We’re currently travelling around South America. We started in January 2013 in Buenos Aires, and have since spent time in Patagonia (on both the Chilean and Argentinian sides), Uruguay, Bolivia and now Peru. We’ve realised that constant backpacking and moving from place to place every three or four days, trying to fit in our work and see all the amazing sites isn’t a style of indefinite travel that’s going to work for us. While it can be fun, it can also be pretty stressful. So, we’ve made a conscious decision to slow down, and rent apartments in a place for four to six weeks at a time and maybe travel for two to three weeks in between. Right now, we’re renting an apartment in Arequipa…Peru’s second city…and spending some much needed time on our work. For Zab, this means freelance consultancy work, and for me means working on the blog and finding students (on- and offline) for one-to-one English lessons.
Unlike several of my friends and peers, I didn’t take a ‘gap year’ between college and university (at age 18) to travel, but instead I realised later that this was something I would like to do. So, when we first met eight years ago, I was still studying at university, and had this grand idea of travelling across Asia when I finished my degree. Two years into our relationship, I decided it was time and had saved up some money from my first real job, so I went. Zab couldn’t come with me, but that wasn’t going to stop me, or end our relationship; I travelled for 3 months alone in South East Asia, China and across Russia. Zab met me in Ukraine and we travelled together for a few weeks across Europe. Then I started teaching English as a foreign language, and got a job moving around central Europe (though mostly I was in Austria). I’d travel around the region or further afield at weekends and in weeks off. Often, Zab would come visit me and we’d travel together. We then realised that living these separate lives, meeting only every month or two, with me travelling for work around Europe and him in London full time wasn’t what we wanted. So we started planning to leave the UK permanently and travel together indefinitely.
The job I had teaching English in Europe paid for my accommodation and covered all of my work-related travel costs, and since I didn’t have a home anywhere that I was paying rent on and I’m not someone who buys lots of things, I saved about one third to half of my income without really trying. We did have a specific amount we wanted to have saved before leaving for South America, but because of the economy in Europe at the time, we ended up with only about half of it before leaving. This meant we had to start working as we travelled much sooner than we expected, and lead us to wonder if we’d made a mistake in leaving at that time at all. Right now our travels are not financially sustainable, but that’s what we’re working hard on trying to achieve, and part of the reason we’ve slowed down considerably.
I’m a big avocado fan, so in Chile, Bolivia and Peru I’ve been in heaven. The fact that you can buy a kilo of avocados for what one would cost back in Europe makes them taste even better! For Zab, it’s anything with peanut sauce (in particular chicken satay).
As a same sex couple, I actually expected more challenges and problems than we’ve encountered so far in South America. Mostly it’s just the annoying situation that we’ve reserved a double room (called matrimonial here in South America!) at a hotel, then we turn up and they assume this is a mistake because we are two guys: this wears on me and can be frustrating. Normally, though, when we explain that it is not a mistake, not even an eyebrow is raised and the conversation continues as normal. Otherwise, we’re still learning how to live and be together 24/7, as we’ve never spent so much time together until we began this indefinite adventure. For me, this means learning a lot more patience and controlling my temper. For Zab, it means communicating clearly and more often than he’s used to. The benefits, though are wonderful! We’re growing closer as a couple, and have realised how lucky we are to have each other.
That every day you wake up feeling well rested, head out of your perfectly situated and priced hotel, see wonderful things and have fulfilling, meaningful interactions with local people. If you’re lucky, you might have one of those things each day, and sometimes you have none.
A lovingly cared for elephant.
Touch-screen technology! I love it and use it all the time.
The English Patient. I’d always put it on when I was having a party in my flat and I wanted everyone to go home!
My external hard-drive full of movies and TV shows. Not because it was expensive, but because I’m a huge sci-fi geek and couldn’t travel without my favourite shows to watch!
How mean of you to make me choose! I guess I really admire Wandering Earl, and I’ve probably been following his blog for the longest. Plus I met him in Syria in 2009!
All three. Hostels and budget hotels mostly, and couchsurfing occasionally when there are interesting looking people about, but I couldn’t do it all the time; I’m too much of an introvert!
Go slow, don’t try to see everything and if ignore what other people tell you you “must see”. Find places to visit and things to do that appeal to your interests. Don’t go to Machu Picchu just because it’s Machu Picchu if you have no interest in hiking through mountains, indigenous American history or the outdoors in general. If you’d rather wander around a local market, talking to vendors about their families than spending an afternoon in a modern art museum seeing a display by an artist you’ve never heard of, that’s fine; go for it!
After our time in Arequipa, we plan to spend a few weeks travelling north along Peru’s coast to Lima, and then settle there for a while before flying up to Ecuador to meet my mother and her husband. After that, we’re not so sure. Maybe head back south to see the north of Peru and then spend Christmas and New Year in Santiago de Chile, which we missed when we were in Chile earlier this year…or perhaps we’ll continue north into Colombia. Who knows?!