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Arnoldo Mora on Making Big Life Decisions and His Favorite Projects

Meet full stack developer Arnoldo Mora. Arnoldo has been working as a software engineer with X-Team for over a year. He's the co-founder of the Talamanca Bioregion, an eco-territory in Costa Rica 🌳, and is passionate about building sustainable communities. Get a glimpse into the pura vida life of Arnoldo:

Arnoldo

What made you walk the path of a (web) developer? When did it start and what was the motivation? Is there a story behind that decision?

I have been working with technology since I was 18 years old. I started learning web development basics 15 years ago just as a challenge to do something new.

I then ended up building a couple of startups related to software programming. I was able to work on code in a couple of emergencies, and I also helped some of my colleagues and friends build some small projects.

In 2016, I decided I was done with management positions and decided to make a hard pivot and jump into coding full time. I sold all my stuff and jumped into a 3-month intensive bootcamp with Fullstack Academy in NY.

I then came back to Costa Rica and started working full time as a freelancer. I did a couple of cool projects with IoT, CRMs, Node, and React. Some months later, I ended up enrolling into the X-Team’s vetting process.

I guess my main motivation was my need to keep learning and my curiosity for design and building things. Another big motivator was being able to move to explore more outside of the cities.

Costa Rica, Nature, Life

Wow, that was a pretty big decision you made in 2016. You pretty much decided to restart your life. What advice would you give to people who are on the verge of making a similar decision, but are blocked by fear, peer pressure, social structures, etc?

I would tell them a couple of things:

  • The highest cost you can pay is the one from not trying it. Give yourself the chance to explore as a way to better design your life.

  • You need to do some serious planning to review all the financial resources you will require for the transition with reasonable room for manoeuvering.

  • Don’t be afraid of going all-in. You will end up discovering that life always gives back naturally when you most need it.

  • Keep focused and healthy during the transition. Put 100% of your bandwidth on it. It is a phase that will have a great impact on the rest of your life.

Thank you for this wisdom, Arnoldo. I am sure many of us here will take note! I very much enjoyed your UnleashConf talk. It was quite different from what you can find at tech conferences (but then again, UnleashConf isn’t just tech-oriented).

What other passions outside the world of web development does a person with such a philosophical mindset like yours have?

Thank God someone liked the talk 😃. It was my first time talking in public about these things.

My other passions are meditation, cooking, remote control airplanes — something I have been doing since I was 12 y/o.

I also love motorcycles - I did a lot of related stuff in the past including ATV-racing, cross-country, enduro, and just road bike exploring adventures. I just got a small 200cc to move around and explore the mountains of Talamanca. Still looking for options to buy a bigger bike for long road trips. Probably planning something for 2020, ideally on something simple and lightweight like a KLR-650, for being always ready for off-road.

I was born in a family with a huge political background that participated in 3 regional and national wars in the last 2 centuries, against slavery (1856), in defense of our social security system (1948), and against dictators in Central America (70s, 80s), so I ended up hearing a lot about that while growing up, and I became very passionate about socio-political issues of all sorts.

I also have a passion for learning, discovering new things, and building — creating in general. I did some artwork, alternative furniture, and a couple of arduino projects.

Art, Arnoldo

That’s incredible... If possible, please share the work you mentioned! Do you have any projects (or perhaps one in particular) that you are most excited about and are looking forward to this year?

You can take a look at some of my artwork here.

I have a couple of projects. I recently moved to the Caribbean Coast of Costa Rica, and it was one of my best decisions in life, it completely changed my life. Some of the radical changes are related to the quality of food I have access to, the time and space I have for healthy activities, including yoga, running, swimming, cycling and meditation.

I also appreciate the opportunity to code from a hammock in the middle of the sounds of nature. I don't think I am able to go back to a city lifestyle.

One of the things I am slowly starting with is trying to build a community network to start promoting bio-regionalism in this zone. This is a zone with a huge natural and cultural background with a lot of potential for a project like that. We hope we can build some sort of guide for other communities interested in doing the same.

The other project I might start at some point in the next 24 months is building a permaculture farm as my home.

Would you say that this is the dent that you wish to make in the universe, or is there still something else on your mind?

The bio-regionalism project is the one most related to my desired dent in the universe. The UN office for Climate Change is led by a Costa Rican woman, and we’d really like to build a model for a local self-government based on natural resources first.

On a more personal level, permaculture is one of the next things I am interested in learning, but I don’t discard getting involved in other things related to building or designing something.

We’ll keep our fingers crossed, Arnoldo! Make sure to keep us up to date with your progress.

My last question: Is there something, perhaps a dream, for which you would be willing to sacrifice the freedom that comes with working remotely? And on the other hand, what opportunities that come remote work do you value most?

I don’t think I would find it useful to jump back into office-work in almost any situation. Unless it is absolutely needed for the specific dynamics of a dream job, like jumping into design & building custom motorcycles in a garage. So I would only take the chance if there were a big experiential gain.

The two things I value the most about remote working are:

  • Being able to live removed from the city chaos in a beautiful place, closer to nature.

  • Having the flexibility to adapt my working hours to my needs — something as simple as adapting them to the weather of the different seasons, for example —, to adjust them, to take a trip, or go out and solve something urgent or meet an old friend for a coffee.

At this point I am super happy, I feel it's been an incredible path in becoming a more mature engineer and embracing constant change, no matter what the next challenge is. I am still unleashing all the pros and productive benefits of being free to work from different spaces or while moving through trips.

That's good to hear. Thank you so much for your time. And good luck with your projects!

Want to stay updated on Arnoldo's projects? Follow him on Twitter.

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