Our 3 months of travel came to a close in beautiful Nassau Bahamas. For our remaining days, we decided to visit an all-inclusive resort in Nassau called Breezes. No more hunting for restaurants or things to do — Breezes has all you can eat, drink and do — all day, every day.
Looking back, we’ve had an incredible trip. We ate lobster in Bar Harbor, Maine, visited the maritime provinces of Canada, enjoying Prince Edwards Island the most. Then we headed to Ecuador, visited the Galapagos Islands, and spent almost 4 weeks studying Spanish in Cuenca, Ecuador. Jetting off to Peru, we experienced one of the 7 wonders of the world, Machu Picchu.
We finished this whirlwind excursion in the Bahamas, visiting Exuma, Long Island and Nassau. Here are few pictures of Breezes, our last destination in the Bahamas.
Staying fit during our travels
During our travels, we really tried to stay in shape. Almost every day, we walked for many miles because we did not have a car for most of the time. No matter where you are, there are always excellent places to walk. In Nassau, I found a nice walking trail that goes along a pond:
To prevent totally losing my strength, I purchased workout bands from Bodylastics and used those several times per week. They come in different weight levels, but I just brought one and used it to work out my back and arms. A single band fits easily in the backpack. I did push ups for chest and crunches and sit ups for abs. I did lunges for legs.
Other things we learned
During our first long-term vacation, we learned a few things. We were really happy that we purchased a PacSafe before hand. Using a PacSafe, you can wrap your backpack (containing your valuables like computers, iPads, etc) in the PacSafe and lock it to the toilet or sink. This came in really handy because we did not want to leave our valuables unprotected in the hostels and hotels we stayed. Here is what the PacSafe looks like, you simply wrap it around your backpack to lock and secure your stuff:
As far as luggage, we each took a 65 liter backpack and a computer backpack. In hind site, we probably took too many clothes and the 65 liter backpack could probably be replaced with a more friendly travel backpack by Rick Steves. Some other travel friends of ours (Bob and Robin Charlton – http://www.wherewebe.com) showed us their Rick Steves backpacks that open up like a suitcase but has the convenience of a backpack. I am sure we will be checking into that before our next big trip. We were glad we packed a flashlight, medicine, duct tape, lots of Q-tips, and other sundries — they all came in handy.
We probably took too many electronics (I brought a laptop, iPad and iPhone and Lynn brought an iPad and iPhone). It did come in handy (laptop for blogging, iPad for reading CNN and the Daily e-zine, and the iPhone for texting). Not sure how we will change this for our next big trip but it did weigh us down. I also brought my Nikon 5150 camera and an underwater camera. In hindsight, I think the underwater camera would have been enough because the Nikon takes up a lot of room. But I love my Nikon!
Things we were surprised by
Having never traveled for 3 months before, we were surprised by a couple of things. You get home sick in the first few weeks – that fades after a couple of weeks as you start enjoying your new surroundings. Towards the end of the trip, you get homesick again. We missed our dog (Katie), our bed, American food, friends and just waking up and watching the Today show. When traveling (especially in developing nations), you don’t always have reliable WiFi and rarely do you have American TV stations. It is surprising how much we value our TV time — the Today show, nightly news, and some of our favorite prime time shows.
I also missed watching my beloved Dallas Cowboys and Alabama Crimson tide — but I did keep up with them via the internet. I was planning to stream the Cowboys game via NFL network but I was surprised to find out that they only allow streaming if you are in the USA, they block it from foreign IP addresses. Same goes for HULU — they do not allow streaming of TV shows and movies outside of the USA.
Since we were visiting mostly Spanish-speaking countries, I was surprised how well we were able to use our limited amount of Spanish to communicate, but really missed our ability to be expressive, funny and well-spoken when converting our thoughts from English to Spanish. I like to make quips and jokes and it was much harder to convert that to Spanish than I had expected. Learning fluent Spanish is also is harder than I expected. I figured with 50 hours of Spanish in almost 4 weeks, I would be somewhat fluent. Not really. I think it would take (at least for me) about a year of living there to become fluent.
One of the cool things we noticed is that overall, people are really nice and want to get to know you. People would go out of their way to say hello to you and to learn more about where you are from and how you like visiting their country. They really appreciated our (sometimes feeble) attempts at communicating with them in their native language and were patient as we got the words out. We also made them laugh. One time I was explaining something to our Spanish teacher and she just burst our laughing (I guess I had mistakenly called someone a prostitute with my new-found Spanish).
Most people think of Quito Ecuador as a scary city — crowded and lots of crime. We were certainly careful (we traveled with very little cash, no flashy jewelry, and we stayed in at night or took cabs if we decided to venture out), but I will say that I was surprised by something that happened in the Quito airport. Lynn and I ate at the airport and I had (foolishly) put my wallet on the table. Then I remembered I needed to go back out of the terminal for a few minutes to check on something. In my haste, I must have left the wallet on the table. About 10 minutes later, a policeman found me (by using the picture on my driver’s license inside the wallet). Someone had turned my wallet in and had me check it. All the cash and credit cards were there. He then introduced me to the nice Ecuadorian that found it — very cool.
The final thing we were surprised by was our travel style. We decided to make our travel plans as we went with no big plans. So to do this, we did not do much research ahead of time, we figured we would let the trip dictate where we went and how our itinerary would unfold. This works but is more stressful that you might imagine. Having to find hotels at a moments notice, restaurants to eat in and things to do takes more time and effort than you might think. In the future we will take a more analytical approach to it, research things ahead of time and have a better planned itinerary. I also think 3 months may be too long for our travel style. I am not sure of the exact duration that will work best for us but I guess we will figure this out over time. Finally, airfare was lots more expensive than we expected, next time we will try to arrange our trip with less airline trips to reduce our costs. We went through 21 airports during our 3 months of travel – whew!
But I can’t emphasize how amazing this trip was. We really had a great time and spending this time with Lynn was incredible. She is awesome, my best friend and the best travel partner you can imagine.
So this ends our first big travel excursion since retirement. I hope you enjoyed receiving our weekly updates during our travel. This will probably be the last one for a while — until we have something interesting to say or some news on our next travel plans. Please let us know (via comments) if you like the blog and if you want to see more of it in our future travels. Also, feel free to let us know where you think we should go next.
We will now enjoy Thanksgiving with our boys, enjoy our home in Florida, and begin planning our next big trip. Happy Thanksgiving!