If you have ever dreamed of escaping the 9 to 5 and following your dreams and then doubted that you could, remember others have already! Allow us to introduce you to the first of our fellow “Escapee” series.
The day starts as usual, they roll out of bed, grab a coffee and take Ziggy for his walk. Despite his missing leg, Ziggy races ahead. When Lynn & Eugene catch up, he has staked out his favorite piece of this 12-mile beach and is patiently waiting to play catch.
The Upham’s recently replaced New Jerseys shores with those of Placecnia, Belize. The deserted white sand stretches away, the shimmering warm water beckons and they join Ziggy as he plunges after tossed driftwood.
The beach, the sun, the snorkeling, the time to enjoy it and the ability to set their own schedule is why they sold everything and relocated to this slice of paradise.
Lynn (58) & Eugene (50) would never have guessed that the consequences of her cancelled school trip to Costa Rica in the aftermath of 9/11 would eventually lead them to this. Lynn an art teacher for almost 30 years, loved to travel, especially with her students on their annual trips. They decided that a trip to Costa Rica would have to go on the wish list.
Eugene’s days behind the wheel of a tractor-trailer meant a 3 am start and an 8pm bedtime, a schedule detrimental to his social life and not ideal for newlyweds. The honeymoon in Barbados–Eugene’s first time away from the US–was where Lynn introduced Eugene to snorkeling in crystalline blue water and the delights of living somewhere warm, sunny and friendly.
Honeymoon over they settled into the routine, Eugene’s long hours behind the wheel and eat on the move meals of cold cuts and cheese sandwiches eventually had its toll. In December 2009, Eugene was rushed into emergency. His heart attack was followed, by the death of his Uncle, his Mom, both of Lynn’s parents and a close cousin just months before his 50th birthday.
Very conscious that life is short they realized that they were working only to pay for the house, car and truck. They needed the vehicles to get to work, which paid the bills and left them with only enough to afford a few weeks a year on the beach, where they could enjoy fresh air, sunshine and no stress.
No longer willing to wait for the “appropriate retirement age”, Lynn started planning their next trip overseas. While researching Costa Rica, Lynn came across mention of Belize in the glossy travel magazines. Realizing that Belize is closer, cheaper and with no language barriers, she booked a trip split between the jungles of Belmopan and beach side Hopkins.
Eagerly awaiting their Easter break visit, Lynn found herself researching real estate in Belize. She came across their future home in the cold dark months of 2010, unable to wait she jumped on a plane and arrived in Placencia Belize in January 2011.
Eugene & Lynn had already decided what they were looking for, they wanted warmth, a slower pace of life, and a beach they could walk to. They wanted a place with less traffic, somewhere they could be outside more, a place to take a beer to the beach and watch the sunset and freedom from rules, hassles and stress.
They already knew they were people, people and their dream of owning a bar was about to become a reality. The Pickled Parrot, Lynn’s destination was a slightly run down bar, situated in Placencia village, it ticked everything on their list.
Buzzing with excitement Lynn explored the village, finding answers to each question as it surfaced, could they find sufficient supplies locally, was there a pharmacy, nurse, doctors, dentists nearby? The answer was yes to all, the clinic even had a defibrillator. Upon returning home, she crunched the numbers could they pull this off.
The final decision had to wait until Easter when Eugene would have a chance to visit Placencia. They spent one day checking out the bar, the beach, and the locals and asking many questions. That evening while relaxing in the pool at the resort in nearby Hopkins, Eugene gave Lynn his blessing to see if she could buy The Pickled Parrot.
It took almost a year to settle a price, sell their assets and take possession. Lynn runs the kitchen, serving up US home-style food, hamburgers, meatloaf and even turkey dinners on occasion. Eugene is in his element, patrons are greeted by name and by Ziggy who is always willing to catch a stick or two.
They now live by the sea and sleep to the waves lullaby, on days off they go snorkeling, or diving. They have time to sit on the beach with a cold beer and Ziggy while watching shooting stars.
They own no vehicles, they walk or cycle everywhere and have lost 90 lbs. between them. They are happier, healthier and a lot more relaxed despite taking on a brand new business. After all this time, they are working for themselves not someone else. A growing number of regular patrons became a perfect opportunity for their son Tommy to join them behind the bar. He visited and never went home.
When asked what “were the biggest challenges in moving overseas” they gave a surprisingly small list.
The biggest issue was ‘getting over the programming to work until you retire and hope you can still enjoy retirement”.
Leaving Eugene’s 77-year-old Dad was a big wrench, although they do manage trips home to visit.
Paperwork! Lynn’s advice is to be patient and tenacious, they have their business visa and are waiting for residency visas.
Their advice for somebody interested in doing what they did would be.
Lynn “Follow your heart and research it with your head, if you just live with what you have been programmed to do, you will never be happy. Let your desires and dream show forth but balance with common sense”
Eugene “Go with your heart don’t listen to what others say, we were told we were nuts, others were jealous”.
You can find Lynn, Eugene, Tommy, Ziggy and friends atThe Pickled Parrot Crossroads of Daagteet & Pampas, Placencia, Belize (501) 636 7068 Find the Pickled Parrot on FaceBook