We are Joanna Marracelli (this is me writing-hi!) and Laurent Lhomond. I am originally from the United States in New York and Laurent grew up in Tours, France. I met Laurent in Paris when I traveled there on a spontaneous trip for the new year in 2008. Him and his best friend had decided to host as many couchsurfers as they could for the new years eve. I just so happened to be one in a group of 13 other couchsurfers. It was the moment that my life was going to change drastically but I didn’t know it then. Funny how life works like that.
To make a very long story short, we ended up falling for one another. For a long time, we spent our time flying back and forth to see each other between France, Canada and New York. Laurent spent one year in Canada, on a working holiday visa, & because of the proximity to the US, that made it easier for us to be together and see one another that year.
I met him in Canada often and we traveled the entire country from Newfoundland in the east to the Yukon in the west. We discovered we enjoyed traveling together immensely and so we came up with a plan to not only finally be together (the long-distance thing was getting old) but to travel together permanently.
For me, I was tired of just meeting up with Laurent for just a week or two-checking out a new city and then returning to my job. I felt like I wasn’t able to get a sense of a place in such a short time. I envied Laurent who was able to roam Canada freely, meeting the locals, and for him, speaking a new language. I had an itch a long time ago to travel like that and I was itchy all over again!! It became unbearable.
Our plan was to combine our two biggest passions, mine for food and Laurent’s for photography and create a book about the food and culture of each country in South America. We set a date to leave. Actually, many dates. We started this blog. We encountered several obstacles preventing our departure but finally we were able to take the plunge.
On October 4, 2012, we packed our backpacks and boarded a plane with a one way ticket to Buenos Aires, Argentina. Our intention was to travel the continent of South America and possibly Central America for 2 years. Now, over a year into that journey and over half the continent covered, we have no plan of going back. We want to keep traveling indefinitely.
Wait, how did we do that?! Who just takes off and travels the world, especially at age 39?! Well, I worked really hard at two jobs for two years and cut my expense budget drastically. I got rid of my debt right away and just saved as much money as I could. I made this trip my top priority. I sold everything I had (including my car and furniture).
Laurent owns a few properties in France and was able to save money for a few years from those incomes. I feel very lucky and fortunate to have had two jobs (as a registered nurse and also as a cook in a catering company) which enabled me to do this. I know that many people in the world do not have that opportunity nor can they even create it. Every day we are grateful for our opportunities, decisions and hard work that got us to this point.
We hope to make something beautiful of this adventure! Come along with us and discover the beauty of this extraordinary continent!
More about Joanna: Originally wanted to teach but ended up in nursing school instead. Worked for years as a registered nurse in NY, later attended culinary school. Spent time as a cook for a catering company in Brooklyn. Never traveled much when she was younger and is more than making up for it now. Still has no idea what she wants to ‘be’ when she grows up. Infected with a permanent case of wanderlust.
More about Laurent: Graduated from business school in Paris, opened his own business with his brother but found his life lacking. Sold the business and returned to school for his MBA and went to work for a French Insurance Company. Driving around in a Porsche, wearing fancy clothes and dealing with too much BS didn’t suit him well. Backpacks and hiking boots were more his style. Decided to quit everything and work as a barista in Canada for one year on a working holiday visa. Also has a serious case of wanderlust.