 4:00 Rian called and said she invited 2 coworkers for dinner. I had expected one, but now I had to improvise the meal a bit. The new guest also only spoke Spanish so that was also going to be interesting. The fennel soup I made turned out really nice and it was especially fun to notice that our Honduran guest really liked it although she never had fennel before.
What a buzz, I’ve been trying to learn actionscript 3 for a year now and today I finally wrapped my head around it! The new quiz game I’m working on was going to be in AS3 and so after much postponing I got to it. It’s hard to learn a new programming language by yourself but with some help from the internet I got the concepts behind it.
Work progressed slowly but steadily and at the end of the day I felt proud! Rian and I were invited for dinner by the local family Liduine, and a Dutch volunteer living with them. JP, the man of the house, had set up a small pool which the girls really appreciated because of the heat. I fixed up cocktails for everyone and we chilled down on the front porch in the pool and some hammocks.
After a while the mother went into the kitchen to cook and I joined her, eager to learn something about the local cuisine. She showed me what she was making and then showed me how to make tortillas. They are so easy to make! Just water, flour and a pinch of salt and that’s it!
Dinner was great and afterward we went back to the front porch for some nice talks and chilling in the hammocks.
After last nights’ dinner party the alarm clock went off painfully early. We were going to the nearby Caribbean beach Tela for the weekend. We checked into a cheap hotel, booked a hike and snorkeling tour to the natural reserve of Punta Sal for the next day and dropped down at the beach.
We ended the day with a really nice dinner and cocktails at a beachfront restaurant before returning to our small, air-conditioned room.
After our dive course and some amazing snorkeling, I had decided that snorkeling was going to be my new hobby. I really love being in the water and observing all that amazing marine life! So I was really looking forward to this tour. After a quick improvised breakfast on the beach we left on a small boat. An hour of beautiful blue water later we arrived at the perfect tropical beach, white sand and palm trees.
This was the entrance to the park and our guide took us on a small hike through the jungle. After the hike, the boat brought us to another beach where we went snorkeling. The visibility was quite bad, but we saw some really beautiful fish nonetheless. There were a lot of angel fish but the small school of cute baby squid was the definite high point.
When we came back home in Progreso I had to tweak a couple of things on a big quiz game that is going live on Monday. After that was finished Rian and I watched a tv-series episode before going to sleep, fully relaxed to take on another week!
I can identify with the highs and lows of location independent working and living, very much! Living location independently in a place you don’t want to be, in addition to balancing out the needs to both parties of a couple are just some of the challenges that full-time travel can throw at you.
Martijn and Rian left Honduras and are settling into Guatemala for a few months before deciding where to go next. They’re looking at a Spanish-speaking country somewhere along the coast or in the Caribbean. As with so many long-term/full-time travelers, they know an opportunity will present itself when the time is right. Good luck, guys!