The Easy Way to Tour South America Lazy dad, hyper mum, four kids (one in nappies) tour South America for 6 months

The Easy Way to Tour South America
Some things I’ve learned in this trip
Some things I've learned in this trip

These are some things that I have become more viscerally intimate with as we have gone through this trip. They are mine, and I write them here as a reference to come back to. Feel free if you read this to remind me if you see me blatantly disregarding them. I hope they may provoke [...]

Logs, rocks and togetherness
Logs, rocks and togetherness

In 22 years of knowing Paola, we have never spent so much time together. Neither have our children all ever spent so much time as intensely and exclusively with each other or with us. That has not just meant us getting to know each other better, but it has further shaped our relationships. Nowhere is [...]

Iguazus and landing in Florianopolis
Iguazus and landing in Florianopolis

Our first missed flight. We had flown into Iguazu in Argentina from Buenos Aires, and a week later were due to fly out of Iguazu to Floripa (which is three syllables easier to write than Florianopolis and apparently acceptable) via Sao Paolo. Iguazu’s airport is small and about half an hour drive from our hotel. [...]

Falling Over Iguazu
Falling Over Iguazu

We book-ended our visit to the Iguazu falls with a 24 hour delayed flight due to ash clouds at the start, and a missed flight due to incompetence at the end. But between these two events lay one of the most spectacular natural sights we have seen this trip. Up there with the glaciers of [...]

Big Ice
Big Ice

Landing in the tiny airport at Calafate from Buenos Aires, the most striking feature is the impossibly blue water that forms the lakes and rivers at the base of the various glaciers. A twenty minute drive sees us arriving at the Che Lagarto hostel in the town of Calafate. We check in with the obscenely [...]

Inappropriate tools
Inappropriate tools

Doctors aspire to this level of illegibility Sometimes an iPad is plain inappropriate. Sitting in the dining room of our hostel in the Laguna Amarga in the Torre del Paine glacier park in Chile is one such time. In fact, anything with a microprocessor in it. Or indeed that connects to… Well, anything that connects. [...]

La Bombonera – Buenos Aires Alive
La Bombonera - Buenos Aires Alive

With two weeks in Buenos Aires, nowhere did I see the locals more alive than in the Bombonera, the stadium of the Boca Juniors, by some measures the world’s most successful football team. And nowhere have I seen more impassioned and sustained support for 90 minutes than in the game we watched them play against [...]

Different but depressingly the same
Different but depressingly the same

Mall in Buenos Aires. Or was it Rio? Maybe Cancun? No, Lima. Oh, wait, … I have never found the shopping mall experience a particularly uplifting one. And now that we’ve been to a couple in Buenos Aires, I’ve found more reason to hate them! There is no doubting that Argentinian culture is very different [...]

Choices
Choices

Today, my wallet was stolen on the tube. For the first time in four months of travel, after we passed through countries all poorer than Argentina, it was on the underground in Buenos Aires that a man with chinos and brown suede brogues finally brought that long run of safe pockets to an end. Talking [...]

The Bolivian Diaries
The Bolivian Diaries

Bolivian Elvis the Salt Plains Guard Crosses and miniature shrines pepper the side of the road from La Paz to Uyuni here in Bolivia. Each was planted by the family of someone who died along this very straight road, usually killed by a lorry overtaking a car in the opposite direction and not bothering to [...]

There’s about as much to do as we’ve done so far
There's about as much to do as we've done so far

Today we are on day 92 of our 184 day trip. Landing in Mexico seems like a lifetime ago now, as I’m sure landing in the Isla del Sol in lake Titicaca will seem when we arrive in Gatwick on 3rd Jan 2012. But as the halfway point, a quick opportunity to reflect on how [...]

Dreams and Visions from Cusco
Dreams and Visions from Cusco

It was the wonderful Anne-Marie’s birthday a few days back. She chose to spend it here in Cusco with us and flew over from Dublin. And so, on September 10, we went out with Anne-Marie, one of our oldest friends, with Yuri and Maia, two of our newest. I love my friends for a variety [...]

Paola walks Machu Picchu
Paola walks Machu Picchu

As though the Inca Trek were not challenging enough. Sallkantay is the walk for the hardcore. But even that wasn’t enough. Sallkantay only gets you as far as Machu Picchu itself. No, if you really want to join the nutters, you go ABOVE the lost city of the Incas and walk to Huayna Picchu, which [...]

Cusco’s Magic Hostel
Cusco's Magic Hostel

Sitting in the hostel at night after a collective grilled chicken and chips run, and the guys here including my son Omar and the founder of the Aldea Yanapay school, Yuri, are playing a game with a set of round cards that I’ve not seen before. The intensity has closed their heads into a circle [...]

“Otra Forma de Vivir” – Aldea Yanapay
"Otra Forma de Vivir" - Aldea Yanapay

An eager audience at the weekly show Walking back to my hostel in Cusco alone a couple of nights ago, I saw a schoolgirl of around 11 or 12 years, still in her school uniform, pushing and cajoling her blind drunk father to get him home. He was teetering all over the road and pavement, [...]

Flying through Lima
Flying through Lima

We probably did not do Lima justice. 3 days. And this blog post is intentionally designed to reflect that:) A great hostel in a converted colonial house. The monastery with several tens of thousands of people buried in the catacombs below, and the square outside where Aida was mobbed by adoring schoolgirls (Passing thought – [...]

Swims With Sea Lions
Swims With Sea Lions

  Sharks, be afraid… Yesterday I played with a sea lion in the ocean. He danced in front of me for a good few minutes, invited me to follow, then shot off faster than I could hope to swim. And it was definitely play. He swam around me, ducked in and out in a game [...]

Lazy Focas
Lazy Focas

Walking in the Galapagos, you cannot but be overwhelmed by the number of seals lazing around. In roads, on beaches, on steps, on boats, in fact anywhere where there was a flat or comfortable piece of ground that they could fit on. Except that we were abruptly corrected by every local. These are not seals [...]

A day was too long in Guayaquil
A day was too long in Guayaquil

Flying in over Quito, we wondered whether we’d made a mistake not to stop here. The view of the city nestling in the Andes on multiple levels, and the sudden dramatic drop from one to the next made us wish we’d scheduled a few days here. There are places that are best viewed from the [...]

Our personal Costa Rica
Our personal Costa Rica

Fantastic apartment in Alajuela. 4 beds that we could string together to make the widest bed known to man, and which the kids loved. Dinner in the hostel. Aida and her fat daddy moment. “It’s a shame”? No, “It’s a really big fat belly”. Chop chop chop. The owner’s mother who knew more about Palestine [...]

(Surfing and) The global happiness revolution
(Surfing and) The global happiness revolution

3 Boys Surf pose Drive along any longish stretch of road in Costa Rica, as we just have going from the coast at Samara to the Manuel Antonio national park, and you will see a bunch of signs by the side of the road that say nothing more than CostaRicaHappy.com. This would seem even odder [...]

Volunteering at the Children’ Eternal Rainforest
Volunteering at the Children' Eternal Rainforest

Tariq cleans up the rainforest We have had a near daily education as to the etymological makeup of the word ‘rainforest’, and the critical 4 letter difference from the word ‘forest’. Today was no different, but fortunately the downpour came after our work was done. We took the children to Monteverde’s Children’s Eternal Rainforest (Bosque [...]

Us and the Nicaraguan contra affair
Us and the Nicaraguan contra affair

Costa Rica throws up some surprises every so often. This evening, we had dinner in a restaurant called ‘The Airplane’. Nothing odd about a restaurant called the airplane. Plenty odd, though, about a bar and nightclub which are housed inside a Fairchild C123 which looks to all intents and purposes like it crash landed into [...]

Stalkers
Stalkers

Not sure who’s doing the stalking, but these ladies from Amsterdam joined us on a bus from Cienfuegos in Cuba, then on the same flight from Cuba to San Jose in Costa Rica, and two weeks later in the same hotel at the bar at the same time in Samara beach. Seemed too nice to [...]

Coffee farmers in Monteverde
Coffee farmers in Monteverde

I have a confession to make. I am sitting in The Common Cup cafe in one of the world’s coffee growing hotspots in Monteverde, Costa Rica, where the owners grow and process their own coffee, and I have ordered a Mocha. Thousands of coffee growers are turning in their graves at the lack of sophistication [...]

Sad to be leaving Cuba
Sad to be leaving Cuba

Not sure what it was. The friendliness of her people? That there is a lot to do there and their aspirations were more fundemental than waiting for the next Apple release? The feeling that the revolution is never a distant memory? The endless banter in the street with people you’ve never met and would never [...]

Our Own Personal Cuba
Our Own Personal Cuba

These are some of photos that mean something to us, but probably not much to most people. Don’t bother reading this post unless you are family or close friends, as it will likely be even duller than the other ones for you! Text may follow if we get the time and an unexpected burst of [...]

Travel experiences and our tips in Cuba
Travel experiences and our tips in Cuba

Accommodation While in Cuba, we stayed only in Casas Particulares, which as we mentioned before, are homes where the owners are able to rent out rooms to guests. These were far cheaper and more personal than hotels. The family there usually follows your lead as to whether to stay out of your way, or to [...]

On Che and ‘la lucha’
On Che and 'la lucha'

Che was a hero of mine in my teens, as he was to millions of others. I was riveted by castaneda’s biography of him, Companero, found The Motorcycle Diaries a fun and insightful read, and his Bolivian Diaries eery as they continued to the day before his assassination. However, visiting Cuba and seeing the plight of many Cubans, a [...]

Feeding spaghetti with my fingers
Feeding spaghetti with my fingers

This has been a trip of many firsts. On our bus ride from Trinidad to Santa Clara in Cuba, I have added to the list feeding spaghetti to my 3 year old daughter with my fingers. Fingers, being thicker than the teeth of a fork, are less than ideal for pronging through spaghetti. Being attached [...]

Observations in Cuba
Observations in Cuba

I’ve asked many of the Cubans we’ve met what the biggest Cuban sports are. Unlike pretty much all of the Spanish speaking world, football doesn’t get a look in. Number one is baseball. Second is boxing. Third, and I was told this by more than one person, so it was either a famous joke or [...]

Quite proud really
Quite proud really

Alvaro, my second son seems to have developed an admiration for Che Guevara. As a part of this trip to Cuba, I have been sharing her history with the boys. A fascinating story, but given her proximity to Mexico, there are some marked differences. While in Mexico, the Maya are still alive and well, in Cuba [...]

Week one and a half in Mexico
Week one and a half in Mexico

Casualties to date: 1 pair sunglasses (Paola) lost somewhere in transit; 1 suitcase left in airport – recovered; 1 wandering child in Gatwick – recovered; 1 bruised ego - Iyas walks into chest-high cactus. London to Cancun was a 10 1/2 hour flight on BA, during which Alvaro and Omar couldn’t contain their excitement at having [...]

The calm before the storm
The calm before the storm

3 days to go. We are out for a walk and a bite in beautiful Richmond. The list of things to do shows no sign of diminishing, and each task completed gives birth to two others. Many won’t get done. But as I sample Austrian herbal lemonade in this outdoor German sausage restaurant in Richmond, [...]

School

I remember at school always being fascinated by the few kids who seemed to be a little more worldly-wise through having travelled a lot. I was always a little envious. Pre-teens, they seemed to know more, be more confident and assured. When we were in our teens, they always seemed to attract more girls . [...]

3 weeks and an iPad
3 weeks and an iPad

First blog post from the iPad which I will be using for updates for the first 2 or 3 weeks of our trip until I lose it or it gets stolen. Reassuring to see the features that allow me to lock or even wipe it remotely. Waiting for the app that would allow me to [...]

Families that have been down this path

As we looked into this adventure, it was great to see the stories of other families that have been down this road before. This road being the one where you take your child(ren) out with you and go for a mind-expanding trip around (bits of) the world. If you’re reading this blog thinking ‘what a [...]

Flights

The flights are almost all booked. We fly on average once every 13 days. So far. And not always from the last place we landed. Air miles have pretty much got us covered for our flight out to Cancun in Mexico, and back from Sao Paolo in Brazil. Then some hefty search and negotiation from [...]

Hello world!
Hello world!

The flights are not all booked. Almost none of the accommodation has yet been found. We have not agreed yet on how long we’re staying where. We have not yet actioned most things we need to do to get the house rented. Our youngest is still in nappies and refusing to sleep in his own [...]