- by Gretchen Richter de Medeiros
"By the numbers list to reflect on the journey thus far."
It’s hard to believe that our six months south of the equator are now behind us. Peru, Chile, Argentina, Brazil, and South Africa: each country offered experiences we’d been looking forward to, experiences we couldn’t have imagined, and truth-be-told, some that we hope not to go through again. We compiled this by-the-numbers list to reflect on the journey thus far.
Number of times we had to change our plane tickets. We had to cancel Dubai at the very last minute (see TWO), and re-booked all the way to Athens. A costly mistake, but luckily a lone AirTreks employee was working late and he was able to solve the problem within an hour.
Visa snafus. Our friends Chris and Krissy had been planning to celebrate New Year’s Eve in Rio with us, but didn’t realize that they’d need visas. An agent in Virginia came through with two days to spare. In March, as we were packing to leave Johannesburg for Dubai, Rodrigo felt a freeze in his stomach. “Do I need a visa to Dubai?” he asked me. Then I felt that freeze. Turns out Brazilians DO need visas to Dubai. (See ONE.)
Cars rented. Chile, Argentina and South Africa. In South Africa Gretchen and Heather learned to drive on the other side of the road.
Items lost. Gretchen’s blue knit cap (Peru). One of Marco’s soccer balls and the sack we were using to carry it (Chile). Marco’s Nook (South Africa). Not to mention the number of times Rodrigo lost-and-found his glasses.
Web episodes published. Not counting the teasers and our Europe 2014 episode.
Doctor visits. Marco and Bella in Peru for fevers and sore throats. Gretchen and Marco in Brazil for skin problems. Marco in Brazil for another fever. Rodrigo and Marco in South Africa for terrible congestion. That being said, we’ve all felt sick now and again but these were the only times we really needed professional care.
Currencies used. Peruvian Soles. Chilean Pesos. Argentinian Pesos. Brazilian Reais. South African Rand. Dirham in the Dubai airport. Interestingly, in both Peru and Argentina we dealt regularly in currencies other than their national ones, paying for guides, services and apartments in both US dollars and Euros.
Number of hours between Sao Paulo, Brazil and Johannesburg, South Africa. This was our longest time in the air. That trip was also the longest door-to-door travel-day. It took 36 hours and 3 planes to get from our apartment in Natal to our apartment in Cape Town.
Bags. We’re traveling pretty light, but even so, with five people, that’s a lot. One small and one large backpack per person adds up.
Types of lodging. For the most part we’re renting homes and apartments using VRBO.com, Airbnb, and Homeaway. We’ve also stayed with family, at Inns, B&Bs, Hotels, Hostels, National Park Cabins, a Safari Lodge, an Estancia (traditional Argentine ranch), and one night in an airport (Dubai, see ONE and TWO).
Internet accounts documenting our trip, each offers a different perspective. The official place for news, videos and photos is our website, www.learnlivetravel.com, Twitter, @RDMgoRTW, and Instagram. Heather’s maintaining a blog and YouTube channel. We’re also writing reviews on TripAdvisor, updating Facebook regularly (Bella, Gretchen, Heather, Rodrigo), and occasionally posting to LinkedIn (Rodrigo and Gretchen). Follow us!
Tours taken. From biking through Lima and Rio, to dino-hunting and kayaking in Argentina, sailing on the Indian Ocean, and zip-lining through old-growth trees, we’ve occasionally joined other travelers to learn about the places we’re visiting and experience them in different ways. Other tours include the Recoleta cemetery and whale-watching in Argentina, walking tours in Santiago and Buenos Aires, hop-on-hop-off bus and Robben Island in Cape Town, and wine tasting in Stellenbosch. Not included here are the private guides we hired in Peru and South Africa.
Planes. Seattle -> LA -> Lima -> Santiago -> Buenos Aires -> Sao Paulo -> Natal -> Rio -> Natal -> Sao Paulo -> Johannesburg -> Cape Town. Port Elizabeth -> Johannesburg -> Dubai -> Athens.
Modes of transport. Not just planes, trains, and automobiles, we’ve also gotten around on horseback, by zip-lining, and on ostriches. Plus funicular, gondolas, jeep, bus, speed boat, ferry, sail boat, van, and taxi.
Wineries visited. The majority in Chile (including my favorite Vina Mar), others in Argentina and South Africa. Of these, the kids stoically tagged along for 12.
Blog posts published. I'd hoped we’d write more often, so I’ve increased the time I’m dedicating to the blog. This list is a case-in-point!
Places we’ve slept, with only 5 one-night-stays. We had several two-night stays, but we usually try to stay put for 4-7 nights. Five weeks is the longest time all five of us stayed in one place (Rodrigo’s grandmother’s apartment in Natal, Brazil).
Pages complete in Marco’s 6th grade math book. Bella’s earned three Mt. Si. High School credits online. Other road-schooling activities include video editing, blog writing, sketching, and lots of reading (thanks to KCLS for e-book availability!).
Video files generated by Bella, Heather and Rodrigo.