Week 52: Almost one year, bye South America! (For now…)

In the winery golfcart
Camera: HD1913 Aperture: 2 Focal Length: 3.45 Shutter Speed: 305 ISO: 100
In the winery golfcart

Week 52: Almost one year, bye South America! (For now…)

Back in Chile we see our calendar slowly but surely moving towards that magical one year mark of our trip. As we enjoy a bit of luxury and spoil ourselves to going out for lunch and dinner with some friends we have met along the way, we reminisce about the things we have done and seen and how this year of traveling has affected all of us. Of course there is an expectation of some high level insight that we have gotten, but the truth is we have simply been to active to really take a moment to have a proper think about it.

What we do know however is the following:

  • Traveling with your family is not for the faint of heart; When you are together 24/7 you are bound to get into it once in a while, and there really is no escaping a good blow up – which certainly happens more often than in the home situation!
  • We have thus dubbed this journey ‘a Covid-lockdown with continuous highlights‘…. The lows are continuously compensated by a string of highs that are often of epic proportions.
  • The devil is in the detail; Covid has certainly added to the long list of things to prepare for with endless changes to the requirements to cross borders or enter stores and anything in between. But beyond Covid, when traveling you really need to prep well and be ahead of the action, or you will lose valuable time figuring things out when you get to the destination.
  • Favorite apps to help with the above:
    • Maps.me – Our number one navigation app, offline available and has the smallest walking trails on it while being able to pinpoint your points of interest.
    • iOverlander – Specific for those moving around, with places to stay, important controls and checkpoints, ATMs, you name it, updated by travelers like us.
    • NPS.gov – THE National Parks app for the US, again with an option to download the info so you can check it when out of Wi-Fi or data.
    • Airbnb / Booking.com – Proven to be widely applicable (even in the smallest of towns in the remotest places), and easy to maneuver to book your accommodations.
  • People are inherently kind; we can confidently say that the number of a**holes we have run into along the way are easily counted on one hand. Beyond that, the number of stupendously kind people who have gone out of their way to help us is quite staggering – taught us a thing or two :-).

Most importantly it has confirmed to us that travel truly is the way to connect with the world, its people, nature, wildlife and through that open up your mind and heart to what is around you. It also has a major impact on the gratitude you feel for what you have, often through no effort of your own, but simply through the place where you were born. As we head back for our last leg of the journey we are really looking forward to 6 more months in our RV, but at the horizon also looms our home and ‘real life’ which is quite amazing as well…

So we wrap up Chile…

…and we do so by of course jumping outside of the city into the winery region of Colchagua. An old time favorite of Sven, Santa Rita, we spend a lovely Saturday out at the winery having lunch and enjoying the sun. The weather is chilly, but we are lucky enough to be able to sit outside and enjoy a cold bottle of Chardonnay with some home made sandwiches and pizza. The boys play soccer with a few other kids and manage to convince the transfer driver to take them for a spin along the fields. We top it off with some fresh pastry and a cappuccino and drive back towards the city.

In the weekend it is also Fathers day, which is of course celebrated with breakfast in bed, drawings and hugs and kisses at dawn. This is also the moment we realize that dad is actually the F&B manager of this trip, leaving us to figure out our coffeemaker and ending up giving him a very stiff early morning shot of caffeine (more like a quadruple ;-)). So we thank him even more for being with us and always filling our bellies with the good stuff!

Plenty of other things are tackled along the way; we bring back our tent to Decathlon as it had damage to it it should not have, we buy souvenirs, we exchange our leftover Argentinian pesos (at a lousy rate, but we enjoyed it in Argentina so we can not complain), we try to sell two new shock absorbers we turned out not to need for the car (no luck :-(), mom finally cashes in the birthday present and spends a few hours at a spa (where the lady giving the facial frowns upon her negligence) and through it all we pack our bags and do homework.

Before we take our flight we have one more stop to take the boys to; the Museo Interactivo Mirador. It is a fantastic interactive museum about all sorts of phenomena, including a separate pavilion with everything you need to know about astronomy and the universe. Due to Covid the opening hours are from 09:30 to 14:00 which really turns out to be too little to enjoy it all, and we all have a great time playing and learning. After we are asked to leave the museum we are left to do one more thing; Hand in our beloved car.

And with that we roll into the final 24h before getting to the airport and flying towards the summer of the northern hemisphere!

Back to Phoenix, Arizona

It starts to feel like home, the USA, after speaking Spanish for months and driving our small car, the flight back to Arizona gets us very excited about the 6 months ahead! The flight to Houston is a night flight which means we have little to no sleep (while the boys don’t seem to be bothered at all), and interestingly enough it is our first flight since traveling without mouth masks!? Feels strange to take a mouth mask off in such close quarters, but as we are all vaccinated and have had Covid twice on this journey we feel quite comfortable doing it anyways. At Houston we do the whole hassle of taking your luggage, putting it back on the belt and going through all the security again only to end up at the other side of the same terminal… *sigh*

BUT… then the short flight to Phoenix which we barely made is all the more enjoyable, and getting out of the airport and being hit by the stifling heat it really is good to be back. We have a smooth Uber ride to our friends and spend the rest of the day catching up with them while putting away our stuff in the RV and the boys testing out the newly installed pool… It really has been an amazing home away from home, and as we enjoy take-out sushi (that only barely made it to the house through a dust-storm passing by), we can not believe we will be gone by tomorrow morning. Time to say goodbye however and start our last leg of the journey, hoping we will be able to welcome them to the Netherlands one day and return the favor of their hospitality!

Next week: California parks and city

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