This hectic travel life…Where on Earth are we?…
Why haven’t you heard from us?
Yes – we have been absent and we’re sorry about that.
This travel life is hectic, so this post is a quick roundup of the last 18 months and a sneak peek into some of the stories we’ve got in store for you.
We left you in the Yucatan Mexico, snorkelling in the Grand Cenote, we hope you enjoyed that as much as we did.
We’ve been everywhere and back a couple of times since then.
More of Mexico… Cuba… yes Cuba… Nicaragua… Costa Rica… New Zealand… USA… Colombia… Ecuador… Peru… Bolivia… Chile… Argentina… New Zealand again… and now we’re in the Island of the Gods… Bali, Indonesia.
So you see we’ve got a lot of inspiring and adventurous stories coming your way.
Today is Day 1000 of this travel journey and for the most part we’re having a blast. I do keep reminding myself how lucky I am to have this travel life.
But just sometimes travelling and moving around like we do, is not that comfortable. We get grumpy and tired.
We’ve heard many times ‘you are so lucky to travel’, ‘what a great holiday you are having’ ‘your life is wonderful’, ‘you have great adventures’ and so on…
Yes – we are having fabulous adventures, but can I just say we are not on holiday, we are living and travelling, riding on rickety buses, sleeping in different beds every few nights where not much is familar.
Do you realise how uncomfortable, exhausting, stressful, and sometimes dangerous that kind of travel life can be?
Of course you don’t see this part when you look through our smiley photos on Facebook and on the blog.
Don’t get me wrong – I’m not complaining because I’m grateful for being able to have this life, but I want you to know dear reader, this travel life is not always as perfect as it seems.
There’s much to arrange… accommodation, flights, bus tickets, food, life admin, blog, photos, packing, exploring, adventuring, housesitting to arrange, earning a travel living and more.
Everything works differently in each location, and we’re in a constant state of seeking out an ATM, grocery store or a washing machine.
I hate to say it, but we’ve been busy!
No wait – I thought I was leaving the ‘disease of busy’ behind when I left New Zealand?
Ok, rewind – unwind – chill – or as we say in Spanish ‘tranquilla’
We thought we were travelling slow in the beginning, but we realise we need to slow it even more.
Initially we spent a minimum of a week or two in a location and as time progressed the stopping got longer and longer… until we stopped in Granada, Nicaragua for 6 weeks and then Ecuador for 2 months; that was nice we were able to actually to start making local friends and nomads like ourselves.
We learned that while we love travelling, we also like some sense of home, balance and routine, and that’s hard to get on the road.
Right now we’re in a romantic villa in the ricefields of Penestanan in the back of Ubud, Bali. It feels like home, our own gorgeous view, private pool and the people are so kind and generous – we’re in heaven. A long, long time ago a clairvoyant told me I would live in Bali, and it looks like that is coming true in more ways than one. At that time I went on to read about the harmony in Bali and how everything is aligned for good energy flow. The Balinese are calm all the time and it rubs off on you in a positive way.
It sounds pretty silly, but here we have more than one towel, we have sharp knives, a blender, a table to work at and having booked 4 months here it feels good to the core.
At the same time we’re exploring this beautiful island and it’s culture.
And on top of all that I’m writing frantically to catch you up with all the wonderful places we have visited.
Ok so back to where we left off;
We saw even more of beautiful Mexico – trust me you can never get enough of Mexico, it get’s under your skin, we’d be back there in a heartbeat given the chance. There’s a load more stories coming on Mexico…. why on earth did we go to Cancun? How much did Mexico cost? Where did we stay?
Cuba blew our minds totally.
After 3 weeks in Cuba, we felt kind of smug that we had finally visited this rugged, dilapidated but special country. Arriving back in Cancun to the touristy playground could not have been in more contrast to the old world charm of Havana. I had to keep pinching myself as a reminder of where we had just been.
We could sense there was change a foot and capitalism was definitely creeping especially with some of the younger people. Lift the embargo and the place will never be the same again – little did we know this would happen so soon after our visit.
Nicaragua has a spirit all of it’s own. Simple and beautiful with world-class wildlife and a growing eco-tourism movement.
A bit like their Mexican neighbours, the friendly locals in Nicaragua have a penchant for a party and any kind of celebration making for a cacophony of noise for no particular reason.
It makes for a destination with more gorgeous architecture that you could imagine, add to that more fire and passion with all it’s active volcanoes… even ones that you can ‘volcano board’ on! Thankfully they erupted once we left.
Although the very hot climate left us pretty tired, Nicaragua was good to us over Christmas 2015 and New Year 2016…. yes that was a year ago.
Costa Rica has wild life and pure life or “Pura Vida” as the Ticos love to say.
Although beautiful and picturesque we struggled to get ‘into’ Costa Rica, it seemed to lack heart for us and had a definite western influence with prices to match.
We did however love the wildlife and these guys that we frequently saw on the side of the road. Although we didn’t fall in love with Costa Rica like we did Mexico and Guatemala, we had some outrageously fun adventures here like white water rafting and zip lining which I’ll tell you about later.
A short 5 day ‘shopping’ stopover in Los Angeles revealed what it was like to live in a western culture again – not too exciting I have to say, although we found a little new love for LA.
Los Angeles was a pleasant surprise in January, the sky was a glamorous blue (no smog) and temperature was simply gorgeous. We did however feel safer in Mexico and Central America than LA.
Just in time for hopefully the best part of the NZ summer we touched down in Wellington for a few days with our gorgeous kids and grand-daughters.
My memories of Wellington are always cold, windy and wet so I could never have imagined swimming at the beach in Wellington like we did that day.
After a year our little girls are no longer little girls, but quite little individuals able to have great conversations about their lives and engage us with interesting questions. It’s wonderful to watch these little minds developing.Then there’s the Grandad tease time – what is it about guys that they like to make kids squeal?
Hometown Queenstown was next and it was lovely to see my parents, sisters and friends and some more familiar stuff. It was most luxurious to get back to my electric toothbrush, nice to sleep in cotton sheets and enjoy some familiar food choices and have Mum and Dad around.
We did however find life in general to be a little more complicated than we were used to. It seemed there was just more choice than we needed. We soon realised even more how much we enjoyed the simple life. I think this whole long term travelling thing holds curiosity not only of the world and new cultures, but to discover what one needs and doesn’t need. I saw and felt so much excess and waste while in New Zealand.
I am trying to find the balance between what makes me comfortable and what I actually need without excess.
After a couple of months in New Zealand tidying up business and stuff there, we headed back to the USA and in particular Utah, one of our most favourite spots.
I had convinced my parents to once again come travelling with us to America.
Mum has a secret little passion for Las Vegas after winning a trip there some years back, so Las Vegas was our first stop for a reminiscing trip for Mum.
So while Mum and Dad soaked up the fountains of Bellagio, the cafes, the shows and endless walks up and down the strip, we caught up on some work.
With their fill of Las Vegas done and our work completed, we picked up Minnie Winnie. Minnie is not to mini at 31 ft. Minnie was our RV extraordinaire that took us on a 2200 mile journey around Utah, Zion Canyon, Bryce Canyon, Escalante, Capitol Reef, Goblin Valley, Arches, Moab, Yosemite and Death Valley…
Whew…that was hell of a one road trip!
It was a whirlwind few weeks where we hiked, drove, drunk, ate and slept… Rinsed and Repeated everyday!
Mum and Dad kept up with our crazy schedule like a couple of young things, even though they’re both closer to 80 than 70 – years old that is.
We bid farewell to Mum and Dad – they headed to the warm climes of Australia while we flew south to Bogota and beyond in Colombia. Let’s just say Colombia exceeded our expectation a million times. We loved the country and it’s extreme generosity and kindness of it’s people. Dangerous… not at all, unless you are a drug trafficker!
The main reason for stopping in Ecuador was to go to Quito and spend time with our ‘Quito family’. We felt a real sense of connection for Ecuador and realise that it’s people and family that truly make a place special. We were welcomed into this family like their own for which we are very grateful. Here is how is all started some 15 years ago…
Ecuador is a stunning country from volcanoes to the wild life of the Galapagos and let’s not forget whale watching on the coast.
It was a bargain adventure and a fun trip.
Some have said it can take up to 36 hours to make this trip, we did it in just over 15 hours over 2 days – We’re stoked, sure there were some hairy and skinny roads for our big bus, but for the first time in months we’ve been on a flat straight road in a couple of valleys – that was really really nice.
In Northern Peru now we headed for the Cordillera Blanca to hike the Santa Cruz Trek which turned out to be one of our highlights of Peru. Everyone goes to Southern Peru and forgets about the gorgeous north which we highly recommend.
Peru is a big country with long distances to travel however just take a look at this classy buses with lie flat seats! Business class at budget prices.
We often get asked ‘What is your favourite’ country and our typical answer is we have lots of favourites depending on where we have been. Somehow we usually mention Bolivia and people go ‘oh yes’… while at the same time having no clue why we would like such a country.
Bolivia is unique in many ways…it showcases landscapes like no other and it’s thirty six Indigenous groups feature a thriving unique culture evident in the markets and on the streets.
As I said, I have so much to tell you about Bolivia, but for now let’s just say Bolivia is unique. From the Cholitas to the Festival of the Sculls to the High Desert of the Salt Flats – Bolivia is a feast to the all the senses.
In true adventurous style we managed to ski on a glacier at 5500 metres (yes it was very hard work!)
And survive biking the famous Death Road…
Sadly we left Bolivia and flew into Santiago in Chile and let’s just say this wasn’t our favourite country except for the W Trek in Chilean Patagonia. Santiago was just a big city and so we left for Argentina pretty soon after we arrived.
We loved Argentina for Iguazu Falls, Big Ice Hiking on Perito Merino Glacier, Penguins, Mt Fitzroy and the northern route to Salta.
But please do not take me back to Buenos Aires, we just didn’t love it either.
Argentina is a big country with miles and miles between everywhere, hence you can bus for miles and see nothing but green grass, so a few flights are highly recommended.
It’s a notoriously expensive country with a whole lot of weirdness around money which was a bit confusing for a start. One day I tried 10 ATM machines before getting any money. It seems years of economic mismanagement and economic depression has led to rampant inflation, a black/blue market for currency, and high prices for just about everything. The blue market was in full force when we were there which meant a difference of 40% between the 9.1 official rate versus and the 13.1 blue rate. We were in constant search of blue rate traders.
However since the election of the new president late in 2015, I believe the official rate has been allowed to float meaning there is not much difference these days.
An yes, the country is not as cheap as nearby Chile, Peru, or Bolivia.
The first of my family to visit us in our travels, my sister Sandra joined us for a 5 weeks overland trip from Buenos Aires to Lima in Peru.
A wicked trip covering Northern Argentina, Salta, Iguazu Falls, Bolivian Salt Flats, Potasi, Sucre, La Paz, Lake Titicaca, Machu Picchu, Cusco, Colca Canyon, Huacachina, Ballesta Islands…
From boating under the Iguazu falls to Sand Buggying in the Peruvian Desert our year has been full of adventurous, dizzying and exhausting pursuits
And if you think all that sounds a bit crazy – then check out Jane and Duncan at ToTraveltoo and their story about cruising from Panama to Spain on a luxury cruise ship for less than $40 US a day all inclusive!
So there you have it – I’d better get writing as I know you’re expecting loads more stories.
Yes… you can do anything you want…