Can Corona virus help you to become a digital nomad?

Inspiration shot March 2020

I had planned to spend a month on Curaçao but now I am ‘stranded’ here and my stay might be extended for quite a while longer … The first few weeks on the island I felt more like a ‘world citizen’ than ever. The day I arrived, I was surprised to see my workshop announced in the local newspaper. I feel really at home here, everywhere I am recognized and I can help people with their book or business.
While I’m here, I’m learning Italian through DuoLingo and making sketches for the piece of land I bought in Puglia, Italy, arranging a new caretaker and cleaner for my dad in Miami and booking my tickets for the writing week and a conference in Thailand later this year. Strangely enough, one of the side effects of the Coronavirus is that we all become a little more location independent: after all, working from home or remotely is now recommended (sometimes even mandatory) instead of being viewed suspiciously by most companies. And if you do not work at the office, why would you stay in your wintery home country, while the virus is less active in warm countries? Do you take this opportunity? (travel will only be possible when the travel ban is lifted, but this is the time to prepare for a location independent life).

A month in a special place

A few months ago I decided I wanted to stay on my favorite Caribbean island for the entire month of March, organized a writing week and arranged some workshops. Of course, it helps that I am known here and that CoWorld is open to hosting beautiful ‘win-win-win’ events, but how could you do this if you want to go somewhere and don’t know anyone yet? Via meetup.com you can see which (large, active) groups there are in your field or area of interest. Contact an active organizer and offer to do something during their meeting. A lecture, workshop or training; just what you are good at. Do this at the beginning of your stay. This gives you immediate access to a nice network of like-minded people. Co-working spaces often also offer space to visitors; these are also great places to make contacts and meet people. Furthermore, it is a matter of just doing it. If you are open to it, opportunities will present themselves as you go.

Make your breaks more fun

We all know that you shouldn’t be sitting at the computer for too long and that you shouldn’t be out on the beach in the sun for too long. That’s why I do it this way: in the morning when it is still cool, I walk around the beautiful area where I am staying and enjoy the view of the sea, the sound of the tropical birds and the warm wind. Then I go into the air conditioning behind my laptop: in principle that could be anywhere. I often have lunch with a girlfriend: you have to eat anyway and then it is immediately social and fun. Every day, without exception, I swim laps in the ocean for half an hour. Swimming for me is relaxation, meditation, a workout and sight-seeing all in one. I let myself dry up in the sun (just enough to get vitamin D and a sun kissed skin, but I never burn) and then get back to work in the air conditioning. In the evening I like to cook and then I hang out with friends in the warm air. It gives me the idea that I enjoy Curaçao, while also maintaining my health and work. So it’s not a vacation: this is just my life! What does your ideal day look like? How can you best combine work and ‘breaks’? Walk? Sports? Cook? Socializing?

Work hard, play harder

Do you also want to become a digital nomad? On the 8th of April, I will host another Digital Nomad workshop in Amsterdam (if we can’t get together in person yet, it will be virtual). I wrote two books about becoming and being location independent: Digital Nomads and the Dutch Handboek voor Wereldburgers. These days I am recognized as the ‘first’  (they may discreetly mean the ‘oldest’???) digital nomad when I am frequently interviewed. Suzanne van Duijn is in a similar situation with her book, ‘Work hard travel harder’. It also contains many interesting interviews and tips.

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Meanwhile in Italy…

I’m having a great time searching the internet for fun ‘tiny house’ designs and to think about how I want to renovate my piece of olive grove in Puglia (did you miss how / why I bought this? See my previous inspiration shot with a ‘road trip’ video).

After swimming I do my Italian lesson on the beach with DuoLingo every day. My challenge is to be able to manage the transaction at the notary without a translator (because it was so expensive). Moreover, I prefer to invest in myself, because Italian is not only fun and handy, it is almost required there in the countryside.

Just after I had booked my tickets in April and made an appointment with the notary, I heard that Italy is in lockdown: no one is allowed in or out. Does this have an impact on me? Not really. Maybe I will stay longer on Curaçao because while it is still ‘flu season’ in Europe, it makes no sense to go back. Moreover, almost all meetings are now done online, so I might as well do my thing from Curaçao as from Amsterdam.

Meanwhile, it is clear that all of Europe is a ‘no go’ area for the time being, so my visit to the notary will be postponed anyway. I will speak even BETTER Italian, hopefully! 🙂

Did you know...?

I’m writing a new book on how to write a good book fast? All information that I share during my writing retreats, workshops and private sessions, brought together in 1 ‘bible’. It is so much fun to do and it gives such a great feeling to combine all my knowledge and experience in one place! During the past few weeks during workshops and the writing retreat, every question, every example made me think: oh, indeed that should also be in the book! I haven’t felt as enthusiastic and energetic as with this project in a long time. It will be super complete and I am sure it can get many (aspiring) writers on their way. In these times of ‘house arrest’ it may be a good idea to finally take the time to make that writing dream come true. In the end, something good will come out of these quiet, difficult times. I am working hard on the book and hope the Dutch version will be finished in April, the English one to follow soon after.

Waar is Esther?

So I am loving this whole month (and maybe longer…) on Curaçao! I am so happy here, that I have decided to do it again next year. Every month of March on Curaçao from now on.
In the first week, I gave some workshops and helped 35 people with their book. This week, during the writing week, I helped 6 more. I was also invited to give a lecture in the Cathedral of Thorns, a beautiful local work of art, where I gave 35 young people of the Rotary Young Leadership program a different approach for life in my speech about ‘free spirits’. I am also working on my own new book ‘Write a good book quickly’ in which I share all my knowledge and experience. It makes me very happy! An extra book workshop is planned for March 28.
After that, I had planned to fly to Miami to see my father, but the Coronavirus and the travel ban for Europeans to the USA have made that insecure. Can I enter the USA with a Dutch passport, even if I haven’t been to Europe in the past month? What will happen with the next caretaker who was supposed to fly from the Netherlands to Miami in early April? And can the current caretaker return home? And who will take care of my father? If I go, do I risk infecting him? One thing is certain: if I go back to the Netherlands now, I will not be able to enter Miami for the foreseeable future. So better to wait here on Curaçao. A lot of uncertainty, which will be hopefully become clearer in the coming weeks…

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