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The Very Long Vacation

Four cash-strapped New Yorkers who have temporarily flown the coop.

Jon Santiago, I-Banker
Guatemala City, via Mexico City, San Cristobál, and San Pedro
I started a job with one of the big investment banks in September 2007 doing an exotic type of collateralized lending. Within a few months, it was clear things were deteriorating. I would come to work and do nothing. Half the group got cut in June. By November, it was clear there’d be more cuts.

A few weeks after I got laid off, I realized my three-month severance package would last a lot longer in Latin America than paying for a West Village apartment. I flew to Mexico, where I met an Irish guy who’d lost his job and an Australian guy who quit his. We’ve been traveling together for a while. I’m having a blast: extremely relaxed, reading and writing a lot, and improving my Spanish. Today we went to climb an active volcano, but in general I’m just chilling out, eating tacos that cost ten cents, and existing down here as long as I can. My target budget is $30 a day, and I’m often counting how many days that gets me. I’ll be staying for free at a work farm in Patagonia next.

I tell people here that I had soured on banking but never would have quit my job. Now I’m excited to come back to New York and do it on much less: cutting my rent in half, cooking more, and toning down the going out.

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