¡Otra vez!

Northern AZ sunset
Northern AZ sunset

Funny how things come full circle.  Three years ago today, I sat in this same house, in this same town, Williams, AZ, planning the very first La Aventura Project.  Tomorrow we leave with the same initial destination in mind–Burning Man!  We’ve wanted to go back every single year since that first epic week.  It’s never worked out, until now.  As 2nd time burners this year I hope the experience will be more mythical, more colorful, more educational, more productive, shadier (as in…Zach’s very Boy Scout-ish hand-built shade structure) and just as exhilarating.  I also plan to write more about it and take more pictures!  (Yeah GoPro!)  , planning the very first La Aventura Project.  Tomorrow we leave with the same initial destination in mind–Burning Man!  We’ve wanted to go back every single year since that first epic week.  It’s never worked out, until now.  As 2nd time burners this year I hope the experience will be more mythical, more colorful, more educational, more productive, shadier (as in…Zach’s very Boy Scout-ish hand-built shade structure) and just as exhilarating.  I also plan to write more about it and take more pictures!  (Yeah GoPro!)  !  We’ve wanted to go back every single year since that first epic week.  It’s never worked out, until now.  As 2nd time burners this year I hope the experience will be more mythical, more colorful, more educational, more productive, shadier (as in…Zach’s very Boy Scout-ish hand-built shade structure) and just as exhilarating.  I also plan to write more about it and take more pictures!  (Yeah GoPro!)

Thoughts from on the road to Burning Man:

I REALLY hope Java Johnny is there again.

Man, that last bath felt so good.  I’m going to hold it in my memory dearly for awhile.

I’m so excited that we have a solar shower!

What did we forget?  Oh well, other citizens will let us borrow theirs.

I hope my outfits are rockin’ enough!

I wanna go to yoga every day! (Hope this happens.)

Will we be able to find all our friends there?

After the burn we head once again to SF (just like last time) to catch up with old friends and stuff ourselves on gourmet vegan food.  We will probably find ourselves sitting in a lot of bars on my laptop while I finish up last minute video work, but that will be totally worth it, because, then…

The next overseas venture begins!  On September 8 we fly to London by way of NYC (gotta have some fun there too!) for 6 weeks of western Europe and Morocco.  Couchsurfing, hitchhiking, train-riding, museum-going, backpacking, wine-tasting, face-stuffing, camel-riding, surfing, people-watching extravaganza!  Hopefully we’ll survive one trip involving four different foreign languages (more if you count Basque and Catelonian).

So stay tuned, although it’s only 8 weeks as opposed to a 7-month “aventura”, we’re still sooo excited for our first stint in Europa!  And I can’t believe I am finally going back to Africa!!!!!!

Now to wrap it all up, here’s a video of a very angry frog found in Arizona.

<p><a href=”http://vimeo.com/104949980″>frog</a&gt; from <a href=”http://vimeo.com/journeylostproductions”>Journey Lost Productions</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

We Got Cabo-ed!

cabo road trip
Medano Beach, Cabo San Lucas

The ultimate destination on our grand Mexican road trip was of course, the very end of the Baja Penninsula, Cabo San Lucas!  Famous as a raucous spring break destination, Cabo brings to mind images of unruly American teenagers pouring tequila down each others throats on the beach.  Not exactly our scene.  However, we had to see it.

Drinking margaritas at Sammy Hagar's world famous "Cabo Wabo" bar. cabo road trio
Drinking margaritas at Sammy Hagar’s world famous “Cabo Wabo” bar.

Thanks to Living Social we scored a great deal on a really nice suite in a beachfront hotel outside of town, Marbella Suites en La Playa.  It was the nicest place we’ve ever paid for and being there for four nights made the trip really feel like a honeymoon!  Normally we’re very “get up and go” travelers, but after all the stress and activity of wedding planning, we found ourselves craving a typical, relaxed vacation for the first time ever.  So, relax we did!  Our stay involved a lot of pool time, reading, watching movies, and hanging out with another couple we befriended.  It was exactly what we needed!

Pool at our hotel on cabo road trip
Pool at Marbella
Romantic dinner on the beach

We did get out for some surfing a couple times (waves too big for us!), explored downtown Cabo (it really is the Las Vegas of Mexico), and found the best taco shop in the history of the world!  Asi y Asado had the greatest selection of taco bases (vegetarian, every kind of fish, beef, chicken, etc.) and the biggest toppings bar we’d ever seen!  We’d each order two tacos and then pile them high with condiments, still unable to try everything!  SO GOOD.

Colorful mural at our favorite taco place. cabo road trip
Colorful mural at our favorite taco place
Help! My taco is too stuffed! cabo road trip
Help! My taco is too stuffed!

Stunning beaches, an abundance of activities, and outrageous parties make Cabo a great destination if you want it all.  I don’t think we need to go back anytime soon, but we definitely had a blast on our Cabo road trip!

cabo road trip
Sunset over the end of the penninsula

This was the farthest we could go on our Cabo Road Trip down the peninsula of Baja Mexico.

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The Cost of Our Cross-Country Move

Toledo, Ohio to San Diego, California

6 Days

2461 miles

Gas: $398.11

Tolls: $25.80

Food/Beverages: $245.85

Accommodations: Free!

Grand Total: $669.76

We didn’t exactly live like paupers during this road trip.  We Couchsurfed everywhere of course, but we also splurged on quite a few meals out and quite a few brewery stops in Colorado.  It was a mini vacation!  Still, I think the fact that we spent so little proves something…

Do it.

Steve’s Mind=Blown

Remember our friend Steve who joined us for our adventuring in Nicaragua?  Now he’s back with a summary of his first major travel experience!


Its been exactly two weeks now since my return to the states from my 10-day journey to Nicaragua. The experience there was surreal and still very difficult put into words. “Amazing” doesn’t even come close to describing what I want to express. As I wrote pre-trip many people were very excited for me and said things like, “I’ve always wanted to do something like that.” Unfortunately, many others were terrified for my health and safety, asking why would I want to go there? I would simply reply my favorite way, “Why not?” That’s not saying thatI was jumping in head first, blindfolded, and with my hands tied behind my back, hoping for the best. Some people are just too constricted by the word “WHY!” I’m sure everyone knows some of those people, because they outnumber people like Zach, Carrie, and me. They use the question “Why?” to tie themselves to an idea of life that amounts to slowly rotting away all the while complaining about how much life sucks. I actually find it hilarious and aggravating when one of those people tell me how lucky I am to be able to travel. I just want to shake them and yell, “Luck has nothing to do with it, it’s called making a choice!”

The trip in general is probably the best experience I’ve ever had. The only way I can try and describe it is like the personal change that occurs when you leave home for college and discover yourself. When suddenly instead of your ideas and knowledge being shaped by what others tell you, they begin to come from your own experiences. I came to Nicaragua from this place (the USA) where all anyone tells you is what bad things are going to happen you, and I ended up having the time of my life. That was the result of a mix between doing awesome things and being there with amazing friends! Everything is so much different in Nicaragua, but not in a bad way like many people believe. I can understand how many people, if they go without an open mind, may see it differently, but for me it was perfect. We stayed in several hostels, and I discovered I actually prefer them to the hotels we have in the states. Besides being an inexpensive place to stay, it was awesome meeting and talking to people from all over the world!

It was as if I found a part of me I didn’t know was missing, and it awoke this amazing something inside me that gives life a WHOLE new flavor. Part of me feels like I still haven’t returned home, but not in a bad way. The best way to describe it like getting lost in your favorite book that takes you on this adventure to a whole new world. One where the last page leaves you sad because BOOM, you’re back in reality and the story’s over. You’re left wishing it was real and that you could stay in the world of the book. The part that makes it most amazing is when you realize that it all was real, and you really were the main character in all the adventures that you had. This realization keeps looping in my mind and has left me with this “head in the clouds” feeling, even now, two weeks later. I’m very anxious to experience the next “book”, and fantasizing about future travels has preoccupied my thoughts ever since returning.

I’ve definitely caught the travel bug, but I’m not sure how someone could go out into the world like that and not catch it. Some said that my trip was a “once in a lifetime opportunity” but I prefer to agree with what someone else said in response: “Not for Steve, that was just the beginning!”

A Fresh Perspective

Today’s been a long day of travel from capital to capital- San José, Costa Rica to Managua, Nicaragua.  But we have an exciting reason for not being in bed yet!  Zach’s old friend Steve is on a plane as we speak, flying in to join us for 10 days in Nicaragua!  Steve has never traveled outside the US or Canada, but he’s always up for adventures so we know it’s going to be a good time.  We’re excited to “show him the ropes” per se, and to have someone else to hang out with!  Mostly, I think it’s going to be really cool to have a friend with us as we near the end of our trip.  I’m hoping that we can show Steve a really amazing time and that traveling with a “newbie” will help us see things through fresh eyes again.  But enough from me, I’ll let Steve introduce himself:

“I’m Steve and I’m and joining Zach and Carrie on part of their journey through Central America. I’m very excited to experience someplace very different from what I’m used too. I’m looking forward to a good culture shock in Nicaragua with new language and lifestyle. My Spanish isn’t the best but I love a challenge and learning/experiencing new things. In all I’m just very excited about the experience I’ll have there, and everything I’ll be able to learn from being in a vastly different culture. Of course, when I tell people about traveling to Nicaragua they all have their comments (good and bad), questions, and concerns. My main concern for the journey is the SUN! So hopefully I don’t get too sunburned, otherwise I know this trip is going to be remarkable journey!”

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?

Culture Shock! Classism

Here´s your latest “Culture Shock!” post, late as always.  Someday we´ll get back to actually doing these on Wednesdays!

One thing we have unfortunately noticed in South America is the rampant presence of classism.  Ugh, what an ugly “ism.”  We didn’t see it so much in Colombia, but we have definitely noticed its presence in Ecuador, Perú, and Bolivia.

In countries where the per-capita income is so much lower than in the United States, you would think that there would be less of a class hierarchy than we have.  In fact, I think the opposite is true.  One example I’ve thought of is this:

In the United States, there are plenty of wealthier people who will still occasionally eat at McDonalds or other fast food places.  Maybe this is just because the horrible fast food restaurants have gotten us so badly addicted.  But regardless, in the US, I think most would agree that plenty of people who can afford not to will still occasionally eat this cheap food.  In Ecuador or Perú, this would NEVER happen.  From what we have seen, a majority of the wealthier people in those countries avoid cheap food at all costs because they consider it “beneath them.”  We have had locals actually cringe when we’ve mentioned the fact that we eat street food or basic lunches.  Also from what we’ve seen, a wealthy Peruvian, for example, will never associate with a poor indigenous farmer.

This is not to say that this doesn’t happen in the US, just that we have noticed it a lot more here.  I want to know why the classism is so bad?  Is it a remnant of the Spanish colonial system?  Probably partly.  Is it because breaking out of poverty and rising to the upper class is much more difficult here?  I bet that has something to do with it.  Once, we met some really wealthy 30-ish guys in Perú.  They had family in the US and thus had each lived there for about 10 years.  They spent these years working menial jobs at fast food restaurants or driving taxis, while learning English.  Not a very lucrative life, most of us would imagine.  When they returned to Perú with the money they had saved, they were able to live like kings!  These guys would eat at only the best restaurants, wear only the nicest clothes, shop at the best stores, and flaunt their ability to speak English everywhere they went.  They would never, ever consider buying street food, or associating with the poorer Peruvian majority.  They were the elite, and they certainly knew it and acted like it.  Their attitude was “We’ve arrived, so why care about anyone else?”  The thing that gets me is this:  how can you live for such a long time at a low-class level in one country, but then once you have money in a new country you totally disregard the poor around you?

I’m not an expert on the subject and I don’t have answers to any of these questions, of course.  I’m just an outside observer noticing the strict class divide and less-than-compassionate attitudes of the rich in South America.  It seems to me that the lack of empathy and loyalty the upper class shows toward the lower class is one of the biggest social obstacles toward development in these countries.