A Travellerspoint blog

A New Beginning

Six years ago Shawn, Baylie, and I took a giant leap into an adventure that a lot of people dream of, but most of the people I know probably thought was slightly insane. We sold a bunch of stuff, put our house up for rent, pulled our child out of school, put our pets in "foster care", and set off around the world. At the time, we really only had a minimal of travel experience, and most of that was of the neatly structured "vacation" type of travel. I had an intimidating itinerary and we planned for a full year of exploring together. We made a lot of rookie mistakes and struggled at first to find our travel rhythm, but we ALMOST made it every place on our list. The personal and financial cost was high, but I continue to believe that this defining experience was a success and was completely worth it.

Now, in the middle of some major life changes - some natural and bittersweet, and others unexpected and difficult - Baylie and I are off on our own to finally add the African safari that got cut from the end of our trip in 2012. Baylie gets to return to South Africa and Zimbabwe to show me some of the places she went two years ago with The Traveling School, and together we will drive along the Garden Route to Cape Town.

I am grateful everyday for this amazing best friend of mine, and even though she has already started traveling on her own I think we still have some great trips ahead of us together!

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Posted by Pelham Family 06:31 Archived in South Africa Comments (4)

Brought down by a microscopic foe!

Throughout our travels we have each struggled occasionally with an upset stomach or some other temporary unpleasantness. But never have the three of us all been violently sick at the same time...until now. We are contributing this event to some sno-cones made with water of questionable provenance, but I guess we will never really know. Anyway, after two days of misery we absolutely had to get out of the apartment we were renting in Playas but we just couldn't seem to muster any enthusiasm for the rest of the trip. So while Ecuador was lovely and I am so glad I finally made it South America, we decided to cut the trip short and head on back. Wimpy, I know, but I'm ok with that. Thanks for following us...see you next time we hit the road :)
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Posted by Pelham Family 13:56 Archived in Ecuador Comments (4)

Escaping Guayaquil

Yesterday's journey started off great with the most beautiful scenery through stunning mountains. We drove through Parque Nacional El Cajas and saw wild llamas all over the hillsides. We had to go super slow because our car, which we have named little Sparky, was having a tough time with the altitude of 13,000 feet, but the views were amazing. Once we dropped down the other side of the mountains we were planning to search for the mangrove reserve outside of Guayaquil. The navigation app we have been using didn't show it, but I had a general idea of where it was from the guidebook and we managed to just stumble across it, which felt like good luck. This is where our luck started to turn...

The reserve was swarming with more mosquitoes than I have ever encountered. Baylie and I actually ran back to the car as we were being eaten alive and we had to spend ten minutes squashing all of the little monsters that flew in with us. Shawn doused himself in repellent and was determined to go for a hike anyway, but when he came back 30 minutes later we discovered that the tiny vampires just feasted on him right through his shirt. He said that on his hike there were spiders so huge blocking his path that he threw rocks at them before walking through their webs. We couldn't get out of there fast enough!

Unfortunately, we didn't really have a plan from this point and we don't check into our beach condo in Playas until Wednesday. We decided to brave our way into Ecuador's largest city and look for a hotel along their "newly renovated pedestrian boardwalk" - ha! We encountered the worst traffic we have ever seen combined with the most confounding maze of one way streets and a psychotic new twist on the dreaded "round-about" traffic circles which are shaped like four-leaf clovers. We spent hours turning in circles and getting stuck crossing the same bridges back and forth in an unrelenting stream of exhaust and car horns. We finally hit a freeway that opened up but we were moving in exactly the opposite direction from the coast. Shawn refused to turn around based on the logic that any movement at all was better than the gridlock we had just escaped. But I kept trying to force the navigation to show us a way to the coast and they all led back through the city! We hadn't eaten all day, I was really dreading being lost at night, and there was simply no way around this monstrous cesspool.

We found the courage to dive back in, turned around, defeated the four-leaf clover traffic circles that were in our way and managed to force our way through the dismal gray, concrete and pollution filled maze of Guayaquil and came out the other side. When we were finally on the open freeway to the coast we absolutely had to stop and eat, even though it meant we wouldn't reach a beach town before dark. The choices along the highway were pretty slim, but as soon as we saw some plastic tables and chairs at a roadside stand we screeched to a stop. No menu, two choices: goat or chicken. The super nice lady and her daughter were all smiles and the plate of chicken and rice (you didn't really think I would go for goat, did you?) was a life saver.

Shawn was exhausted from driving for 10 hours but we made it into Salinas and started our search for a hotel. Lots of places looked dark, and after one mistake of going into an apartment building and asking for a room, Baylie and I found the fancy Hotel Bleu right on the beach. We have had a great beach day today, even rented a jetski for a half hour and spun circles in the bay.

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Posted by Pelham Family 11:52 Archived in Ecuador Comments (6)

Adios Cuenca!

We have enjoyed having a great apartment for a few days and Cuenca turned out to be a pretty pleasant city, especially when the sun came out for awhile. Tomorrow we move on. We're going to look for a nature reserve called Manglares Churute. Supposedly they have some cabins and you can hike through the mangroves and take canoe tours through the wetlands. I can't seem to get clear directions, so I would say it's a 50/50 chance that we may not find it. I have reserved us a condo on the beach in the small town of Playas for later this week, so we only have to wander around aimlessly for two days and then we'll have a home base again.
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Posted by Pelham Family 17:21 Archived in Ecuador Comments (1)

Score!

We arrived in Cuenca after a marathon drive on the twistiest mountain road. We managed to make contact with the super nice guy we found on AirBnB thanks to a McDonald's with wifi. He showed up and took us to the amazing two-bedroom apartment we rented for...wait for it...$37 dollars a night! This place is right on the beautiful river that runs through town, it sits perfectly on the dividing line between the historic old town and the modern side. We have already been to the Supermax grocery store that is a couple blocks away and stocked up for the next three days. I love it when these improbable arrangements work out perfectly!

Posted by Pelham Family 16:38 Archived in Ecuador Comments (4)

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