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The plan: after the big bang

So here I sit, 3 years later after that initial meeting which would bring me here to this point in time.  Planning the trip.  Plans.  The best laid plans….we all know the saying.  Plans are the enemy of spontaneity, the keepers of your travel time and are undoubtedly just waiting to be changed by the all too common ‘unforeseen circumstance’.  It seems these circumstances just wait out in hiding, like the traffic cops ready to bust you when the clock turns 12:01.  Not that I would know anything about that….

I visited Laurent in France in November.  We spent 3 weeks talking about and planning our trip.  That’s also when this blog was conceived.  After much going back and forth (and really, no fighting) everything was talked about calmly and rationally….hmmm…ok maybe a bit of  irrationalism reared it’s head.  But in the end, we came up with a plan. We had to.  We need a route.  We are planning to volunteer and learn Spanish too, so we need to have an idea of where we are going.  So we basically discussed the route we would take and a (very) rough timeline.

When we first talked about going on this trip, I didn’t really want to visit Brazil.  It’s sooo big!  I think it’s more than half the size of south america!!  We could probably spend 2 years in Brazil alone.  It’s more expensive than the rest of south america  Also, it’s a bit of pain because US citizens have to get a visa before you leave and use it within a certain amount of time.  I didn’t want to base the whole trip around Brazil, so I decided we didn’t really need to include it into the plan.  Then Laurent showed me photos from the north of Brazil.  Drop dead gorgeous photos.  The pantanal, the amazon rainforest.  Wow.  He knows how to convince me.  I was pretty much sold in 5 minutes.  Yes people, I am that easy.

So we will start the trip in Brazil.  I have to get my visa and Laurent doesn’t have to do a damn thing.   But that’s because the US is strict with Brazilians getting into the country ,and so that’s the way they are with us.  It’s called reciprocity.  They treat us how we treat them.  Go USA.

When to depart was another big issue.  I wanted it to be a special time but also a time that I felt like I could have saved enough money.  (Although I don’t know if I’ll ever really feel like I have “enough” money).  On or around June 15, 2012 has become the new start point.  This way, we’ll be in Brazil to celebrate my 38th (!) birthday and in Antarctica for the winter solstice of 2012 (aka-the end of the world).

So we will start in Brazil.  Manaus to be exact; the gateway to the amazon river. I’m still working on how to pronounce that while also trying to shake my fear of malaria biting bugs and all sorts of other creepy crawling amazon creatures.

After about 2 1/2 months in Brazil (mostly staying in the north and not really visiting many of the popular cities), we will head to Argentina.   We’ve been there before, but mostly just in Patagonia.  It was here in Patagonia that we met so many people from all over the world traveling through south and central America.  It seemed like half the world had packed up their belongings, left successful careers behind and were making their way through these countries with only a backpack.  It was a great inspiration for us.  Suddenly, anything seemed possible.  I wanted to do it too.

In Argentina we will arrive in Buenos Aires where we will live for 1 month staying with a family and learning Spanish.  Then from the end of August until around November we will cover the major cities and some small villages in the north and middle of Argentina.  The plan is to be back in Patagonia for the start of their summer in November and December.  Even though we already spent one month taveling there, I cannot possibly go back to that region and skip over it.  It was absolutely out of control there.  The landscape is one of the most wild and beautiful I have ever seen.

The end of December 2012 will find us waiting for a boat to take us to Antarctica.  There are all sorts of possibilities for last minute travel to Antarctica.  So we will wait in a tiny town called Ushuaia which is literally at the end of the world.  People often ask why would you want to go to Antarctica?  Well if this and this doesn’t convince you of Antarctica’s worthiness, then this should.  The plan is to arrive there in time to see the penguin chicks hatching, which is typically January.  It’s a very expensive part of our trip and will eat up a good amount of my budget but I am not skipping out on this once and lifetime chance.  I love ice, glaciers and penguins too much for that.

After Antarctica, we will continue north up the Chilean coast.  We plan to arrive in Santiago by February.  At this point, we will both head back to our respective  homes to visit friends and family.  We’ll meet back up in Santiago by late February or early March and this time we will travel into Bolivia, Peru and Ecuador.  In April, we’ll take a boat cruise to the Galapagos islands.  Then we will backtrack slightly, heading back into northern Peru and southern Ecuador.

We’ll arrive to Ecquador in May and we’ll spend about a month volunteering our time here, helping the eldery population in Ecuador.  After that, we’ll snake our way up towards Columbia, Venezuela before heading into Panama, which will begin our central American journey.  Just prior to arriving Panama, around July, we will fly to our respective homes again.

At the end of August and into September we’ll arrive to Costa Rica, which is another place we chose to spend our time to volunteer.  This time it will be helping the sea turtles and protecting the eggs.

After spending time in Costa Rica, we will travel to Nicaragua through Honduras to Guatemela.  We plan to arrive to Guatemela around December to volunteer for a last time here.  After spending about a month there, we will head north to Mexico and we’re not exactly sure when the trip will finish.

So that’s it!  The plan, in a nutshell.  It sounds a bit boring writing it all in this to and fro fashion but once we are there and doing it, it will take on its own excitement.   It will probably change a lot over the course of time (insert unforeseen circumstances here) and when we are travelling but that’s okay.  We don’t have everything locked down to very specific times.  We want to allow ourselves to be spontaneous.  The most important things are being in Antarctica for the hatching of the baby chicks and we would really like to be in Galapagos for April.  We also need to book our homestay in Argentina as well as telling the people who run each volunteer program when we will arrive and depart.

Other than that, we will see where the making of the book and our whims take us.  It all feels very unreal at this point in time but planning it is fun and exciting.

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