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

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?                                                                             

Quito

The city in the clouds. From the airport we wound our way through the fog at one in the morning into the sleepy town of Quito. Under the watchful eye of the virgin of immaculate conception we unloaded into our hostel. The smells of the panaderia nearby wafted into my nostrils along with a heavy wave of nostalgia transporting me back 14 years to my last stint in South America. I wasn’t expecting such a visceral memory and tears welled up in my eyes. Our room at the Community Hostel was on the third floor and was pretty much all windows looking out towards the Basilica de la Vota Nacional, a neo-gothic church made famous by its syncretic use of local flora and fauna in its architecture, for instance, in  place of gargoyles condors and tortoises keep gaurd.       We of course hit the ground running, with a three-hour walking tour starting at 10:30. Rio slept in the ergo like a champ as we explored the highest capital city in the world. Rio, in fact, has been a champ the entire time. He is a little more easily bothered when Mamacita leaves the room, however if she is in sight he is making friends fast and sure and we have already been given a phone number from a local woman at breakfast for a play date!    We have already  been faced with some of the, shall I say, joys of travel? First thing we did upon arrival is give Rio a drink of water offered to us, only to immediately freak out because we were not told if it was filtered or not, thankfully it was and our trip will continue as planned. Next, our iPad was disabled while traveling which I will tell you has almost made me swear off Apple forever, as I spent an entire day visiting internet cafes to fix it. Lastly, tonight we took a taxi that didn’t have the “safe” orange license plate and after Melissa and Rio unloaded the driver promptly kept driving with me still inside. Melissa was certain that a kidnapping had just taken place and I was uncertain exactly what was happening, turns out, he was only finding a better spot to pull over out of the way of traffic, it just happened to be around the corner well out of sight from Mel and Rio.

Over all though we are adjusting quickly and it is joy to be out of our comfort zone and facing new learning environments. We are already getting a sense of how the exploration section of our trip will need to have  a slower pace and we are glad that most of our time here will be spent in one location. Banos is next on the list where we are told we will find waterfalls and hot springs!

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

Checklist

Travel Desk

I thought it might interest some people to see what a to do checklist might look like for preparing to travel. Here is ours to date:

Accomplished:

  • Get River’s passport – We had two babies with us as we waited 2 hours at the post office for a very flustered postal worker to receive our application (note: locations to drop off passport applications vary from city to city, in Denver select post offices provide the service).
  • Investigate Visa needs. (Ecuador is free for the first 90 days)
  • Get immunizations (covered on the previous blog)
  • Find clean water solution ( We bought a Steri-Pen Ultra, the one that you can re-charge. It’s heavier but you don’t have to worry about batteries -better for traveling when you have electricity, worse for doing treks etc.)
  • Buy tickets- We missed the best deals by a week and so ended up paying 900 each. Also, we bought the insurance from US Airways to cover the trip because it was cheaper then buying it with our travelers insurance. Since we will be checking luggage we thought it worth our while.
  • Get travelers insurance- we went with International Medical Group because they had an affordable adventure sports rider which I will need if I want to be covered when I climb Cotopaxi
  • Meet with Dave and Josh and Ellie to discuss their experiences in Ecuador- They were both very helpful. Thanks guys!

Pending

  • Finalize packing list -we are still figuring out exactly what is coming and staying I will post a blog with our finalized packing list.
  • Book first couple nights in Quito -I’m still looking for our best Hostel option. It’s obviously going to cost us a little more with an infant, as we will be needing private rooms. It looks like somewhere around $30 a night is going to be typical. $20 a night is our goal, sin pulgas.
  • Put car insurance on “storage only” -We can save almost $60 a month by changing our auto insurance policy.
  • Cancel monthly subscriptions- we don’t have many but we will save $30 a month.
  • Look into cell phone usage in Ecuador- Some countries all you need is an adapted sim card and you can use your phone, I need to investigate this more.
  • Get electric adapters: my guess is everything runs on 220 so we may need adapters.
  •  Practice Spanish -I’ve been listening to Radio Ambulante which is kind of a Spanish version of This American Life. I’ve also been watching Dare Devil on Netflix because you have the option of watching it in Spanish. I did break open the text book as well….but I’m reluctant to read it.
  • Figure out Electronics: we need to decide on cameras and some sort of computer device, not sure if it will be the IPAD or an old heavy computer or maybe just smart phones (a friendly reminder of how much privilege we have).

And that about sums it up for now! next up will probably be our packing list. Cheers.