This is Mike...
Today marks 2 months on the road, so far. It
is kinda easy to remember, because when I originally made my reservation
to cross the border at Nuevo Laredo, I made it for middle of February,
just like Elise said. When I proudly told her I would be leaving on the
14th, she said, "Valentine's Day???" I replied, "It's on the 14th this year? Whoops forgot about that."
Note to self, check the calendar first or let my wife book it instead
(the latter is the better).
The only regret I have so far about
the trip is not bringing the whole family with me through Mexico so
they could have seen the cute town of San Miguel de Allende and the high
Mexican plateau towards Cordoba. We figured the long haul would have been too much stress for the kids and of course the threat of cartel violence was an issue.
The last two months were as much a learning curve as a traveling
experience. We learned how to deal with things that don't work, like
bathroom sinks that fall into cabinets and showers that don't drain among other things. I
would like to think we are getting used to insects but every time one of
my daughters come running into our room furiously panting, I know she
saw a roach. The roaches are magnificent, simply magnificent. These beasts can give any
roach in Hawaii a run for the money. Elise suggested this morning we
should try to saddle one. At least she is trying to make light of it for
The roads and speed bumps have put the fear of God
in all of us. You see a speed bump is not just a bump it is a
potentially life altering event. Some of the speed bumps are inches high
and only vibrate the car and others are so high they loosen the
fillings in your teeth. The kids have grown a strong respect for
these unmarked monsters that are randomly sprinkled on the road. Also, roads end abruptly or turn into one way traffic coming your way (which has happened more than I would like to admit). Therefore,
looking at a map only provides a theory on how to get to a place not a
guarantee and if you want to end up in a swamp, I personally recommend a Garmin or other GPS device. Understanding early on, that a map can be used as Charmin in a
pinch is most helpful.
Elise has made many comments over the
past two months about the shear lack of safety regarding certain things,
like everything! Some of the highlights of lacks safety codes are:
1. Standing on the edge of a verticle ravine that drops hundreds of feet into an abyss without a guard rail.
2. Showers with exposed hot electrical wires around the spout.
3. Hot springs with 185 F water that anyone can accidentally splash into.
4. Sidewalks that have no common height and abruptly drop off, some 3 feet or more.
My favorite aspect about these travels is my misconception of what the
kids are seeing and experiencing. We can go to some of the most amazing ruins and natural wonders in the world and be absolutely
mesmerized. After the surreal experience ends, we would ask the kids,
"What was your favorite part?" And like clockwork they would say, "I
liked the ducks!" or "The clouds look like dinosaurs." or say, "Daddy,
what are you talking about?" That one is my personal favorite and makes me wonder, were they even there?
Another thing we came to grips with is the shear and total lack of
privacy. We are almost at the point of being able to diagnose each
others ailments just from the toots we make. In fact, after some meals
we can form an orchestra. I would be the violin, Elise the Tuba, and the
The Kids play well together and specialize in
spying on mommy and daddy which can be frustrating at times. Personal space is important and is why we are renting larger places on this trip. The accommodations appear to be getting larger each new place we stay which can only mean, I hope Chile has a 9,000 square foot house we can rent :) Seriously though, we have had a lot of luck finding places on our own rather than pre-booking on the internet. We are able to pre-screen the areas we like and make better decisions and ironically it is cheaper. I have a secret weapon for getting discounts. I send the kids up ahead of Elise and I, to say Ola with big smiles, that is usually good for 20% to 30% off and if I am wearing short pants throw in another 10% off (Elise is rolling her eyes at me right now).
Elise and I have eaten at every possible eatery except a rat infested butcher house and have not gotten sick. We cannot figure out why? We thought it would be relatively easy to lose weight over here by getting "The Bug", but are finding out it's quite the opposite. The food is so delicious and moist (possibly dripping with delicious lard) that it is a challenge to stay healthy. Just like any middle aged couple, we speak of a healthier lifestyle etc. just here, in the fishbowl, the kids chime in on our discussions. For example, Zoe said she wants to be healthier too, so she could be faster at freeze tag. I guess we all have goals, right?
We are having fun laughing at ourselves when things tighten up which is probably the secret to all of this. Having the time to spend with each other is important, spying and all. Hopefully, things will continue as smooth as they have been. In the meantime, we will continue to diagnose each others ailments :) and the kids will continue playing their latest favorite game, Charlie's Angels. We miss y'all tons.