29.09.2011 15 °C
The glamorous life of travelling to exotic locations and appearing to lead a problem free life where all photos feature happy smiling faces where we all look like responsible world citizens can be in some parts appearances only. I thought I would reflect on the time so far travelling as a family with two still growing and maturing teenage boys who for the most part have remained true to their generation. I would love to say that they have matured into self reliant young ambassadors of our great nation and have finally left behind the need to pull funny faces at the most inappropriate times or feel the need to share all of their bodily functions with the rest of us, but somehow I feel with three months to go things aren’t going to change. Despite the family conferences and emergency meetings about letting one go in the camper and worse not owning up to it, the threats of expulsion, economic sanctions or facebook removal have all been in vain. They still laugh at farts, they still won’t own up to it and the only way to seemingly win is to fight fire with fire, much to Patti’s disgust. Don’t get me wrong, they do have some redeeming character traits but they are slow to reveal themselves and only if we beg. I couldn’t count the amount of groin shots those boys have taken from each other but it’s not uncommon to walk into the room to find one of them nursing “his boys” and the other laughing his head off. I think they have only had one serious dust-up while we have been away and that was early in the trip when we were still getting used to travelling. Patti and I were out and thankfully they sorted it out themselves. I think it was over a bed. Both were laughing so it was more a tension breaker.
There are days when we can all take our turn at being homesick or just plain snarly and unco-operative. Thankfully those days are fairly rare and that kind of behaviour is largely ignored anyway. Brenton had the shits for eight hours while we were on a boat going to El Nido before he finally forgave us just to find out none of us had a clue. Apparently someone didn’t get him a sandwich. He said he wasted all that crankiness for nothing. Matt and Pat usually have their tantrums over food. Both share high metabolism and when the sugar is low, that’s normally when the fight starts. I usually reserve mine for when nobody does what he or she is told, which is a daily occurrence. I know they are winding me up but they don’t understand the pressure of being the captain, it’s lonely at the top. Thankfully we are carrying digital cameras, I don’t know how many times I’ve made them “take that stupid look off their faces so I can take a decent photo” There have been a lot of re-takes.
The logistics of travelling this long with only a backpack has some challenges but mostly it’s been fairly easy. We get new clothes when we are sick of the old ones or somebody is sick of seeing you in them. All the things you think you will need can be easily bought in any country so the need to take twelve months supply of anything is unnecessary. If we hadn’t been travelling to countries with extreme weather you could easily get away with a backpack not much bigger than a shopping bag. It can be a pain living out of a bag and always kind of looking different to the locals but that’s what its all about. Having a computer with us has been fantastic for organising flights and everything else in our lives. This kind of trip wouldn’t be impossible without one but the convenience can’t be measured. Still having a lifeline to home through e-mail and skype has definitely made this trip easier for us and family. The last time Patti and I travelled like this the phone calls were monthly and the flexibility of plans just wasn’t there. Being able to check our banking online will hopefully stop us running out of money in a Las Vegas Casino like last time. If you gave it all up and just led the vagabond life things may be a little more exciting but turning up somewhere and having no idea where you’re going to sleep is not fun anymore.
Language barriers have been easy to deal with, mostly anything with a serious side such as banking, airlines or hotels and hostels have trained staff who can speak English. All the other stuff like food and drink is an adventure. Sometimes we get what we think we ordered, other times it’s a lucky dip. Don’t think we’ve had sheep’s testicles yet but to be honest if I learnt later that I had, I wouldn’t be surprised. We’ve been lucky enough to sample some great food and some horrible food but all in all, we’re still alive. At the moment we are in Colombia where English is not widely spoken and Spanish is the language. Thankfully the people are friendly so with a bit of pointing and patience we can generally get by. The everyday needs that we have are the same as anyone else so finding a supermarket or catching a bus or train are fairly mundane normal easy things to do. If you can manage a ride on the Beijing subway everything else seems a piece of cake.
We are back to harder travelling now where we have to be a bit more vigilant about where we go. Unfortunately the best travel experience also brings more risk and currently we are in Bogota, Colombia. We are staying in the La Candaleria district, which is old and a bit gritty with a really dodgy reputation, but this is where the experience is. It’s got the best places to eat and anything to see is here. It’s completely safe walking around during the day and getting around by taxi at night so that’s what we do. No heroics, just common sense. Often these places we visit are not the prettiest and can be a bit confronting but we feel we are really travelling and not just tourist getting the best bits or a watered down version of a country. We have been extremely lucky to see some amazingly beautiful places and most places on our list usually fall into that category but we want to see the warts and all getting to and from these places. That’s the best part of having time to travel and not having to rush. Andiamo.