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Traveling forever

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At Palacio Barolo

Southern South America – Terminus – Long term Travel – The Travelers – The Nature of Long Term Travel – Going Home

At its Southern tip South America looks like an inverted cone, squeezing all travelers into a limited area. Thus, it seemed to us that the continent was suddenly full of overlanders from Europe, America and Australia. In contrast to the rest of our journey, we were greeting at least one expedition vehicle a day.

Buenos Aires seems to be another such meeting point. People are either starting or finishing off their grand adventure. As a terminus for such travelers, we have started to run into people that were, until recently, just names on a web site or an email. This is how we finally met Karin-Marijke and Coen, veteran wanderers of the world for the past six years.

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The southern tip of South America
looks like an inverted funnel

People choose many ways of long term travel. The most common are the backpackers, who, having taken time often off for about a year, rely on public transport to satisfy their wanderlust. Then, much fewer, are mobile travelers with expedition vehicles frequently fitted out to be a home away from home. Almost everyone has an end date in mind, people return for friends, family, work. But there are those who have made a lifestyle of traveling, their home is on the road, their holiday is visiting the place where home used to be.

“Strange”,”Weird”, you say? But when you meet permanent travelers like Karin-Marijke and Coen (Amsterdam) or Rick and Cathy (US), they come across as the sweetest, least eccentric people you could imagine. Yet it is not easy to be continuously on the road, dealing with strange cultures, unfamiliar languages and unknown surroundings. The friendly grocer changes frequently, you have no idea where to get a duct tape, or even what it is called for that matter, and how much money the next bank will give you. The comfort of the familiar is never an option, only the challenging unknown remains.

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Karen-Marijke and Coen

Yet even the unfamiliar becomes routine, and it has to be said, even the most frustrating day traveling is no worse than a bad day at work. It is comforting to know that most timelines are self imposed and can be changed. Likewise, some things are so hard to change that resignation is the best policy.

As the end of our trip approaches, we ask ourselves, could we travel like the veterans? No clear answer comes to mind. Nine months ago I would have said no, I miss our friends and the comfort of a daily routine too much. While this remains important to us, we have been away for so long that I wonder if staying in one place would make me restless. I guess I will find out soon enough.

15 Responses to “Traveling forever”

  1. Coen says:

    Well said. It can’t be more clearer than this.

  2. Neena says:

    Thanks Coen! Welcome to the blog. We are looking forward to the changes on yours, and more stories from the road!

  3. dave connors says:

    that is great that you guys were able to hook up.

  4. Kels says:

    Even though life on the road is amazing, there is no place like home… there you can visit loved ones, recuperate from your adventures, find the damn duct tape and begin to plan your next adventure.

  5. Neena says:

    Dave,
    Its great when we can meet someof our fellow travelers, since we aren’t camping much we hardly seem to run into these nice folks!
    Kels,
    After a few months on the road, I wonder if you will still feel the same! I am definitely feeling conflicted about retuning (although we love San Francisco!)

  6. Coen says:

    Neena,
    This is called: Surviving the urban jungle. I guess. Maybe you need some self-help-course in order to cope with it. Because it is going to be hard. All those stories in your head, and nobody understands them… Tip: visit some other overlanders and start therapeutic sessions together. :-)
    Keep the rubber side down!

  7. Neena says:

    Coen,
    I absolutely detest self-help gurus! :)
    But seriously, there are so many other stories, even in San Francisco. I do not think one needs to be traveling to find and learn new things. I know that we will be traveling again in a few years’ time, as we have done in the past. And I really missed our friends, so it will be great to see them again.
    Every overlander we met had such a different style of traveling that I felt quite often that we were on a completely different journey. In fact, I felt that the people who most understood us (even when we were traveling) were some of our friends back home.
    I am a little hesitant about getting back in the rat race though, this time we had thought that we would not return to the same life, so that is what I am apprehensive about. Hope you had a good rest in Holland and will be back ready to tackle the road again with renewed zest!

  8. ada says:

    You can appreciate your extensive travel all the more once you’ve been home awhile. I know the two of you will be planning your next adventure not long after you get settled in San Francisco. Which language will you learn next, what exotic place will you travel to??

  9. Luis says:

    It is nice to see so many like minded people following this blog and out there traveling or living vicariously through Neena and Takeesh, Karen-Marijke and Coen, and Dave Connors.

    It is funny for Lacey and I to reminisce of the days when we came up with the idea to drive around the Americas (and perhaps the world)… we thought that we would be among a very small group doing a trip such as this. Little did we know how many people have done it, are out doing it and will continue to do so. It is comforting to know.

    Thanks for keeping us motivated.

  10. Shreesh says:

    Hi Luis,
    There are surprisingly a lot of people doing the traverse across the Americas or not many at all. Given the nature of the trip, you end up meeting a lot of those who are traveling about. Many more people climb Everest every year than do such a traverse.

    Dedicated overlanders like Karin and Coen have probably met most of those wandering around, since they have been in Southern South America for years!

  11. Hello Shreesh and Neena,
    Congratulations for the graet trip you did. We undertand very well how difficult is to go back to the daily routine, specially after having such an experience. We say this because last year we did a similir trip from south of Brazil to Alaska by car and back home, take a look to our website, it’s in portuguese, but you can see the pictures and places, following the country flags. It was too much hard deal with some job coleagues worried about the same things and make only bank account bigger and bigger…. They still think we are crazy to spend our money the way we do…
    If your trip was not at the end, we would invite you to visit us in the south of Brazil, but even though you are invited.

  12. Neena says:

    Oi Claudio, Joyce,
    Muito obrigada! Unfortunately my Portuguese is not good enough to write, but I love the sound of Brazilian Portuguese.
    You have a fabulous website, we will add it to our blogroll. We visited a good friend in Panambi, where are you in South Brazil? Needless to say, if you find yourselves in San Francisco, write to us so we can meet up.

  13. Lily says:

    This is being sent out a bit late… but welcome back to America! I can’t believe your trip is finally coming to a close, it’s been pretty exciting following your endeavors since October. If you guys ever decide to tackle China and Mongolia, let us know… we might be up for it in three years or so!

  14. Neena says:

    Hello Lily!
    Thanks! We will definitely let you know about China. Current research suggests that driving in China for foreigners may be hard, there are some serious restrictions. However, China fascinates me so I am sure we will do it one day!
    What have you and Dan planned for this year’s vacation?

  15. Coen says:

    Hmmm.. maybe, you guys are up for a new challenge?

    http://www.pekingparis.com/

    Adventurous greetings,
    Coen

    We found a secret passage through the south Pantanal, bring a shuffle.

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