Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Site Index

The following is a blog site map that allows you to view each posting by country rather than date. Click on the desired week (W1, W2...), map, or commentary following each country heading to be taken to that specific link.

--- S I T E --- I N D E X ---


Map of the Americas

What to Bring

The Entire Journey Map

Cool Trip Statistics

United States - W1, W2, W3, Map, & Commentary

Mexico - W3, W4, W5, W6, W7, Map, & Commentary

Belize - W7, W8, Map, & Commentary

Guatemala - W8, W9, W10, W11, Map, & Commentary

El Salvador - W11, W12, Map, & Commentary

Honduras - W12, W13, Map, & Commentary

Nicaragua - W13, W14, Map, & Commentary

Costa Rica - W14, W15, Map, & Commentary

Panama - W15, W16, W17, Map, & Commentary

Atlantic Ocean - W16, W17, & W18

Colombia - W18, Map, & Commentary

Ecuador - W18, W19, W20, Map, & Commentary

Peru - W20, W21, Map, & Commentary

Bolivia (1st visit) - W21, W22, & Map

Argentina - W22, Map, & Commentary

Chile - W22, W23, Map, & Commentary

Bolivia (2nd visit) - W23, W24, W25, Map, & Commentary

Brasil - W25, W26, Map, & Commentary

Specific Topics: Coming soon...

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Saturday, January 15, 2005

The Entire Journey Map

I hope everyone is starting off the New Year well...a very happy one at that. Have a great 2005! Made it... the red-line shows it all!

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Monday, January 10, 2005

Cool Trip Statistics


We left South Range at around 7am local time on June 26, 2004 and arrived in Brasil at Fazenda Califórnia (California Farm) at 7pm local time on December 18, 2004.

In years – 0.482 years
In months – 5.78 months
In weeks – 25.06 weeks
In days – 175.42 days
In hours – 4210 hours


Total number of border crossings – 16
Crossings done by foot – 12
Crossings done by boat – 2, Belize/Guatemala and Panama/Colombia
Crossings done by train – 1, Chile/Boliva
Crossings done by bus – 1, Argentina/Chile


Buses – 146
Cars – 20
Trains – 17
Boats – 12
Bikes – 1
Walking – More than from South Range to Copper Harbor…many miles more…

Legs of the trip – 70, traveling to one town we spent nights in to the next…does not include nights slept in buses, trains, boats, etc.


Hotels – 110
Homes – 42
Buses – 12
Boats – 11
Trains – 5
Out in the open – 2, once on a bus station floor and once in the woods


Of the counties we visited, besides the many native languages, some official, (Quechua as the most common that we came across), we encountered English, Spanish, and Portuguese as official languages.

Some misconceptions: Many people think that Spanish is used in all of Latin America, not realizing that English is the official language of Belize and Guyana. In addition, French and Dutch are also official languages outside of Europe in French Guiana and Suriname respectively. And a great majority of folks believe that Spanish is the official language of Brasil, not Portuguese.


Cost of the entire trip for two – Around US$6,000… give or take a few hundred dollars.
Average cost per person per day (overall) – US$17 or so…

Do note that the travel costs include absolutely everything (food, transportation, lodging, phone calls, internet time, etc.). Also note that we kept our budget extremely low – way under what the travel guides suggested for a budget traveler. The guide we used, Footprint South American Handbook 2004, as an example, says “an economy-budget traveler can expect to spend US$25-40 per day.” Most people we met while traveling had a budget of around US$30-40 per person, per day.

We did all we could to cut costs. We always stayed in the most inexpensive places possible, negotiated a deal whenever feasible and we stayed out of the touristy restaurants and ate as cheaply as possible. We also always used the absolute cheapest form of transportation and hitchhiked and walked a lot. We never took an international bus across borders. Nor did we take any full blown “tours.”


Countries – 16, which does not include us being in Bolivia twice

North America – 2 out of 3 (66.7%)
Central America – 7 out of 7 (100.0%)
South America – 7 out of 13 (53.9%)

Americas – 16 out of 23 (69.6%)
Countries not visited in all of the Americas – 7 out of 23 (30.4%)

Note, when referring to the Americas, we are not including the Caribbean Islands.

Even though we both have been to Canada before, we did not visit it on this trip…too bad we did not take a five hour boat ride from Copper Harbor, United States to Thunder Bay, Canada. Then there would only be a total of 6 countries that we did not visit in all of the Americas. Not including Canada, the only countries left to visit in the Americas are:

French Guiane (French territory)

Now if you include our previous trips to Canada:

North America – 3 out of 3 (100.0%)
Central America – 7 out of 7 (100.0%)
South America – 7 out of 13 (53.9%)

Americas – 17 out of 23 (73.9%)
Countries not visited in all of the Americas – 6 out of 23 (26.1%)


North America:

United States

Number of nights spent – 15
Our average cost per person per day – N/A
Currency name and exchange rate – 1 Dollar = US$1
Curiosity note – The area from Texas to California to Oregon was once Mexico. Riding the train is a fantastic way to get to know this country and the geographical contrasts between its 50 states. New Mexico has the best natural hot springs I have ever been to – Turkey Springs.


Number of nights spent – 28
Our average cost per person per day – US$24
Currency name and exchange rate – 11.5 Pesos = US$1
Curiosity note – You can ride a train through a canyon four times larger than the Grand Canyon. It is one of the most famous train rides in the world. And it is amazing! The biggest employers in Mexico are the service and tourism industries. Go visit Chiapas.

Central America:


Number of nights spent – 6
Our average cost per person per day – US$22
Currency name and exchange rate – 2 Belizean Dollars = US$1 (US dollars are also used.)
Curiosity note – Belize is still under British Commonwealth. If need be, they would be protected by British forces and can go back under British rule at any time. Belize is a Central American misfit; it should be an island in the Caribbean Sea. This country is also home to the friendliest people.


Number of nights spent – 27
Our average cost per person per day – US$19
Currency name and exchange rate – 7.8 Quetzals = US$1
Curiosity note – Guatemala is my favorite country. The best place to learn Spanish in Latin America is in Xela (Quetzaltenango). This country has the most amazing Mayan city, Tikal, many active volcanoes, and the most beautifully colored buses. The landscape is so green and its people so proud. Twenty-three indigenous languages are spoken throughout Guatemala.

El Salvador

Number of nights spent – 6
Our average cost per person per day – US$12.50
Currency name and exchange rate – 1 Dollar = US$1
Curiosity note – The official currency is the US Dollar. El Salvador is home to our favorite newly found food – the pupusas. It is also the most densely populated country in Central America. Perquin was an amazing visit – yet shockingly sad with remnants of its recent war. The beer was the coldest in all of Central America – by far.


Number of nights spent – 6
Our average cost per person per day – US$10.60
Currency name and exchange rate – 18.5 Lempiras = US$1
Curiosity note – Riding in the back of a pick-up truck from Gracias to La Esperanza is the best! Gracias is a gem waiting to be discovered. Here we met the greatest guy, Walter Murcia, whose great grandfather started the oldest botanical garden in Central America.


Number of nights spent – 5
Our average cost per person per day – US$15.50
Currency name and exchange rate – 16 Cordobas = US$1
Curiosity note – Nicaragua is home to the largest fresh water island in the world, Ometepe. A country that I feel was cheated…too few days spent there. Someday I will return. Granada is extremely beautiful. Sad that many travelers we met were scared to visit, sad nonsense.

Costa Rica

Number of nights spent – 8
Our average cost per person per day – US$17
Currency name and exchange rate – 443 Colones = US$1
Curiosity note – Costa Rica is an American ecotourism playground. It is also our least favorite country of all. But it’s extremely beautiful nonetheless. You can go see a volcano spew out red lava in Fortuna.


Number of nights spent – 15
Our average cost per person per day – US$24
Currency name and exchange rate – 1 Balboa (Dollar) = US$1
Curiosity note – The official currency is the Balboa but only coins are produced. The paper currency used is the US Dollar. The Balboa is fixed 1:1 to the US Dollar. Panama has the most amazing group of indigenous, the Kuna, on the San Blas Islands.

South America:


Number of nights spent – 9
Our average cost per person per day – US$18.50
Currency name and exchange rate – 2,500 Pesos = US$1
Curiosity note – Too bad so many are afraid of Colombia, you only hear the bad stuff. The people are fantastic, the country is beautiful, and you should visit. Cartagena is, without a doubt, the queen of the Caribbean.


Number of nights spent – 8
Our average cost per person per day – US$19
Currency name and exchange rate – 1 Dollar = US$1
Curiosity note – The official currency is the US Dollar. Ecuador has one of the most amazing markets in Latin America – textiles, animals, foods…so much color and energy in Otavalo. Here you can ride the world’s most difficult railroad…on top of the box cars…all the way to Nariz del Diablo (The Devil’s Nose).


Number of nights spent – 11
Our average cost per person per day – US$13.40
Currency name and exchange rate – 3.31 Nuevos Soles = US$1
Curiosity note – Peru has extremely warm friendly people. Machu Picchu is a must see in one’s lifetime. Around Huaraz you can find some of the best technical mountain climbing in the world. Cusco, though extremely touristy, is so very charming.

Bolivia - 1st visit

Number of nights spent – 15
Our average cost per person per day – US$11.20
Currency name and exchange rate – 8.04 Bolivianos = US$1
Curiosity note – Ahhh, what an amazing country. Shy wonderful people. The landscape is mystical – world’s largest and highest salt flat, the Andes, volcanoes... Bolivia is home to the mining town of Potosi, a city of 125,000 living at 4,070m (13,353ft). The poorest country in South America has so much to offer.


Number of nights spent – 4
Our average cost per person per day – US$19
Currency name and exchange rate – 2.96 Pesos = US$1
Curiosity note – Argentina is the birth place of The Tango. It holds together, with Chile, the southernmost point in South America. With elegant people and many beautiful parks, it is also home to Aconcagua – the highest peak in all of the Americas at 6,959m (22,831ft).


Number of nights spent – 8
Our average cost per person per day – US$17
Currency name and exchange rate – 580 Pesos = US$1
Curiosity note – Chile has the best wine in the world for its price. The country goes from sea level to the highest peaks in the Americas in about 400km (around 250mi). It is beautifully squashed between the Pacific Ocean and the Andes. The driest piece of land in the world exists in Chile’s Atacama Desert.

Bolivia - 2nd visit - see above listed stats.


Number of nights spent – Currently residing here
Our average cost per person per day – N/A
Currency name and exchange rate – 2.7 Reais = US$1
Curiosity note – Brasil is bigger than the continental United States. It has the best fruits and vegetables. The weather is actually not as hot as I anticipated – whew! Here there is a lot of energy with fantastic people. It is the first country that is not English or Spanish speaking…the only Latin American country that speaks Portuguese. I cannot wait to start teaching English.

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Friday, December 31, 2004

Brasil Map and Route

To track the route, follow the blue line...

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Saturday, December 25, 2004

Week 26 - Fernandópolis to Fazenda Califórnia, Brasil

December 18-24, 2004


This week began on the dance floor... celebrating Tia Bel’s 56th birthday at midnight – forró-ing.

Funny… she was with us in the beginning of our journey when we left South Range all the way to New Mexico where we celebrated Kiko’s birthday. Now, it is the same thing but backwards…we were with her in Fernandópolis, celebrating her birthday on the last leg of our voyage. Not only was she with us on the first and last legs of our trip, but also, we were together for both birthdays…pretty darn cool.

After an excellent night dancing, we got to bed at about 2:30am, got up the same day at 7am – and left for Goiás – towards our final destination – a farm in the state of Goiás. The 11 hour car ride with Tia Bel and Vô Nelson was nice. We had one flat tire and a lot of rain, but it was very nice to be together – really nice.

We arrived to a surprise birthday party dinner for Tia Bel, at Fazenda Califórnia (California Farm). The clown head ornament on top of the cake box is from 1973, Kiko’s 2nd birthday party.

Fazenda Califórnia is where Kiko’s mom and step-dad live. This will be our home for a bit. It is a farm located about 30 minutes by car to the nearest town - between Goiás Velho and Itaberai which are both small towns. It is also 1 ½ hours by car to the state’s capital, Goiânia. This farm is 2,000+ hectars (~5,000 acres) and has 8 houses throughout the property for the farm workers. We are staying in one of those houses next to the “sede” (main farmhouse). Kiko lived here as a kid.

Three mile long driveway to the "sede"...

Kiko’s step dad is an agricultural engineer, and the manager of this and another farm. Here they have cattle, horses, and a fishery. They grow soy, corn, cotton, guava, sunflower, tomato, beans, rice, and more. There are so many fruit trees around the house…mangos, guavas, coconuts, bananas, cashews, lime, lemon, oranges, avocadoes, star fruits, and on and on…all for free…and that is not counting all of the vegetables. It is extremely common for people to have all sorts of fruit trees in their yards. I love being able to eat avocadoes without having to pay US$2 or more apiece! Hungry?? Go pick it for free!! Ahhhhh, I love it!

Cotton field and worker...



Nelore cattle originally from India - they are really pretty...

A termite house...

Banana trees...

It is so pretty here!! We have relatively no internet or phone access, but the peace and quiet, the sounds of the crickets and frogs at night, and the monkeys that live on the property are well worth it!!

On Sunday the farm had their annual Christmas party for the workers. Here people ate, danced, and drank the whole afternoon. They ate churrasco which is a Brazilian barbeque – and very common. Here is a photo of me with some of the workers and their kids who were so fascinated and curious to hear me speak English. The girl in the pink, in the center to my left, knew a few words in English and was very excited to try them out.

The whole week was spent eating, recuperating from 6 months on the road, catching up with family stories and pictures, and just doing regular holiday family time stuff. I also spent time with the 10 new farm kittens and their two mothers! I left my three cats in South Range and gained 12 in Brasil!

Right now the farm has sweet corn planted and it is ready - Grandpa Nelson, Aunt Bel, Fernando (Kiko's brother), and Maria Inez (Kiko's mom)...

The week ended with Christmas - Christmas dinner and opening gifts. Because evergreen trees are not native to Brasil, many families use artificial Christmas trees. Being economical and creative, Kiko’s mom used a decorated mosquito net this year. Other years she has made a Christmas tree out of bamboo, out of a guava tree, and so on…

Whew!! What a great week…and, we made it to Brasil – to the farm!! Ahhhhhh….Our trip was amazing!! We arrived here according to our goal of not using airplanes!!! We also got here by Christmas which was another goal! What a great first week at our final destination. I am looking forward to teaching English and eating lots of fruit.

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