It’s with the inevitable sadness that comes with finally finishing something great that this will probably be the last blog for this tour. We’ve made it to our last destination and I’ve managed to somehow get a few hours on my own to reflect. Our last stop before home is hardly adventurous but it somehow suits us. We are on the north shore of Oahu, Hawaii. We have come here for a couple of reasons, firstly to see the big wave riders of Banzai Pipeline and Waimea Bay and secondly to try and calm down and relax before we get home. We have mixed feelings, happy to see family and friends again and have the familiarity of home but also a bit of melancholy that this really cool life we have led for the past 12 months is over. We had set out to see the world and have different experiences by trying to immerse ourselves as much as we could into the local scene wherever we went and often taking the road less travelled. We found that was always more rewarding and we managed to meet a lot of great people along the way. Sometimes that road took us in a minivan hurtling along dirt roads at breakneck speeds or four of us complete with packs squeezed onto a tuk tuk ( motor bike with side car) . We have slept on luggage racks on trains in India, taken seats that weren’t ours and then defended them only to find out we were on the wrong train….twice, slept on ferries, bancas buses, been run over by taxis, missed trains and planes, travelled by horse and cart, drunken taxi drivers, bicycle and dune buggy and lets not forget Princess, our 7 metre camper van that housed us for three months. We are masters of the Tube in London, the subway in New York, the metro in Beijing and generally any other public transport system that serves the city’s that we’ve been through. Hopefully that experience will serve the boys well when we get home and save Patti and I a lot of running around.
We have stayed in some really nice places and the odd night in a dump when there was no alternative but I’d have to say we had no experiences with the dreaded bed bugs and apart from getting a “dose” of the runny bums’ now and again, we all remained extremely healthy. I think I could write a book on hostels and some of the characters you meet in them. There are people that upon arriving in South America go immediately out and find a street vendor and have dredlocks attached to their short back and sides hair cut, buy any pants that are drawstring, get some sandals and a hemp t-shirt and attach as many arm bands as possible to their wrists. They tend to have an aversion to soap and anything else that may be considered socially acceptable like buying food and drinks with their own money. On the other hand I’ve met people that have been travelling for years and just cannot give up the lifestyle. They are generally well educated but can’t bring themselves to join the rat race. Some of the hostels have been eye openers as well. We generally stayed in them for a bit of social interaction for the boys and mostly in South America. The Chill House in Cartagena, Colombia had a house rule of always having music playing. The cocaine dealers would call up to the veranda from street level. The Loki in La Paz, Bolivia was three stories of pumping house music and bar. The boys loved it and were regulars at 2 am, Patti and I not so much.
We have been extremely lucky with safety and have not experienced one bit of threatening behaviour. Given that we travelled into some city’s and countries with terrible reputations and stayed in some pretty dodgy areas, we count ourselves as very lucky. Mind you, common sense goes a long way. At one point we did think disaster was just around the corner when we avoided a bomb in Manila, a Volcano eruption in Legazpi, a ferry disaster in Halong Bay and an earthquake in China. We managed to beat all by about a week but it was a bit disconcerting to read about these events exactly a week after we had been there.
We set out to try as many different experiences as possible without tiring ourselves out and also becoming complacent with our travel. Some experiences we have shared and others have been individual. The boys both gained their PADI diving accreditation in Coron, Phillipines. Brenton spent his Eighteenth birthday at the three day Oxygen music festival in Ireland with family he hadn’t met before. He has to take our word for it that he was there, some reason its all a bit of a blur. Matthew dared to jump from the highest cliff in Nerja, Spain and unsuccessfully tried to lure me in. He again terrified his mother by taking her driving a buggy in Banos, Equador. Patti and I had a beautiful couple of days on the west coast of Ireland. I managed a zipline that was nearly two kilometers long that screamed down a river. Brenton and I climbed a 6000m mountain not before both the boys threw themselves off a 120 m bridge swing. We learnt to ski and snowboard in Utah and surfed at Cocoa beach. We have trekked to the hill tribes in Sapa, Vietnam and watched Condors in the Andes of South America. It seems we have been to so many places and experienced so much that I have to wonder what will be next for us. How do you settle after this? We met so many great people that I hope will come and visit one day and although I can’t believe it is all over, I don’t feel we were rushed. We relaxed and laughed a lot. We are hoping that this feeling will remain with us.
I will sign off by saying that it was not all beer and skittles. We all had our moments and thankfully we had three other travellers who were very understanding and forgiving. Andiamo .