Interview with Lainie and Miro, single mom and son volunteering and world traveling for 8 years

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Lainie is a single mom traveling with her 12-year old boy Miro on a journey that started 2 years ago and is aimed at lasting 8 years. They both volunteer in the places they stop and they work together on the blog Raising Miro.com. They chose the unschooling path, or more precisely, worldschooling, while they learn lessons of compassion and about being true global citizens. Their blog is more focused on podcasts, where they talk about their life on the road and interview some really cool travelers and unschoolers (although still full of texts and beautiful pics). I highly recommend the interview with Rita Golden Gelman.

Now, let´s move to our interview. Both Lainie and Miro have specific questions, so pay attention to who is being addressed.

Lainie, you travel by intuition, you stay for many months in one place like Guatemala (8 months) and then choose to stay way less in others like Costa Rica (2 months on different occasions). How do you decide, or feel that´s time to move on?

Lainie: That’s a really great question. However, there really isn’t a formula answer, as each situation is different.What I can tell you is that both Miro and I have the same reflex, the same response to the places we visit. There has never been an opportunity where one of us has liked the place and the other has not, so we feel lucky we are pretty aligned that way. Our decisions to move on or stay have always been a joint decision just as most things are in respect to our traveling. We have both committed to being in the moment as a practice and creating experiences that feel good, so it’s simple, when the place or situation no longer feels good, we know it’s time to move on. This actually was NOT the case with Guatemala, I fear we could have stayed there for another few years without complaint, but we did have an equal impulse to continue our travels and the inner excitement to explore other places. Besides impulse, there are other variables at times, like visa restrictions, volunteer commitments, etc. but in general, we like to travel with as few schedule requirements as possible.

Miro, you guys have been talking a lot about global citizens in your blog. Can you describe what a global citizen mean to you?

Miro: To me, a global citizen is someone who doesn’t discriminate against other races and cultures. A global citizen is someone with a nomadic lifestyle. A global citizen is someone who likes to experience other cultures, and in return, shows their own.

Lainie, you talk a lot about compassion and how traveling made you learn more about this. Can you talk a little about the experiences that you had that made you feel more compassionate?

Lainie: I have experienced compassion and gratitude on a daily basis as a result of our travels. I have seen compassion in myself and Miro and others. It seems the more I focus attention on compassion, the more it’s present in my life. We have had experiences with homeless people we’ve made friendships with, mothers in the park, older gentlemen who’s hands seems to frail to hold a pencil, but has enough strength to squeeze our hands and offer a huge smile. We have come across families who live in a 1 room wooden shack, without pluming who offered us as a gift, one of their prized possessions, a beautiful polished stone, from their collection. We’ve seen homeless women on the street, sharing their scraps of food with the street dogs so they had something to eat. We’ve experienced the hearts and compassion from countless volunteers who are also traveling with the innate desire to give or serve. We have seen and been a part of this compassion, which fuels our lives.

Miro, you guys always volunteer, can you tell us a bit about how this started and what kind of jobs you guys take, like what do you do and tell us something about any specific experience?

Miro: The first volunteer job that I can remember was in Nicaragua, at a temporary veterinarian clinic. I helped calm the animals and clean them up after surgery. We have had more volunteer jobs, and we do what they ask us to. Right now we are working with children, every day between 3 to 6. Its a handful.

Lainie, can you talk a bit about what your budget is and how you can make ends meet while on the road?

Lainie: We left with a budget to cover one year of travel and for the first year of travel, we didn’t worry too much about money. When the second year approached, we know that we wanted to continue traveling and I knew I had no intention of going back to work full time. That was the point we decided to make our travels support us. We started our blog and podcast and have been working at it ever since. It has taken almost a year of hard work, building our audience, defining our brand and position and becoming a valuable resource for our audience. We are currently surviving on ad revenue, sponsorships and donations. We do live frugally, however surviving on a small budget of $1000 for two people for an entire month. To balance our costs, we couch surf, volunteer and stay in one location for longer periods of time, which keeps our costs low. We live like locals and have found so much meaning to our adventure through the volunteer experience, something both Miro and I are really enjoying. Most of all, we are creative with our perception of living, and have redefined what we value. That’s something we all can afford to do.

Lainie, can you date while on such a nomadic lifestyle with your son? How do you do it?

Lainie: This is such a difficult subject to broach. The main obstacle is not our lifestyle per se. The obstacle is meeting someone I authentically click with. I have had some wonderful friendships on the road that would have been defined under the ‘getting to know the person stages’ within the conventional dating life cyle of a single woman. On occasions, they have played themselves out, and developed into wonderful friendships. Other times it’s was a case of ‘we discovered we have nothing in common’. Either way, I’ve had the amazing opportunity to meet a few wonderful men on our travels, all of whom it’s been an honor to know, all of whom were not someone I was interested in pursuing anything further with.

If I can be blunt, let’s broach the topic of sex.

Miro and I are on the road. Sometimes we’re on the backpacker trail, and sometimes not. Whatever the situation, I do attract some unwanted male attention and it’s definitely a topic Miro and I talk about. My approach, has been to be open with Miro about my perspective. I do not shelter him from life, nor do I shy away from talking about sex. I feel Miro is at a crucial point in his development as a teenager and I want him to have a healthy relationship with being a sexual being.

I am 44 year old woman. At this point in my life, I am not really interested in having flings, or find them satisfying in the least. I could, however, fill volumes with stories (and someday I just might) about the 20 something year old backpackers who have come on to me, thinking that having sex with me would be some amazing addition to their travel experience. The most accurate word I can use to to describe my response to their advances: ‘BORING’.

I am clearly not interested in having a fling with a man 20 years younger than me. I’m so clear about that, so it’s not even an issue. However, it’s been an interesting dynamic for Miro to observe from both the perspective of a developing male and that of my son. I must say, this topic has indeed has spawned numerous conversations.

So, back to your original question, what about dating? Casual dating is a little more difficult than not so that doesn’t happen very often. However, Miro has said to me on many occasions he’d really like for me to meet a wonderful man, under the conditions that we both like him. I know, he’d have to be a very special man in so many ways, so I hold space open for him, should he make an appearance in our lives. In the meantime though, Miro and I cherish the wonderful adventure we find ourselves on, the amazing places and experiences we are having and in no way, feel a lack of anything in our lives. But if he shows up, he’s welcome, and I can’t wait to meet him.

Miro, from your podcasts it seems like you don´t make many children friends on your way. Lainie said in a podcast that you refer to children as ¨primitives¨. Can you talk a bit about which friends you make and how you relate to children?

Miro: I don’t make many children friends. Most of the friends I make are adults, with the rare   exception of a kid like me. I don’t relate to most children and (I know this sounds arrogant) I believe I am not a kid, but a more sophisticated species of homo sapiens.

Lainie and Miro, did you guys speak Spanish before you started traveling? How did you learn and how long did it take you to?

Lainie: Neither Miro nor I spoke spanish prior to this trip. (I did know a few key words like ‘margarita’ and ‘taco’, being from Los Angeles.) Miro has taken to learning a language much easier than I have, and I consider myself still a beginner. I can, however understand more Spanish than I can speak and reading with the children every day as a volunteer, here in Banos, Ecuador has improved my vocabulary and pronunciation. Miro on the other hand can hold fairly complex conversations in Spanish although has had little schooling on the language. The biggest piece of advice I can give anyone is be patient, it will come, little by little.

Lainie, can you talk about your surf experience, where did you do it and how old were you?

Lainie: I have surfed only once. It was in Nicaragua, at Playa Madera, which is very close to San Juan Del Sur. My friend from California actually was my teacher so it felt less formal. We practiced, and practiced for 2 days and by the end of my second day, I was worn out but I stood up! (for about 5 seconds only) That was epic. I loved the challenge, love the ability to have a personal best at my age.. 44 and the first time I surfed. I’m kinda proud of myself. :)

Thanks a lot Lainie and Miro, you guys are really great.

You might want to follow their adventures on their blog or on twitter.

This article was originally posted on Tripping Mom by Marilia Di Cesare on June 20, 2011. Republished with authorization. Click here for all other posts.

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