Surviving the Holidays Abroad

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Feb 032013
 

There’s absolutely nowhere we’d rather be than with our families during the holidays.  One of the hardest times to be away from home for us is the week between Christmas and New Years.  No matter how much fun we’re having, no matter how much of a rhythm we have found on the road, being homesick during this time cannot be avoided.  It struck us especially hard last holiday season and this year we were intent on doing everything we could to minimize the depression that results from the knowledge of all the home cooked meals, parties and quality family time we’d be missing out on.  The underlying theme of how we would approach the holidays this time around was not to try to avoid but to embrace.  We would replicate traditions where we could, we would reach out to family as often as possible, and most importantly, we would celebrate.

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Feb 012013
 

From the jungle we continued west through the town of Baños, a touristy spot where the activities are dune buggy rentals and bungee jumping.  Not necessarily the things we go out of our way to pursue but we had half a day to burn and figured the hot springs were reason enough to stop.  If the city had positive attributes, the weather did not help show them off.  There was a heavy set fog that encompassed the entire city and loud gushes of wind ripped up the tiny little streets.  We made the most of our time by dropping off a load of laundry and spending some time at the local baths that give the town its name.  While wandering the streets we noticed most of the locals were wearing surgeon’s masks.  Seeing as Baños is at the base of an active volcano we were able to make the connection that the fog was not water vapor but fine ash.  We had come across active volcanoes in the past that spurted out small plumes of ash so we didn’t think too much of it.  It wasn’t until we were leaving town that we asked a gas station attendant how common it was for the volcano to be this active.  He informed us that twice a year the volcano would spew ash for around 24 hours before returning to sleep.  As I returned to the car I finally realized that the wind sounded a little different than normal, it was fierce and came in short bursts.  The gusts of wind was the volcano erupting. Continue reading »

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Jan 292013
 

I awoke from my slumber feeling relieved.  My fears of being violated by cockroaches during the night did not come to fruition and, to my surprise, I had slept peacefully.  Of course that could be due to my position in the hammock.  Zach might not have been so lucky, as he had offered to sleep on the bare wooden floor beside me.  It was the first day of our jungle adventure and we were staying in the house of our guide, Guillermo.  Continue reading »

Jan 182013
 

We had driven more than 30,000 miles up to this point.  We’d traveled for 14 months, through 12 countries on two continents and crossed the open sea.  Still, traversing the imaginary line that divides the earth’s northern and southern hemispheres is about as anticlimactic a milestone as they come.  Actually, on our first time across, I was sleeping in the passenger seat when Zach said, “I think we just crossed the equator.”  “Can we come back tomorrow?” I pleaded groggily.  I couldn’t be bothered to wake up for the momentous occasion.     Continue reading »

Jan 072013
 

The market in Otavalo, Ecuador was by far the most impressive we’ve seen since Guatemala.  On market day when the market swells with vendors from surrounding towns the produce market alone would challenge in size any that we have seen in South America so far and that was just a third of what they had to offer.  In addition to produce there was a handicraft market and an animal market where you could buy everything from pets to livestock.  Markets are fun.  They are a playground for every single one of the senses.  For this reason I have chosen to include most of the pictures we took that day to try to convey some of that experience.  Enjoy! Continue reading »