At this time last year we were glued to the laptop in Seattle for news of the erupting coup in Ecuador, the first destination on our long-awaited RTW (round-the-world) trip. Would we be able to leave? Would we have to start somewhere else at the last minute? It was exciting and unpredictable from the very start, and that hasn’t changed much throughout our 365 days of travel.
How exciting and unpredictable, you ask?
We experienced a Force 12 storm in the Drake Passage on the way back from Antarctica that lasted for 2 days.
We camped overnight on Antarctica downwind of a giant fur seal, whose pheromones reminded us all night that he was tougher than we were.
We arrived in Baños, Ecuador the same day Volcano Tungurahua decided to start erupting, and she spewed rocks, grumbled, and shook the ground and windows for 2 weeks while we were there.
We went camping with friends in Argentina and had to make camp in a swamp in high winds with no matches and a frost coming on. (We remembered the boxed wine, though.)
We camped in the jungle, sleeping in hammocks in a shelter and hoping the nearby footsteps in the middle of the night were from the guide taking a midnight potty break. They weren’t.
We descended into a pitch-black (a phrase that has new meaning!) coal mine in England for 1-1/2 hours to learn how men, women and even small children worked to support themselves in the last 100 years. We’ve never been anywhere so dark or lonely.
We trekked through mountains and jungles, survived dry heats and torrential downpours, and witnessed dramatic changes in climate in almost every place we visited. (If you don’t believe in global climate change, you must have your eyes closed.)
We saw governments doing good things and governments doing lots of bad things, too. We saw racism, sexism, homophobia, anti-US sentiment, and lots and lots of poverty. We also saw people coming together to help complete strangers, equal rights in the unlikeliest places for the least powerful people, an appreciation for US culture (hot dogs in a foodie town like Brussels?), and luxury beyond compare.
We’ve been sick in foreign countries and gotten fast, inexpensive treatment without having to make a backpacking travel insurance claim (nice to know it is there if we need it, though). We’ve also been worried that we’ll have a medical catastrophe and wonder just where we’ll go to recover since we are not insured in the US. Then we remind ourselves that millions of people in the US live with this risk every day.
Live the Good Life: What’s next?
We’ve seen and experienced more in this year than we ever dreamed, and our personal views and global perspectives have exploded with the amount of information we’ve processed during this time. It is a sensory and information overload that is hard to describe, and at times it can be really unsettling. But if you want to know if this year has been worth it, the answer is YES.
It feels like we’ve barely seen the tip of the iceberg (that phrase has new meaning, too!) in this journey, and we’re excited to see what the next year brings into our lives. On the agenda:
- Launching our first digital guide on October 18. Find out more here.
- Creating a movement of discovery with our Try Something New ezine
- Modifying our website development business over the winter to sustain us long-term as we travel the world
- Writing new guides on various topics around Living the Good Life
- Embarking on a Super Secret Adventure of Summer 2012…details to come
We wrote at our six month anniversary how this RTW trip has changed us, but this time we want to change it up a bit. Has following our trip changed you in any way? If so, how?
*Like our new photo on the home page? It was taken by the talented Alison Cornford-Matheson of ACM Photography in Brussels.