Seeing the world, one country at the time

Travel and change of place impart new vigor to the mind. ~Seneca

Departure on our trip always seemed a long way off, until suddenly it was upon us. After weeks of packing, moving chaos, yard sales and goodbye parties, we had to find a way to stuff our remaining belongings into a small car and trek over a thousand miles to Florida, to “relax” with my parents before our trip to South America.
Far from full

Thanks to the Interstate Highway System, it is now possible to travel across the country from coast to coast without seeing anything. ~Charles Kuralt, On the Road With Charles Kuralt

We got a preview of what a lot of our next four months would be like when Hurricane Wilma swung on its path over Mexico and headed over the Gulf of Mexico, straight at us. By then we were used to the unexpected and hardened to it, but even so, having to pack early, skip the beach and evacuate to another house with no electricity, was a challenge.

I travel a lot; I hate having my life disrupted by routine. ~Caskie Stinnett

We survived it all, even bypassing the Miami airport closing to fly out of Fort Myers to Lima. It was our round-the-world test drive – four months on the road, but with the possibility of returning to the USA anytime, using miles. The escape route felt safe, but was not necessary, as South America turned out to be so rewarding that we stayed an extra month.

What you've done becomes the judge of what you're going to do - especially in other people's minds. When you're traveling, you are what you are right there and then. People don't have your past to hold against you. No yesterdays on the road. ~William Least Heat Moon, Blue Highways

Hurricane Wilma

Steinbeck knew what he was talking about when he wrote that “the best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men gang aft a-gley”. No matter how well we planned this trip, or perhaps because we planned it so well, it was bound to go wrong from the beginning. It all began with a one-day delay in trying to pack twice as much as could fit into an already overstuffed car. That, topped with traffic jams and exhaustion upset our schedule for visiting Helene in Charlottesville, Javier in Charlotte and Janet, Kirk, Corey and Leon in Atlanta. We saw them all and had a great time, though far too rushed.

We were on our way south to Naples Florida for some R&R and to tie up loose ends when Hurricane Wilma came on the scene. Within two days of our arrival, alarmist CNN and local news reports were claiming that hurricane Wilma was “bearing down on Naples” and was “tearing across the Gulf of Mexico”. We would have worried, but we were too busy swimming in the Gulf and taking walks on the beach. Two days later, she did just what the media hoped – she tore across the Yucatan leaving homeless and flooding in her wake, and set her sights on southwest Florida. The order for mandatory evacuation was out, but the storm seemed light enough (at a strength of 2) to wait until the last minute.

The next two days were a flurry of packing up the apartment and running last minute errands, bringing in furniture, clearing window space of fragile objects, laying out towels and deciding whether to evacuate to Orlando or to a friend’s house nearby the evacuation border. One by one, stores boarded up, storm windows came up and businesses closed. Stores emptied of water and basic goods. Work on the website was out of the question as wireless networks were shut off. We packed up our lives earlier than expected as we watched the sun through the windows.
These were strawn throughout the area

We moved just east of Highway 41 with all our luggage and fresh food, knowing we wouldn’t be back at my parents’ place on the beach. We continued to pack and get ready. There was no rest with so many last-minute preparations before the trip and especially before the storm. Wilma grew to a category 3 and hit just south of us at 6;30 am on Monday, the 24th of October. We woke up to the howling wind, a river where the road had been, nature all over the ground, and no electricity. The next two days were lived by candlelight, but without power, the website and all of Lars’ preparations were impossible. Nothing was open and a curfew kept us inside, though everything dried out within hours and besides the fallen trees, it was difficult to imagine a hurricane having passed by. A gas stove allowed us hot meals, and leftover hot water in the pipes let us take a last shower before our departure.

The storm closed down Miami airport and our flight to Lima was cancelled. We were lucky to fly out from another airport. The phones were out and we had no cellular service, so many last phone calls weren’t made until we got to Atlanta, which meant bringing my phone on the trip for no reason at all. We were scrambling at the last minute to finish up all our financial plans, make last phone calls and weren’t even able to get any money before the trip. We felt lucky it wasn’t worse and just chalked it up to experience. It felt like good practice for life on the road. No phone, no hot water, no electricity. Most of the world lives like that every day. Why should we be any different?

For a few more pictures from goodbye party and departure - click on here!