IF you have been following our Green Global Trek, you know that we lived for 6 years in Nicaragua before launching on the the Asia leg of our trek.
We had an explicit intention to select a country to base ourselves in for a few years, and from which to explore the region. We set out with a list of criteria and lived sequentially in Thailand, Viet Nam, Cambodia, Laos, Indonesia, India, Sri Lanka and now we’ve made a decision.
It looks like we are going to go from “empty nester” to “double nester”.
Ben has orchestrated a work scope which will require him to spend considerable time in both Sri Lanka and Viet Nam (as well as travel in the region).
Our home base will therefore be… DRUM ROLL… Unawatuna, a short tuk tuk ride from the UNESCO world heritage site of Fort Galle.
And our “home away from home” will be in Hoi An Viet Nam (http://www.greenglobaltrek.com/2016/06/a-return-to-resonance-in-hoi-an-viet-nam.html)
Sweeping views from the ramparts, include the Catholic church, a testament to the once vibrant Christian community in Fort Galle. Today Fort Galle’s population is equally divided between Muslims, Hindus and Christians who all live in harmony.
The historic walled city of Fort Galle is adjacent to the bustling modern day city of Galle. Fishermen work the nearby waters and bring in their catch for immediate sale on the beach along the coastal road.
After spending a weekend being hosted at the lovely Kikili Beach (see last blog entry), we have made a big decision. This is the location we really like. Not in the city of Galle itself, but close enough that we can go back and forth by tuk tuk or motorbike. Close enough to walk to a really attractive beach with soft white sand and palm trees, and close enough to walk to the yoga center we discovered. There are rice paddies, lush forest and the tranquility of the countryside.
While I (Peta) am getting a massage at the yoga center, Ben borrows a motor scooter and I know that by the time my massage is over, he will probably come back announcing that he has found a few options for us to consider for rental, when we return towards the end of summer. Now that we have made a decision about our desired location, it would not be out of character for Ben to move fast to concretize our decision and “lock something in.”
And indeed, “classic Ben” move, he comes back to the yoga center with a large smile on his face and four potential places to show me which are all available for rent now or in the months to come. They are all within close proximity to the yoga center and super affordable. Woo hoo!!
All four selections turn out to be viable living options. I ask Ben how he found these spots. And in two cases, he literally saw houses he liked and knocked on the door to find out who was living there.
This is remindful of Hoi An, where we lived for 3 months, when I, from the back of the bike while riding through a large organic herb farm, exclaimed “Now THIS is where I would like to live.” Ben got off the bike and started talking to farmers. A day later we were living with the woman we now affectionately call “auntie”, a farmer who opened her house and family to us, spoke no English and with whom we lived until we found our own home to rent on the organic farm.
On business topics, Ben often refers to an approach he learned while working for Boeing as VP of Strategy for one of their business units: Success comes from “shaping the market“. Decide what you want, and go from there to make it happen. A core part of our Green Global Trek philosophy and approach to life and travel.
“Shaping the market” in the case of the search for our home, an anchor for the next few years, means that the realm of places for us to live does not have to be limited by the inventory of landlords who have decided to rent their spaces. Find the spaces that appeal, knock on doors and see what happens….. This approach once again, yields success.
It came down to two viable options:
Option 1 – Traditional rural house in pretty bad shape, but restorable ~ could we turn this into a fabulous home? Sure… but… the landlord! Not the type of personality we want to deal with on an ongoing basis. So nix this one.
Option #2, has us riding the motorbike past open rice fields and cows ~ now that’s a good start in OUR book..
This concrete shell, has no current kitchen to speak of, just a room allocated for future use, no bathroom. It does have wiring for electricity, and a well for water. What it does have in abundance, is a canopy of green trees and a ton of potential for those with imagination.
Of course, many people would stop right here and walk away. However, we certainly have the necessary design and project management skills to pull this off. No problemo. After all, we have done this in Nicaragua. First with the totally rundown shack we bought and rebuilt and lived in for 6 years in Granada, and then taking a concrete shell and building a stunning bamboo house above it as an example of the work our company could do in the bamboo housing business we created in Nicaragua.
On our very first trip to Granada, Nicaragua in 2006 we bought a derelict house on the last day of our trip. Below are a few “before” and “after”, photographs.
It was easy for us to envision what we could create and turn this neglected space into. Initially we thought we would wait to build, but the time our plane landed back in Chicago, we had designed the whole house and six months later the house was built.
And so, a new adventure begins….
Our plan is to rent this little house nestled under the trees, and invest some time and effort and as little money as possible, to build a unique and creative space. Our inspiration will be nature, the nearby gorgeous yoga center and the Sri Lankan appreciation of color. The money we invest will be in lieu of rent, until such time as our investment is reimbursed.
One more wink at our future life in Unawatuna ~ the yoga studio with salt water infinity pool, now minutes from our humble (really humble, at present) abode.
We look forward to visit from our sons, family and friends and hope this future nest proves as much of a magnet as our home in Nicaragua was. Our model as empty nesters toward our sons is “build it and they will come”. By so doing, we have the pleasure of their company as well as contribute to their exposure to new cultures.