Vastly different from any other place we’ve been for the last 14 months, it’s great to be back for summer in New England. It’s green, lush, warm, and smells great this time of year. We left home close enough to the time of the season we left so it seemed like we came back to pick up where we left off, one year later.
We celebrated 30 years of marriage during the trip, and now we celebrate surviving over a year in constant close proximity of each other. Odds are pretty good we’ll make it to 31.
With the faith that we would do our best to “not be in the wrong place at the wrong time”, we were wildly successful, and in fact, dodged some pretty crazy stuff. Among them were the Egyptian coup, violent protests in Turkey, acid-throwing Islamists in Stonetown, Tanzania, an airplane crash in Vietnam, and an eye infection in Indonesia.
Nothing significant befell on us, we never lost our luggage, we never had to sleep out on the street, never had a flight canceled, no snake bites, and we never got assaulted or robbed. Not to say we didn’t get our share of nickel and dime tourist-shuffling because we certainly did. That’s just part of traveling.
Although Cindy didn’t develop many new blog posts, she was a tremendous help in contributing good ideas and editing my writing. To cut expenses, she worked hard cooking almost every meal in Australia, New Zealand and Hawaii! Mostly, she gets gold stars for going out of her comfort-zone so often and putting up with my need for constant activity.
When we think about some of the special moments or places that we visited, there are some things that come right to the top of our heads. One of the standout events was when we visited our friend Thomas’ parents in Chengdu, China. They did everything to make us feel welcomed as very special guests. We got to ‘hang’ with the locals and to experience and taste the ‘local’ Chengdu. Some of our best meals were ordered for us by our gracious and generous hosts.
Our itinerary was jam-packed with amazing sights from the pyramids of Giza to Iguazu Falls. There were almost too many awesome and beautiful sights to see along the way. Alas, you can’t see them all. Some were planned from the beginning, some were planned along the way, and many that were never planned just became a great part of the adventure. Global eye candy aside, there’s no substitute for the human experiences. The people we met along the way and the stories around them are what made this trip unique; from people who became friends to those we only spent a few moments chatting, watching a great scene together, or maybe just a story or a laugh. Sometimes it was making a connection with a local–someone who is normally separated from us by great distances or cultural chasms–sometimes it was a connection we made which led to dinner and interesting company and conversation.
The type of accommodations we chose did a lot to shape our experiences, especially hostels and bed and breakfasts, or airb&b’s (airbnb.com). These were places where we met other travelers and got to spend time with hosts who gave us the scoop on the area and on what there was to see and do. Special thanks to our house ‘moms’ Lina and Maria, of Medellin and Buenos Aires respectively, for making our stays so comfortable and pleasant.
Cindy and I agreed we could have packed more lightly by leaving some clothes behind. But the oddity we took that no one else had was our masks and snorkels. They gave us many hours of underwater viewing enjoyment at many times interspersed through our travels.
Thanks for reading and thanks to those who took the time to comment or send an email. The blog was more effort than I’d imagined but it was fun to document what we saw and experienced, and of course, it was also a great way to keep in touch and let everyone know where we were and what we were up to.
Total days on the road: 424
Number of times crossed the equator: 9
Countries visited: 16. Egypt, Jordan, Israel, Turkey, Tanzania, South Africa, China, Vietnam, Indonesia, Australia, New Zealand, Hawaii, Colombia, Ecuador, Argentina, Brazil.
Shortest stay: Brazil–4 hours.
Longest stay: Colombia–9 weeks.
Number of weeks renting cars: 12
Number of weeks driving on the left side of the road: 9
Total cost not including airfare: $65,000
Includes some costly stuff: Campervan rental, iPad, iPhone, 3 cameras, 1 week Galápagos Islands cruise, 3-night cruise in Turkey, 1 night cruises in Halong Bay, Vietnam and Whitsundays, Australia, 3 day Tanzanian safari, helicopter ride in Hawaii. Not included was the cost for care of our dog, Sox.
budget: $166/day + $15,000 airfare
actual cost: $153/day + $16,000 airfare
Best answer to “Do you speak English?”: “Why, I am English!”
–Meals hosted by Thomas’ parents in Chengdu, China.
–Fresh whole fish, salad, rice, juice drink. $5 for two. Manado, Sulawesi, Indonesia.
–Runners up: Chicken, soup, rice, juice drink. $1.75 Quito, Ecuador.
Bife de Chorizo (tenderloin) barbecue in Buenos Aires ($10).
Worst food: Yak! Yak stew, yak sandwiches, grilled yak. Home-stay in north Sichuan province, China.
Means of conveyance:
Walk/hike; Canoe; Raft; Plane; Helicopter; Motorcycle; Motor-scooter; Horseback; Horse-drawn carriage; Parachute; Paraglide; Kayak; Sailboat; Row boat; Yacht; 4×4 monster truck; Car; Collectivo; Bus; Train; Water taxi; Ferry; Cable car; Pedicycle; Trolley.