It was all very sudden. We were loving Lamu in northern kenya… and then somewhere over the Atlantic we just lost the zest for it all. We arrived in Buenos Aires tired and deflated. No one wanted to go anywhere or see anything. We spent our days at the park or in the apartment not doing much of anything. Clearly, it was time to go home. So instead of travelling through Argentina and Brazil we started on a beeline north.

It’s been an amazing journey and thinking back, it almost seems like a dream. Was that really us riding camels in Oman, or swimming in the Ganges river?
Our voyage around the globe, heading west took us
5 1/2 months, 167 days
we stepped foot in 18 countries (if you count vatican city),
6 continents (if you count oceania)
we slept in 54 beds
teeth lost: 3
took 37 flights (16 in Africa)
saw 6 full moons

We also…
took 12,664 photos
Traveled by airplane, tuk-tuk, sailboat, speedboat, dhow, ferry, long tail canoe, riverboat, car, train, shinkanzen, bus and camel.
threw-up in 5 countries
broke one bone; had one surgery (don)
rode camels (twice), horses, and a donkey,
Lost at least 5 pairs of sunglass, 2 pairs of kate’s shoes, and LOTS of other stuff

Some things we did:

listening to Italian’s sing christmas carols on the spanish steps
rock climbed in Krabi
hair braiding in Mozambique

ate lunch at a woodcarvers cafeteria
heard a presentation from a tanzanian entrepreneur seeking a micro-finance loan for her set’n’style salon.
snorkelled with Manta Rays

ate tongue in at a korean bbq in japan
got to do a Safari with my mom
let the kids crawl around on furs in the Montecler store widow at the spanish steps
watching kate run around the track with two hundred Rwandan high school kids
gwen performed a love song with a handsome young spaniard from Amsterdam in a parisian apartment in high heels and lipstick.
danced with Loa hill-tribe on the bank of the mekong
travelled 300km down the mekong by riverboat
watched a boat go through the panama canal

skipped rocks into a whadi-oasis lake in the omani desert.
spent 20 nights on an anchored boat in three different countries

flew in a 1930s replica bi-plane
jogged alongside giraffes and zebras
slept on tatami mats
had a dance party in our Maribel one bedroom apartment
meditated
Car-ride scavenger hunts. top points for a three-legged-dog
traditional dance lesson in Tahiti
sailed in a dhow at sunset

danced with Rwandan dancers
fed elephants
watched Ash do Justin-inspired dance moves on the beach
stood and looked at our reflection in a pool at the Taj Mahal
ate bread cooked directly on coals in the desert.
played LOTS of chess, cards, and lego
drove for up to nine hours at a time
watched the sun go down over the desert
floated in an inner-tube by elephants in Thailand
had hands and feet henna-ed
boarded down a sand dune

skied with three generations of Andersons in the Alpes
drank cardamon coffee and ate dates under a tree in the desert
rode a roller coaster in muscat, oman
had maize milled into powder in Sindo, Kenya on the shore of Lake Victoria
listened to the kids argue about who was going to get the last piece of tongue at a korean restaurant in japan.
danced in a rajastani performance
watched lions eating and mateing
taught three kids to parallel ski
hung out in a muslim apartment listening to chanting and drumming in zanzibar
had my first surgery
had a cast removed in a hospital in northern mozambique.

thai princess cave
attended a Hari krishna sing song on the shore of the ganges
lit four lanterns and let them go into the Chiang Mai night sky filled with tens of thousands of lanterns.
tied a string to make a wish at a Mughal mosque prayed to buddha

watched elephants mateing
pollinated a vanilla bean.
drinking lassi’s in Delhi
caught tuna off the boat, ate raw on the stern.
two haircuts: one haircut for ash, one ‘french’ haircut for dad
watched polo on snow
pounded millet
rode on a banana boat on lake victoria
danced with a swahili belly dancer in zanzibar

“planked”
read a dozen stories of the buddha’s good deeds
lit a candle in a christian cathedral

sat one metre from a family of gorillas.
wore bindi’s on our foreheads
got circumcised with no anaesthetic in a masai warrior ceremony (ok, that one is made up)
rang a bell at a shinto temple
read the entire Chronicles of Narnia

The Imperial
wore a burhka in a muslim mosque
learned to keep our feet pointing away from buddha when praying
saw a live octopus on the beach
patted an hours old gazelle in the masai mara
and so much more….

coolest Money:
Oman

best driver: Mr Singh (India)
best guide: Mark Ross (Kenya)

Best bar:

Lewa sunset

Biggest difference from travelling at 27:
Aside from the three children…
Then:travel diary and camera. Now: an entire backpack full of electronics, laptop, ipad, cords, power converters,external drive, and all their associated charges.
Then: staying out late and sleeping in late. Now: going to bed before 9 almost every night
Then: the odd three star hotel, Now: the odd five star hotel

Biggest waste of time:
Tokyo disney. soo busy we only got on two rides. There was even a hour long wait for curry popcorn.

Friends who traveled with us:

If you had to live in one country for the rest of your life (not including canada) where would it be?
French Polynesia (Ash)
France (Gwen, Kate, Jess, and Don)

If you could snap your fingers and go back to one place for a day:
Val D’Isere (Don)
french polynesia (ash)
krabi (kate)
Lamu (Jess)

Worries and fears that didn’t really materialize.
That bugs (mosquitos and associated malaria) would freak me out. On one occasion, in Africa, I left the light on in the tent while we were at dinner. We arrived back to thousands of bugs covering every surface…including running across the sheets and under pillows. YUCK. I didn’t sleep well that night (Jess)

scariest moments
-Ashton almost slipping into the water full of sting rays

-Kate having an allergic reaction (lips swelling) just before we were about to board a 6 hour flight from Bangkok to Delhi.
-Not being able to find Ashton for thirty seconds on a very busy street in Rome.
-Intense paranoia that a guy on the ferry between Zanzibar and Dar es Salaam was trying to set up some trouble for us.
-first day in India, the world seemed generally scary and unsafe.
We discovered, the world just isn’t that scary… and when it is… the fear fades quickly if you open your mnd.

Interesting observations.
-the power of providing cell phones, and access to loans. the absurdity and ridiculousness of ‘aid’.

(used ‘donated’ items sold at the market)
the ability for a people to pick themselves up after tragedy and disaster. Rwanda.
-The beauty of countries without plastic.
-poor happy people, wealthy fat unhappy people
-black people have cool hair styles

Most annoying thing about the world.
countries that demand visas be obtained before arrival (BRAZIL). don’t these countries want us to come in and spend money?? high visa fees are quite annoying too.
Nosey american immigration people. The nosiest in the world. Why are the people with the least to be afraid of the most afraid? Ashton got a FULL pat-down.
the fact i have to tell a canadian customs kid how much i spent shopping while outside of the country. is it really any
of his business??

Friendliest people:
Kenya. Oman. thailand.

Person who was sick the most: Jess

Most striking scenery:
French alps
Oman desert
Thai cliffs
Mjumbe Island reef, Mozambique

Best Pizza outside of Italy; Zuane pizzeria, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
Best french food outside of France: Tokyo, Chez Pierre

Best Hotel/guest house:
Peponi, Lamu, Northern Kenya
runners up:
Rayavadee, krabi, thailand.
The Imperial, Delhi
Lewa Downs, Kenya

Worst Airport experience: Buenos Aires (2.5 Hours to clear customs, and then the bags needed to be x-rayed on LEAVING the airport).

What will you miss the least?:
filling out arrival and departure cards.
Late dinners in restaurants with our children
Being away from our friends and family
Being away from our dog

What will you miss most about travelling?
spending every second with my husband (really!), lounging away the days with my family, watching the kids play together, buffet breakfasts, and the sun (jess)
Being together(don)
lowering and raising the anchor (ash)

This morning at the airport we saw a family of travellers. The children had dirty runners, messy hair, and their clothes had seen many miles without a proper wash. Their parents watched them, relaxed, clad in souvenir t-shirts, worn backpacks at their sides. It takes one to know one; out in the wide world, the next hotel home, fellow travellers. The difference is that they are carrying on, perhaps part way through their journey, and we are going home. I couldn’t help but feel a pang of envy, but that’s ok, there’s always another trip….

yeehaw…next stop Whistler. Life is really not so bad 😉