While traveling for the last few months in South America, we had incredible experiences with people, nature, and domestic animals. Each day was an adventure and the vast majority were rewarding, stimulating, educational, and some, even mind-boggling. However, each day was also a struggle. Every day required us to figure out the basic necessities of our lives. Where would we sleep, how could we move from point A to point B, how would we get drinkable water, what could we safely eat, and how could we find public toilets? Those basics of life were being executed in second and third world nations in a language that was foreign to us and in societies that were novel. Some days were more complicated as we sought medical assistance or tried to communicate with financial institutions in the United States. Getting money was much harder after we were robbed of the easiest tools for accessing our resources. Transportation was challenging and often fraught with greater risks.
In LA, we slipped into a rental car (prearranged by bidding on Priceline) at a daily rate one-fifth of what we paid the two times we rented in Chile. While our phone was shut off, it still provided GPS map service given the coverage in Southern California. We were able to see a podiatrist in the morning and get a same day dental appointment in the afternoon while driving safely through, for the most part, paved, well-marked streets. Our beloved Tito's Tacos provided some of the safest, quickest, and most delicious food we had eaten this month, and Trader Joe's supplied our healthy dinner. Our best friend Lisa's house and our cousin Michele's home were warm, secure, and welcoming with a refrigerator full of good food. There was excellent coffee for breakfast rather than the freeze dried Nescafe beloved by people to the south. And everywhere we went, there were toilets with toilet paper provided (a rarity in South America) and the ability to flush it into a system terminating in a wastewater treatment plant rather than turning a local river a frothy, chocolate brown. As we stopped briefly at a CVS pharmacy, the array of choices for our needs was truly staggering as well as was the quality and, overall, lower prices.
It's easy here and we did not understand the difference until we sold everything, put on packs, and chose a distant land for our destination. We cannot say the experience has made us more grateful as each day of our lives we recognized we were two of the luckiest people to have ever walked the planet. Perhaps it just makes us more certain of the truth behind that statement.
We are curious as to how we will feel in both New Zealand and Australia and suspect it will feel much the same as being in the United States given a common language and first-world infrastructure. Indonesia, Malaysia and Southeast Asia lay before us as well, and we know that those cultures have much to teach us about ourselves and others. It is almost time to put on the freshly washed clothes and packs and begin again.....
Posted in Irvine, CA. Pictures are of our cousin Michelle and Sally at In-N-Out Burger and Sally getting a much needed haircut!