And now for a word to our sponsors.

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I must confess that I often let myself fall prey to certain propaganda that is circulated through U.S. capitalism. One of the few movies I own is “The Pursuit of Happyness” with Will Smith, which supports the idea that with enough elbow grease and determination any one can pull themselves up by their bootstraps and obtain the American Dream. The problem with the American Dream that I’ve come to realize is that, well frankly, it’s boring. And lonely! One of our favorite sayings is that the “journey is the destination”. When one is pulling themselves up by their bootstraps the journey is often difficult, lonesome and full of suffering. The alternative is much more attractive: invite family and friends to participate in attaining ones goals. This approach brings in characters to the story with whom memories can be shared and the plot will thicken. The goals and destinations can then successfully become secondary rewards.

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For those of you who don’t know, when Melissa and I decided we wanted to go to Ecuador for three months we put together a budget and realized that we were about $3,000 short. After a good bit of conversation and hesitation we decided to put together a kickstarter campaign to raise the money we still needed. As we raised support from friends and family for our trip my pride made it difficult for me to allow and invite our community to be part of the process. Old habits die hard. Financial and emotional support poured in for us. Now looking back I can see the unique experience that comes from being enabled by people to carry out ones dreams.

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Benefits include but aren’t limited to: accountability, increased motivation, creative inspiration, deeper authenticity and humility, and greater confidence. You can’t get that stuff flying solo. Lastly, it filled our beings with an overwhelming sense of gratitude. It’s that gratitude that this closing blog is meant to convey. To everyone that told us to go for it or dropped a dollar in our pocket, thank you. We saw you in every mountain, village, lake and sunset. We saw you in Rio as he ran around the town square or ate ice cream or played with the dogs on the farm. We felt your support when things got tough on long travel days or we when we just missed the comforts of home. Thank you for writing stories with us, thank you for pursuing happyness with us. Thank you. IMG_0257

La Frontera 

  
Is it a soul or just the sense of a soul  
 that is held in this burning vessel? 
 “Was the shape we see in our lives 
  there from the beginning?” 
 Or is it all just carried along by pretty horses and señoritas? 
 Is it all just fiction fiction fiction? 
 I guess I´d prefer it was, 
 written in the sky where the condor flys 
 protecting us as we walk through the cloud, 
 over the sierra, into the valley, 
 following the sendero into forests, 
 where we find the power of an ancient god,  
 that gave life to the trees through carbon and fire. 
 And am I the fire or am I the carbon? 
 Or are they the same? are we the same 
 are we the same are we the same? 
 Walking the road together into a blood red sun, 
 clouded by smoke that belches forth from the core of the earth. 
 Wearing ponchos and eating heladitos
 thinking how strange, and how beautiful. 
 Thinking about the connectedness of all things, 
 and if we can see it. 
 And if it is the rotation of the planet underneath the feet 
 that causes life to circle back around? 
 Spinning spinning spinning, 
 following orbital patterns after a fashion of time.  
 Then the blowing dust interrupts our thoughts. 
 The wind howls like a wolf, 
 the only catalyst for change, where the days remain the same. 
 Darkness and light here, locked in stalemate 
 wrestling for our hearts. 
 Wrestling en la frontera de estrellas…. 
 Under their blanket we gaze 
  upon their light and their truth.  
 Under their blanket we find our souls, 
 breathing in and breathing out 
 breathing in breathing out, 
 breathing in.    

Another Dimension


 Let’s sit down for a second and discuss, the ever changing momentum and flux, the disparaging yet crucial longing for purpose and reason and sense. In all facets of life we find this dance, this war, this unavoidable melodramatic ballad that leads us to questions we might often rather avoid. Such as: Does the longing for purpose despairingly reveal a lack of purpose? Why does the realization of a dream impose both joy and disappointment? Are our longings and hopes always born with higher expectations then reality can accomplish? Is individual purpose a story already written or are we our own authors?  
  
 These questions are like a dimension, a place that once we have found the way, we can continually visit or avoid. Yet, whenever we are there, everything hangs in the balance. Some have found the ability to be present there every day, while others are lucky (or unlucky) if they find it in a lifetime. For others these questions may be invariably forced upon them without any fore sight or aspiration.

  

 What does this discussion have to do with a family travel blog? Everything! “The Wandering” speaks to this very idea of searching and longing. To wander and/or take sabbatical is one way to be present to this dimension of unknowing. Our pastor in Denver recently preached a sermon about how true sabbatical is a rest from the need to be worthy. In other words, it is a place of letting our questions of purpose exist without searching for their answers. This happens when half way through our trip we think “ this is really hard, we should go home”. This is the moment we begin to feel the very strong need that exists to “know” and to be in control. And though it is difficult, if we let grace lead us through, the truth is revealed that, “those who lose themselves shall find themselves”.

Click the following link to hear Nadia’s 10 minute sermon.

A sermon on No Time To Rest and also No Jet Packs 

 

Five Reasons Not To Travel With Kids: Debunked

 It´s an easy trap for new parents to fall into, to think, “we will keep living our life the same way, having a kid isn´t going to slow us down.”      It´s honestly a silly notion to think that having a kid isn´t going to change you or the way you live. It´s in our psychology after all, neuroscientists have shown that the adults brain, both male and female, is extremely plastic right after having a child (see: Ina Mays Guide to Childbirth ). So if you are a new or pending parent try to avoid the idea that life will remain the same, it will save you a significant headache. Instead, take the opportunity to embrace change and look forward to new beginnings. Perhaps learn a new language or embrace a new diet, take the opportunity of never sleeping to start reading again. Or, if you are really motivated, completely hijack your life by quitting your job and move your family to a foreign country, somewhere obscure, like a mountain village in South America that nobody has ever heard of.   Ok so not your everyday parenting advice right, but why not? Here´s 5 reasons why most people avoid traveling with a kid and five answers to how to make it work:

 1. Health:

 There are plenty of destinations in the world that have the same health hazards as the US and many developing countries have good health care available for emergency situations. Plenty of countries in Southeast Asia and South America don´t require extra vaccinations and some only do if you visit select areas. Many times if you just avoid the deep jungle there isn´t any risk of contracting a horrible disease. When traveling with your child most of your child’s time is going to be spent directly with you and as a result will have much less of a chance of catching some undesirable bug.   2. It´s Expensive:

 I think this is one of the biggest myths about having kids. Babies and infants are not expensive, teenagers are expensive. So if you want travel do it while your kids still travel for free. It´s not impossible to be a budget traveler with kids. Now days there are plenty of options to find a work stay or volunteer opportunity that covers your living expenses (yes even with a kid) while still affording plenty of time to explore. If you get creative you can travel for less cash than an average monthly living expense in the States. Rent out your house on Air B&B, put your car insurance on storage, cancel your cell phone bill and get out of the country!  3. It´s Dangerous:

Yes, actually, it is dangerous. In the words of the great J.R.R. Tolkien “It´s dangerous business, Frodo, stepping out your door.” There will be risks that you have to decide if you are willing to take. How different is this than everyday life? That all depends on the choices you make at home and the choices you make when traveling, but living in a foreign country does not mean living a more dangerous life.  4. It’s too hard:

 I am not going to say that traveling with a toddler is easy, but I’m also not going to say that living with a toddler is easy. If you have a toddler then your life is probably more difficult than it has ever been otherwise. Hopefully, the rewards of seeing your child grow and learn energize you enough to balance out the struggle. The same applies for traveling. You will probably have to change the way you travel to accommodate having a toddler. You´re not going to take overnight buses and crash in two dollar hostel rooms like you did with your college buddies. With a child it´s best to pursue quality over quantity and stay in one place longer. But, on the plus side, having a baby in tow tends to break down cultural barriers, allowing you to experience a foreign culture in a much deeper way then was possible before.  5. It´s Irresponsible:

 It doesn’t have to be irresponsible. Having a kid often creates a time of transition for a family, if this is the case use the opportunity to take some time off and travel. Take a sabbatical, or extended vacation. Plan it out ahead of time. Put off buying a new car or house for another year and instead invest in traveling. Nothing is more valuable to a family then building strong relationships together, traveling isn’t the only way to do this but it certainly is a good way and worth while the investment if you are willing. Not to mention that it is responsible to expose your child to new cultures, the more of us that are raised with a healthy worldview and understanding the better chance we have at living in a country that upholds social justice and thinks beyond the confines of their own small community  Lastly, it isn´t as rare as you may think to travel or backpack with kids. If you are still unsure, start talking about it to your community, you may be surprised at how much support you will find. As someone who was exposed to traveling overseas at a very young age and has now taken his own family on an international adventure, I strongly encourage any young family thinking about traveling out of their home country to pursue their dreams. It won´t be the same with kids and they will probably slow you down, but whoever said that was a bad thing?                                                                             

Finding Stories

I believe that even google with all of its storage space, information and acccrued knowledge does not have enough energy to record the vast amount of stories that have been written in our world. Sometimes I imagine God a brilliant,crazy haired, cigarette smoking, eccentric, madly typing the stories of every individual that walks our planet; overpopulation, in fact, is just the unintentional consequence of Gods over-efficiency at the typewriter and infinite creative ability. This image is accentuated by travel, especially as we move further away from the familiar. Sometimes every hour feels like it could be a short story in of itself. Updike, Salinger and Marquez have got nothing on the divine orator.     The last week has taken us into new and wild places, where we can only speculate at the stories of some of the people we cross paths with. What I wouldn’t give to be able to, not only know, but to feel their history, worldview and life experience. All we get are snippets and to be honest that’s probably more than we deserve. Even the snippets though are fascinating.     The story of the owner of an old spanish colonial ranch that has been passed down through generations who struggles in her relationship with the indigenous people that surround her. Or the Quechua painter who in the 70s started a new art form that has become renown worldwide by his son, yet he still humbly paints away in his home town which is so small and isolated, that even the locals haven’t heard of it.

    
 In Quito a young gay man who worked at our hostel explains what happens when he holds hands with his boyfriend at a club and about his joy over the new law that passed, called “free union” which is equivalent to the civil union laws of the U.S. All of these stories could easily make millions as a New York Times best seller novel. Really, they are incredible and yet they are just another beautiful life being lived. This is true everywhere, it’s just revealed with ease in the midst of foreign contrast. This is true of those who lost their lives in Charleston and as we travel it would be easy to ignore the sorrow that is felt back home, but alas, we cannot and we hold the memory of their stories in our heart as we sit in the market and eat empanadas or ride the bus over the highlands. Kyrie Eleison.

Note: All text highlighted in blue leads to a link with more information about that place or activity.

  

Transition to the Nomadic

As we packed up all of our material possessions the tensions of being homeless started to unpack, in subtle curious ways. Transition is always a bitter sweet time in life, as you say good bye to people and places that have impacted your life and look forward in hope to new people and memories. This specific type of transition that we are facing has unique challenges of its own. Such as, not having jobs lined up or not having a specific place to call home. In the last week I have noticed that every time someone is talking about work there is a little longing in the back of my mind. A little voice saying, “oh stability, routine, consistency, that sounds nice”. There is some provider/father instinct in me that resists transitioning to the nomadic.

This is the subtle curious voice. The louder, obvious voice that empowers us to move forward is the voice of our tribe. As far as I know there is not a nomadic community that doesn’t travel without their tribe, even in the animal kingdom. The reason for that is what I’m learning: nothing happens without community. Community, even writing the word kind of bothers me. It is such a buzz word these days, people describe community like a hipster barista describes a pour over, using words that sound really nice like, floral, honey notes with a tinge of kiwi. Well, our tribe is far from honey and kiwi, to be honest it would probably take an entire anthropology department to figure the nuances of our tribe. It’s patched together across states and countries by social media, generosity, and fond memories. But it exists nonetheless, and it’s a powerful enabling force.

So, while routine and consistency will probably elude us in the next few months, stability will not. Being nomadic creates a vulnerability that helps to reveal how dependent on our tribe we really are, it gives feeling and emotion to something that is to often silenced by the volume of self-sufficiency. I’m confident that this phenomenon created by being nomadic happens in other ways as well. In fact there are countless ways it can take place in our lives. It happens during weddings, it happens when a child is born or when someone is suffering an illness, it happens when fortune or misfortune strike. These are all catalysts, but all that is really needed is an invitation. It’s humbling, sure, and awkward at times, but no one is complaining. There is a positive anticipation for the impact that experience will have on the tribe, stories are being created, stories are being shared, and nothing in life is much more exciting then that.