Initially, exchanging the destination "Africa" with "South America" was a big step emotionally as we had been really into planning an overland trip to Africa for quite a long time and were really looking forward to travelling there ... Especially for Juliane it was not easy to decide to go somewhere else. For her, Southern and South-Eastern Africa was still the favourite destination after it became clear to us that Western Africa would not be possible! Finally, I think, only Malaria made the difference (i.e. no chemoprophylaxis needed in most of South America) ... - and, as stated in our last post, the hope that Transafrica will again be possible in a few years.
Anyway, it didn't take too much time for us to see the positive side in that change and realize that South America is at least as interesting as Africa in many ways, so now we are really excited about travelling there.
We would love to be able to spend far more time on planning, studying maps, and reading books and blogs. Still, even without doing so, it is obvious that there are so many places to visit and cultures to experience in South America. We, for example, really look forward to seeing Lake Titicaca, the Altiplano in Peru, Ecuador and Bolivia, the Andes in general and the Atacama desert. What about cities like Buenos Aires, La Paz, Quito, Lima and Ushuaia? Don't they also stimulate your travel nerves? In addition to nature, cities and historic sites, South America surely will also be a great place to experience different kinds of food, think of "Ceviche" in Ecuador, red wine in Chile or huge steaks in Argentina ... To be honest, at the moment I feel that one year for South America will not be enough!
There are so many ideas running through our heads at the moment ... and it seems time is running out: for planning "South America Overland 2015 - 2016" there are only 10 months left until we leave in July next year. There is still so much to plan and think about ...
At the moment we are a bit lost on where to go when ... We are not sure whether to ship the Landy to Montevideo in Uruguay or to Manta in Ecuador. Connected with that is the question when it's best to visit Bolivia, Ecuador and Peru. Writing this, a multitude of other questions immediately pop up in my head:
"Are we going to ship the Land Rover RoRo or in a container?" ... There are a lot of negative reports on RoRo shipping, but then positive experiences are seldomly told of on the internet. Also, container shipping is far more expensive!
"Do we want to go to Patagonia / Tierra del Fuego?" ... This would mean we'd have to go there between December and February, which would force us to plan a more or less defined "route", which we don't really want to do! Leaving out the Southern tip of South America doesn't seem to be a good idea as well, because it is said to be totally impressive with primeval forests, fjords and glaciers ...
"What about Brazil?" We are not sure which parts of this great country should definitely be included and which parts could be left out. I have never, actually, imagined being able to travel to Brazil! ...
"What additional changes are needed on the Land Rover?"
"Will the engine run at the high altitude??"
"Do we really need an engine-independent air heating system or is a diesel heater not going to work at high altitude anyway??"
"What about altitude sickness, especially concerning the children??"
Apart from trying to find answers to all these questions, we are working on a few other "projects" at the moment:
A really good step in preparing for South America certainly is learning Spanish and we started this "project" last week. It's a great thing to sit together with your partner and learn a new language which will open up many doors when we're on our way.
Another project is a possible collaboration with the Muskoka Foundation to use our "professional skills to do good as we go".
Generally ("BIG project!"), we have to start clearing up the flat, throwing things away or giving them to people who could need them, because the plan is to sublet the flat and store all our belongings in one room and the attic. As our jobs are quite intense, this will take some time!
One thing that is new for us and really positive is that people have started to contact us via facebook or our blog during the last two weeks with their ideas on our plans and offers to give advice (thanks in advance to Graham and Luisa from "a2a") or offered to share a container.
If you have any ideas or answers to our questions, please let us know and either add a comment or use the contact form and send uns a message!
During the last few months we have experienced something else, which we have heard about from other overlanders who experienced more or less the same: a lot of the people around us seem to be not at all interested in our travel-plans, some even seem to be thinking that we're rather strange, and some even have become more and more reserved. This doesn't mean that we want to talk about our overland-plans all the time or that we want to show off ... it's just that, well, the topic seems to be "a topic not to be talked about"! ... I'm not sure, but could it be that some people simply don't want to openly state that they would like to do the same, but fear the decision (and maybe secretly read this blog ;-)? A quote from "Spark your Dream" by Candelaria and Herman Zapp simply fits this topic and might be an explanation:
"Until a few thousand years ago all humanity was nomadic. It was like this until it occurred to a man to remain in one place. To the others this man was crazy, how could he stop being a nomad, give up knowing new places, new horizons? Abandon the adventure of knowing other lands, eating different fruits and animals? In spite of questions of the others, he stayed, choosing to wake up every morning of his life in the same place. He planted and harvested, his animals procreated and he didn't need to hunt anymore, he could easily feed himself. ... In time, other men joined him and when many did it, they didn't consider themselves crazy anymore. But, other difficulties arose. To begin with, not everyone had access to water and those that did, could have more animals and better harvests. This created the differences between the rich and the poor. So, the land was converted into a subject of dispute, and people went out, searching for others. In this way more settlements were formed. Those that had abundant harvests or storerooms expanded, and so this brought resentment and war. The wars called for soldiers and someone to direct them, in this way, from among the richest, the kings emerged. They dominated the people by defining themselves as their protectors. To them went the harvests and profits, because it was necessary to maintain the armies and construct their castles and walls. But why didn't the walls of the castle protect the homes of those who paid the taxes? Why, if the armies were there to defend the settlements, did the king use them to collect those taxes that were always rising? The years passed and more uncertainty arose. And here we are in the XXI century ... nothing has changed, except that it occurs to a man to be a nomad. The others think he is crazy. How could you give up being in one place like everybody else, stop living in the same house to go somewhere unknown? How could you renounce seeing the same folks as always? Would you eat unusual fruits and food? In spite of the questions, just the same this crazy guy leaves and begins his life in a new world. What did your friends say when you left?"
"That we were crazy ..."
"Could it be "they" are the ones who are crazy? Think about it ... who is crazy? The one who goes for his dream or the one who lets his dream pass away? Why is it that every time one distances himself from the masses he's considered crazy? ...
Many ask us how so we keep going, and we start wondering the same about them. We live in a small sphere that doesn't allow us to see much outside. Each place we go we enter into a new sphere and we acclimate ourselves the best we can. We continue being ourselves, but with small differences. We live in constant change; we're neither strong nor weak, just flexible. If we were rigid, we'd stumble over the first rock, we'd fall in the first hole and there we'd stagnate ..."
By the way, we do have a new short term plan for the winter: We are going to work in Ethiopia this winter ... more about that next time!