Oh my poor neglected blog! How has it been so long? Well, life has been busy, and it still is. After so many months of silence it seems a small summary, at the least, is due.
I’ll start one year ago in March of 2017. We felt the crisp air of Patagonia for the first time. Our legs took us 110km / 70mi around Torres del Paine in Chile. We then hitchhiked to El Chalten, Argentina and had uncharacteristically perfect weather and brilliant fall colors.
Leaving southern Patagonia we met Mira, Ivo, Cliff, and Emily on a bus ride. We ended up spending a few days with them in Puerto Rio Tranquilo, Chile where we also met Nick and Jimmy. I convinced our newfound group that packing lots of beer would immensely enhance our boat tour of Marble Caves (Cuevas Marmoles). I was right, of course.
Valerie and I then continued north and returned to San Pedro de Atacama. We planned our visit during the new moon phase. At over 15,000ft in the driest place on earth the stars are unbelievable but the -6° C temperatures were brutal. Accommodation options were limited so we spent three nights sleeping in the front seats of our tiny rental hatchback. Luckily, we only lost a few digits and the tips of our noses, but the night skies and incredible landscape doled out handsome rewards for our efforts.
We carried on into Bolivia and toured the famous salt flats of Salar de Uyuni. Then we crawled through historic mine shafts (drinking everclear, as you do) of Potosi. Val climbed her first mountain Huayna Potosi 6,088m / 19,976ft that featured vertical sections and a long, vertigo-inducing, knife-edge-ridge to the summit. We romped through the jungle to find beautiful red sugarloaf hills. In the laid back hippie town of Samaipata we met Renee and Anna who we would later run into in Peru. In Sucre, the white city, we reunited with Mira and Ivo and snuck into their hotel for amazing views over the city.
It was time for Peru round 2. We teamed up with Nick and Jimmy once more for a epic night out in Cusco that included finding a “private live band”, dancing until they kicked us out at 4am, and dancing through the streets. We ran into Nick two more times at an indigenous festival and in the amazon. We trekked around Ausungate and met Lenny. Then Jan flew in from Alaska and we climbed her first mountain. Pisco 5,752m / 18,871ft with Lenny his friend Tom. Another friend from the states, Ryan, flew in and he, Lenny, and I climbed Yanapacha 5,460m / 17,913ft and Tocllaraju 6,034m / 19,797. My Andean climbing season was successful with 4 summits shared with five friends.
We entered Colombia through the Amazon and then headed for Bogata. Tim flew in from the East Coast and we romped through central Colombia taking in the world’s tallest palm trees, and the parties and cultures of Medellin. When Tim left we headed south. The city of Cali showed us what salsa dancing is really about. We saw whales in pacific region of el Choco where I also nearly broke my ankle chasing waterfalls, literally, in San Cipriano. We recuperated in Cartagena. Then ankle-be-damned we went rock climbing in Mesa de Los Santos and I bungee jumped off a rusted crane. Perhaps most memorable though were the dozens of easy-going nights we spent with locals drinking beer and laughing at the world.
Colombia marked the end of our time in South America. On the way back to the United States we made a quick stop in Tijuana, Mexico for Val to get a new tooth. Being so close to San Diego we decided to stop in and visit friends.The US Government has classified the events that took place there suffice it to say we had a hell of a lot of fun.
Then we flew to Bend, OR to visit with my family. In our short stay we planned our Africa trip, revised our equipment, sold my car, packed our bags and flew to Africa.
Ethiopia was a new world for us. It was our first time in Sub Saharan Africa and we were thrilled to be in our 6th continent. We hiked to the hottest place on earth with Nicolas and Remi and through the simien mountains with Lewis and Beccy. We climbed to ancient cliffedge churches with Mengie. Ethiopia’s incredible cuisine was consumed in obscene quantities. The highlight was visiting the villagers of the Omo Valley who still survive in the way their ancestors did millenia ago. A close second though was laughing with Siraj and “Jungle Boy” Jan in a Banna village while roasting a whole goat.
In Uganda we visited wild mountain gorillas, drove through endless green hills, had our first and second safaris, and made friends with the incredibly hospitable locals. Mira and Ivo generously sent us money to buy 150kg of rice and 50kg of sugar (a rare treat for christmas) for the Single Mothers Foundation who help 40 singles mothers and their 150 children. We met John and Kristen who generously gave us a ride to Rwanda and we spent a few days enjoying the amazing city of Kigali.
In Kenya we went on safari in the Masai Mara and met Amr. This famous park showed us just how powerful lions can be. We celebrated New Years in an unmarked in a back alley tavern in Nairobi. Next we explored Mombasa and followed the swahili coast into Tanzania. We got lost in Stone Town on Zanzibar and gorged ourselves on barbecued squid. We will miss those postcard perfect beaches.
Over the last two months we have been spent driving 10,000km / 6,200 mi through South Africa. Jan came and spent a few weeks with us searching for and encountering the classic African wildlife that I have longed to see since childhood. We made friends with Andre and Nicolene who gave us glimpse into what Afrikaan culture and farm life is about. My parents teamed up with us for our final month in ZA. This was also their 6th continent and they have now traveled around the world!
14 countries later we are just getting to know Mozambique. We are trying to speak portuguese and sussing out the best local beer and SIM card. Best of all we are back in the water scuba diving with Nadia, a friend from Komodo, Indonesia.
And that, in a bursting nutshell, is how we have spent our past year. We love and miss you all.