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We just wanted to let all of our readers know that we are safe & sound back in the states.  Most of you guys are family and close friends, so you already know that we’ve been back for about 2 weeks. We’re currently on a job hunt & looking for a place to settle, which may or may not be stateside. We’re still re-acclimating to be home and evaluating all the pros and cons our potential destinations.  Even though we’re back home, we’re going to pick up right where we left off in the blog.  Thank you to all of family & loved ones for supporting our dream & we hope you all enjoy the rest of our travel misadventures!

On our last night on the ferry, I (Corey) had a little too much fun & subsequently had a rather rough morning when we had to disembark the boat. Despite some tense moments and with me smelling like cheap rum, we were able to make it safe and sound to our hostel in Puerto Montt. After a few hours of sleeping/sobering up, I was finally able to get it together enough that we were able to take a walk around this new city. We quickly figured out why most of our fellow passengers & friends on the ferry were immediately getting out of Puerto Montt to head to their next destinations. There really wasn’t a single aspect of the city that was attractive. The food was especially terrible.

One day/night in Puerto Montt was enough so we booked an evening bus north to Valdivia, Chile the next day. We decided to kill time the next day in Puerto Varas which was just 30 minutes away from Puerto Montt. Located on a large lake and surrounded by several towering volcanoes, Puerto Varas was definitely much, much prettier. We spent the day walking around the town and along the lake past famed teacher/author Paublo Freire’s old house, now a small museum. It was a very nice & relaxed day which included our first run-ins with fellow NaviMag passengers. We got back in time to catch our bus North to Valdivia.

Valdivia

 ValdiviaII

  When you’re traveling and visiting a bunch of places & cities like we are, there is a tendency for these places & cities to start blurring together. Sometimes the only thing that separates a bad place from a good place or good place from a place that you absolutely love is that people you meet, spend time with & get to call your friends. Aside from the sun bathing sea lions on the river’s edge, Valdivia, Chile was pretty average. What made it a fun place and a place that we’ll remember was getting to become friends with Travis & Micheline, a couple from Oregon looking to teach English in Valdivia.

Travis & Micheline

The four of us hit it off from the start & ended up hanging out for most of the time that we were there. I’d have to say my fondest memory from Valdivia was the night that Travis, Eddie, Andreas (two other really great guys that were in the same dorm as us) & I went out for a guys Terramoto night. Terramoto or Earthquake is a very popular drink in Chile. It is a very strong, but sweet drink, much like woppatoee that can put even serious drinkers into a bad state of affairs. Before things kind of fell apart we really had a great time and truly got to know each other. I don’t know if it was our comfort with each other or the drinks, but we all opened up & told each other things that I don’t think any of planned to share when the night started. Apparently Lisa & Micheline had a similar night sans alcohol.

After 4 terramotos each, Travis & Eddie both ended up spending some quality time in the bathroom & Andreas disappeared (I assume to try to pick up girls). I only suffered a bit of headache the following morning. All in all in was a great night, one of the more memorable ones of the trip for me, & a great few days in Valdivia thanks, in part, to Travis & Micheline.

Travis & Micheline - Road Trip

Lisa had been doing to research on Chile & she wanted to go to two National Parks a few hours north of Valdivia, Huerquehue National Park & Villaricca National Park which was home to the Villaricca Volcano. So, naturally we assumed that the place to go would be Villaricca located on Lake Villaricca. Upon arriving in Villaricca, we soon found out that assuming can get you in trouble. Apparently, unless you have your own car, there is no way to get to the Villaricca Volcano or any of the other cool stuff in the area from Villaricca. You have to go to Pucon, a small tourist town across the lake. So after two unproductive days in Villaricca, we took a short half hour bus ride to Pucon.

Villaricca Volcano

Parque Nacional Huerquehue

We really liked Pucon from the moment we arrived. The town was peaceful & quaint. On top of that the surrounding views couldn’t have been more amazing. Looming off the area is the huge, towering Villaricca Volcano. On our second day in Pucon, we went to hike in Huerquehue National Park. It was a beautiful day and we were lucky to get great views of the volcano at every lookout point. The hike itself was a bit challenging, not made any easier by the mud & muck on much of the trail.

PNH - grazing

grazing

Surprisingly, I managed to stay upright while Lisa had a bit of a spill on our way back down the mountainside. In her defense, she was let down by a bamboo tree that gave loose when she tried to use it to keep her from falling. In addition the getting great views of the volcano, we were also able to see two beautiful waterfalls. It was definitely worth the work.

PNH - Cheese

PNH - creek

tranquil

made it

Since we arrived in Pucon there was one thing that I wanted to do more and more as each day passed, to climb the Villaricca Volcano. Lisa pretty much had no desire to, but after a few days of convincing & meeting several people who told us that the hike to the summit really wasn’t that hard, Lisa relented. This would turn out to be one of our biggest mistakes on the trip.

*Valdivia photos courtesy of Travis & Micheline . . . Miss you guys!*

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Can’t believe we’ve been on the road for exactly 6 months today!  We’re currently in Arequipa, Peru about to do a 3 day trek through Colca Canyon!

flippin

Happy May!!!!

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We arrived safely to La Paz at around 2:30 AM on October 31st.  We are, however, still trying to acclimate ourselves to the high altitude!  Once we’re ready to explore (& actually have something to talk about), we’ll let everyone know about our first impressions of Bolivia.

Until then, enjoy some photos from our flights . . .

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Adios!

 

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Photo blog to make up for lack of photos in the previous post . . .

Before leaving Wisconsin, Corey’s folks took us out for dinner one last time!

Norma Jean getting acclimated with her new digs

Catching up with Leader’s Club (YMCA) buddies!

Catching up with high school buddies!

Sorting our inventory (Lisa’s clothes)

Enjoying our favorite restaurants!

Relaxing in Raleigh with the Davis family

Organizing everything (again & again!)

See you in La Paz!

Thank you EVERYONE for making our last few months in Wisconsin & North Carolina so much fun!  It was nice to see you all one last time . . . after a couple of weeks of catching up with family & friends in Raleigh, we’re finally off to Bolivia!

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So, we’re down to our last month in the States.  We’ve got 2 more weeks in Wisconsin & then we’re off to North Carolina for another 2 weeks.  Our employers have been notified and the trip actually feels like it’s within reach! Here are some of the things we’ve been up to lately:

Moving:

We’ve been out of the apartment for about 2 weeks now & living with the senior Waller’s, aka Corey’s parents.  John, my father-in-law, and Jared, my brother-in-law, have made many improvements our old apartment & Corey even did a back-splash in the kitchen.

John & Jared are in the process of putting in a new floor

Corey’s back-splash in our old kitchen

Selling:

We’ve placed lots of items on Craig’s List – if you’re in the market for some furniture drop us a line.  Between that & the 3 rummage/moving sales, we’ve already made about $800.  Who knew & we’ve got 3 more days left to sell: today & next weekend.  Wish us luck!

moving sale

We’ve also made several (at least 15) trips to Good Will in the past month or so, which is where we’ll send most of the stuff we can’t sell before we leave.

Some photos from our 2nd rummage/moving sale

Need a bed or a desk set?

Buying:

I think we’re finally done with all of our trip purchases . . . Tickets to Bolivia? Check! Travel clothes & gear? Yup! Electronics? Squared away! Kindles books? Downloaded!  There are some items that need to be exchanged, but that can be taken care of in one quick trip to REI.

Skyping:

This is something that I’ve been anxious to do for a while now.  I spoke with a friend on Skype once, he was in South Korea & called me on my cell phone.  I wanted to make sure that we’d be tech-savy enough to make the call on our end.  Turns out that its super easy.  Got to talk to my parents yesterday & they could see & hear me!  Pretty cool considering that the last time we saw each other in person was almost 2 years ago!

Other Miscellaneous Trip Stuff:

We had a super fun photo shoot with our best gal pal Lisa!  She’s responsible for 3 of the 4 photos in our new blog banner and her photos are on our leave behind cards!

This is one of our favorites from the shoot!

Leave Behind Cards

The bank account we’ve been using for 5 years has been closed & we opened up an account with Charles Schwab.  After doing tons of research on banks, it became clear early on that we’d be going with Schwab.  All ATM fees will be reimbursed?  Heck Yeah!

We’ve purchased Inter-American driver’s licenses.  For just $15/license we can drive anywhere in South America.  We want to keep major cities as hubs & take day trips while we’re on the road.  Plus, it can’t hurt to have another form of ID.

Time’s flying and, for the most part, everything’s been running smoothly.  Right now we’re focusing on enjoying the time we have left with our loved ones & trying our best to get everything taken care of before we leave.  We can’t wait to hit the road & share our many mis-adventures with you . . . Happy Sunday!

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For starters, we’d like to apologize for how quite it’s been lately.  We’ve been so busy preparing for our big adventure that we’ve neglected the blog.  If I could, I’d promise that it will never happen again.  But, to be honest, things have been pretty hectic & it’ll probably happen again!  Every week night we try to do something travel related, which includes some of the following activities: read travel books & blogs, post belongings on Craig’s List, add things to our never-ending “To Do” list. 

So me big-ticket items that we can cross off the list include:

  1. Purchasing our flight to Raleigh (no longer driving due to high rental car fees)
  2. Purchasing our flight from Raleigh to La Paz, Bolivia
  3. Booking our first 2 nights in La Paz 
  4. First round of vaccinations (Hep B for Corey, Yellow Fever & Typhoid for both of us)

As you can imagine, our weekends have been pretty crazy, as well!  We’ve gone through our stuff the past 3 weekends & made several trips to Good Will.  We’ve taken photos of every possible item we can imagine that someone might want to buy & put together a list of prices that we think we’ll be able to get for them.  Only 6 of those items have actually been posted online, because our computer kinda stinks.  Which brings us to another item we’ll be researching soon: a lightweight computer for the trip.  We went to Best Buy back in June (just to look), but we’ll need to make this decision soon & I think it’ll be one of the harder choices to make.  We’ve had horrible luck with computers in the past, so any suggestions are welcome!

bonfire from earlier this summer

We had a faux camping trip last weekend & I didn’t even take pictures!  That’s right, zero photos from our pretend jaunt deep into the Waller Wilderness (not that deep & not really wild).  We had a campfire (photo above from another campfire), set up the tent & camped under the stars (photo below from 2 weekends back).  We did end up making a few trips back to the apartment, but all & all it was a good experiment.  We learned two great lessons for future trips: 1) we should always clear the area before putting up the tent & 2) we should always make sure that our heads are not facing downhill while we sleep!

shooting star from bonfire earlier this summer

It’s been a bit chilly, so we even got to test some of our warmer clothing & we’re definitely happy with our Smartwool long johns & socks! 

We really are hoping to keep you guys as up-to-date as possible on our activities, but there’s just a LOT going on right now.  Feels a bit like we’re living double-lives.  And, as crazy as things are now, it’s only going to get more hectic as the trip draws near.  Stay tuned and for now we’ll leave you with this photo of our silly cat, who apparently wants to be sold along with this lovely basket!

cat not for sale

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We’re not big on timelines & countdowns.  We are super pumped about our trip & we can’t wait to go, however, we’ve always found that countdowns make the time pass by even slower!  Similar to the effect of watching water boil.  So you can imagine our frustration with the handful of friends who keep reminding us how close our trip is.  At around the 8 month mark Corey’s co-workers started saying stuff like, “Hang in there, it’s just 6 more months” to which I responded, “No, it’s not!” 

April 15th was the official 6 month mark, but we only figured that out because someone asked back in March.  Today, July 7th, marks 100 days!  That’s 100 days left before departure, which is 85 days until we quit our jobs or 3,400 hours of work.  I don’t know about you, but that still seems like a long way to go, which is why we hate countdowns! 

As the trip has gotten closer, we have made some changes to the original plan.   From our readings of other adventurers doing a trip like this, the plan usually starts out with: I (We) want to explore the world & come back a better person (people).  I’m pretty sure that was our train of thought as well, but our main goal has always been to search for a new home overseas.  Corey brought up a touchy subject one day in April.  It went something like this:

Corey: What if we don’t go all the way around the world?

Me: Uh, what are you talking about?  I’m confused. . .

(No, that’s not Lisa, however, she felt that the photo above accurately displays her expression during the trip plan revamp convo.)

To make a long story short, we’ve always known that the final goal for us was to live somewhere else.  I’m sure from Corey’s political rants, it’s pretty obvious that we’re not very proud to be Americans.  Sorry to sound so blunt or if we’ve offended any of you, but it’s true.  All along, our biggest fear was to come home after our around the world trip and end up stuck back in America for 5, 6, 20 years.  After much conversation, we decided that, for us, it made more sense to shorten the trip in order to make it possible to move immediately.  And, after a lot of research, we feel that South America has been calling us.  The new plan is to take in as much of the continent as we can & stay in as many countries as we can for longer periods of time.  We’ll travel for about 9 months to a year to determine which place we want to settle in.  We’ll come back to the states, tie up any loose ends & embark on a road trip to our new home, wherever that may be!

We’ve decided to share our to-do list with you.  This won’t be the whole list, but some of the major things that need to be taken care of before we head out on our big adventure.  You may remember a similar post from last February, in which we covered the following subjects: subletting, vaccinations, route, gear, travel membership(s), bank/credit cards and passport/visa photos.  Anything crossed out is either done & practically finished.  We’ve decided not to sublet.  We’ll be switching to Charles Schwab later this summer.  And, thanks to the suggestion from our fellow blogging buddies at 80liters.com, we’ll get our passport photos taken care of at epassportphoto.com.

What else is on our list?  We’re glad you asked!

  1. Purchasing our tickets: our first destination is La Paz, Bolivia.  Towards the end of November we’ll be volunteering with a family we found on workaway.  In the meantime, we’ve been searching the internet for the best flights from North Carolina to Bolivia.  For anyone new to the blog, we’ll be driving from Wisconsin to North Carolina to meet up with the rest of our family before heading overseas.
  2. Learn Spanish: there’s no way we’ll be bilingual by the time we’re in South America, but we would at least like to get by.  The plan is to practice at least 3 times a week for 30 minutes & try our best not to speak English to each other while we practice.  We’ve also purchased cds to listen to while we drive to & from work.  Once we get to Bolivia we plan to do a 2 week homestay & immerse ourselves in the langauge.
  3. Prepare Norma Jean: soon we’ll be doing test drives close to home to get Norma used to car travel.  She’s pretty good in the car, however, we want to get her acclimated well in advance for our drive from WI to NC, where Lisa’s parents will be taking care of her.  We also need to look into the driving route, rental car fees & find some pet-friendly hotels along the way.
  4. Gear Tests: we’ve been doing hour-long hikes from our apartment to the park near us.  With each trip we’ve gradually added more clothes & weight to our packs.  So far, we’re both happy with our choices and for the most part, we’re just getting our bodies in shape for the longer travel days we’ll have to face while on the road.  Overall, we plan to travel pretty slowly, so chances are we may only have 10 or so days of extended pack carrying .  We just want to be prepared!
  5. Vaccinations: the nicest thing about this new plan is the money we’ll be saving on vaccinations.  We’ll still need to get a few and take malaria pills in the destinations that it’s more common, but we won’t have to get a laundry list of shots.  Yes, we have tattoos & we should be well equipped for this sort of pain, but it’s not something we’re looking forward to.  

6.   Downsizing: getting rid of the stuff we really don’t need.  At the start of August we’ll create 3 lists: things to keep, things to toss, things we’re not sure about.  We plan to utilize Craigslist and possibly eBay to get rid of most of our things.  People are really big on rummage sales up here, so (if the landlord, aka Corey’s dad, allows it) we’d also like to have a yard sale. 

7.   Pack up & leave: we’re lucky to have a lot of areas to store possessions & members of Corey’s family have graciously offered to help.  We plan to leave our car (we’re selling 1 before we leave), books, DVD’s, bed, computer desk and non-travel clothes.  We’re hoping to have everything squared away by October 12th & leave that night or October 15th at the latest.

We’ve got plenty of other things on the list, but those are the big-ticket items.  October 12th can’t get here sooner!

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