One of the first properties we looked at

Yes. You read that right. Land. You know that stuff that trees grows on. The stuff you buy when you want to plant roots and settle down.

It's true. We went looking. And actually, it wasn't the first time. We've been looking for some months now (we just haven't said anything. Maybe we felt guilty.)

I'm mean, we're nomads right? How could we own land and build a house? Isn't that kind of like sneaking chocolate when you've proclaimed yourself sugar-free? (But it's healthy chocolate..)

For whatever reason, we have been looking. Seriously. In fact very seriously. And for whatever other reason, we decided not to say anything. Until now.

We've fallen in love with the idea of building a little cabin overlooking Lake Atitlan; raising rabbits (we already have a herd, it's been a very fun project for the kids); having some chickens (we've got one of those too); growing our own vegetables; being off-grid and self sufficient; having some dogs (yep, we've got two of those as well). We're diggin' in deep.

Since 'the beginning' we'd talked about having a home base somewhere in the world - a place to keep our library (we love books), a Vitamix and our king size bed. A nice homey place to come back too when we're tired of being on the road. And an 'insurance policy' for those unexpected events (like economic collapse of the currency we earn, not that anything like that could ever happen...)

We didn't know where that place would be. We never expected it might be Guatemala. But the past few months that we've been here (almost six now!) we've definitely considered it with more than a passing thought.

We visited farms and looked at property; bought the rabbits (we even got to witness the breeding process and we've had three litters of babies born, one of which survived, common with first time mamas).

So that's how rabbits make babies!

Our first litter, the one that survived

We got the chicken (her name is Angel) and the dogs (Epic and Asia). We drew the house plans using Sketchup. We've studied composting toilets and permaculture (aka ninja farming). We located some solar panels. We're sleeping on the king size bed. We even bought thousands of worms (don't ask...)

In my mind, I've been 'setting up house', decorating with tipica fabric and rustic, antique furniture.

We've been buying and collecting books for education, doing field trips and art and cooking classes and holding our weekly colloquiums (book club) with our friends here. And we LOVE it.

Our kids have been exposed to life and death and sex and drugs (medication for the animals, don't worry!). We've learned vast amounts as well about sustainability, composting, gardening, recycling and animal husbandry. It's been a wild ride, our brains on steroids.

Gardening at the Jensens

Buying worms (for vermicomposting)

One of our favorite properties so far

Asia likes it

I could live with this view


But after 'coming clean' and making our confession, I guess we should be completely honest.

The past four months we've been set on doing this. It hasn't been 'if' but when. We'd build our place, set it all up how we want it, keep our stuff in it, hire a caretaker, maybe rent it out, and then be on our way. That was the plan.

Until the last few weeks.

Giving up travel was never on the agenda. That's something we couldn't do. We just wanted a place to keep our belongings and to come back to if we had to.

But then I started thinking about learning Portuguese in Brazil, and French in French Guyana. And exploring the ruins of Macchu Pichu and seeing the end of the world.

Thinking about all the places we want to see, we've began wondering "How likely are the chances that we'll actually come back here, when there are so many places in the world to live?" If we want to stop traveling for a few months, won't we just rent a house in Panama or Ecuador or Brazil or somewhere else we've never been? That's more our style.

While contemplating all these questions of life, it was Parker (8) who asked me:

"Mom, if you could live anywhere in the world, not for the rest of your life, but for maybe just five years, where would it be?"

"Five years!" I exclaimed, "That's a long time."

"Okay, just a month or two then."

"I'd want to live Brazil and learn Portuguese."

"I want to live in China," was his response.

Hmmm.... and when and where would we fit a return to Guatemala? Especially once we get to the other side of the world?

Maybe we'll be making a big mistake NOT doing it. Maybe the world will end with the Mayan calendar and we'll wish we homesteaded while we had the chance. Maybe one day we'll look back and say, "I sure wish we'd built a house there."


Then again, maybe not. Maybe we'd just end up with a really expensive storage unit that we won't see again for 10 years or more while we traipse through Europe and Asia.

But as I sat the other night working on a new video (it's awesome - the past 5 years of our travel life, you're going to want to see this when it's done!), we were all pumped with excitement and passion.

What incredible experiences we've had, and we can only imagine what lies ahead.

THIS is what we're about. Discover. Share. Inspire. Explore.

Who wouldn't want to live here?

We're not packing our bags yet. We still have all the rabbits and dogs. Either way, we'll still be here for a few more months (it's much easier to work while we finish up our book and online course). And perhaps during that time we'll decide that this is an 'insurance policy' we want to own (if we do then we'll share the process with you).

But if we decide against homesteading, then we'll be working on the truck, making some improvements, adding some more comforts and luxuries (and getting a new paint job... it's so ugly now).

Finally we'll head south once more.

The connection to the land, growing your own food - that's one appeal of homesteading

Talking rabbits again πŸ˜‰

Β  Β 

Exploring property lines


Truth be told, they are the biggest reason we don't want to leave Guatemala.

We'll miss you guys too much!

The earth is beautiful here in Guatemala. So beautiful you never want to leave. Thinking about what we'll be missing out on makes it difficult to go.

But if you never leave, then you'll never discover what else the world has to offer you.

Moving forward brings new growth.

Have you every been torn between two opposing desires?



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23 Responses

  1. Catherine Forest

    What a familiar feeling you are sharing here. We have bought an old farm house and barn 5 years ago, in love with the idea of homesteading. We did it all, milking our cow and making raw cheese and other delicious dairies, using our sheep’s wool, losing many rabbit babies, loving our black pigs, playing with chicken, geese and ducks… but the dream of traveling and the dream of homesteading just cannot go together… It was a hard call, but we sold the farm and started traveling… but when we come back to the Yukon, where our 3 girls are born and connect with our beloved community and the amazing landscape (check the mountains and lakes in my last post:, we wonder… and look at property and think about setting roots… then, we think about all the places we want to see, and decide against it… for a time! Thanks for sharing this. It feels good to know that the desire to set root, have a little homestead, and live in a community for more than 6 months is something other digital nomads share…

  2. Nancy Sathre-Vogel

    When it’s time to settle down, you’ll know it. Trust me on that one! I never, ever thought the day would come when I didn’t want to travel any more. It took me 28 years of full time travel – living the expat life, traveling on bikes, gallivanting far and near – before that urge was there. I couldn’t explain it, and I sure had a hard time accepting it. I was a TRAVELER! Didn’t travelers travel?

    But it was there inside me and I couldn’t deny it any longer. Now I am as domestic as they come – LOVE living in my little house in Boise, Idaho. I can’t imagine doing anything else.

    Just listen to that voice inside and it will tell you what you need to do.

  3. Anne


    We are on a career break in China learning Chinese! How old is your son? Would he like a “pen pal” in China to chat with? We are also LDS and have just recently discovered your website through Annie Andre. She is including us in her “100 families” soon.


  4. Carleen

    Travel while you can……there will come a time when your kids grow up and have families of their own and you will want to be close to your grand babies πŸ™‚
    Enjoy, enjoy, enjoy!!!

  5. David

    Your honesty is refreshing.
    The question that you are facing is one that all ‘nomads’ face. I am now in the home I have owned for the longest time in my life; a decade now. Prior to that I lived in 17 places, including cruising 16,000 miles on 2 sailboats. When my son was 8, we came ashore and found ourselves ‘grounded’ after a life of travel and living in tents, buses, cabins and, of course, boats.
    Not a day goes by where I think I have made the right choice in settling down. At the time, we both thought it was the ‘right thing to do’. It was right for our child, it was safe, it was normal…
    Every day I think how I want to be out there, again; but roots grow into the earth and soon you find that you are stuck, houses, divorce, kids being pulled both ways, cars, jobs… I said it would never happen to me. The security soon becomes what you thought all along, a prison of painted walls, antique windows, regular paychecks and acceptance for the ‘norm’ – It has taken me longer to figure out the escape than it did to get into it.
    I turned 50 today. In the past 5 years I have worked hard at hacking the roots away, getting married, seeing my son off to University and building our next offshore boat and long distance land vehicle (one can tow the other and both fit into containers).
    So, my own opinion – yes, fall in love with an area; and then move on. You will find the next place to stir those homesteading urges soon enough BUT you hit it on the head when you said that you won’t likely get back there for 10 years – and that land and homesteading dream just sitting there will weigh on you when you are out traveling.
    Hoist anchor – Columbia is ahead and everyone falls in love with her.
    I loved Guatemala as well – and lived in Mexico for a year and a half… Next June I will be in Columbia.
    When you do find the place to settle down, the reasons to do so will make sense. Beautiful views, nice people, chickens, land are all easier to come by than you think. Settle down when you can’t imagine wanting to ever leave. Until then, stop for spells (like catching your breathe) up to 6 months and then keep going forward.

  6. Eric

    I just wrote a poem a few weeks ago that seems like a perfect response except for the religious context – I hope no one minds that part!

    Oh, brilliant moon,
    you shine through the night
    How I enjoy your fullness,
    your pleasant blue light.

    The insects sing their song
    while the moon glows all night long.

    The sun starts to come,
    brightening the sky.
    as I lay listening,
    wondering if soon the waterfall will be glistening.
    To go play in it would almost be like christening
    my children
    In a piece of heaven.

    My spirituality heightens
    while I stay near
    so my son is not frightened.
    Meanwhile, my senses are heightened
    It’s Sunday morning, and I feel so enlightened.

    Worship of nature
    is my church
    With hummus and toast
    to help nourish.

    New age music streams from my laptop
    but the real sounds of birds and streams
    bring me the most beautiful dreams.

    Just laying in my hammock,
    I feel so inspired.
    Spurred by comfort
    toward greater desires.

    I want to travel the world.
    though I wonder how it is that a squirrel
    seems just as happy when he whirls
    around the tree trunks
    chasing a girl.

    My wife and my family are complete
    why do we try so hard to compete
    in this world
    when all we need are our own two feet
    and something to eat.

    Just like the squirrel,
    we are in pursuit
    of a life that will better suit.

  7. tereza crump aka MyTreasuredCreations

    For the past couple of years I have been talking to my DH about going places, purchasing an RV and exploring the world. God gave us a brand new and bigger house last year, instead. Now the kids have so much more space to run around, I planted my first garden this year and loved it!! The kids want chickens and goats, my DH wants a pond and I don’t know what I want. While I love where we are at, sometimes I feel tied down. So when I think of RVing or traveling, I question “how about gardening?” – my new love. I decided not to worry about it. I have put all these things into God’s hands and He will move us when He sees fit.

    Ps You might decide to live in Brazil when you get there. My DH has been trying to move us there for over 11 years but I like it here so much. I do miss the people and the food, though. πŸ™‚

  8. travelmomma

    This is our life! We travel (with 8 kids) and and then we homestead as expats for about a year. Soon that gets old, we get robbed, or begining to long for the freedom of travel again and off we go. Infact, we are just setting off again after being in Central America for a year and a half. We are heading to Guatemala in a month or so. Would love to meet you.

  9. livingoutsideofthebox

    How did I miss this post?!! Β It’s such a wonderful reflection on your journey (literally, and emotionally, etc)…and I can relate to it 100%. I guess we know what won out (for now). It’s a big world out there…so for now we continue, content with the fact that home can be wherever we are. Some day we’ll get to that homestead point…maybe!! Β πŸ˜‰

    • RachelDenning

      @livingoutsideofthebox I’m so glad that you enjoyed it πŸ™‚ We can be home wherever we are, but still a ‘house’ calls to us sometimes.


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