In this week’s ¨Who’s Out There Now¨ feature, we bring to you Ted and Bethany, a landscape architect and social worker who left it all behind just after the new year to see the world and capture their travels on their site, twoOregonians. As with many RTW travelers, I met them on Twitter and have been following their journey. I had the chance to finally meet them in Italy at a blogging conference. The only downside is that I didn’t have more time to hang out with them.
1. So, where in the world are you answering these questions?
We started the interview while we were on a ship, 12,000+ feet above the ocean floor in the middle of the Atlantic, and now we’re finishing on land from our final port of call, Barcelona, Spain.
2. You have a very unique and refreshing blogging style. Rather than long prose, you jot down a series of observations about what happened to you. And, you do it every day!!! That’s dedication. Why do you write that way?
Bethany: Thank you! I like the freedom of spilling random words on our Daily Travel Journal without pressure to piece together a “blog-worthy” post (whatever that truly is!). If I fool myself into waiting to write until each photo is uploaded and each story is polished, I’ll have forgotten the details and little favorites like “People to Remember.” The format was inspired by travel blogging friends Matt and Erica at Living If; I came across their journal before we started our trip, and a lightbulb went off. The secret/public page, separate from our stream of blog posts, is easy to update without triggering bombardments of digital notifications to subscribers and followers. It’s also a roadmap back through our adventures, helpful for refreshing my memory of places, people, experiences, and timing when I’m writing full length posts. Plus, the page functions as a “Hey, we’re still alive!” feature for our moms and dads.
3. You jumped right into the trip tackling Machu Picchu, a stomach bug and high altitude right away. Do you plan to keep this pace up the whole trip?
Ted: No, we’re not planning on hiking the entire trip
Bethany: We committed to our transatlantic cruise from Brazil to Spain before deciding on our RTW Trip departure date. Ultimately, when we chose to leave home on January 5th, we had two and a half months for the continent of South America, so we hit the ground running, putting all of our pent-up excitement and energy to good use. “Mr. Indoorsy” was a superhero during our high-speed, high-backpacker-grunge style adventures through Peru, Bolivia, and Chile. We hiked and trekked and tent camped and bused and wore ourselves a bit ragged, then we holed up in an apartment in Buenos Aires, Argentina for a month to purposefully give ourselves a change of pace. We don’t regret any of the early adventures (well, maybe the 24 kilometer day of torture at Torres del Paine, though that’s a good story now), but we’re also happy to have hit a slower stride for the time being.
4. It seems like you found a place in Bolivia to put your skills to good use. Can you tell me more about the project and how you got involved?
Bethany: Yes! In 2006, I was daydreaming about our future RTW travel plans, and I found www.workaway.info. International volunteering in exchange for room and board in all sorts of beautiful locations? Sign me up. Over the years of browsing through listings on lunch breaks and late into travel-planning nights, I couldn’t help but think about all the ways that Ted and I are equipped to be helpful. Workaway is a bit like online dating, including the cheesy bios: “Responsible oldest siblings from big families; raised on a farm and not afraid of hard work; love to cook and willing to help with cleaning…both enjoy long walks on the beach and generous pitchers of sangria.” (You get the gist.) But seriously, I’m a landscape architect and Ted’s a social worker, and it’s terrific to have practical skill sets to offer. We joined the site, created our listings, contacted potential hosts, and sorted through the best options.
Our chosen Workaway hosts in Bolivia needed help with their rural property just outside La Paz, and we arranged to stay eight days with them, assisting with manual labor to combat some of the rainy season erosion damage and completing a Landscape Master Plan to guide them as they preserve their land and construct an ecologically sensitive yurt and tent camping facility. It was a win-win-win for all of us. We enjoyed meeting really terrific people, sharing delicious meals, learning about their lives and work in Bolivia; they received help with much-needed manpower and design and planning work; and we received free accommodations while I added to my professional experience and design portfolio.
5. You got to Europe via a very unconventional method, on a cruise ship. Looking back at it, what were some of the pros and cons of spending part of your time at a slower pace than you had up to that point?
Ted: Pro – you get spoiled with good food. Con – you lose your rhythm of exploration.
Bethany: Pros – sleeping in while making travel progress, experience unplugged life (no $.95/minute cruise ship internet for us!), stopping at unusual locations like the Canary Islands and Cape Verde (albeit briefly, and with the overwhelmingly cliched title of “cruise-ship-tourist” hovering overhead and sometimes slapped on our foreheads), having two and a half weeks of accommodations, meals, and transportation paid for in advance, feeling free from the travel budget spending and tracking, truly experiencing the grand size of the ocean without the aid of jet-engines, and having time to learn and play hand after hand of Canasta with newfound friends. Cons – feeling stir crazy without the ability to accomplish internet research and planning, getting less exercise and movement (the stationary bike just isn’t the same as hiking mountains), and every now and then running into bitter, spoiled, unkind travelers who have lost their sense of wonder and gratitude.
6. Career break, nomadic adventure, backpacking, how do you characterize your trips?
Pressing the re-set button and meeting the world.
7. What are some of the secrets to travel that you’ve discovered that you think more people who aren’t traveling should know?
Ted: It’s not as scary as it sounds. Do it now while it’s cheaper; it’s going to get more expensive.
Bethany: Like marriage, travel doesn’t change who you are, it amplifies your best and worst qualities and gives you space to learn and grow.
8. What was your first ¨We’re not in Kansas anymore¨ moment on this trip?
Ted: When we got off the first international flight in Lima, Peru and walked through hundreds and hundreds of taxi drivers.
Bethany: No texts, no phone calls, slow-to-no internet.
9. What’s been your most ¨local¨ experience so far?
Ted: Fishing with a Portuguese speaking local off the Pier in Natal, Brazil.
Bethany: Sharing a humble meal with a family living in the outskirts Lima, Peru.
10. What has been your most embarrassing moment?
Ted: Singing Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance” during Karaoke with a bunch of South Koreans in a water-less, electricity-less hovel in Bolivia.
Bethany: I try to forget them as soon as they happen.
11. What’s your secret for getting the most out of your journey?
Ted: Bringing Bethany along. 😉 Asking questions and interviewing people when I have the chance.
Bethany: Bringing Ted along to break the ice and strike up conversations with interesting people. Too, this is a season of time unfettered by jobs and responsibilities of life at home. Making the most of it means taking time to write in a journal that never makes it to the blog, taking time to sit in one place and make sketches, taking time to pray and seek out wisdom about paths and decisions, and taking time to ask the deeper questions and acknowledge the blessings of this year of opportunity.
12. Finally, our lightening round.
- Best dish you’ve found so far. T: File com Fritas (beef, onions and fries cooked to perfection in Recife) B: Chicken curry and cassava and sweet potato chips with tomato, honey and ginger salsa at Zaza Bistro Tropical in Rio de Janeiro
- Most exotic food eaten. T: Ostrich on the cruise ship; cooked to perfection. B: Cape Verdian Wahoo (a fish dish – overcooked, but worth the experience just for the name).
- Most breathtaking moment. T: Iguazu Falls on the Argentina side – astounding. B: A window seat view of Patagonia from the air. On my birthday.
- Biggest disappointment. T: Bolivian busses. B: The cost of living in Argentina. But that may have had something to do with countless bakery visits.
- Most memorable place. T: The Sun Gate overlooking Machu Picchu. B: Cape Verde’s desolate landscape and aquamarine waters.
- f. Most memorable person. T: The Swedish cafe owner in Bolivia serving the best coffee I found in South America. B: Too hard to answer! Freddy, our guide on the Inca Trail? I think we’ll be quoting him for the rest of our life.
- Best thing to have on a long bus ride. T: Bose noise canceling headphones. B: My trusty eye-mask; good for shutting out the world and catching Zzz’s.
- Worst thing to have on a long bus ride. T: A drunk driver. B: Leaking exhaust fumes, and a seat next to the downstairs bathroom stairway.
- Best thing you packed. T: Ear plugs and high quality shaving cream. B: An amazing little tube of hand lotion sent with me by my best friend. It’s like a hug from home every time I put it on.
- Dumbest thing you packed. T: Spare razor blades; for some reason, I didn’t think I’d find razor blades around the world. B: The super-heavy-duty combination lock that I’ve already ditched. The tiny one does just fine.
- Funniest travel habit you have. T: Checking for bedbugs. B: Zipping our sleeping bags together.
- Place you wish you could’ve stayed longer. T: La Escondida, Punta Arenas and the Canary Islands. B: The Chilean countryside.
You can follow Bethany & Ted online at twoOregonians.com, on Facebook, and on Twitter @twoOregonians.
Every week (more or less), Career Break Secrets profiles a different traveler or traveling couple who are embracing the ¨Because Life Is Out There TM¨ travel spirit. These are people who have taken the plunge to embark on a career break and are currently traveling the world.
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