OUR EPIC ADVENTURE/OUR LIFE FOR 15 MONTHS;
Fifteen months on the road exploring South and Central America was definitely an epic adventure. We covered ~56,000 KMS (38,000 Miles), visiting 12 different countries (13 for Riss), completing about 18 border crossings with 2 vehicle shippings and 2 flights.
Just to recap, we flew into Buenos Aires on December 5th, 2014. Our car, Priscilla was shipped from Houston Texas into Buenos Aires arriving on the same day after ~20 days at sea. After ~42 days and the initial challenges of clearing Priscilla through customs, we began our trip.
SOUTH AMERICA: This trip took us overland, zigzagging through Argentina and Chile in the heart of Patagonia. Through Southern Chile we drove the Carretera Austral, Highway 7, a road that travels through the islands of Chile and that is connected through a series of ferries. Then it was on to Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador and Colombia.
CENTRAL AMERICA: Priscilla was then shipped in a container to Panama, whilst we made the journey by plane. After a few days in Panama, we crossed into Costa Rica where we spent many wonderful days exploring with friends. Central America was about beach time, with time spent on beaches in Costa Rica and Nicaragua. A week in both Honduras and Guatemala, and 5 days of driving in Mexico saw us returning back to the USA.
There were so many highlights of the trip, which I have tried to capture in our traveler’s information page. Take a look there to see a few of our favorite pics and to get a list of our favorite places. (will update the last few countries soon)
THE USA- OUR FIRST WEEKS BACK
We have been back in Albuquerque almost 2 weeks now and life has definitely been hectic. There are so many things that have to be done to get your “normal” life back on track.
Our immediate focus was seeing our good friends, which was definitely a highlight of those first few days. We still haven’t had a chance to see everyone but that will happen as things settle down.
The next priority, cell phones. In this day and age, in the western world anyway, it is impossible to function without cell phones. Crazy because we had been without them for 15 months and coped just fine!
So in the last 2 weeks we have purchased cell phones and a data/phone plan, bought another car (Priscilla needs a rest and some time at the mechanics), settled into a house which we are sharing with a friend, whose name coincidentally is also Kiera, Mike started work, and Keira started school and we got a membership at Costco. Oh and we have visited the evil empires of Wal-Mart and Starbucks! I must say I do enjoy a vanilla, soy, decaf latte!
KEIRA'S FIRST DAY AT PRE-SCHOOL:
Keira is attending Escuela del Sol, a montessori school. Of course, she took to school immediately. It was Mum and Dad that had more of a hard time with their little girl being so grown up.
Everything is pretty much how we expected it to be. We knew it would be crazy and we are suffering from reverse culture shock. Being in crowded places and slammed with commercialism and so many people is overwhelming and soul wrenching at times. So far Keira and I have been coping with half days and then escape back home to recoup. Mike doesn’t have that luxury, as he was straight back to work the day after we arrived. But he is coping well.
On a POSITIVE note, and there are many. We have hot showers, a freestanding refrigerator, a microwave, a real kitchen, a sofa, a bathtub (having trouble getting Keira out of it), a dishwasher, and good healthy food with a huge selection. It has been fun watching Keira make the transition. She still is not use to putting toilet paper in the toilet, and is thrilled she can drink water straight from the tap and brush her teeth with tap water. She can now access the refrigerator so hasn’t stopped eating. Her facial expression and awe at seeing a dishwasher was priceless. It was like it was a mystical and magical object!
AND IN TRUE ALBUQUERQUE STYLE THERE ARE BALLOONS IN THE SKY!
I am sure it will take a few months to feel at home again. And to process some of the experiences we have had.
Now that Keira can access the refrigerator she has not stopped eating! And a big TV, wow!
Francesca's birthday party:
Keira also got to go to a birthday party, something she has not been able to do on the trip. She did create birthday parties for her stuffed animals along the way. We had cake, balloons and gifts but it wasn't quite the same as a real friend's birthday party.
It was incredible to be able to spend so much time together as a family, meet so many amazing people and see so many spectacular things. We had a lot of help to make this adventure happen and I wanted to take the time to thank a few people.
FIRSTLY and MOST IMPORTANTLY:
MY HUSBAND, MICHAEL, who put in hours of research to ensure Priscilla was equipped for the trip. He cooked for us, did the majority of the driving and took care of “his girls”. He also helped many fellow travelers and was a catalyst for gathering people together.
MY DAUGHTER KEIRA, who is an amazing little girl, so open to new experiences, so flexible and loving. She is my inspiration.
AND PRISCILLA- we love you Priscilla, you are a part of our family. Thank you for carrying us safely for so many months and for being our home. We promise we will get you all fixed up and give you a much-needed wash!
GEORGE AND JOHN (OUR MECHANICS AND FRIENDS) - thank you for the many hours you spent preparing Priscilla for the trip. She is an amazing vehicle and a great home, and you helped to make her that way.
ELIZABETH, TOM AND FAMILY- our USA support team. Thanks for being there for us, collecting our mail and providing us with a refuge and home when we need it most.
MARCO, MIRANDA AND FAMILY- thanks for coming to our aide during our initial car scandal, and for being our back up team. It was reassuring to know that if something went majorly wrong that you would be there.
AUSSIE TEAM- Thanks to family at home for taking care of our Aussie affairs. And to Pam and Clem for being supportive in spite of your concerns.
OUR VISITING FRIENDS- Lesley and Phil, the Mensink family and Murphy, thank you for coming to meet us and sharing a part of our experience. Special thanks to Nita and Kev for letting us crash their honeymoon so we could spend time together.
OUR FELLOW TRAVELERS AND FRIENDS: special thanks to Kaj, Carina, Jeff, Els and Gerrett who were our travelling companions for extended time periods. What great memories! To everyone else and you know who you are “thank you”. Thank you for helping us create such wonderful memories, and for playing with and being positive influences for Keira.
MIKE's WORK CLIENTS: thanks for being open to Mike working on the road. The extra funds certainly helped.
and of course we have to include our highlights/challenges just to complete the blog:
HIGHLIGHTS/CHALLENGES OF BEING HOME:
MOST VALUED POSSESION: our friends, and Priscilla
BEST EXPERIENCE: Mike- definately seeing friends; Keira- seeing all our friends but especially my best friends Brandy (a golden retriever) and James; Riss- seeing friends
MOST CHALLENGING EXPERIENCE: Mike-returning to work when I was so tired; Keira- still dealing with being sick, but I am better now ; Riss- dealing with crowds, commercialism and western systems and rules
BEST FOOD DISCOVERY: Mike-,Tom's cooked breakfasts in the mornings, I didn't want to leave; Keira- EVERYTHING, but especally cake pops, oh and John's french toast, it is the best; Riss- wow, healthy food options, gluten free foods
BEST CAMPING SPOT: staying at Liz and Toms, a haven and home when we need it most
Our door is always open.
Just a place to keep our mates informed on where we are at, and what we are up to.