Bruce and Joanie are wonderful people who do so much good in the world. They are directors of an NGO called Meal a Day, active members of their church community and support many individuals around the world.
We first met them about 10 years ago and have become better people for it.
The last time we saw them was in Yosemite National Park. Sebastian was only 8 weeks old and I remember Bruce posing the question (as he always does), “where do you reckon we will meet up next?” We could never have predicted Argentina, just as we couldn’t have predicted our 4 month traverse of South America that we enjoyed together back in 2008, or meeting up in India or visiting aid projects in Central America.
We love the fact that our friendship bridges the generation gap and their presence was certainly an enriching experience for our children.
We rented an apartment in Bariloche, Argentina, and spent a marvellous week exploring the breathtaking beauty of the Parque Nacional Nahuel Huapi. We played cards, climbed mountains, swam in ice cold water, had snow ball fights, ate large hunks of tender beef and too much flan.
All of this provided an excellent backdrop for some inspiring conversations that will hopefully keep us going until we meet up in our next yet-to-be-determined spot.
The last 4 days have been magical. We have been camping on the edge of a lake near a small town called Villa La Angostura. We are surrounded by gigantic mountains, some of which are volcanoes that occasionally spew ash into the air which creates a surreal misty effect. The lake is fresh and cold, and is fed by icy glacial streams. We are camped in a pine forest and have a cosy fireplace next to our small tent. It is perfect for us.
Amaya and Sebastian are loving it. Amaya’s imagination is limitless and she spends hours by the lake in rapidly evolving, fantastical worlds. Sebastian throws rock after rock into the water, he wades through streams, collects wood for the fire, sits importantly on his log and from time to time is permitted into his big sister’s imaginary world.
Both Shoshanna and I are continually stunned with the beauty of this place and feel immensely happy and at peace to be here.
The last time we were in Santiago was in 2008. Pre-kids, if there ever was such a time… We didn’t really enjoy it. It is a big, dry, dust-bowl of a city, surrounded by monstrous mountains that can only be glimpsed through the smog or heat haze or whatever it is.
The last 7 days have been quite the opposite. Santiago is still big and smoggy and noisy but our experiences were only positive! This is despite crazy jet lag and two needy children.
I think it is actually because of the kids. They have forced us to slow down and not try and wring everything we can out of each day. It doesn’t matter if we repeat activities – we have been to the zoo twice! And we would never have even gone to the zoo or the fantastical “parque de la infancia” (childhood park) or eaten giant fairy floss or multiple ice creams or played in street fountains or had random strangers snapping photos of our kids.
Yes travelling with kids means we can’t lazily sip coffee on the sidewalk or join the New Years Eve festivities or chug back the customary litre bottles of beer in seedy and not so seedy bars, but maybe real joy is found elsewhere.
We are on the road again. Sadly not on bikes, but hopefully just as adventurous. We are travelling through southern Argentina and Chile in a region called the lakes district. It is a magical place on the edge of Patagonia with snow capped conical volcanoes, pristine lakes, racks of lamb slow-cooked over open fires that can be washed down with bottles of Malbec.
We plan to camp, hike and climb, speak oodles of Spanish and have a wonderful family holiday.
So far we have been in Santiago, Chile for about 24 hrs, and though everyone is struggling with devastating jet lag, we have still managed to see a few things…
Almost 2 years ago we moved to Newcastle, Australia with the hope of living a local, cycle friendly, beachside lifestyle. During our ride across Europe we discussed for hours on end what was most important to us in a place to live (In fact we blogged about it at one point – Why the Dutch Have it Right). One of the things we loved about Berlin was how all our activities were super accessible and how transport was predominately by bike. This was a far cry from what we experienced while living in car-based Sydney. Jeff Speck in his TED talk “The walkable city” had very convincing arguments on why removing/reducing a reliance on cars increases people’s quality of life. Newcastle seemed to tick all the boxes, so we left Sydney in our dust and here we are.
We love it!
Our inner city suburb is filled with families, has a leafy centrally located park, oodles of cafes and restaurants, many services, and a large variety of fun activities. We are so grateful to be connected to such a vibrant community. It is also an easy 2.5km cycle to a stunning world class beach that still leaves me in awe and slight disbelief that I am actually cycling HOME and not to a campground or holiday house.
To make matters better we have invested in an awesome machine. ‘The Babboe’, a dutch marvel, purchased from the charming Bernie from Metro Cycles.
One unexpected benefit of travelling in ‘Babboe style’ is that it is a great conversation starter! No matter the social standing, the general consensus is that our bike is tops. These little daily encounters make me feel more a part of the local community. It is, as one friend put it, “a lifestyle of awesomeness.” Without a doubt some of the happiest moments in my day are when the kids and I are cruising around talking about what we see or simply sitting silently enjoying the peaceful moment and watching the world glide by.
Merewether Baths – best parking spot ever!
And so at this stage our plan is to sink further into the wonderful lifestyle that Newcastle can provide, and satisfy our nomadic yearnings by planning shorter trips. Maybe that will work for us for a while. We’ll see. Either way, whether this becomes our permanent home or not, I’m certainly glad to be here.
In the last month or so of riding in Germany Shoshanna was complaining about being unusually tired. I just put it down to the fact that we were cycling 60km a day and parenting a temperamental toddler. But no! She was pregnant!
Sebastian Lior was born on the 1st of May. All are healthy and well and feeling very blessed.
We haven’t managed to put him on a bike yet but we are working on it. Any suggestions are welcome!
We were attempting the tricky task of taking a passport photo (we are off to San Fran in June) and Amaya wanted to help…