Our final thoughts. . .
Enjoying espresso on our last day in Santiago, Chile.
Our around the world adventure came full circle. We ended in Santiago at our friend Valeria's house, where we started the trip. Once again, her family welcomed us and treated us with warmth.
Rosalia, Valeria's cousin and neighbor, is making her award winning empanadas (pastry triangles filled with beef, egg, onions and mushrooms!)
Rosalia also makes the most delicious chocolate and dulce de leche alfajores.
Our last tourist stop at the famous Virgin Mary on Cerro San Cristobal.
Leaving from the Santiago, Chile, airport. We had a crappy flight to Miami, but the customs agents were surprisingly kind. Four hours later we were in chilly Boston. The following day it snowed a foot, not the warm welcome we wanted after more than a year in the sun!
I can’t believe the end has come. Fourteen months sped by with only memories, thousands of photos and stories, and a few souvenirs left behind to remind us what we accomplished.
Our trip around the world became our job, as well as our pleasure. Every day we had a new mission, new responsibilities, new tasks, bus and train schedules to follow, hostels to find and reservations to make. We enjoyed the journey, but admittedly (even though it causes anxiety) are ready for a break, ready to find a home and job, and ready to spend time with our friends and family.
This trip was something I dreamed about for a long time. I don’t think it drastically changed me, rather made me more insightful and passionate about the world’s joys and flaws. I hope I will be able to carry that over into a future job, helping to make the world a happier place for people to live.
I just read an eerie article in Marie Claire (it was the only magazine in the bathroom!) titled "My Marriage Fell Apart...on Our Honeymoon!" It's by a woman named Liz who traveled with her husband Dave in South America. In summary, their marriage is still in tack but they had so much trouble adjusting to life 24x7 together that they traveled separately during their honeymoon and now she now only travels with her sister.
We experienced so much during this journey but the one thing we'll definitely take away from it is how it strengthened our relationship. No matter how difficult a situation, we always managed to eventually find our sense of humor and make light of ourselves. The article made me appreciate how fortunate we are to have found a travel companion in each other, let alone a life partner.
So, we're on to life's next set of adventures whatever they may be. I'm looking forward to it as much as I was our year abroad.
It is hard to complete a list of superlatives for this trip, but overall it was the people we met along the way and the interactions we had with them that have created the lasting memories. Thank you to all who housed us. We loved every home stay!
If you’re curious:
When we hear Jack Johnson or Eric Hutchinson we will think about this adventure. Their music was on in almost every hostel when we entered, or we bounced around to it in the cars we rented!
Eliz: Painting classes in Australia, being immersed into a Khosa village at Bulungula in South Africa, hiking and kayaking in Abel Tasman National Park in New Zealand, living in a minivan for two months in New Zealand and Australia.
Dave: Viewing Torres Del Paine, waking up in campervan to sounds of the ocean, drinking wine with a view at Cable Bay Winery on Waiheke Island, NZ, dolphins giving us an acrobatic show in Bay of Islands, New Zealand, biking through Bangkok, relaxing on beaches of Ko Phangan, Thailand, kayaking in Parati, Brazil, reaching summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro, the many good times we had with friends.
COUNTRIES WE COULD LIVE IN:
England, Netherlands, Australia and Japan.
WANT TO GO BACK, BUT COULDN’T LIVE THERE:
Everywhere in South America, Laos, Vietnam and Thailand.
GLAD WE WENT, BUT WILL LIKELY NEVER RETURN:
China and Cambodia.
Thailand, Brazil, and Australia.
MOST PLEASANTLY SURPRISED:
Laos, Brazil and Japan.
COUNTRIES THAT HAD THE BIGGEST IMPACT ON US:
South Africa, Malawi, and Cambodia.
Melbourne, Kyoto, London, Amsterdam, Noosa, Salvador and Tokyo.
Biking through Bangkok, Thailand (Grasshopper Adventures), Bay of Islands sailing, New Zealand (Captain Mike from Canada), and Litchfield and Kakadu Parks, Australia (Territory Expeditions - check out http://www.territoryexpeditions.com.au we are the models in many of the photos.)
Oboke Gorge boat ride in Japan, Atuel Canyan in Argentina, and the Ecological Expeditions Pantanal tour in Brazil
Monkeys serving us drinks in a Japan bar, a baboon in our car in South Africa, Cambodia border crossing by foot from Thailand and white water rafting in the Zambezi River in Zambia
Thailand dancing with our friend Lucy, and listening to music in the streets of Salvador, Brazil.
FIRST SURREAL MOMENT:
Eliz: Sydney Opera House.
Dave: Torres Del Paine.
Eliz: Constant stomach problems in New Zealand (but I know where every free toilet is), any hike more than three days, China (poor sanitation habits got the best of me), South Africa tick bite fever, sleeping within earshot of snorers (thin wall hostels and campsites) … I’ve been known to shake stranger’s tents to wake them out of a deep snore!
Dave: 8 hour bus trip in Africa with diarrhea, Zanzibar boat trip with sea sickness and diarrhea, dealing with Elizabeth’s meltdowns on the mountains.
Eliz: Having someone in South Africa tell me tick bite fever was fatal and I would die soon.
Dave: Elizabeth telling me that we were spending too much money while eating white rice and canned peas for the fifth night in a row in New Zealand.
BIGGEST PET PEEVE:
Queue etiquette in most parts of the world! Why do people rush to the door, push and shove, and cause massive stress to all passengers to get onto a plane or bus with assigned seating? The worst culprits are people in China where the concept of a line is nonexistent and the use of elbows is common. Second are the French, who form lines, but quickly enter a game of rugby at the first sign of the line moving. Most other countries form lines, but once there is a hint of boarding the line falls apart into mass chaos. People in the US tend to crowd around the entrance to airplanes blocking everyone called before them from boarding. Come on people! Japan and England win for best line etiquette.
Empanadas, alfajores, kobe beef, churrascaria in Brazil, pre-packaged peanut butter and fluff sandwiches and rice balls in Japan.
Chocolate mint slice cookies from New Zealand and Australia, alfajores from Rosalia's in Chile, and the iced mocha drink from the Atomic Café in Melbourne.
$3 Singapore made sunglasses bought in Laos that lasted less than a week. The paint melted off leaving the image of glasses on our faces.
Squat toilets, although we do appreciate the cleanliness factor of not sitting on a filthy toilet seat, and on the plus side, the incredible thigh muscles that we built up from squatting. We also won't miss collecting our dirty toilet paper and having to toss it in the basket next to the toilet because the septic system couldn't handle the paper.
BEST LUGGAGE ITEM:
Swiss Army knife, spork (Light my Fire) and tiny ASUS netbook.
Thank you for going along for the ride with us. We appreciated all of your comments, suggestions and well wishes. We are sure there will be more travel adventures ahead, but for now, we must try to be productive citizens here in the US.
Our first five minutes in Boston! A blizzard came the next morning, a sign our 14 mo. summer was officially over.
All the best and safe travels!
- Elizabeth and Dave