Conquering The World

The whole off-the-grid adventure was the most fly-by-the-seat-of-our-pants thing we’ve done on this trip.  That’s because we found literally NO information in guidebooks or on the Internet about how to navigate these towns and rivers.  We don’t think we’re the first, but very few tourists have done it.  That was part of the whole allure of the scheme, definitely.  I’m sure we felt a small degree of the same nervous excitement felt by the first European explorers to set foot in the new world.  The Amazon is one of the very few places left that still is largely unknown and undiscovered by outsiders.  But it got me thinking…what happens now that we have written online for the whole world to read about how to do this?  Did we ruin one of the few off-the-grid adventures left in Bolivia by making it more accessible?  What is this urge to explore everywhere and see everything?  Is it universally human or is it uniquely western?  I recently read that many other countries in the world have national parks and preserved wild-lands that are totally inaccessible to people (in Barbara Kingsolver’s Small Wonder).  They preserve because they know it’s important, and they don’t place equal importance on people being able to get there to photograph everything.  In the U.S., of course, our national parks are all mostly accessible in an average non-4WD car.  I understand the importance of human appreciation for conservation, but I wish we could still leave some natural places totally devoid of human contact.

I guess these are my real questions:  Do we have to conquer everything?  What will happen once there is nothing left undiscovered or undescribed?  And do we ruin the unwritten-about places by writing about them?

Thoughts that came in a jeep…

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately.  You kind of have no choice when you spend muchas horas in vehicles bouncing along dirt roads.  Plus, gorgeous scenery to me always inspires introspection.  What’s hard is to put all these complicated thoughts into words in a way that makes sense.  But I’ll try.

I was definitely not prepared for the controversy that came from a hastily written, filler-type (if we must admit) blog entry of last week.  In fact, I barely glanced through it before giving it the thumbs up, more distracted by what I was doing on my own internet terminal.  Not that I’m shirking responsibility.  Everything that is written on this blog represents both Zach and I, no matter who writes it.

So bumping along at high altitude from Tupiza to Uyuni, I believe I was able to define one of my problems.  And it is this: I struggle a lot between being true to my own strong opinions and being gracious and loving.  I guess I am very good at the “carry a big stick” part but not so good at the “speak softly” part of Teddy Roosevelt’s famous philosophy.

Although the blog I’m referring to was written exaggeratedly, it did not translate so well over the Internet, and I can see how it did hurtfully insult.  I’m sorry for that.  I didn’t write it myself, but I have written things in the past that have been similar in tone.  The tightrope between being true to myself and still striving to understand those who are different from me is a difficult one to walk.  I need to work on my balance.

More thinking in transit revealed to me that the blanket statement “Real life is for chumps,” does not even truly represent my opinion.  Let me try to state my true opinions, which several days of organizing my thoughts on the subject have led me to:

1.  There is nothing wrong with, and I hold no judgement for, people who choose a more traditional American* life if that is truly what they want for themselves.

2.  I do believe people should question things more, educate themselves better, think more creatively, and not blindly follow the path laid out for them by their parents/government/job etc.

3.  I do believe that many, many Americans follow the traditional “American dream” (which I define as college, career, house, kids, retirement, etc.) because they become trapped by debt, aren’t encouraged to consider other options, or because they are afraid to do something different, not because it is what they truly want.

4.  The majority of Americans are INSANELY MATERIALISTIC, and this materialism is one our worst qualities and one of the top reasons our society is so broken.

These are my strong opinions which I cannot compromise.  My fault is that I have unfairly judged and insulted some people who don’t deserve it.  I am sorry.  From now on, I am going to try harder to remember #1 when I am tempted to make overarching statements about certain lifestyles.

But, if I am forgiven, I must ask for the same respect in return from now on.  If I am able to reconsider my views to be more accepting of your decisions, than can you stretch your mental limits to ponder accepting mine?  Also, can we all get offended less easily?  To be quite honest, I’m probably always going to think that you’re a bit boring, and you’re probably always going to think that I’m a crazy hippy.  Right?  Now that I flat out said it, who really cares enough to be offended?  Not this girl.

So that’s that.  I’m sorry for harsh words of the past.  If you have a more “normal” life and are content with it, I don’t begrudge you that.  Please don’t begrudge me of my crazy nomadic one, because I have never been happier.

“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I-
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.”
-Robert Frost

*For the sake of this post, I’m using American/Americans to refer only to people of the U.S.A.  I realize this is ethnocentric and usually try to avoid it, but for now it’s easier.


Not much news since we bought our flight tickets.  (Which is still big news!!!)  The reason for the lag:  We are friggin’ busy!

Zach works 50 hour weeks AND every other weekend as an electrician.

Mel has a relatively new job, is moving, and training for a triathalon.

I just got a new job but still have two weeks left at my old one.  So between the two I’m working 60 hour weeks and at least 20 straight days without a day off.

AHHH!!!  We are TIRED and frustrated that we don’t have more time to work on things like the trailer, social media, and fundraising.  But the $$ we are making now is enabling us to take off on this year of awesomeness.  I know I will handle tiredness so much better when I’m tired from doing something awesome, like hiking Machu Picchu. 

Eyes on the prize…Also I know I will be able to work more on LAP once I’m back to only one job and only 40 hours a week.  I just can’t wait to get there!

Living Within Our Means

Recently I have noticed that when I tell people about our upcoming trip I get responses such as “Oh, I wish I could do something like that but I can’t afford it” or “I wish I could travel like that but I have too many bills.”  So, here is point number one: If you want to do fun things, then stop buying so much stuff.  Anyone can afford to travel if they live within their means and don’t put themselves in debt over their heads.  Society tells us that we need to go and put a new 50″ TV on our credit card and work the next 12 months paying it off.  Do you know that the average person in the USA spends upwards of 11 years of his or her life in front of a television?  Think twice about buying that TV and spend the same amount on a plane ticket to Thailand.  Don’t pay for the satellite dish for a year and you can buy a ticket to Costa Rica.  Quit worrying about what people think about you in your old car and you can wander through Africa for years instead of blowing your cash on a new status symbol.

Sit down and think about the money you spend on things and ask yourself if these things really make you happier or if they are just tying you down and keeping you from living the way you really want to live.  If you decide you still want the new car then go get it, but ditch the new TV and instead of watching the puffins on National Geographic, drive to Alaska and see them yourself.  Stop telling me that you wish you could, because you can.