The Hectic Travel Life – 1000 Days & Slowing Down

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.

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Showing the locals where we live…Map of the World found at the school on the remote Island of Zapatera in Nicaragua

 

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.

Travel Life – 1000 days on…

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’

The Hectic Travel Life

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.

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‘Parsley and Sage’ – our dear friends in Nicaragua…yep I definately look tired in this photo!

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.

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It’s hard to get a better house that this… we’re feeling right at home here in the village of Penestanan.

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.

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The Balinese are extremely devote and spiritual people, we are enjoying their attitude to life.

At the same time we’re exploring this beautiful island and it’s culture.

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Daily offerings are made at temples in the form of food, cigarettes, sweets and sometimes even money in order to honor the good spirits and satiate the evil spirits.

And on top of all that I’m writing frantically to catch you up with all the wonderful places we have visited.

Travel Life – Mexico

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?

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Just me and El Castello at Chichen Itza – the reward for getting out of bed early…

Travel Life – Cuba

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.

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Stepping right back into the 50’s here in Cuba, lining up to get into a restaurant and riding in funky old taxis was the norm here.

Travel Life – Nicaragua

Nicaragua has a spirit all of it’s own. Simple and beautiful with world-class wildlife and a growing eco-tourism movement. 

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A simple and effective solution – This little guy is plugging the holes in the boat with wooden plugs.

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.

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‘La Gritería, is a boisterous and massive celebration in Nicaragua at Christmas.

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Yes this is Nicaragua… beautiful isn’t it?

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. 

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Nothing else to say but ‘Pura Vida’

Travel Life – Costa Rica

Costa Rica has wild life and pure life or “Pura Vida” as the Ticos love to say.

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He’s a stunning creature and look how close we are… we found him injured on the side of the road Costa Rica.

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.

The most exhilarating and fun thing we did in Costa Rica – highly recommended…

Travel Life – Stopover Los Angeles

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.

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We found some new love for LA, the sky was blue and there was no smog – nice.

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.

Travel Life – New Zealand

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.

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Our little girls, sugar and spice and all things nice…

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?

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Good lord – hear that 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.

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A nice summer’s day with family in Arrowtown

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.

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Hey thanks girlie… I like bananas…

Travel Life – USA

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.

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The Rockstars of Utah… spectacular driving…

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.

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Look Brian.. I can video this on my phone

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.

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The night lights of Vegas…

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!

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Fruita in Capitol Reef National Park UTAH

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.

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Loved showing Mum and Dad our favourite spots – You never tire of these places – Glacier Point – Yosemite National Park

Travel Life – Colombia and South America

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!

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The grafitti art of Bogota will blow you away…

Travel Life – Ecuador

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…

The Morales family who we’ve adopted as our own. ‘Our Quito kids and family’

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Always time for a family selfie…

Ecuador is a stunning country from volcanoes to the wild life of the Galapagos and let’s not forget whale watching on the coast.

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Whales, Whales and more Whales, dancing and flipping in and out of the water.

Travel Life – Peru

I had found an adventurous way to get from Ecuador to Peru and it involved heaps of different transport and a couple of days to get to our destination.
With our lovely friends Urs and Michela from Switzerland we took the  journey of 445km in 1 bus, 1 private Taxi, 3 Moto Taxis, 3 Collectivos and 1 Minivan, 1 Taxi for a total of 15 hours and $63 for both of us!

It was a bargain adventure and a fun trip.

What we thought was going to a daunting and somewhat difficult journey from Ecuador into Peru via the ‘long route’ to Chacahapoyas turned out to be the best, cheapest, fastest, most convenient and most scenic route of all our bus journeys to date.
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‘Warriors of the Clouds’ The Sargohagas of Chachapoya  high in the mountains of Northern Peru.

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.

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It’s a pretty special campsite high in the Corderilla Blanca, Northern Peru

 

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.

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The FULL CAMA – meaning the full bed – yes it lies flat 180 degrees, just like Business Class for a small price.

Travel Life  – Bolivia

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.

Why?

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.

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These people are fixing shoes, with giant sewing machines, each has their own little business cubicle.

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National Dress of the Cholitas of Bolivia – such beautiful women.

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.

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Bring out your dead…dress them up and put cigarettes in their mouths: Bolivians decorate skulls dug from graves for indigenous religious festival to bring good luck and blessings

In true adventurous style we managed to ski on a glacier at 5500 metres (yes it was very hard work!)

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This is certainly not your normal day of skiing.  Instead, it’s 4×4 shuttling and hiking to ride on beautiful 5000m + glaciers tucked in the mountains surrounding La Paz, Bolivia.

And survive biking the famous Death Road…

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At 4000 metres it’s not only freezing but we’re all a little short of breath too…

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The Death Road… a skinny little bumpy gravel road with a 1000 foot drop to the valley floor.

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.

Travel Life – Argentina

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One of the planet’s most awe-inspiring sights, the Iguazú Falls are simply astounding. Keep your camera out of the water Des!

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.

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Big Ice Hiking for the under 50’s only… Yeah right

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.

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Magical Machu Picchu – a place of extraordinary beauty.

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…

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Climbing Huayna Picchu was a real highlight of our second visit to Machu Picchu – a little narrow, steep and scary but we made it!

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…

Would you like this travel life and travel the world for 1000 days?

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Huacachina – a little oasis located in the middle of the Peruvian Desert.

 

 

Comments

2 Comments on “The Hectic Travel Life – 1000 Days & Slowing Down

  1. Welcome back after a long blogging break. Between travel, life, and business, it can be easy to forget about the blog – I did too. I need to get busy with posting my Latin American adventures as well … went from Mexico to the bottom of Argentina in 14 months from 2014 to 2015. Hope you have some awesome travels in 2017 guys!
    James Shannon recently posted…Penang – Pretty Much The Best Visa Run Destination EverMy Profile

    • Thanks James… ok challenge on let’s get updated. Looks like we were in the area at the same time! Where are you currently?