THIRD WORLD LIFESTYLE – What it means to us

Young Nicaraguan bait fishermen
Young Nicaraguan bait fishermen

As I repeatedly mention our preference for a third world lifestyle, I realize not very many people know what I’m talking about. For most people, the third world lifestyle is synonymous with poverty, filth, hard work, unbearable heat, high crime rates, bugs, snakes, rats and disease. It sounds miserable and risky and I see them take pause to question our sanity.

You have to live it to understand. It is a much simpler life, with lots of time outdoors surrounded by wildlife, flowering plants and food you can pick and eat all year round. Most of the time, we wear a tank top and a pair of shorts. Flip flops are generally optional. We get lots of easy exercise, seldom have to drive and feel like an important part of our community.

The third world communities we have been a part of were largely outside the reach of First World corporatism, meaning that we ate more locally grown food and had a greater connection with nature. The people were easy going, unpretentious and more concerned with the lower levels of Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs (food, shelter, water and a sense of belonging to a group.)

We relied on each other rather than the artificial and constraining safety net of insurance policies, pharmaceuticals, building codes, mass-produced food, paved highways and lawsuits. Best of all, we were out of range of the barrage of Ad-driven media designed to make us buy into a consumer driven culture our of fear and dissatisfaction.

Bob grew up in Africa, so he has had an appreciation for the simplicity of third world living since childhood. He shared it with me shortly after we were married. We were able to share a taste of it with his three daughters; Emily, Amy and Molly by having them come visit us for part of several summers in Belize, Guam and Nicaragua.

Some defining differences between the two cultures:

People drive their cars most of the time
You rarely see people outside their homes
They have a limited sense of belonging to their community
Health care is expensive
Food is over-processed & factory –farmed
Families are nuclear in one large home
Heavy dependence on doctors, lawyers & insurance
They are separated form the natural world
Many distrust and/or resent people from the third world

People walk most of the time
People live, work and play outside their homes
They have a strong sense of belonging to their community
Health care is inexpensive
Food is local, home grown and home made
Families are extended in several small homes
They depend on themselves, family and neighbors
They feel they belong to the natural world
They distrust the U.S. Government

Both cultures share the same fears, hopes and dreams that all people share. They don’t trust the government, dream of wealth and fame and (many) hope to receive their reward in an afterlife. I hope this helps clarify our desire and determination to live outside the U.S. in a third world country. Our dream is to find a way to live a simple, healthy life in the tropics and perhaps help create a sustainable community in the third world that will be able to resist drowning in the destructive wave of rampant, global capitalism.

By Camille Armantrout

Camille lives with her soul mate Bob in the back woods of central North Carolina where she hikes, gardens, cooks, and writes.