Reading time: 9 minutes

All my life I have dreamed of escaping the small town where I grew up.

The world was calling me to go explore it, but circumstances kept me stuck in that small town in Canada for over 30 years.

When I was 19, I had finally made up my mind that I was moving to New York City to pursue my dream of acting. I was so excited to tell my mother about it, but instead of encouraging me to chase my dreams, she talked me out of it. A few months later, my mother told me she had been diagnosed with stage four uterine cancer.

Instead of chasing my dreams, I stayed at home and took care of my mother. For ten years, I went from one dead-end job to another, never truly experiencing life. I could feel my soul being crushed more every day.

 

Long-Distance Relationship

My parents had split up when I was less than a year old. My father remarried, but my mother had not. She finally remarried when I was 29. I moved into my very first apartment and started to live. I was still stuck at a dead-end job and I became quite lonely. That’s when I met my first husband.

He was American and I, Canadian, so it was a long-distance relationship. We travelled to see each other as often as we could; a long weekend here and there. The distance was a major strain on our relationship, but all the travelling really started to fuel my wanderlust. We knew that if we could just live near each other, everything would work out. So, we decided to get married.

Getting married meant that we could speed up the immigration process, but even after we were married, we still wouldn’t be living together. I saw many red flags before we got married. He had pretended to be who he thought I wanted him to be for a long time, but the truth was starting to reveal itself.

 

Something Unexpected Happened

Six weeks before my wedding, my best friend told me he was in love with me.

I deeply considered not going through with the marriage. But I had made a promise and it seemed wrong not to follow through. Of course, now, I wish I hadn’t. So many things could have been different. The biggest being the drug overdose and subsequent death of my friend who had confessed his love for me right before my wedding. Because of his confession, I had thought it best to back off from our friendship

My husband certainly didn’t want me spending time with him and being around him. After that, it was just too hard. If I had not gotten married, I would at least have remained his friend.  Maybe I could have prevented his drug overdose? That’s a question that will haunt me until the day I die.

 

It Had To End

Ten months into my marriage, I decided it had to end. I was living in complete misery and needed it to be over. It wasn’t an easy decision. I take marriage very seriously and believe it really should be for life. But I was dying inside. I had married a fraud and felt that was enough reason to part.

During and around this time, three people I loved dearly died of cancer; a friend, an uncle and my grandmother. These deaths, especially so close together, had started to make life very grim, but once I separated from my husband, I started to truly embrace and love being alone.

I started to do everything on my own – go out to dinner, to the movies, to concerts and travel. Life was starting to feel very good for the first time, maybe ever. I was on a weekend trip to Maryland, USA, when I received a call that would forever change my life.

 

My Cousin’s Wife Hanged Herself

My mother was who called to tell me. I remember asking her if she was joking, knowing full well she wasn’t. I remember dropping the phone and screaming for what seemed like forever. My mother wanted me to come home right away. “Charter a plane if you have to,” she said. I understand the desperation she was feeling with me being out of the country at the time, but I had rented a car and drove to Maryland with friends. It wasn’t reasonable for me to simply abandon my friends and the rental car.

I drove home the next day. In shock and shrouded in devastation. How I managed to drive for 18 hours feeling that way, I will never know. But I made it home in time for that nights viewing and the funeral the following day. I won’t go into details, so I can protect my family, but I will say that this death changed us all, in so many ways.

I can only speak to how it affected me. I sunk into a deep depression, wondering how I couldn’t have seen that she was in so much pain and wishing I had been able to help her. I watched as my family fell apart and was helpless to stop it. The only person’s destiny I was in control of was mine. I needed to get that joy for life that I had so recently found back again.

I knew that if I stayed in that small town for the rest of my life and let depression forever take hold of me, I would end up dying, too. I needed out, but what was I going to do? I never went to college or pursued my acting aspirations as I had put my life on hold to care for my Mother. My love for travel was always present, so that’s what I would do.

 

I Would Become A World Traveler!

I gave myself one year to save as much money as I could, sell some of my possessions and plan my travels. I researched every country on this beautiful earth. I knew I wouldn’t have a great deal of money, so I had to travel in the cheapest regions of the world. But I had always longed to travel to Europe, so I picked my top places and decided I would see those before heading to South East Asia.

 

Because I was on such a tight budget, I was only able to be in Europe for three weeks – the cheapest flights in and out were what I based my time on. I spent five days in Rome, five days in Amsterdam, three days in Bruges and the rest of the time in the UK.

I was excited, of course, but I was also completely terrified. After the first few days, I fell deeply in love with a life of travel. I flew from London to Bangkok and from there on, I had no fixed itinerary. And that’s when things really started to get fun. I was living life completely in the moment and it was way better than I could have ever imagined.

I travelled around South East Asia for several months, making friends and really getting to know myself and the world around me. After so many amazing experiences in Thailand, Malaysia and Cambodia, I just knew I was going to love Vietnam. Boy was I wrong! So many things went wrong during my time in Vietnam, so much so that I decided to get out of that region of the world.

 

I Booked A Ticket To Mexico City

I didn’t know it then, but this decision would also forever change my life.

I spent five days in a hostel dorm room, all alone in Mexico City, recovering from jet lag and trying to adjust to this new, wonderful culture that was so different from where I had just spent so much time. I didn’t speak a lick of Spanish, which made everything so difficult. In South East Asia, you can get by just fine – actually very easily – just speaking English and using hand gestures. Any guesthouse or hostel you stay at can arrange any tours or transport needed, but this was not the case in Mexico.

I managed to figure out how to get to the subway that would take me to the bus terminal. I headed off to Puebla, a truly magical place, where I finally managed to make some new travel friends! I was in my dorm, searching for my next destination. I had decided to go to Oaxaca De Juarez and was looking up hostels.

As a budget traveller, I tend to book the cheapest hostel with the best possible rating. A guy in my dorm saw my search and recommended a hostel that was a bit out of my price range. He said, “There’s nothing particularly spectacular about it, but it has some sort of magical quality that I just can’t describe.” I was intrigued, so I booked it.

 

I Found My Place

Little did I know that I was heading to my destiny. About an hour after arriving at the hostel, I met Aecku. We’ve been inseparable ever since, travelling the world together. We got married – which I swore I would never do again – In 2016. We’ve been living the expat life in Cambodia for a little more than a year, teaching English to children. We’re unable to sit still for too long, so in January, we’re going to back to where it all started for us – Mexico.

I don’t know what the future holds for me, but I know it will be a life filled with precious memories made all over the world with the love of my life.

 

Stace Edoha is a full-time traveller from Ontario, Canada. She has travelled through more than 40 countries and has lived in three of those countries (so far). She works as an English teacher and travel blogger. She is passionate about eradicating Cambodia of the hundreds of thousands of landmines that are scattered throughout the country that continue to take many lives.

To read more about her travels and learn how to travel on little to no money, check out her blog full-timewanderers.com.