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Published: September 2nd 2012
Diary of a Gales Gringo
At the age of 29 I have found myself on a second "gap year" only this time I have a wife who is coming along with me. Neither of us are strangers to travelling. Apart from the aforementioned trip to South Africa I've travelled solo around New Zealand and China whilst Eleanor (that's my wife for the less sharp amongst you) has bumbled around India, Tanzania, Vanuatu and Australia. We've talked about travelling together and decided to do it before life got in the way (2.4 kids, oppressive career choices, apathy and physical decline...it's a fact of ageing)! Having covered a fair chunk of Asia and Australasia between us we talked about South America as a mutually acceptable choice for a prolonged sojourn from the rat-race. It took us all of 2 seconds to agree to this and now here we are!
I hadn't intended to write a blog, it involves time, effort and an ability to write things that are interesting. Basically in my head it seemed to be a bit to much like hard work and I'm here to have fun not bloody work! However, my mate Andy wrote a pretty good blog on his tour a few years back (check out Diary of a Gringo) and he kind of gave me the impetus to write this one (the first few entries are therefore going to be retrospectives). Hopefully, I'll be able to shed some insights along the way for those interested in doing something similar. Obviously this isn't going to be a definitive guide to South America, just my own unique take on it so feel free to not take this as gospel! I'm a bit of a foodie (Eleanor definitely is, especially cake and deserts), so I may get distracted with this aspect of our adventures. I also get lost in my own train of thought too but hopefully I'll catch those moments early. Ideally it'll be an interesting, occasionally humorous read that is sometime grounded in reality!
We planned (I use that word very loosely as we don't really have much of a clue where we're going) our journey to take in most of the "sights" of the continent but we're also committing to 6 weeks of volunteering (me Maya Lacrosse and Ellie some medical charity thing) in Xela in Guatemala. You need to pay attention to malaria types and yellow fever and make the adequate arrangements before coming...this was relatively easy and cheap in the UK; good old NHS!
Our first destination wasn't really chosen. It wasn't random or our attempt to leave it up to fate or the gods of travelling (did the Romans or Greeks have a god of travelling? I'll make a note to look that up on Wikipedia), no we just went with the cheapest flight we could find from the UK. Turns out that was Rio De Janeiro, although it did require us to fly from Heathrow the day before the Olympics finished; it was fine actually, to our surprise.
We have attempted to learn some Spanish but its mediocre at best, if you're being particularly generous. However, we're committed to developing our ability substantially whilst here. It's helpful to be able to communicate in a language other than "Idiots Miming". However, Portuguese is a bastard of a language to comprehend so I gave up pretty quickly with it, Eleanor has persevered and so I've left most of the talking to her so far, I'll have to buck my ideas up in Argentina!! I'd suggest being more proficient than we currently are if you want to be comfortable, but you can get by with limit linguistic skills.
Anyway I guess that's a general overview of why we're here and how it came to be. The next entry will be much more focussed and interesting I imagine! Hopefully it'll contain at least one anecdote of some kind too, although let's not set the bar too high, too soon.
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