the joy margin

There comes a point, along the path of every traveller, when in one neck-stiffening and heart-palpitating moment, you come to a course changing conclusion enlightened by a single flashing revelation…

Um. Pretty, yes. But the enlightenment I´m talking about right now goes a little more like this…


“Insufficient Funds”


Ah, yes. Quite the nerve of an ATM to talk back to you in such a haughty manner and then spit your card back at you despite all that you’ve put into it.

Well, okay. So maybe I have filled out only one deposit slip in all of 2004. And running quite perpendicular to all my university accounting course learnings, my personal revenue rules go a lot like this…

— “Sufficiency” is key. Anything more only weighs you down with worry.

— Trade services instead of cash when and where ever possible.

— Pursue your passion and funds for making a “living” of it will follow.

— Nix the retirement fund. Invest in the present and the making of a memory fund.

— Find “work” that you love so much that you would never want to retire from it.

— Don’t EVER look at magazines.

— Give away (or sell) everything that you don’t use on a weekly basis.

— Say “no” to credit cards and loans.

— Check your bank account one day a month. Forget about it the other 29.

— Take public transport.

— Don’t spend money on alcohol.

(And if you fancy long-term travel like I do…)

— Don’t spend more than $50 on anything that doesn’t fit in your backpack.

I met a backpacker recently who quit smoking for one year, saved all the money that he would have otherwise spent on cigarettes, and is now travelling for a year in South America on the savings. Ironically, smoking is so cheap here that he’s now back to a pack a day. But at least he’s now smoking over sunsets instead of stress? (Colombia can also support some other bad backpacker habits seeing as the drugs here are cheaper than the beer (10,000 pesos/ $4.54 USD will buy you either a gram of cocaine or a quarter bag of weed, sold right over the counter at the local bar.) But don´t be confused. The demand, even here, does not come from the Colombians, but the North Americans and Europeans.)

Anyway, as is the way with the good ol’ divine plan, all kinds of blessings have come from my bank account’s winter color, red.

Instead of paying (how boring really) for my beautiful little studio apartment on a cliff overlooking the sea, I’m now exchanging rent for evening English classes. And we are enjoying ourselves so much, that I’ve now adopted a proper family to share meals, life and love with (which also in turn improves my Spanish scores). Additionally, I’m exchanging diving for divers at a scuba dive shop down the street. My only expenditure now is my weekly trip to the market which amounts to about $13 US dollars. Add my fresh and frothy daily “jugo de lulo” on the beach and time on internet (my biggest expense) and my monthly budget total comes to about $80 USD.

Not bad math, eh?

View from the hammock balcony of my studio…

< New Pictures in the Colombia Album

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