Life Update from Spain

Hello again, world! Here’s an update on the life of this still-wandering nomad.

As I wrote my last post, I had come to the end of seven months in South America and was about to fly to Madrid.

I’m writing from Madrid again now, six weeks later. In the intervening time I traveled to Cordoba, Granada, Barcelona, and Toulouse; I stayed in Paris for nearly a month with my sister; and spent time with my parents during their first trip to Paris in 30 years.

I’m going to write more about that later. This is a quick update on where I’m flying now that the “official” trip is over.

When I quit my job last summer, I did it with the idea that I would make a carreer change – I wasn’t sure what the new career would be, but I knew I wanted creating my own artwork to be part of it – no more relegating artwork to a hobby. I had about $13,000 saved from the years I had been working after college. So before I started this yet-undefined new career, I went traveling, taking advantage of the unique freedom of having no official responsibilities – no job, no mortgage, no kids, no debt.

$13,000 puts you only slightly above the poverty line in the US, but it can take you a long way as a traveler, especially if you travel the way I did – staying in hostels, cooking meals in the hostel kitchen instead of eating out, hitchhiking, couchsurfing, and seeing things for free instead of taking expensive guided tours.

That money took me from my home in the US to Colombia, to Uruguay, to Buenos Aires where I stayed for nearly two months; to Ushuaia at the southern tip of South America; into Chile and the Torres del Paine national park; up the western border of Argentina where I will always remember my two days of hitchhiking through Patagonia; into Mendoza and across the border Santiago; up to Bolivia and across the highest salt flat in the world; into Peru and up Machu Picchu; through Ecuador; back to Colombia; and across the great Atlantic to Europe.

I made it last a long time – 8 months and counting. Now the money’s starting to run out and I’m beginning to transition back to a working career.

I’ve learned that it’s a mistake to write too much about plans that aren’t really formed, so I’ll share what’s certain in the short term: until the end of June, I’ll volunteer at a hostel in Granada, where I can work around 20 hours a week in exchange for free accommodation and some free food. This isn’t a source of income, but my hope is that I’ll be able to spend the balance of my time creating artwork to build out my portfolio, and, if I can manage it, doing freelance illustration and graphic design.

At the beginning of July, I have to leave the Schengen zone (which encompasses most of western Europe) because my tourist visa expires. Unlike a lot of countries, those in the Schengen zone don’t tolerate border-hopping as a way of renewing a tourist visa – I’ve got to stay out for 90 days before I can return or risk getting banned from Europe for a few years (this is the worst case scenario). I’m not sure yet where I’ll go or what I’ll do during my 90-day waiting period. I’d like to stay close to Europe, and in a country where the cost of living isn’t too expensive. Morocco is on the shortlist, but it’s not the only place I’m considering.

I can return to Europe in October – though who knows what will happen between now and then? Maybe I’ll discover a new place where I’d like to stay.

In the meantime, readers, if you know anyone who needs a logo or business card or wedding invitations or t-shirts or gifts or anything else designed, get in touch with me. My new portfolio is housed here (and updated frequently!).

And for the love of all that is holy, if you’ve got any leads on how a broke 20something American girl can get a work permit in Europe, drop me a line!

That’s the news for now.