Posts Tagged With: Family travel blog

Spreadin’ the News…

It has been nearly 7 weeks at home now and we are certainly getting all the wheels turning again.  For the boys that means school and play dates and reconnecting with friends. For Bo that has meant starting out on his own in work he has wanted to make his career for as long as I’ve known him. He’s working full time as a management consultant and loving it.

And for myself… in trying to figure out what my next progression ought to be, one option in particular got me excited about the idea of heading to work each day.  Thanks to all the encouragement from you readers of this blog, I am exploring the world as a writer.

So far this has entailed writing everything from wine reviews to pages of prose no one will ever see to further summaries of our sabbatical experience for those wanting to hear more. And today, thanks to our wonderful and supportive hometown newspaper, I get to share with all of you findingforeigners my very first ever byline!  Thanks to the Crested Butte News for letting me tell our story in their paper!

Here’s the link, and below is the image of how it appeared in the paper itself:

Believe it or not, I have a couple other pieces being published in the next few weeks and will share those with you when they come out. In the meantime, if there is a topic you want to hear more about or a question you’ve been wanting to ask, or a fantastic and high-paying world-wide major publication that you’d like me to write for…

now would be an awesome time to drop me a line about that.  😉

Categories: From Jamie | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 14 Comments

Day 248

I remember writing our Day 1 Post. I remember the awe and excitement and wonder, and nerves, at all we had just done and all the unknown that was ahead of us to do.  I remember saying that it was great. I remember that it was.

Beginnings get a lot of press. Like the first day of Spring, which we are experiencing in the Southern Hemisphere right now, beginnings are clean and open and green. They smell good. They are unmarred and easily celebrated. As they should be.

Endings though, rarely get the joy of that flip-sided coin. And that is a shame. Endings are beautiful. It is in the beginning that something becomes possible, it is in the ending that something becomes precious.

This was true of leaving Crested Butte last January. I had lunch with friends, took impromptu walks on trails I thought I knew, and initiated longer sidewalk conversations all on a moment’s notice, and devoid of the “busy” excuse I used to wear like a uniform. Anxious to get the time and love in before we left.

This was true of leaving Cotacachi, when suddenly all the oddness and quirks and messes that hours before drove us mad, took a drastic turn towards the endearing.

This was true of leaving Taganga, Buenos Aires, and even our one day in Colonia as well. Each place that we found new and exciting in the beginning really revealing their worth as we prepared our goodbyes.

Of the blogs I’ve read of other families that have done something like this, they unanimously report at the end of it that they wanted more time. It felt too short. They wish it could be longer. They were just getting the hang of things.  All of them say that – whether their stint was 3 months, 6 months, or over a year. Importantly, all of them say that in their last, or next to last, post.  We feel the same way. We want more, now that at the end of things we see without distraction the gift of what we have together.

These are the most fantastic people I hang out with. They are funny and brave. Cute and dashing. Kind and honest. They are my heroes. I knew these things about them before of course, but I know them differently now. I know them in the way I know my own skin or recognize my own voice. And I suspect that while we may feel like we are “just now getting the hang of it”, it would be truer to say that we are just now realizing how much we actually got the hang of  together and are justifiably in awe, with a splash of disbelief.

This has been amazing.

Amazing, Amazing,  Amazing.

Beauty and love and awareness and appreciation don’t always show up at first, but they unfailingly swell at the end. Daring you not to cry at the noticing.

And so through the tears and the reflection I can’t help but grin. I am so happy about this ending. I am so grateful for all the spotlight on the precious. I am so fortunate to have a lifetime experience that is wonderful enough to mourn its passing.

What happens for us after the end? After Day 248?

We wake up tomorrow in Colorado with yet another clean slate and a multitude of spring green options ahead.

We wake up on the next Day 1.  And all the joy and possibility beginnings always have.

So. Grateful.

Categories: From Jamie | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 20 Comments

Bolivia Photos and Thoughts

The Following Post Comes with this Disclaimer:

Of Course there are nice people in Bolivia, Of Course there are pretty places in Bolivia, Of Course La Paz is not the epicenter of all darkness and loathing and misery…just not in our experience.

We intended to spend only a few days in La Paz getting used to the altitude and seeing some sights before heading out to do a tour of the Salt Flats which offer up mind-bending optical illusions, pink flamingos, colored lagoons, and even a train graveyard. Then, take one of the very much alive trains on an overnight journey from the edge of the salt flats and down into Argentina. Sounds fun, right?

Obviously, none of that happened, and even after we made it through the work of securing new passports and getting replacement Bolivian visas, it became clearer and clearer to us that there was no longer a choice of do we continue on as planned or not. We had to get out. We had to get out as directly and quickly as possible because the La Paz of our experience was nothing and nowhere that a tourist should take time to visit. Tourists with young children…I can’t even…we just didn’t know. And we were honestly a bit afraid to fully vent our impressions of the place while we were stuck there as the possibility of someone mining the internet for bad Bolivian press and refusing our visas out or making us miserable in other ways didn’t seem all that far-fetched. Truly.

So now while I’m sipping great coffee on a beautiful wooden table next to a tree-lined street in Buenos Aires, I’m getting it out.

The light is strange there. Otherworldly. It is also brutal. Which makes sense I suppose at that altitude and proximity to the equator. And the buildings looked grown out of the mountainside rather than built by human hands. Think Star Wars I guess. Beautiful in a way, though that wears off as the eye of the beholder takes more in.

There are missing children signs everywhere. Plastered on every street corner, light post, the doors to the airport, government buildings, barber shops – everywhere. It was one of the reasons the Embassy tried so hard to get our passports back, two of them had children’s birth dates on them, making child smuggling that much easier. I considered throwing down for one of the 2 or 3 nice American chain hotels that are there, but even they had review after review after review online of people having items stolen from their rooms, or grabbed out of their pockets in the lobby. It felt that nowhere was safe. I don’t know how to explain what that did to us, to feel that no matter what we try or where we go or how much money we have, nowhere is safe.

There is also a near constant reek of sewage. La Paz has some of the worst water conditions in South America, and a home by the river would be punishing there as it is not water but foaming, trash-ladden, torrents of sewage. You’ll see in the pictures below some of the playgrounds we found to take the boys to, and they were great and fun and such a gift to have nearby, but what you can’t see in the photos is how it smelled in one of them to play next to that river.

We did stumble upon a nicer park one night, that was simultaneously holding a break-dancing competition and some ladies practicing flamenco. It was nice, and bizarre for being so. That is the only non-frightened, sick, angry, worried, and Mama-Bear-mode memory I have of our time in La Paz. And then Luke fell off of one of the climbing structures, and that ended that.

Finally, the illness that struck Bo, and subsequently the boys and myself, was no small part of our La Paz challenge, and is not over as my body waited to let it manifest until we were safely in Argentina. But at the onset, in a freezing hotel room in the cold stark city of La Paz, I had never seen my husband that ill. Ever. He was beyond anything I can describe. I had also never heard my children cough that hard for that long or their eyes get that red and their bodies that worn. And I have never been in the midst of all of that while being scared to death that a trip to the hospital in this place could easily end up killing them. We did find an English speaking doctor that saw Bo in her private clinic, and she was kind, but her best advice was to get rest and see a doctor in Buenos Aires if/when we got there.

So all efforts to leave were re-doubled. And then re-doubled again.

And while we still have a Bolivia hangover in the form of stolen documents and goods and sickness that just keeps on and on… we did make it out. And we are all together.

And we had ourselves a good laugh at the decoration spread across the wall at our first hotel in Buenos Aires. Wish you could have been there when we walked in and saw this:

Okay, now that my rant is fairly spent, here are the Bolivia photos you all have been asking for. I am sorry it took so long to get them up. Unfortunately, among the things stolen in La Paz were all the connecting cords for downloading photos from our cameras to our computer, and where we are in the world (even here in Buenos Aires!) any loss of electronics is just not an easy gap to fill. Bo found a way however and so here you go!

Thank you again for all your support and encouragement from all corners of the globe. We are loving Buenos Aires and look forward to sharing it with you in the posts to come!

Categories: From Jamie | Tags: , , , , , , | 3 Comments

We Love Trains!

A love that only grew into being because our eldest child LOVES trains. In fact, it is possible that the conversation [announcement] about picking up and moving to South America for a year may have involved some assurances [bribes] in the form of promised train rides. Now that we’ve finally kept good on that…um…promise, Bo and I are both wondering what took us so long. It was incredible. Stunning scenery, beautiful people, music, dancing, warm breezes and a heart-stoppingly pure smile on Vaughn’s face that followed him into his sleep.

We went to buy our tickets at an unusually beautiful depot in Ibarra just before 8am because we believed the train to be leaving at 8:30. Our info on that was wrong, which of course never happens to us here, and the train didn’t leave until 10:45*; and the tickets to the standard train were sold out already so we ended up buying seats on the “Truck-Train” instead. As far as I can tell that is just a single train car with a truck facade and it fortunately still met with Vaughn’s approval, thankfully then helping us to bring one of Luke’s big interests into the day as well!

We walked across the street to the several city blocks conglomeration of ramshackle tin-roofed booths that make up the Ibarra mercado in search of breakfast and distraction. Wow. That sensory experience alone could have been enough aventura for one day, but 10:30 found us back at the depot watching Vaughn bounce on his toes with excitement as the train backed into our track and began loading. The ride itself lasted about 2 hours and ended in the small rural town of Salinas which is a climate and culture so far removed from the Ecuador we know here in Cotacachi we felt we had to have traveled much farther than that amount of time could have allowed. That place is probably the poorest we have seen here in Ecuador, but the town is SPOTLESS and it’s people have a smile and dignity that we were so drawn to and humbled by.  Salinas means “Salt Land” and it’s occupants are Afro-Ecuadorians that have been salt and sugar-cane farmers for generations. We were greeted with performances of their traditional music and dance, taken on a tour of a salt-mine, given a demonstration of just how one gets table salt from dirt, shown to the town’s only restaurant for almuerzo, and then loaded back on to the train for a sunset ride home.

This is a post that really needs more pictures than words, so here ya go!

*For our Ecuadorian friends wanting to take this trip: Buy your tickets a day or two ahead of time if you want the standard train ride, either in person or you can try online here, the cost for either train is the same, $15.00 for adults and $7.50 for kids.

Categories: From Bo, From Jamie | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

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