Camille and Stephanie are long time friends who, during different times in their lives, decided to buck the system and jump off the corporate treadmill. Camille and her husband Bob, sold their house in 1997 and moved to Belize. In 2005 Stephanie happened upon Camille and Bob on Little Corn Island off the coast of Nicaragua. She was intrigued by the story of their wanderlust lifestyle. A seed was planted in her head and she longed to be able to do the same. By early 2013, Stephanie had quit her job, sold her house, cars and almost all of her belongings and moved to Costa Rica.
Having visited 22 countries between them, Camille and Stephanie decided to co-author a book together after finding that many people were fascinated by their lifestyle. It seemed to them that people longed to live the same dream but had no idea how to do it. Being helpers by nature, the two thought the most logical way of spreading the word was to write a book about it. They hope to inspire, educate and lead others along the same path that they took. They believe that if they can help even one person realize their dream, their job has been accomplished!
Camille at the lodge on Little Corn Island where Steph and Camille met in 2005, and Steph and Camille chillin’ in Steph’s San Antonio home in 2007
Camille was born in New Jersey in 1954 and raised on the East Coast. By the time she left home, her family had moved eight times. When she graduated from high school her mother gave her a plane ticket to Utah. She went, visited relatives there, had a great time, cashed in the return ticket and caught a ride to California. After that she hitchhiked back and forth across the country for a couple of years before buying her first car. This was in the seventies when everyone hitchhiked so it wasn’t as strange as it sounds, but still.
Her wild travel hair persisted in the form of cross country road trips until she met and married her soul mate, Bob Armantrout. Bob had grown up overseas, and had done his fair share of travel. After they teamed up they started moving. They moved down the street, out of town, out of State, out of the country and off the continent in that order.
Early on, they bought their dream home, a seven acre horse farm and Bob worked from dawn to dusk to pay for it. One beautiful evening, Camille tried to lure Bob outside to see a newly emerging flower but he was too drained from his day at work. He was exhausted on the second night, too and finally, on the third she took his hand and dragged him outside with a flashlight. The begonia sparkled in the fading sun, a cardinal was singing its evening song, and the dogwoods glowed in the gathering dusk – it was sublime.
This was the beginning of their search for answers. The American Dream seemed had lost its luster and they wanted to know why. So Bob and Camille made lists of what they wanted and didn’t want in their lives, wrote a mission statement and met twice a week to decide what to do. They made story boards and compared them. Both had pictures of water, rainforest, horses, food and old people in love.
They came to the conclusion that they needed a big change. “Imagine you are in a kitchen and the stove has caught on fire,” they explained to their friends. “You don’t know what to do or how it happened – all you know is you’ve got to get out of the kitchen. Now!”
And so they cashed in their American Dream, exchanging ownership for stewardship. They sold the house and gave away the horse, hay truck, most of the furniture and appliances, put the car into storage with a few boxes and moved to Belize to manage a jungle lodge. They traded seven acres with a five horse boarding business for one hundred acres of rain forest with twenty horses. No more mortgage payment. No more killer nine-to-whenever job.
After that they moved to China, then Guam, Hawaii and Nicaragua and finally settled down in rural North Carolina amid a community of resilience-minded farmers, artisans and fuel makers. This was the fourteenth household they would set up together and as far as they were concerned, the last.
And then, only five years later came a job offer which would send them to the country Bob had lived in as a child and off they went to Ghana. It would appear that the siren’s lustful call to wander is still making itself heard and that Paul Theroux was right when he wrote, “Tourists don’t know where they’ve been, travelers don’t know where they’re going.”
You can follow her blog and see what she’s up to!
Stephanie was born in San Antonio, Texas in 1970. Her desire to travel is ingrained in her DNA. Her late grandmother traveled from England on a ship to the United States by herself at a young age, not knowing what life would hold for her there. Even her relatives before her had the same sense of adventure, so it’s no surprise Stephanie also inherited it.
She was moved to Maryland from Texas around the age of one. They made the trip back to Texas to live for a couple more years, then moved to Virginia at age three. By the time Stephanie was 10, her grandparents had traveled extensively. She recalls staring at their world map, marveling at where the little colored pins were placed, thinking one day that she could see these places too. Unknown to her at the time, it would eventually come true without having to wait until retirement age.
Stephanie made her first overseas trip to Wales at age 11 to visit her great grandmother. Occasionally, her family would travel to other parts of the United States for vacations, priming her for future expeditions. Her parents took her and a friend to the Virgin Islands when she was 18 and she was intrigued by the beauty of the tropics. She started traveling to Central America at the age of 24 and never stopped. Almost every year after that, she left the country to explore new lands. Starting out in Mexico, she worked her way down to Belize, Nicaragua and Costa Rica. Eventually she decided an Amazon adventure was in the works and went to Guyana by herself in what was the most challenging trip of them all.
Her career path at this time had been in the I.T. field but knew she didn’t want to stay in it much longer. She had started a small online business a couple of years earlier for extra money on the side in case one day she wanted to be free and travel abroad. Indeed, the choice was made to sell it all, quit her job and set out on an adventure. Her love of wild animals led her to find hands on opportunities and volunteer with them. She continues to explore more countries in the search of the perfect career.
You can follow her blog to find out where she is now!