Plans Change

One year ago life was pretty good.

It was early summer in Crested Butte. The boys were enjoying the long warm days and time with friends and family, Jamie was looking forward to her cousin’s wedding and to doing another show, I was getting in biking shape and work was as good as it had been in years. Things were all right and the plan was to keep building our lives more or less like we had been.

But, plans change.

Under the surface of our relatively steady lives, and maybe in part because of our relatively steady lives, there were the makings for some major change. In fact, within six months, we would announce that we were going to leave all that we knew: friends, family, home, work, toys, favorite activities and even our dog, to live a different life in a different land, at least for a while. There was a unique window of opportunity that might not come again to follow this dream and to be closer to each other in a new way.

We had thought hard about making this change and done what seemed like a lot of research on the logistics. The plan was to start in Ecuador, travel around, find a place we liked, live there for six months and then travel to other parts of South America for another 8-12 months. We looked at our finances and estimated that if we could live on a very lean budget (1/3 of our monthly budget in the US), that we could make our family sabbatical last for 18 months. After our “down time” in Ecuador, we hoped to visit and spend weeks and months in Colombia, Peru, Bolivia, Chile, Brazil, Uruguay and Argentina. With that as the plan, we were off!

But, plans change.

In the ensuing weeks and months, we learned a few things. While Jamie and I are willing to put ourselves through some crazy stuff, we have limits when it comes to our boys. We now realize that although it’s possible to live on 1/3 of our previous US budget, it’s not preferable. We still like to eat good meat and sleep in quiet, “undank” rooms with a low chance of bug infestation. We’ve used many resources to aid us along, but there is no “Lonely Planet” type manuel of instructions that addresses our family-with-young-kids-on-a-prolonged-family-sabbatical demographic. We are writing our guidebook as we go. So yes, we have learned how to live with less, but we’ve also learned to appreciate who we are and what we want!

Usually, what we want when we are thousands of miles away from home with our young boys costs more money than we budgeted, sometimes by a lot.  In fact, on top of our newly defined culinary and lodging sensibilities, we have also determined that more than eight hours on a bus with our boys is a recipe for disaster; one of us is likely to crack, or at least throw up. Alas, the alternative of flying from country to country also turns out to be much more expensive than we’d read! The result of these lessons and other now better understood realities is that it is time to change our plans again.

We will be leaving Ecuador in a few weeks, which is about a month sooner than we’d thought, and heading to the Caribbean coast of Colombia for a few weeks. From there, we hope to make it down to Peru for some more time in the Andes and then onto Argentina for some trains, good steak and wine just as their spring arrives. It seems then that Bolivia, Chile, Brazil and Uruguay have been placed back into the some day maybe category again. After all this, roughly 6 months from now, we plan to be back in Crested Butte gearing up for a great and very snowy winter.

But, plans change.

And that’s okay with us. The point was never the plan, the point was, and remains, to follow this dream and grow closer to each other while we do. Which, as it turns out, makes for one really good plan; one that hasn’t changed.

Categories: From Bo | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 18 Comments

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18 thoughts on “Plans Change

  1. John Holder

    What an amazing thing to do for your family.
    We look forward to hearing about your adventures.

    • John, coming from a guy who’s seen some things and knows what it is to really travel, that means a lot. Thank you! Cheers, Bo

  2. Poppy

    Wow, I am so proud of you..all of you! And by the way Bo I love your sense of humor and writing; “one of us is likely to crack, or at least throw up” ..Priceless! Dave

  3. Scott B.

    What an amazing family and journey!!!! The faces in the last photo above tell it all!!!! -Scott

  4. Thanks Scott! Some days we feel pretty normal so it’s good to be reminded that we are kind of amazing. I’m still holding out hope that we might see you down here?!?! Bo

  5. Laurel H.

    Hi Jamie and Bo,

    I found your blog about two weeks ago, and I think I read everything in one sitting! What an amazing adventure you’ve been on. I love this line from this post “the point was, and remains, to follow this dream and grow closer to each other while we do.”

    The reason I found your blog is that our family of four (including a middle schooler and a high schooler) is traveling, leaving this Thursday, from New Hampshire to Ecuador and Colombia for a month. Only a month…but it is still a big adventure for us. After a few days in Quito we will be living in a very small village in the cloud forest, not far from Mindo and Nanegalito for two weeks, staying with a family and volunteering with the community. Then after a few more days somewhere in the Quito area we fly to Bogota and then right on to Santa Marta, and hopefully several days at Tayrona National Park — maybe we’ll see you there!

    One question I have that I haven’t so far been able to get an answer to is what a woman of unknown age in a small village in the cloud forest might appreciate as a gift from the US. If you have any suggestions at all in the next few days, I would be very appreciative! Also, do you have a favorite fruit in Ecuador that is not available in the US that we should be sure to try?

    All good wishes as you journey on,

    Laurel H.

    • Hi Laurel, your adventure sounds great. It will be something you’ll all have for a lifetime. Good for you! On the gift, Jamie and I talked and if you could bring something from NH, something local and unique, that would likely mean a lot. Please stay in touch and maybe we’ll connect in Colombia. Best wishes to you and your family! Bo

      • Laurel H.

        Thank you, Bo, that’s a helpful suggestion. I’ll look for something today. And maybe some maple syrup (although that’s heavy).

    • Laurel, I forgot to answer your question about the fruit. There are so many new and good fruits. We don’t have a favoriate…try them all. Many of them can be peeled so you don’t have to worry about washing and for the others, you can pick up veggie wash at almost any mid-size grocery store (Tia seems to be the most common around here. Again, good luck and hope to see you! Bo

      • Laurel H.

        We are excited to try all the fruit! Thanks for the veggie wash idea too.

        If all goes according to plan (and as you know 🙂 plans change), we’ll be arriving into Santa Marta late on Tuesday July 10, and we’ll be in that area for a week before we head back home. Since we want a bit more shelter than a hammock on the beach, but don’t want to spend $$$ for the eco-habs, we are looking into the Posadas Turisticas (San Rafael and Las Naranjas): but it is difficult to make any arrangements from here ahead of time. We may also spend some time in Minca. All subject to change 🙂 But it would be fun to meet all of you! I’m not sure what our communication capabilities will be as soon as we leave here, but I’ll try to check your blog before we leave Ecuador, in case you’re heading in the same direction in the same timeframe.


      • Laurel, that looks like a good plan! If you’d like to coordinate, feel free to email Jamie at jamie . stambaugh @ gmail . com (I added all the spaces to avoid spam). Best wishes and see you soon!? Bo

  6. Rachel Cortest

    Such an amazing adventure and I know that you and Jamie are such incredible parents. Happy Father’s Day! Luis wanted to see your family pictures and was very impressed. I love reading about your jouirney and plans do change, and you are changing your plans to benefit your children. I am so happy for you all. (And I bet that your Spanish is improving!!)

    • Hi Rachel, thanks for staying in touch. Yes, the Spanish is getting better, but I’m wishing I would have listened better in college! Say hi to your family. Warm regards, Bo

  7. Desse Anthony

    It all sounds wonderful to me. The original plan overwhelmed me, but knew with you two it was workable…Now, I relate more to this plan…especially your coming back sooner to CB…Loved this family picture! Desse

    • The original plan overwhelms me too Desse! Yes, we are getting more and more excited to get back to CB. It’s hard to miss the summer, but for now adventure down here continues to call!

  8. Diana Scherr

    Bravo, Bo & Jamie!! VERY proud of you. The point, as you know, is not to prove anything, but to experience, to live, to enjoy. You are doing all three and then some. And believe me, WE understand!! And you WILL find a way, and a time, and a place to do it all again if that’s what you choose… because plans change, always! Abrazos y besos a todo!! Diana, Matt, Piper & Duncan

  9. Hey Diana, it’s nice to know you’re checking in. You all are like our guardian angles or patron expat saints? We think of you often and reference the blogs to see what we should expect next! We’ll have to connect in person when we return. Living in Ecuador with a young family from Colorado is pretty small and special group. We hope you all are enjoying those long Colorado summer days! Chow, Bo

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