February in Playa: Settling into a New Life

As I write this, it’s been a month since we returned to Playa del Carmen. February was a short month, which gives me some comfort at the pace with which it seemed to fly by. The last month has been a home coming of sorts, but it has also been a time of huge change; we’re ‘settling down’ for an entire year after a year of roaming the globe. It’s what we want, but has required some adjusting and getting used to…


playa del carmen

Thankfully, we are back in our ‘old place’ so there were no surprises there. We had considered looking for a bigger or a cheaper place, but after looking online at what was available, it seemed silly to risk being in a less accessible area that we didn’t know well, or to deal with a different landlord in a different building when we had enjoyed it here so much last year. So we are back in our little studio; a one room place with a  kitchen, a table and chairs, a large bathroom, comfy bed, wardrobe, drawers, a ceiling fan and A/C. Oh and cable TV. We pay about $600 per month.

It’s cleaned weekly (yeeha!) and we have a lavanderia (laundry) on site that charges $1 per kilo for washing. The friendly caretaker Wilbert is always around pottering in the leafy garden and is always up for a quick chat in our limited Spanish. And as I have mentioned before, our landlord is just about the nicest guy in the world and that just makes things so much easier. Even some of our neighbours are still here from last time, so we’ve slotted back in well.


The biggest blessing about returning to Playa has been catching up with the friends I made here last time. I am very lucky to have a great group of women friends here, from Mexico, Canada and the States. Spending time with them makes my heart sing, as they are such a nurturing group. I feel so lucky to have met them.

I’ve also been lucky enough to meet some other travel bloggers here; Erin and Simon from Never Ending Voyage, and Earl from Wandering Earl. We met up with Erin and Simon a couple of times before they went to Cuba, and it was really great to meet them because I’ve been following their journey since before I started traveling full-time. Those guys are really doing it – blogging, developing apps and even starting a digital nomad coaching course soon which I’m really looking forward to.

Plus they are super nice people. Tyrhone and Simon enjoyed talking shop about everything from sci-fi to web-design, whilst Erin and I chatted about writing and FOOD. She has just written a fantastic vegetarian food guide to Playa and I am systematically making my way through her recommendations.

La Cueva del Changa

Lunch with Erin (right) and her friend Vilija (left)

I bumped into Earl the other day on the street. His blog was the first travel blog I ever read. Tyrhone put me onto him, and I’ve been following him ever since. He is the sole reason we decided to come to Playa del Carmen last year, and his friend Elizabeth found us the place we are living in now. I wanted to thank him and let him know how he had inspired us and impacted our lives, so when I saw him on the street I shouted out to him, then bounded over and began blabbing all the above mentioned stuff to him. He was a little surprised, but a really, really nice guy. He’s starting his tour around Mexico next week which looks really cool.

It’s really nice to be a part of this global community of people who are living life on their own terms whilst inspiring others to do the same.  Those guys have all had a major impact on my journey and it was so awesome to meet them in person and realize that yep, we did it! Not in a ‘we’re so successful’ sort of way, because we feel like we’re just starting out, but that we took the leap, hoping that maybe, just maybe, we could be happy living a nomadic life, free from the confines of jobs we weren’t happy in and a mortgage that kept us tied to them.

We are so happy with our decisions and even though it was one of the most difficult and scary things I’ve ever done, I can’t imagine life any other way now.

Playa del Carmen beach

And if I forget, I just need to look outside…


In saying that, this month brought challenges with it that launched me into a new set of self-imposed fears and insecurities. While Tyrhone began banging out chapter after chapter of his science fiction novel (I mean, REALLY?), I found myself either completely paralyzed before the keyboard or avoiding it completely in favour of ANYTHING ELSE.

All I have wanted for the last few months is to be here, in Mexico, with the time and the freedom to write this story I have inside me, and yet once I was given that chance I clammed up like a…well…clam, and the negative self-talk, doubt and fear just overwhelmed me and got me thinking, ‘what the hell am I going to with my life if I can’t write it?’ and, ‘Maybe I should stop being so silly and go and get a job selling timeshare.’

Thanks to being able to talk these things over with some wonderful friends, I have recently moved past that fear, and I can literally feel that self-imposed pressure melting away.

I will be okay. I can take little steps every day towards my dream. I love telling stories, and I think this one might be able to help someone. I want to write the book I wish I’d read three years ago.

So I’ll try.

The same goes with the blog. Sometimes I put too much pressure on myself for it to succeed or to attract more readers, and I’m never happy when I’m in that place. I read this the other day which helped me shift out of that fear:

“When we act out of fear, we add to the sum total of darkness on the planet, and when we act out of love, we bring light to the world.”

-Alan Cohen.

I’m going for love! It may not get me huge popularity or monetary success, but I will feel happier and more productive acting from a place that sits right with me. Like this post. It may not be ground-breaking writing or award-winning photography, but I’m writing my truth and it feels really good.


Playa del Carmen beach

It’s been so great getting back into yoga, and I am reaping the benefits of the practice. I need practice at being present and recognizing the perfection of each moment, and yoga (and meditation) gives me that. Yesterday, however, I was late to class and decided to hit the gym with Tyrhone. I’ll be honest, I don’t love the gym, but I was pretty impressed that I could jog on the treadmill for a few minutes without passing out. It feels good to be getting some fitness up.

Oh, and he quit smoking, which is pretty amazing. I’m so proud of him and as we speak he is hoeing into some peanut M&Ms instead of sucking down a cigarette (the lesser of two evils). The drug Champix has provided him with the support he needed to be able to throw his cigarettes away, and he’ll take it for another couple of weeks. I really didn’t expect this day to come but I am so happy it has.


I am not really prone to homesickness, and whilst there’s nowhere I’d rather be living than Playa del Carmen, lately I have been missing my family, especially my two little nieces. My oldest niece Olivia just started school, and my youngest niece Sophie is just starting to talk. They are so beautiful and I miss them like crazy.

Also one of my dearest friends is getting married this week. I have known Jyoti since I was 6 years old and it’s one of those rare friendships that has stood the test of time through the many twists and turns of our lives. It breaks my heart that I won’t be there to see her Dad walk her down the aisle, or to hear her and husband Alex say ‘I do.’  But they know I’ll be with them in spirit, and I’m just so grateful my beautiful friend is marrying a wonderful man who loves her the way she deserves.

An OLD photo of Jyoti and I in Dublin, 2008.


Well that just about wraps up our first month in Playa del Carmen. Despite the challenges I’ve come up against, I am so grateful to be on this journey of learning and growth. I’m sure there will be many bumps in the road ahead, but also much love, laughter and joy. And I can’t really ask for any more than that! Thank you, as always, for following my journey and I wish you all the very best on yours.

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February in Playa: Settling into a New Life — 34 Comments

  1. Try not to get too stressed with your writing, the words will most likely start to flow as you really relax into your new life. I’m always in awe of people who can even come up with an idea of a story to write and you’re surrounded by great like-minded people to encourage you.

    Rest assured I absolutely love your blog, your down to earth writing style is what makes it and your photos keep getting better and better. I’d rather have a smaller bunch of loyal and interested readers any day.

    P.S completely identify with peoplesickness, I DO NOT miss the UK even one tiny bit but I go through phases of chronically missing my friends and family.
    Maddie recently posted..The next big thingMy Profile

  2. On the subject of health: just being on the water makes such a difference. As I’m in a huge, desert-locked city, I noticed a gargantuan difference in my clear nose and mind while walking along the water during a recent trip to the coast. Enjoy that clean salt air!
    Mike recently posted..A Taste of Tamil NaduMy Profile

    • Hey Mike, without a doubt being by the sea makes me feels good, and just looking at the sea is enough to lift my spirits! How long are you planning to be desert-locked?

  3. <3

    "It may not be ground-breaking writing or award-winning photography, but I’m writing my truth and it feels really good."

    How often do we (ahem…I) forget this?? It's not about the outcome, it's about doing what we love and expressing our own truths. You and this global community have helped me see this so many times when I'm not willing. Keep pushing and thanks for inviting us along on your journey.

    • Thank you Carmel,so true, it’s not up to us what the outcome is, it IS up to us to do the things in life that make us happy, and by doing that, we are of service to others :)

  4. How amazing that you bumped into Earl and met up with Erin and Simon?! Their blogs were also some of the first we came across and they really inspired us to get out and travel too. We’re only three days into our adventure but I’m already pleased we made that leap. Good luck with the writing; from reading your blog I’m sure whatever you come up with will be great. Well done to Tyrone for giving up smoking too – I’ve been there and know the first part is tough.
    Amy recently posted..Departure DayMy Profile

    • Hey Amy, yes it’s nice when you meet bloggers and they are just as you imagined them :) Woohoo, three days in, exciting times! Happy adventuring :)

  5. Yay Sarah, thank you for your beautiful message, it has brought tears of happiness to my eyes. I feel your kind spirit and warm wishes with us today. xoxoxox

    • Thank you Gillian, you see, I think I’m the only one sometimes and everyone else is happily running towards their destiny!!! Which is why I need to connect and share. Thanks so much for stopping by :)

  6. I love the way you write Sarah! It feels like you are writing a blog just for me.

    As you know we are at the beginning of our nomadic journey too and we get the same feelings of “what the hell are we doing!!!” but you know what, deep down we know it’s right. The freedom we have living this lifestyle is priceless. I would rather be broke and live this way than tied down to a job, mortgage, etc and have money but no freedom.

    Keep it up! Maybe see you in Mexico because you have sold it to us!


    • Hi Paul, that’s so great to hear, thank you. You’re absolutely right, the freedom we have now IS priceless, and I am so protective of it!! Here’s to never giving up :)

  7. My partner Paul (from globalhelpswap) sent me to your website. I’m so thrilled he did!

    Sarah your post gave me goosebumps. I feel like I’ve ‘virtually’ met a kindred spirit and I suspect I would do the same thing you did to Earl if I saw you walking down the street.

    Paul and I are creating a life that is similar to your’s and Tyrhone’s. We travelled round the globe for 18 months and after a short stint back home in London we escaped winter and came to Thailand. One of the toughest things is not having a group of friends who have a similar outlook in life and who are building a similar life to ours. So it’s great to have found you.

    I completely empathise with the questioning and the fear and the clamming up. I fight it every single day. Sometimes I win, many times it knocks me out.

    And with that I’m off to continue writing my latest post and stop filing my nails, reading other posts or checking my mail.

    • Karen, thank you so much for your thoughtful comment, it really makes it all worthwhile to connect with people on a similar path (with similar methods of procrastination – I just organised the kitchen cupboards – what the?!). So nice to ‘meet’ you, thanks so much for reading :)

  8. Beautiful beautiful beautiful.
    I’m excited for what awaits you this year in Playa.
    thanks for your honesty about your fears. I struggle with my own. Don’t we all have ’em?!

    I too, put pressure on myself with my blog, want it to go further than it has, want more readers but sometimes think, maybe it’s just perfectly fine where it is… it’s not going to be a blog that makes money, It’s a blog for me to share my adventures, an online journal if you will!

    Awesome you met some bloggers in real life! and to meet those who have inspired you is always a great feeling. Meeting other bloggers has been one of the best and unexpected things to come from my blog!
    Lauren recently posted..Flashback Photo Fridays: Usambara MountainsMy Profile

  9. So many things I want to say about this post but the only thing I can think to say right now is OHMYGODTHATBEACH! Did I tell you that Brian and I are considering Mexico in 2014??? Long way away but it would be a place to settle down for awhile.

    Anyway, totally feel you on the pressure to write and whatifitsucks thoughts and the rest. But you are a wonderful and talented writer and you know it. Glad you came through the other side of that.

    Also “peoplesickness” YES. You should copyright that phrase. Okay, bye for now!

  10. Thank you Kim, at the rate we are going we might still be here!!! I feel like I have this completely unreasonable bias for the Caribbean coast, even though I have never visited the Pacific!! But you must come HERE. Kidding :) Thank you for the pep talk, it is much appreciated XOXO

  11. Hi Sarah, please don’t be silly and think of selling time share! Of course, you should write! You’ll be cheating the world if you don’t. I believe you were born to write. And yes, go with love! :)
    Love your photo on the beach. You look so relax and happy and healthy.
    Marisol recently posted..The Streets of Hanoi’s Old QuarterMy Profile

    • Don’t worry, I’m a terrible sales person :) I know I’m my own worst enemy, so thank you so, so much for the very kind confidence boost Marisol :)

  12. It was so lovely to meet you guys too Sarah, and thank you for your kind words.

    I’m jealous you got to meet Earl. We’ve been trying to arrange to meet him for years and we missed him in Playa by about 2 hours!

    Good luck with your writing. Remember the resistance means it’s the right path for you. Looking forward to reading your book : )
    Erin recently posted..Nomadic Interviews: Rachel of Discover Share InspireMy Profile

    • Can’t believe you’re back already!! Thank you so much for your encouragement Erin, it was lovely to meet you and I look forward to reading about Cuba! Enjoy Mexico city :)

  13. We are in very different positions but I can completely sympathise with how you feel torn to speak what’s in your heart and want a little success- I even wrote about something similar last week!
    This post is lovely and all the better for knowing it is your ‘truth’ I definitely think this is what people like reading- if they just wanted travel advice they’d go to lonely planet!

    That beach is where I want to be right now!!

    Thanks for writing such a lovely post!


  14. I’m yet another blogger falling in love with Playa. What a beautiful place. As you mention being on the road full time away from family is an adjustment. Nice to read posts from other bloggers to learn from each other. Happy Travels!
    jennifer recently posted..Playa Del Carmen Cooking SchoolMy Profile