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mum's rants

A response to Pippa

Thought I would post my response to Pippa’s nice email as they are really good questions.

” would like to ask if you would add some information to your blog about how and why you decided to travel. Did you own a home and work jobs previously? Is it hard to travel between countries? Visas etc? What about crime, have you ever had any problems break ins etc?”

I will answer the easy bits first. We have owned 3 houses in 2 countries. We gave up our last house that we owned in order to use the profits for Andrew to go to school. We still think that was a great choice as it was a catalyst event that sent us on the track we are on now. When we sold the house we went to the camping store and bout a sierra designs family arch tent and really good sleeping bags for the family in order to celebrate our freedom. When we bought maggie our truck the kids were quite keen on noting that we were home- owners once again – only our home has wheels.

We have worked jobs before. Regular ones. I have worked in offices and hospitals. I was trained as a nurse. Andrew has normally worked many part-time jobs at one time. I think he likes to wear lots of different hats.

The hardest thing about travelling between countries is our own fear of the unknown. It seems the news loves to broadcast the negative about anything bad so more people to watch or something. It seems those with bad stories of travel get heard more. You know, that one person who gets robbed – not hearing about the thousands that had no problem at all. Not all the visas and documentation can be lined up beforehand. Sometimes calls need to be made just before a new frontier to arrange insurance, a visa needs to be obtained at the border or plans just need to be put on hold. Right now, we have been looking into going to Mauritania and Senegal. When we tried to get visas in London it proved near impossible. In Rabat you can get visas in one day and 34 euro. After realizing that we could get our visas, however, we found out we need a carnet de passage for our old truck which will take over a month to get. We will need to change our plans now and try to get a carnet de passage for next time. There is no replacement for the information you get around the table with other travellers. We all learn from each other as we are doing it. Sometimes you have to backtrack 800 km to get a visa or visa extension, sometimes you go to a nice man in a small village who gives you the stamp you need. Lots of unknown but I am thinking we fear the unknown too much because the unknown seems to bring more opportunity than dissappointment. at least for me. We just need to be flexible and embrace the unknown. If we dont get across a border into a country there is always another path – possibly a better path and we can go back and try again at another time. Also, visas can be expensive when you multiply that by 6 or 7 or 9.

For us the hardest border to cross, by far, is the British border. If you dont have a british passport and your passport has too many funny stamps expect to get interrogated for long periods of time by scary, intimidating people and possibly sent away – for a 19 year old member of our group she was handcuffed and escorted to a detention centre before they could book her return flight 4 days later. There are more scary stories from this border among our friends than all others put together.

We have had things stolen in the past. Not this trip so far. At one point, when we lived in San Francisco our cameras kept getting stolen. We ended up buying a working toystore variety of camera and that one didnt get stolen. You have to be reasonably careful – as you do at home, lock your doors when you go out, dont put your phone next to your window, dont leave tempting items on your dash, dont pull out a fancy phone or computer in a slum, etc. We have a safe – but that is mainly for passports and essential documents. We also keep photocopies of passports and extra photos in our safe. It also helps to keep in mind what our real valuables are – each other. All else can be replaced.

Now, for the hard questions. How and why we travel. I try to put as much of the how in the blog as I can think of. I know there are things I am overlooking. For that I apologize, I’m trying to get better.

As far as why. Wow. I think if you get right down to it I think it is what makes us feel alive. With both me and Andrew there is a part of us that sort of dies inside if we dont travel. When we start travelling there is a part of our minds and hearts that wakes up and becomes electric. We see things in a whole new way. Like, we were created a little different.

It is funny how our western cultures seem to accept geographic stability as sensible and nomadic lives as irresponsible and immature when things used to be just the opposite a long, long time ago. To travel full-time nowadays there are so many stereotypes to break down. The stories of full-time travellers not caring about the earth, trashing the place and steeling everything is just rubbish. We have been hanging out with people very aware of their carbon footprint. Teaching africans how to compost in their gardens, carrying their trash til they find an acceptable place for it to go. Trying to bless those they stay with or around with food and love and music and money and respect and encouragement. There is community, sharing food, knowledge, rides, a needed hug and kiss. I think when you travel full-time you are more vulnerable. Sometimes a thought will race across my mind, “I am trusting my life, my passport, etc to someone I have known a few weeks… or a few hours.” We need to trust each other. We must. We dont have the luxury of big houses to hide in – we need each other.

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