Trip Start Sep 29, 2010
124Trip End Nov 30, 2011
We’ve had a great time so far – we’ve seen and done so much already. But like everything, there are things that wear on you after a while, and it’s no different when you’re travelling like we are. And I’ve begun to notice this more over the past month as we’ve travelled by ourselves rather than with tour groups. While we have no responsibilities, in a funny way, we’re finding that we still have some of the same pressures on our day-to-day lives that everyone else does back home – I’m thinking in terms of time, money, sleep etc –it’s just amplified in a lot of cases because we don’t have the same creature comforts that most people enjoy at home, or any place that we can call our own. While we’re still enjoying this fantastic adventure to the fullest extent, it’s certainly not the stress-free, carefree life that people often assume it is – it’s definitely not what I would refer to as a holiday.
On the good news front, I feel like the travelling has brought Kerry and I closer together – we realise that we have to work together and play off each other’s strengths and weaknesses in order to get things done. Fortunately this realisation, or acceptance if you like, means that we’re working together much better, we’re a little more tolerant with each other and we’re not squabbling over petty issues like we could have, or would have, before.
One difference that I think I’ve noticed in the past month or so (certainly since Buenos Aires), is that I’m now beginning to think about looking for a job and returning to a more normal life. For Kerry, who has only been out of work six months effectively, I don’t think she’s necessarily in the same place that I am yet. Don’t worry though, she’s got at least nine more months to get there.
Anyway, as I said we’ve reached half-time on our travels – a chance to take a break and reassess. So here we go with the half-time score – a quick statistical package to bring you up to date with our travels so far:
Days: 149 – September 29 seems an awfully long time ago. But with that comes the realisation that August 28 is even further away.
Flights: 19 – And racking up frequent flyer miles at a rate of knots.
Distance travelled: Over 48,400km – that’s like to the Moon and back a couple of times, isn’t it?!
Countries visited: 15 – Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Chile, Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay, French Polynesia and New Zealand. And although Antarctica doesn’t make the list as a separate country, Kerry can now say that she has been to all seven continents – not something many people can say. I plan on joining that club in May.
Itinerary changes: Only one thankfully – an unplanned day-trip into Brazil to see Iguazu Falls from the Brazilian side. For some reason we had thought that I needed a visa for Brazil, and therefore weren’t originally planning on going there. Also, it’s even more expensive than Chile and Argentina. Otherwise everything has gone incredibly smoothly.
Photos: Over 13,500 photos – well over 1,000 from our week in the Galapagos, and around 3,500 from our week or so in Antarctica. Including a few video files, that’s over 60GB worth in total.
Blog entries: 50 – Andrew, 26 entries (including this one), Kerry, 24 entries.
Weight loss: For me, roughly 8kg - Mum wants to know where that 8kg’s came from?! I want to know how I’m going to survive with Asia and Africa still to come! For Kerry, she claims 5kg, although this is unconfirmed - she won’t tell me how much she weighs.
Most surprising country: For me, Bolivia without a doubt. The cities and towns were busy, but had a much more welcoming feel and attitude about them, which we certainly noticed after coming from Cuzco where we were hassled practically everywhere we went. Once we left Sucre and headed to Potosi, Uyuni, and the Salt Flats, the real Bolivia came to us – the vastness and beauty of the high altiplano scenery, and the gritty nature of Potosi and Uyuni, finished off with the amazing Salt Flats. A real surprise and a highlight for me.
Our biggest surprise/complaint: Firstly, bank fees – unbelievable! Getting cash, surcharges on credit cards, and foreign ATM withdrawal charges – surprisingly painful and expensive experiences. It’s a far bigger expense, and concern, than we gave it credit for – as much as 3-4% of everything we spend whether by cash, credit card or transfer. And when you’re spending a year travelling that adds up to a lot of money – much more than we thought. It’s given me no end of expensive headaches trying to figure out the best and cheapest way to pay for things.
Secondly, on top of the point above, the expense of Chile, Argentina and, surprisingly now, New Zealand has been really noticeable. We knew Easter Island and French Polynesia would be expensive, but we’ve also felt the expense of these other countries too.
Most outrageous expense: Kerry’s glass of fruit juice with dinner at the Hilton Moorea – US$13.50. There have been a couple of other expensive surprises along the way, but that one was just obscene.
Comforts we miss the most: I’d like to say friends and family, but honestly the things we probably miss the most are simply having time to ourselves to relax and not feel like we should, or need to, be doing something every minute of every day, whether it’s trying to see things, or to catch up on our planning or blogging. Other than that its simple things like being able to sleep in your own bed, eat home cooked meals, turn on the TV, wash your clothes when they are dirty, and be able to manage your money to get the most possible out of it.
Obviously all of you will now have heard about the tragic earthquake that hit Christchurch while we were in New Zealand. Just to reassure you, Kerry and I were in Palmerston North on the North Island, and therefore weren’t affected by the quake at all. In fact, we didn’t even feel it.
News of the earthquake did however prove to be a bit of a distraction as we were desperately trying to plan the South East Asia segment of our trip. I have to say a big thank you to Kerry, who did an enormous amount of work on planning South East Asia while we were at home, and without that effort we would, no doubt, soon be up a dirty South East Asian creek, without a paddle.
Finally, you’ll notice that there are no photos attached to this blog… and that’s because we didn’t take any photos at all for the whole week – proof that we were really switched off from travelling, and 100% into planning and catch-up mode. But don’t worry, there will be more great photos of our travels to come very, very soon.
Next stop for us is Sydney, Australia.