When you know it is time to go home…

– No more space in your passport
– Your clothes fall apart despite all the repairs
– Your bank cards stop working as the magnetic strip is in pieces and even Sellotape can’t help
– Everything in your first aid kit is going out of date
– The computer’s hard disk has no space for more photos.
– Some pesky mortgage agreement says you can only rent for 2 years
– You wonder what ‘real life’ is like back at home?
– The kids can’t remember much about ‘real life’ at home
– You can’t face another restaurant meal and drool at the thought of home cooked food and roast dinners
– You can drink tap water at home, or I hope you still can?
– You don’t have to remember to carry loo roll in your pocket at home
– You wonder what it’s like not to be viewed as a two leg ATM?
– You stop bothering to learn more than a few words of a new country’s language
– Hand washing clothes has lost its practical and virtuous appeal
– You have serious suspicions that the kids are going feral
– In England I won’t be tempted to try another Ayurvedic massage on the basis it can’t be as bad as the last one
– You can go wild swimming at home without worrying about piranha, dead bodies or alligators (only the cold will kill you)
– At home wine comes in more varieties than white or red
– Much that you feel blessed that over 2 years of minimal seat belts, beer swilling Peruvian bus drivers, Sri Lankan suicide driving etc. to have only two minor accidents that your luck can’t hold forever.
– After 24/7/365 for two years with the kidz some quiet alone time is tempting
– The kids will kill you if you say ‘we are only doing one more year’
– Imagine wearing jeans and other ‘heavy’ clothes
– Mouldy blue cheese at home is a good thing
– Your son keeps getting mistaken for a girl as he is not cutting his hair until he gets home
– Imagine a country without rabies, malaria, dengue or obscure tropical diseases it takes 5 doctors to diagnose? That’s home.
– You feel you should at least give the kids an opportunity of a ‘proper’ education, even if you secretly and selfishly hope they twist your arm into a few more years on the road once they experience a classroom again
– You sit in hotel rooms, watch mindless TV and order room service rather than explore the latest city
– You look forward to having guests rather than being a guest (that’s an invitation by the way to all our travelling friends, perhaps we can live vicariously through you?)
– You want to find out if ‘travel’ has truly changed you or if you are still middle aged with creaking joints and greying hair?
– You like a challenge and doing something different…

Just 44 hours to go until we land at LHR!

One week to home

753 days into our trip.  One week to go before we land back at London Heathrow!

Can’t quite get it all clear in my head!

I lay awake on our last overnight train again reflecting on it all, was it all real?

Ending our Napo River adventure - September 2012

Ending our Napo River adventure – September 2012

How far we’ve come, the highs the lows, how it will feel after we’re home? More

Tea, temples and so much more in Sri Lanka

We hadn’t thought to include Sri Lanka in our plans, but when we realised it was a good place to apply for Indian visas and we could take a cheap flight from Kuala Lumpur and head on to Southern India, whilst hopefully meeting with our friends from Penang who had put us up for 10 days in December. We booked our flight and then discovered our Bali friends were on the same flight too!

 

Sri Lanka!

Sri Lanka!

The early morning wake up, the sad but quick goodbyes with Oma, and our departure from KL is thankfully appeased by the excitement of seeing the Pearces at the airport and trading seats to be with friends on the plane.

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Back to Santiago and farewell South America

Our last installment for South America and mainland Chile, as we arrive back in Santiago from the deep south with a week to spare before we fly to Easter Island and beyond, Pacific island hopping!

It’s two months since we were last in Santiago. Since then we’ve made a huge loop around the bottom half of South America, first crossing to Iguazu Falls in Argentina, making side trips to Brazil, Parguay and Uruguay, down to the far south of Argentina and Tierre Del Fuego, back to Chile, out to the Falklands and finally up to Santiago again – in total about 4000km by air, 1200km by ferry through Patagonia and the remaining 5000km or so on buses!

yum!  Love the food in Santiago :)

yum! Love the food in Santiago 🙂

A week in Santiago

Ten and a half hours overnight and we arrive in Santiago about 7am. We had semi-cama seats – literally ‘half bed’ but frankly not resembling any kind of bed in my book and a far cry from the wonderful flat bed experience we just got to enjoy that one time in Argentina

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A Chile Easter and Chile`s Fjords

Map of Chile from CIA World Factbook. Category...

Map of Chile  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Finally, the last instalments of our nine months in South America are ready to share, as we hot foot it back to Santiago from the deep south. With around 3000km to travel two thirds of the length of the most slender country in the world through fjords, volcanoes, lakes and national parks flanked by the Pacific and the Andes, and with a plane to catch in just over two weeks that we`re keen not to to alter for a third time!

This is Part One – in which we bus overland from Punta Arenas to Puerto Natales then cruise on the Navimag ferry through the Chilean fjords to Puerto Montt…..

We arrive back from the Falklands to Punta Arenas in Chile’s deep south Patagonia on the day before Easter. The children would have loved the flight to have been cancelled again as it was on the way out as we would have got `stuck` in the Falklands for Easter Sunday, but it wasn’t to be! .

Views from Navimag, day 2, cruising through the Chilean fjords

Views from Navimag, day 2, cruising through the Chilean fjords

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Journey to the end of the world

Perito Moreno Glacier was our final stop on the road south to the end of the world! After spending the night in Rio Gallegos, we get up early for yet another long 11 hour bus, this time by day, down to Ushuaia.

Early start to leave Rio Gallegos....glued to the TV in reception at the hotel and waiting at the bus station

Early  departure from Rio Gallegos….glued to the TV in reception at the hotel and waiting at the bus station

Luckily the kids are entertained by movies. Gotta wonder who selects the movies for these journeys? Today it is Abraham Lincoln and the Zombies! More

Iguazu Falls – where Argentina meets Brazil and Paraguay

Iguazu Falls panorama. Showing just a fraction of the Falls which includes 275 indivdual cascades amidst multiple islands.

Iguazu Falls  – just a fraction of the Falls which includes 275 individual cascades amidst multiple islands.

Iguassu (or Iguazu, or Iguacu Falls) is so incredible it deserves its 3 spellings, or more, if you include versions with or without accents. Then there’s Puerto Iguazu in Argentina and Foz do Iguacu just across the border in Brazil, the towns and airports in the midst of the rainforest, stopping off points for the Falls.

About to get under the Iguazu falls!

About to get under the Iguazu falls!

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A taste of wine and crime in Mendoza.

aka – Visiting Argentina’s wine region with kids plus babysitter!

We arrive in Mendoza, Argentina at 5am. Our bus is about 6 hours late! With super sleepy kids and feeling  exhausted too we gather our bags and our wits and wonder if you can get any cash or a cab at this time. A money changer offers me 6 pesos to the dollar to change a $20 bill – I know the exchange rate is 5 so I’m baffled but accept and am cautious to check all the notes I get. We soon discover there is another exchange rate – it’s called the ‘dollar blue’ aka the black market rate! There is a daily published ‘dollar blue rate’ on the internet – it’s about 7:1 at this point and climbing – more on this and how much of a difference it makes to us later!  Argentina’s economy is in crisis (perhaps as a distraction  President Christina Kirchner is making a lot of noise about the Falklands aka The Malvinas) again and so we’re cautious about the reception we’ll get here!

We find a friendly cabbie who is happy to shoehorn the six of us plus luggage into his taxi! (interesting feat) and take us to our pleasant Aparthotel Tunkelen. Determined to get some value from our paid night of accommodation not to mention being bushed, we drive the now wide-awake kids into bed and sleep till 11am,. Of course we miss breakfast but the rooftop pool is wonderful when we finally wake up.

The rooftop pool and Royal Pavillion ?

The rooftop pool and Royal Pavillion ?

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Crossing the Andes to Mendoza, Argentina

15 February 2013. Our whistle-stop city break in Santiago is done. We ride the Metro for the first time to find yet another sushi restaurant. Its our first subway ride in S America and a bit of an adventure.

Underground and overground - last morning in Santiago.

Underground ,overground – last morning in Santiago.

We stop for sushi, grab Starbucks coffee, then back at the hotel to collect luggage but find it’s locked in a room with a sign on the door :

‘Gone to lunch-back in an hour’ !!

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Speeding south through La Serena to Santiago

Chile. 11 February 2013.
Seven months today since we flew to South America to begin our family gap year and we arrive in La Serena, Chile, our first taste of coastal Chile, on a rather uncomfortable, but bearable 16 hour overnight bus south from Calama, dropping down 2400m from the heights of the Atacama desert. We’ve finally escaped San Pedro and the floods having missed all the amazing trips we’d hoped to do and having to head back through Calama, seeing evidence of where the road was washed right away as the bus queues to get around the missing carriageway.

Th San Pedro to Calama road is washed away

Th San Pedro to Calama road is washed away

The challenge of how to cross the Andes to Argentina

The challenge of how to cross the Andes to Argentina

Plan A had been to take a bus from San Pedro to Salta – we’d even bought our tickets but got a refund when we knew the pass was going to be closed at least a week due to snow. Plan B is to try our luck with the pass from La Serena to Mendoza.

We had ‘semi-cama’ seats (meaning half-bed). Not exactly what I’d call a half bed but they do recline quite well – and are smart by the standards we’re used to. The kids and Martin (sleep anywhere) slept happy enough –  Erika and I found it a bit tough and feel stiff and sleep deprived! ‘Cama’ is a bigger, better recliner, often in the downstairs with semi-cama upstairs. We’re looking forward to trying cama! Maybe next time!

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