I just watched the sunrise from the highest platform of my super fun cat tower. A few minutes ago, I devoured a plate of white ocean fish mixed with salmon flakes! Can you believe it? Salmon flakes!
Seriously, what a wild ride my life has been. And I’m only 4 months old.
My name is Matcha, by the way. I’m this little domestic short haired cat from Bali and boy do I have a story to tell!
The First Day: Hungry and Scared
It all began when I was born I guess. It’s a bit fuzzy but I was born and suddenly, when I was only 5 days old, someone left me in the jungle in Bali. I could barely move and I was soon covered in grass, without food and trying to survive an intense rainstorm. It was rough. The storm eventually ended but I wasn’t feeling well at all. I was drenched, sooooo hungry and some bugs started crawling all over me.
All I could do was cry because I was really scared.
I don’t know how long I was crying but out of nowhere, I started to hear two voices nearby. I started crying more loudly, hoping they would hear me and maybe help somehow.
And they sure did. It’s still a blur but a very, very nice girl just scooped me up out of the jungle and put me in a little box. Then, this boy appeared with a cloth and put that in the box, which felt so soft on my belly. They started walking with me. I didn’t really care where we were going as I was just happy to be out of that jungle.
I was taken to a house for about an hour and then to some place called a ‘vet’. People were touching me, pulling bugs off of my skin, giving me milk and, honestly, I don’t really know what they were doing but it sure made me feel better so I just went with it.
Later on, we arrived back at that same house. And the same girl and boy started to take care of me. I learned that they were called Georgiana and Derek.
The First Month: A New Life
Georgiana and Derek didn’t seem too experienced, especially the boy, but somehow they managed to feed me with a bottle and even made a cozy place for me to sleep. They watched over me and made sure I was comfortable all the time. Even in the middle of the night they would wake up if I needed anything at all.
The days passed and I started feeling so much better. I did have something called ringworm but this girl and boy spent a lot of time on their phones figuring out how to get rid of that. They were determined! I even enjoyed the warm baths they gave me with that special shampoo.
At that age, I couldn’t go to the bathroom or eat on my own yet. So Georgiana or Derek would help me out. But sometimes I just didn’t need to pee or I just wasn’t hungry. The funny thing is that they always thought they were doing something wrong if I didn’t pee or eat. I found it quite amusing that they wanted me to pee so bad all the time! I don’t know how much they pee but I just didn’t need to go that much.
So, I was really tiny during that time. I was trying to figure out how to walk steadily and I couldn’t see very well. I did try to play with these cool toys they bought me and I started to stumble around on the grass. Although, I was quite content to simply let these two people rub my head and neck all the time. That was a feeling I had never experienced before and I must say, I loved it!
Georgiana and Derek were always doing something on these devices that had a screen and a keyboard. So the only way I could get them to stop and come back to rubbing my head was to cry a little. They fell for it every single time! It was such a simple trick.
Anyway, the next month was incredible!
The Second Month: Like a Dream
One day, we moved to this beautiful house in a different part of Bali. While there, I started to understand how to walk fast and even jump up on the bed and sofa. I could roam all over the place. Of course, Georgiana and Derek were always nearby and they wouldn’t let me out of their sight. I don’t know what they thought could happen…I mean, was some big cat going to attack me? Silly people.
They even started feeding me real food. I think it was tuna and it was so yummy! I also figured out that the box they kept filling up with these weird pieces of soy sticks was the place I was supposed to go to the bathroom on my own. First, soy sticks? Such hipsters! Second, I really don’t understand why they were so excited when I started using this tray. It’s just pee and poop but these two people were jumping up and down as if I had won an Olympic event. Am I supposed to cheer every time they go to the bathroom?
I guess I can understand their concern though when these little worms started to appear near my bum. Apparently, that’s not supposed to happen and before I knew it, I was whisked away to the vet again. I will tell you this…I am not a fan of the ‘vet’. It seems to be a place they take me whenever they don’t want me to be happy. But why don’t they want me to be happy all the time?
I don’t know. I just want to be happy!
Luckily, this visit to the vet was quick. However, and I can’t say for certain, I think my parents started slipping drugs into my food shortly after. I would taste this weird bitter flavor and the texture of the tuna was a little off. I’m not really sure what they were doing but they seemed to be quite secretive about it. At least those worms went away eventually.
Life continued and I became more and more attached to my family. They became more and more attached to me too. I learned how to do this thing called ‘purr’ and every time I did it, my family stopped whatever they were doing and showered me with attention and love. It’s another cool trick!
And when we all sat on the sofa, enjoying each other’s company, they would order dinner and I would try to eat it off their plate. That was such a fun game they played with me. It looked so real when they tried to shove me away from their food over and over again!
Then we would watch a movie sometimes. Georgiana really liked these scary movies and Derek really liked these dumb comedies. I would have been happy to watch a nice animal movie but they just weren’t interested.
Life was really great and I started to get the idea that I was going to be taken care of forever. Every time they moved to a different house, they took me with them. And every day, it seemed that their routine was built around making sure I had everything I needed to be comfortable and happy. While in that jungle at 5 days old, I never could have imagined that things would turn out this way!
Oh, did I tell you? They even bought me this awesome cat house thing. Wow! Three floors, rooms to sleep in, scratch posts to scratch and even a hammock! A HAMMOCK!!!
The Third Month: I’m a Princess
I was in that comfy hammock when, one day, Derek lifted me up, put me in my pet carrier and took me back to that damn vet again. I was pretty chill about it because, I don’t know, it seemed harmless enough overall. But this time, holy crap. They jammed some needle in the back of my neck and called it a ‘vaccine’. I was pissed off and quickly discovered that I can hiss and spit and make some serious noise that make these people afraid to do things like that again. Believe me, I used these new found skills because I ended up at the vet two more times for these vaccine injections!
They kept saying it was for some vaccine passport book and that I would need it to leave the country, but why would I leave the country? I’m a Bali cat. It didn’t make any sense to me.
Well, about a week later, they really surprised me good. I did have to sit in a car for about 3 hours but when I was allowed out again, ohhhhhhhhhhh. We were at some house right on the beach in a small town called Amed. It was surreal. I could hear the waves all day and listen to birds. I could run all over the place and jump around and have so much fun. They even let me outside every now and then. I would eat some grass, try to climb trees and just run through the bushes, free as those birds!
In the evenings, I would hang out in my cat house and relax. Right before bedtime, I would always play this crazy game with Derek. He would hide his hand under the sheets and I would try to find it every time he poked his finger out. It was wild! I could play that game for hours and hours. I don’t know what Derek’s problem was because he got tired quickly from this game but no way I was going to let him stop!
By this point, these two people were treating me like I was a princess. They even called me ‘princess’ all the time. But I guess they were just confused because I don’t really have any royalty in my blood. I wasn’t going to tell them that though!
This went on for 1 more incredible month!
A Week at the Vet
Eventually, our time in Amed did come to an end. And every time I try to think about the 3 weeks that followed, I have such a mix of emotions. It was an intense period.
Let me tell you about it.
One day, I didn’t feel very well and all I wanted to do was sleep. A couple of times, I tried to walk around but my legs weren’t stable at all. My family looked very concerned as I just curled up on a chair unable to move much.
Before I knew it, I was back at Sunset Vet, but this time was very different. Derek was there at first but suddenly, he was gone and I was in a cage in a strange room with strange people and a few other animals too. I thought maybe it would last a few minutes but I ended up in this place for 6 long days. During that time, I had to receive injections and an IV and these friendly but unfamiliar vets would check my condition every few hours. They said I had an infection and a muscle sprain, whatever that is.
The good news is that I started to feel better each day. The bad news was that I really, really missed Georgiana and Derek and I had no idea if I would see them again. By the 6th day, I was quite sad. I felt better physically but my life had changed so much, from a beautiful house on the beach with a loving family to this stale room where I wasn’t able to be free at all.
And then…I almost peed myself when I saw Georgiana and Derek walk into the room! I tried to play it real cool, occasionally sniffing their fingers through the cage to make sure it wasn’t a dream. I thought they had abandoned me. I don’t know why they were gone for so long. I suppose it might have something to do with the vets and the fact that my illness was cured but I don’t really know how this stuff works so I’m a little unsure.
Either way, they came back for me! And they took me to another house with palm trees and grass and flowers and plenty of space for me to be myself again. At this point, I knew for certain that I had a family forever!
The Fourth Month: I’m a Traveler
We spent 2 weeks at this sweet new place. Georgiana and Derek never seemed too thrilled when I would climb high into the thorny tree in the corner of the yard and refuse to come down for an hour, but I didn’t care. I was so happy again and I knew they would get over it every single time and still feed me my favorite food.
That’s why I didn’t get too stressed when suddenly, one morning, I was put back into my travel carrier and placed into a van, next to a cage that had a small dog in it. I was a little concerned that Georgiana and Derek were saying goodbye to me but I tried not to worry too much. A very nice man seemed to be in charge now and I could tell by the way they were talking that whatever was about to happen, it wasn’t going to last long.
I’m not really great with time but I’ll guess it was around two days or so when, just as I had expected, Derek appeared and we were together again. It seemed that we had left Bali though, so that was bizarre. It was my first time off the island and we were now in a place called Jakarta, staying at what Derek kept referring to as a ‘pet-friendly hotel‘. Anyway, we stayed at this hotel for 3 days and pretty much played the entire time!
Derek seemed a little stressed during this period but I tried to use my purring ability to calm him down. He also wanted to put this harness thing on me but I wasn’t happy about that and didn’t let him. I feel a little bad about it but I’m a cat after all and a harness just doesn’t work for me. I did let him put a small collar on as a compromise though.
On the third day in Jakarta, it was time to leave again as Derek started packing up. At this point, I was even excited. Where would we end up next? What a crazy life I was leading! I always seemed to end up somewhere fun and comfortable, as long as it wasn’t the vet.
So let me tell you about the next 40 hours!! 40 HOURS!
I was in this smaller travel case and we ended up at an airport. I was in disbelief, thinking to myself, “Now I’m going to fly? I’m a Bali cat and I’m getting to travel the world!!”
But I don’t know. If traveling the world always involves being on an airplane for 12 hours, then a 10 hour layover in another airport and then another 12 hour flight, I don’t need to do it all the time. There were also security checks and so many strangers around. I needed to go to the bathroom in odd, unfamiliar places as well and my system was all messed up because of the time changes. Oh, and I really didn’t enjoy being in that travel case for so many hours.
Then it ended. I don’t know what happened. Our second flight landed in a place called Miami, which I think is in a country called the USA. We then walked through the airport and then we were in a car. Nobody even asked me for my paperwork or why I wanted to come to this new country. I was shocked!
About 1.5 hours later we were in an apartment and I was free to move around again, just like that.
In one room, I had a new cat tower waiting for me, which is bigger than any cat tower I’ve ever seen! I had some great food waiting for me too. The space seemed comfortable to run around and play in and it really didn’t take me long at all to adjust. Derek is here as well of course! I must say, I like it.
Everyone seems to be talking about the ‘shitshow’ and some major problems with a virus in the area and lots of talk about politics but I don’t know, from my perspective everything seems quite calm and I’m having a ton of fun! I just want to play with my favorite piece of rope, eat some more salmon flakes and observe the world from my tower. Is that too much to ask?
And who knows what the future will bring? Will I travel more? Will we move to another house again? As long as I don’t need to visit the vet too often, I’ll take whatever comes my way.
I still can’t believe that only four short months ago I was crying in the Bali jungle, so hungry and scared.
I’ve been living the dream ever since, all because these two people happened to walk by at the right time and save me. Now I’m a world traveler and a princess and I have the best family on the planet!
VIDEO: Here’s a super cool video Georgiana made about my entire journey so far!
Archaeologist Sergio Gomez displays a pot that’s shaped in the image of storm god Tlaloc, found inside a 2,000-year-old tunnel built under the ornate Feathered Serpent Pyramid, which Gomez believes recreated the underworld and was used to initiate new rulers among other religious rituals, in the ruins of Teotihuacan, in San Juan Teotihuacan, Mexico August 12, 2021. Toya Sarno Jordan / Reuters
Skift Take: Teotihuacan near Mexico City has drawn visitors for decades. But archaeologists have just revealed more of their finds from under the ruins. In the future, they’ll put these treasures on display.
Quite often I receive emails that ask – Earl, how can I live the digital nomad lifestyle? How can I become a digital nomad?
I always reply and usually, my response starts off with something like:
That question equates to asking – how can I become an office worker?
They are both very broad categories (and goals) that don’t really offer a direct path or set of defined steps to reach them. They both exist but they are both merely outer shells. What matters most is what you fill them with inside.
What is inside?
A job. A way to earn money.
The Digital Nomad Truth
Here’s the truth – the term “digital nomad” is not a job.
It’s a lifestyle. A digital nomad is a person who has the freedom to move around due to the fact that they can work from their laptop and/or other portable devices.
In order to be a digital nomad, you need to figure out a way to earn money. The nomadic part and the money/work part are generally two very separate things.
And finding work that can provide a nomadic lifestyle generally requires the same process as finding a job that requires a daily 9-5 trip to the office:
examine your skills, abilities, interests and education
figure out which jobs are suitable for what you can offer
narrow it down to jobs/work that interest you and provide benefits that match your needs
try to get hired by a company offering that job
for some, you might create your own business or freelance opportunity instead
Again, whether you strive to be a digital nomad or office worker, you need to find a suitable job/source of income that will lead to that lifestyle/work environment.
The Digital Nomad Opportunities
Luckily, these days, the number of jobs that can match up with a nomadic lifestyle is only increasing. For example, between the years of 2009 – 2018, whenever I met someone on the road who worked online, the chances were quite high that they were a travel blogger or were trying to do one of the less official jobs that I even mentioned in this post. But over the past few years, that has changed significantly. Now I rarely meet another travel blogger.
Instead, I meet data scientists, tech support agents, language tutors, professional development consultants, video editors, advertising reps, psychologists, app developers, magazine editors, accountants, artists, trainers, human resources managers, musicians and on and on.
This is great news. This means that real jobs that earn good money, and offer a remote lifestyle, are more accessible than ever.
Ignoring All the Fluff
Sure, there’s also a lot of fluff out there too. And the point of this post is to try and explain how to create a real digital nomad lifestyle that provides the real freedom you seek. To do so, I would ignore the fluff:
courses that promise an incredible life with almost no work
get rich quick schemes
the lure of ‘easy’ drop shipping success
courses on how to quickly become a successful life coach
anyone that teaches you something new and promises you quick results
It all sounds good and glamorous, but it’s not reality, trust me.
If you want to create a longer term, sustainable nomadic lifestyle that provides the genuine freedom to move around as you wish, I’d personally focus on work that has an actual existing market, plenty of job opportunities and that pays a good, consistent salary. I would also highly consider applying for actual remote jobs as opposed to trying to create your own stream of income. It’s a far easier and more stable path to a successful digital nomad lifestyle.
Also, it’s important to keep in mind that work is work. It doesn’t have to be the ‘job of your dreams’. That’s rare and, in my opinion, is not something to strive for. Or else you’ll be running around in circles for years trying to find that ‘perfect job’.
Instead, strive to find work that interests you to a decent degree and allows you to use your non-work time to do the things that you really want to do in life. It’s about finding an ideal balance. The job pays the bills, and hopefully provides some satisfaction along with the freedom that an office job would not provide. There’s always going to be a trade off, but that’s absolutely okay.
My approach to the digital nomad lifestyle is to take a step back from all the noise, grand promises and too-good-to-be-true social media accounts that are thrown in our faces nonstop. If you really want to succeed, take a BIG step back, shake it all off and then proceed with a more grounded and focused approach, one based in reality and proven results.
Use your actual skills, knowledge and abilities. Find actual jobs that pay well and allow you to work remotely. Avoid getting lost in the endless, nonsensical rabbit hole of trying to figure out how to work 30 minutes per day so that you can spend the rest of your time lounging at 5* resorts in the Maldives. Again, that’s just not reality.
On the other hand, a nap on a hammock in Aruba every now and then, in between work sessions, can certainly happen…
The Digital Nomad Rewards
What is reality, is the opportunity to live a very fulfilling life. The opportunity to spend your time living in places around the world, or in your own country, that you really want to experience. The opportunity to spend your free time doing new activities, meeting new people and soaking up a new culture in ways that would not be possible if you never left home.
That’s the goal – to be able to make decisions that are more in line with what you actually want to do and achieve in life instead of what you have to do because of circumstances.
If I think of all my friends who live this nomadic lifestyle as well, it is those who took a step back and ignored the noise and absurd promises that are the most successful. They are the ones who have genuine freedom to travel the world, or stay put in one place, as they wish. They are not on social media bragging about their travels and they are not making grand claims about what they earn while selling a course on how to earn the same.
Instead, they are the ones who are quietly traveling the world, doing their work each day and earning good, consistent money that will keep them going for as long as they want, while also being able to save for their future at the same time. Some of them have remote jobs with companies and others started their own businesses but either way, they all ignored the noise and built something real.
We all have the ability to make this digital nomad lifestyle happen if we want. Just look at the complete history of digital nomads and you’ll get inspired to do just that.
We just have to remember that the foundation of this lifestyle needs to be built out of strong, reliable substance (a job), hard work (there will be challenges) and time (it doesn’t happen quickly). Once that’s understood, the opportunities are indeed endless and the chance of success increases drastically.
As always, if you have any questions at all, just let me know and I’d be happy to assist!
The Grand Place in Brussels could see even fewer U.S. visitors. Dennis Jarvis / Wikimedia Commons
Skift Take: In Skift’s top stories this week, the European Union recommends further restrictions be placed on U.S. travelers, two major companies go public, U.S. travel brands turn to TikTok to attract younger travelers, and Radisson’s CEO explains why the company split in two.
UK Tourists will continue to see less of the Istanbul skyline. Mike McBey / Flickr
Skift Take: The future is enormously murky for so many of Turkey’s hotels. Not only have they lost revenue due to absence of the lucrative U.K. market, Covid variants make any timeframe for a rebound uncertain.
College football stars at institutions like Boston College (left) and Clemson (right) will surely look to take advantage of any NIL opportunities. TigerNet.com / Flickr
Skift Take: Travel companies and destinations need to do extensive research and pay attention to more than the biggest sports — football and men’s basketball — to find the right athletes who will be worthy returns on the promotional investments.